Who doesn’t love a relaxing hot shower at home?
Compared to cold showers, a hot shower provides many health benefits, such as reducing muscle soreness and fatigue, improving sleep, and improving blood flow.
And, the convenience of getting hot water instantly is the main reason why many households in Malaysia will install instant water heaters in their bathrooms.
But, how do you choose the right instant water heater for your home? Below are the basics:
Most common types of water heaters in Malaysia
Instant water heaters are mounted within your shower area itself. When the electricity is turned on, it directly heats up the water that passes through it, just before it comes out of your shower head. As long as it remains turned on, you will get continuous hot water without running out. It does not have any water tank to store hot water for later use. That’s why it’s sometimes called a tankless water heater.
Instant water heaters started gaining popularity in the 1990s. Before that, most households invested in storage water heaters.
An instant water heater is just one type of water heater found in Malaysian households. The others are storage water heaters, gas water heaters, and solar water heaters.
Storage water heaters existed before instant water heaters, and come with a water tank, usually holding 25 to 80 litres of hot water. When the electricity is turned on, it will heat up the water in the tank, just like a kettle. You can adjust the setting to heat the water to as high as 75 degrees Celsius. Because these are much larger and heavier than instant water heaters, they are usually mounted away from the shower area, or hidden in the false ceiling or attic.
Gas water heaters work the same as storage water heaters, but instead of running on electricity (like an electric kettle), it uses a gas fire to heat up the water. Therefore, you will need to connect it to a gas supply. When the temperature drops below the desired range, a small flame will be lit to heat up the water in the tank. Gas models are not as common in Malaysian households but are popular in laundromats to provide hot water for washing machines at lower running costs.
Solar water heaters don’t use gas or electricity to heat up the water. Instead, cold water is pumped into solar collector panels on your roof. These panels become very hot as they are exposed to the sun. As the cold water flows through the panels, they heat up as well. The hot water is then stored and ready for later use.
In Malaysia, instant and storage water heaters are by far the most popular types used in residential properties.
Why choose an instant water heater instead of a storage water heater?
Ease of installation and cost-savings are the main reasons to choose an instant water heater over a storage water heater. Here are the main differences between them:
INSTANT WATER HEATER
STORAGE WATER HEATER
|Time to heat up|
|Instant||10 - 30 mins, depending on size of tank|
|Number of units needed|
|One unit is only able to supply hot water to one outlet, such as your shower||One unit can provide hot water to multiple outlets, such as shower, kitchen tap, bathroom sink|
|How much hot water will I get?|
|Continuous, as long as you keep it switched on||Hot water will be depleted if too many people use it at once|
|How is the water pressure?|
|Water pressure is limited by how much water can flow through the heat exchanger at once||Water pressure not affected since the water is pre-heated|
|Is it energy efficient?|
|Yes, since you only heat up what you need to use||Less efficient if you leave it switched on, as it keeps reheating even at night|
|Any extra piping needed?|
|No extra piping needed. Just connect the heater to the water inlet, and plug it in||Hot water pipes need to be connected from the heater to each outlet in your house|
|Typical cost of unit|
|From RM200||From RM400|
|Typical cost of installation|
|RM80 - 150||From RM200 depending on storage capacity|
Apart from the comparisons above, there is another weakness of storage water heaters. After many years, your storage water tank may start to leak due to corrosion or cracking. And that leak will end up all over your ceiling, causing huge amounts of damage. Just imagine a large amount of water being emptied into your attic!
What features should I look for in an instant water heater?
When shopping for your next instant water heater, look for these essential features. They should be basic features in every single model:
- Splash proof casing. To prevent water from getting into the circuits. It should be rated as IP25 standard.
- Circuit breaker. Circuit breakers will cut the power within 0.1 seconds if it detects an electrical leakage
- Rust-free heating elements. This prevents a buildup of rust or sediment which could catch fire
- Surge protection. Protects from lightning strikes and current leakage
- Flow sensor. Enables the heater to keep working even in low water pressure. At the same time, it also shuts off the heater if the water flow is too low, to prevent overheating
- Non conductive hose. Since 2000, instant water heaters in Malaysia must come with non-conductive hoses. Before this, older models may have used stainless steel hoses; an electrocution hazard
- Thermostat cut-off. Cuts the power in case the temperature goes above 75 degrees Celsius, to prevent scalding
As today’s water heaters keep getting better, you should also be aware of these new and improved features for better flow rate, energy efficiency, safety and more.
- Improved circuit breakers (RCD or RCCB). Older models used a circuit breaker called an ELCB (earth leakage circuit breaker). However, newer models use a better version called a residual current device (RCD) or residual current circuit breaker (RCCB), which are much better at detecting electrical faults. Your home’s electrical fuse box already contains an RCCB, but it’s worth getting a heater that has its own built-in as well. Models that have this include the CENTON Vintage Series and Serene Series.
Should I get a water heater with or without a pump?
Nobody likes a dribbling shower. Some properties, such as low-level condo units, or landed properties may suffer from low water pressure.
If your house water pressure already feels low, remember that it may become even lower after going through an instant water heater. That’s because the water needs to flow through the heat exchanger, unlike in a storage water heater, where the water is already pre-heated, and just flows directly to your showerhead.
To counter this effect, many instant shower heaters come with a built-in pump to force more water through the showerhead. There are two types of pumps in instant water heaters:
- Instant water heater with AC pump. Adds much more water pressure. Suitable if you want a rain shower that delivers a lot of water at once. But, AC pumps are noisy when in use.
- Instant water heater with DC pump. Adds less water pressure compared to AC pumps. Suitable to increase water pressure in a normal showerhead. DC pumps are much quieter and usually more efficient compared to AC pumps.
An instant water heater with a pump may double the cost of the unit. So, if your water pressure is already good enough, or you have already installed a pump for your entire house, you won’t need a heater with a pump.
How much does an instant water heater cost to run per month?
Let’s do a simple calculation for a small family with one child. Each family member takes a 8 minute shower everyday, using the instant water heater.
- Total shower time per month = 8 minutes * 3 people * 30 days = 12 hours
- Typical instant water heater = 3.6kW
- Total energy usage per month = 3.6kW * 12 hours = 43.2kWh
- Malaysia energy tariff = RM0.218 (source)
- Total energy bill per month = RM0.218 * 43.2kWh = RM9.42 in electricity bill per month
- Total shower time per month = 8 minutes * 3 people * 30 days = 12 hours
- Typical water flow rate = 5 litres per minute
- Total water usage = 3600 litres per month
- Malaysia water tariff = RM1.38 per 1000 litres
- Total water bill per month = 3600 litres * RM1.38 = RM4.97 in water bill per month
If we add the electricity cost of a DC pump (36W), it would increase the energy bill by 10 sen extra per month. For an AC pump (120W), it would increase the energy bill by 30 sen per month.
What are the most popular brands of instant water heaters in Malaysia?
Based on customer reviews on Shopee and Lazada, these are the most popular brands and models:
The Malaysian company behind Centon water heaters has been around since 1995, and specialises in instant water heaters, pump boosters and storage water heaters. Their most popular product on Shopee is the EcoSerene Series (with DC Silent Pump). 200 units are sold every month in Malaysia, or 6 units every day!
Note: Centon is currently running a promotion of RM10 off any water heater purchase from its online store. Just use promo code RCMN2021 during checkout. They also offer instalment plans so you can split the cost into 4 monthly payments, with 0% interest fee
Joven Electric was established in 1983 and is the first water heater manufacturer in Malaysia. It also sells ceiling fans, water purifiers and kettles. Their most popular product is the Joven SL30 Series which comes with an AC pump to give you a refreshing rainshower.
This Japanese brand needs no introduction, having been established in Malaysia in 1976. Their latest range of instant water heaters come with antibacterial showerhead for a safe and healthy shower.
Rubine is a relatively new entrant to the Malaysia water heater market, having been established in the country in the late 1990s. More well-known for its ceiling fans and kitchen appliances, it also has a range of instant water heaters available.
This Japanese brand established its presence in Malaysia in 1977. Its latest DSK38 models feature minimalist designs with LED temperature displays, with consistently high ratings on Shopee.
Another Japanese brand that put down its roots in Malaysia in 1973, Rinnai is one of the only brands in Malaysia that also sells gas water heaters. As for its instant water heaters, a popular model is the REI-E380 series which comes in various shades of blue.
How much to install an instant water heater in Malaysia?
According to Recommend.my plumber Sri Shashti Enterprise, instant water heater installation cost ranges from RM80 to RM150 to install the appliance out of the box. This assumes that no new piping is needed, and that the power supply for the water heater is readily available.
Need water heater installation service?
As Malaysia’s leading home improvement platform, Recommend.my is the best place to find contractors for water heater installation. We have over 10,000 contractors who have served tens of thousands of customers since 2015, with an average rating of 4.6 stars.
BONUS: CENTON is currently running a promotion of RM10 off any water heater purchase from its online store (valid until 31 Dec 2021). Just use promo code RCMN2021 during checkout. They also offer instalment plans so you can split the cost into 4 monthly payments, with 0% interest fee!