Here’s the official definition: A water heater’s “recovery time” (also called “recovery rate”) is the amount of hot water (in gallons) a tank water heater can provide in just one hour after being completely drained.
Recovery rate basically gives you an idea of how fast a water heater can heat water. Now, knowing the recovery rate of a water heater is important for 2 big reasons:
In this article, we’ll explain:
Whether you’re preparing to buy a new water heater, or you already have one, the easiest way to check for the recovery rate is to look it up on the manufacturer's website. Search for your water heater model number and then you’ll find the specs, which includes recovery rate.
For example, below is a screenshot of the specs for Bradford White gas water heaters. Look for verbiage that reads recovery 90°F rise* then look for the gallons per hour number (we’ve circled it below). That number is the recovery rate.
*Note: If you use a higher-than-average output temperature (over 120°), or your incoming cold water is especially cold then the recovery rate may be slightly lower than what’s on the label.
Specs for a Bradford White water heater. Source: www.bradfordwhite.com
As you can see in the image above, 2 water heaters of the same size (in gallons, see the very first column under “Nominal Capacity”) can have very different recovery rates. That’s because recovery rate largely depends on the strength of the burner (for gas) or wattage of the heating element (for electric water heaters).
Now, let’s say you have the first 30-gallon water heater in the example pictured above. And let’s say you ran the dishwasher, washed clothes AND took a long shower at the same time, so you drained the water heater of all its hot water.
Based on the specs above, after waiting 1 hour, your water heater will almost be at full hot water capacity again (it’s a 30-gallon water heater, and the recovery rate is 29 gallons).
So, now that you know how to find recovery rate, let’s look at how you can use that information...
...you should use the recovery rate to determine whether the unit can meet your home’s hot water needs.
The higher your hot water demands, the higher the recovery rate you’ll need for your water heater.
For example, if you have a large household and you use a lot of hot water at once, the recovery rate should be at least equal to the size of your water heater. So, a 60-gallon water heater should have a recovery rate of at least 60-gallons.
… the recovery rate listed on the unit should give you a good idea of how long it should take the water heater to come up to temperature after your hot water runs out.
So, if you don’t think your water heater’s performance matches with its listed recovery rate and it’s taking a long time to come up to temperature, you either need a:
Here’s how to tell which of those is your problem:
Just give us a call.
We’d be happy to answer any water heater questions you have. Whether you need a repair or a new water heater, we’ve got you covered.