Frequently Asked Questions
Which product is best for my home?
All ecodrain products are designed to efficiently recover heat from drain water. Which model is best for a given application depends on where the unit will be installed.
Vertical drain water heat recovery systems are the most common. They are for vertical drain stacks only. They are recognized by energy codes in several places and some utlities provide incentives for their installation. In general, if there is a vertical drain stack below the shower for which the unit is to be installed, then vertical is the preferred option. Please check our V1000 product page for more information about our vertical drain water heat recovery systems.
An exception to this is homes with multiple showers and multiple vertical drain stacks. In these applications, a single horizontal main drain line unit simplifies the installation and may offer the best payback. Please see our B1000 product page for more information about this application.
In many applications, horizontal drain water heat recovery is the only practical option. It may be possible to pump drain water into a vertical heat exchanger but this is not a cost effective solution. In horizontal applications, such as single story homes, homes built on crawl space, home with partial basements etc, horizontal drain water heat recovery is the preferred option. We have developed two solutions for these applications:
B1000 for main drain line applications. This is a heat exchanger on the outside of a regular copper drain line.
A1000 for grey water only applications (waste water excluding toilet water). The A1000 is much shorter for the same level of performance, but is not recommended for installation on mixed water drain lines.
I am developer of a multifamily building, which product is best for my application?
The two main options for a multi-family are horizontal main drain line heat exchanger on the final drain, and vertical heat exchangers on the vertical drain stack.
A main drain line heat exchanger, combined with a heat pump, can provide the greatest possible savings while also simplifying installation. Since the main horizontal drain line collects the water from multiple vertical drain stacks, installing a series of heat exchangers on a the horizontal drain line is most likely easier than installing a vertical heat exchanger on each drain stack. If the building has central heating and cooling, the cold side loop of the drain water heat exchanger can be connected on a closed loop to a heat pump to provide space heat as well as hot water.
Connecting to the heat pump provides the potential for greater savings because useful energy can be recovered from hot and cold water. When using a heat pump, the inlet to the cold water side can be set at a lower temperature, for example 4C, even if the unheated water in the area is typically warmer in the range of 7C-20C. By recovering energy from both the hot and cold water, when possible, this set up will recover significantly more energy than any other option.
The second option is to install vertical drain water heat recovery systems on the vertical drain stacks in order to preheat water into each unit of that level which shares the drain stack. If each apartment has its own water heater, the preheated outlet can be connected to the inlet of each water heater. If the building has a central water heater, then the preheated outlet of the heat exchanger can be connected to the cold side of the shower mixing valve in each apartment.
What is CSA B55 ? What is CSA B55.1? What is CSA B55.2?
CSA B55 is a standard for drain water heat recovery systems. There are two parts to CSA B55; CSA B55.1 and CSA B55.2.
CSA B55.1 is a standard for performance testing of heat exchangers in a lab setting. It sets the conditions under which heat exchangers must be tested in terms of temperatures and flow rates of the cold and warm water. It was developed as a method to standardize and compare test results for different models and sizes of heat exchangers, ensuring that they are all tested under the same conditions and that the tests are condutcted independently.
CSA B55.2 is a product standard. It was developed in order to ensure that drain water heat recovery systems are safe to use in homes and buildings. It specifies the materials that are allowed to be used, and how they are allowed to be joined together, and the conditions under which they must be tested for safety.
Where can I buy the Ecodrain?The Ecodrain is available in some locations through leading plumbing and heating distributors.In other locations, we will sell the Ecodrain directly.Either way, if you are looking to buy the Ecodrain, send us a note to [email protected].
Are all the Ecodrains available for purchase?Currently, we are only able to sell the VT1000 series and custom-designed heat exchangers for commercial projects.We are planning to make our A1000 and B1000 Ecodrains available in the future as major jurisdictions begin to recognize horizontally-sloped solutions in their Codes and rebate programs.If you have a major project that needs horizontally-sloped solutions, please contact us at i[email protected].
What is the effectiveness of ecodrain?
Effectiveness is a measure of the performance of a heat exchanger. It is measured as the ratio of the temperature gained in the preheated water versus the total potential gain.
Calculation: (temp of preheated outlet – temp of cold water) / (temp of drain water entering heat exchanger – temp of cold water)
The effectiveness of a heat exchanger depends on its type, size, and the conditions under which it is tested. Please refer to the product pages for information about their effectiveness.
How much energy is transferred inside ecodrain? How is it calculated?
The most basic equation governing the heat required to change the temperature of water is:
Q = m Cp dT , where
Q = heat transferred per second in kilowatts (kW)
m = mass flow rate of water (kilograms / second)
Cp = heat capacity of water (kJ / kg K), a constant for a given material. The number of kilojoules of energy required to heat one kilogram of water by one degree Kelvin.
dT = delta T = change in temperature of water being preheated
Will ecodrain recover heat from my bath, dishwasher or laundry?
In the case of a bath, hot water fills the bath and only later drains after it has cooled. When the bath is draining, there is not necessarily any fresh water on its way to the water heater to be preheated. For these reasons, installing for a bath-only application is not ideal for this technology.
For residential dishwashers and laundry, the same constraint applies in that water is filled into the machine at first, and then drained several minutes later.
In the case of commercial dishwashers, which are used for multiple cycles at a time, a lot of energy can be recovered. In fact, ecodrain was tested successfully for commercial dishwashers by the food service technology center. The test report is available here.
Will I get more savings if I preheat water to the water heater, the cold side of a shower valve, or both?
All scenarios will provide very high savings compared to not installing a heat exchanger so if you have decided to install the heat exchanger, you can look forward to savings.
In some scenarios, such as if the water heater is very far from the shower, it is more practical to install the heat exchanger such that water to the cold side of a shower fixture is preheated.
In other scenarios, such as when an exposed pipe is located near the water heater, it might be more convenient to install the heat exchanger to preheat water to the water heater.
On a purely theoretical level, and when installation permits it, the greatest potential savings will come from preheating water to both the water heater and the cold side of the shower valve. The reason is that the flow of cold water through the heat exchanger increases. For reasons beyond the scope of this explanation, as the flow rate increases, the rise in temperature decreases, but the impact of the temperature decrease is less than the impact of the flow increase. Another way to think about it is that with a higher cold water flow rate, the heat exchanger works harder, and produces more energy.
To understand why, consider the equation from the previous question:
Q = m Cp dT
In order for Q to go up, either m or Cp or dT must increase. Since Cp is a constant, we focus on m and dT. m and dT are inversely proportional, which means that as the flow rate (m) increases, the temperature rise (dT) decreases. As the flow rate increases, the temperature decreases but not as much as the flow rate has increased, resulting in an increased energy transfer.
Does ecodrain need to be installed by a plumber?
Care should be taken when installing any plumbing product. Please consult the installation manual and product information the product pages.
Is ecodrain easy to install?
We designed ecodrain to be easy to install in a variety of scenarios. Please consult the installation manuals and product pages for installation information related to specific products.
Do I need to install one ecodrain on each shower?
A single ecodrain can be installed on multiple showers provided that the drains can be designed to meet.
Can ecodrain be used with a tankless water heater?
Yes. In most cases, ecodrain makes a very good compliment to a tankless water heater.
The key consideration is that there are two types of tankless water heaters with respect to temperature control of the heated water: “on/off” and modulating. “On/off” tankless water heaters do not have any real time control over the amount of heat they transfer to the cold water. Some have settings on the heater that allow for a range of heat to be supplied, but once they are set, the amount of heat supplied does not vary. When a hot water faucet is opened, and water starts flowing through the “on/off” tankless water heater, it supplies a defined amount of heat. The disadvantage of this is that the output water temperature will vary considering that ground water temperature delivered to the home varies over the course of the year, and in most cases over the course of the day as well. If the water heater is set to provide a comfortable output during the winter, then the water supplied during the summer will be too hot. If you have this type of tankless water heater, it is recommended that a thermostatic mixing valve is placed at the outlet of the heater to mix in cold water and ensure that the temperature after the valve remains constant regardless of the ground water temperature.
A modulating tankless water heater, on the other hand, uses sensors to measure the water temperature, and adjusts the amount of heat supplied to the water so that the outlet temperature remains constant. With this type of tankless water heater, less energy will be supplied in the summer when ground water is relatively warmer, and more will be supplied in the winter when ground water is relatively cooler. When ecodrain is combined with a modulating tankless water heater, the heater will adjust so that the outlet temperature of the heater remains the same, but the heater consumes less energy since a portion of the heating is done by the ecodrain.
Does the ecodrain mix fresh water with drain water?
No. Ecodrain allows heat to be transferred from hot drain water to cold fresh water, while keeping them safely separated by a double wall.
Is there a risk of scalding with ecodrain?
In one application, ecodrain can be used to preheat water to the cold side of a shower valve. As the cold water temperature increases, the output temperature of the shower will increase unless an adjustment is made to reduce the flow of hot water and increase the flow of cold water. A thermostatic valve is designed to automatically maintain a constant output temperature despite variations in incoming water temperature. It does this by restricting the flow of hot water and increasing the flow of cold water as the cold water temperature rises.
Do horizontal drain water heat exchangers store drain water?
No. Horiozntal drain lines are always sloped in order to allow for liquids to evacuate the building.