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  • What is the payback period for ecodrain?

    Each situation is uniqu. Below are three scenarios that cover a wide range of circumstances.  Each assumes that the household takes three 10-minute showers per day with a standard low flow showerhead and typical shower water temperature.  

    Estimate Scenario #1:  High cost of electricity (~ $0.20 per kWh), self-installed (includes: $125 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install:  $575.00
    Yearly Savings:  $250.00
    Rate of Return 43.5%
    Payback in Years:  2.3
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $4.53 
    Monthly Savings: $20.83
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $16.30
     
    Over 20 years, you'll save approximately $5000.
     
     

    Estimate Scenario #2:  Low cost of electricity (~ $0.10 per kWh), installed by a plumber (includes: $340 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install: $790.00
    Yearly Savings: $130.00
    Rate of Return 16.5%
    Payback in Years: 6.1
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $6.23
    Monthly Savings: $10.83
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $4.60

    Over 20 years, you'll save approximately $2600.

     

    Estimate Scenario #3:  Moderate cost of gas  ($14.25 per mcf), self-installed (includes: $125 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install: $575.00
    Yearly Savings: $100.00
    Rate of Return 17.4%
    Payback in Years: 5.75
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $4.53
    Monthly Savings: $8.33
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $3.80

    Over 20 years, you'll save approximately $2,000.

  • How does the rate of return of ecodrain compare?

    Ecodrain compares favorably to other opportunities such as rooftop solar panels.  According to SolarEnergy.net, the best rate of return on a $30,000 rooftop solar array is in Hawaii and is calculated at a 24% return.  

    With a typical self-installation in a high electricity rate state such as California, Ecodrain's rate of return would be 43.5%

    SolarEnergy.net estimates that a rooftop solar installation in California yields a rate of return of 12%.  Even a plumber-installed ecodrain in a low cost electricity state such as Houston or Portland, yields a higher rate of return of 16.5%

  • What other factors will increase my savings?

    The key factors that impact savings are the volume of water used and the temperature. If you currently like to take longer showers at higher temperatures, you'll have increased savings.

     

    A satisfying shower is something that many people are reluctant to give up. Consequently, some people have removed the flow restrictors from their shower valves in order to have a more enjoyable, higher flow shower.

    To summarize:

    1) If you or your family take longer than average showers, you'll be saving more money

    2) If you typically take a shower that is hotter than average, you'll be saving more money

    3) If you have a rain shower or use multiple shower heads, you'll be saving more money

    4) If you or your family shower more frequently, you'll be saving more money

  • Does ecodrain meet plumbing codes / is it safe?

    The ecodrain A1000 model is certified for the Uniform Plumbing Code, the International Plumbing Code, and the National Plumbing Code of Canada. It meets the requirements of IAPMO standard PS-92-2012, which is also an ORD in Canada. The testing was completed by IAPMO in California. In order to gain the certificates, Ecodrain was reviewed and approved by an independent panel of plumbing inspectors from across North America. 

    Ecodrain is also certified for NSF 61 for the fresh water channel. NSF 61 is the pre-eminent standard for safe exposure of material to drinking water. These tests are done by a certified laboratory according to a standard test procedure in which they fill the heat exchanger with water for 21 days and then analyze the water using special equipment to see if any materials from the product have leached into the water. These tests are more stringent than the tests for most bottled water. 

    Ecodrain is also certified for NSF 372 and meets national lead-free requirements

    Ecodrain A1000 is also approved for use in the state of Massachusetts.

  • Is ecodrain easy to install?

    We designed ecodrain to be easy to install in a variety of scenarios.  In fact, it's the only drain water heat exchanger that can be effectively installed horizontally.  

    Installing ecodrain is similar to connecting plumbing piping. If you are comfortable installing piping, then you will find it easy to install ecodrain. The photograph below shows an ecodrain installed in a home. The ecodrain was installed after the home had been built, by cutting a section of the drain line on the ceiling of the basement, and connecting the ecodrain to the drain line. Now every time the homeowners shower, they save energy and money.

    ecodrain retrofitted into home

    Download the ecodrain installation guide

  • What is the ecodrain turbulator / how does it boost performance?

    The ecodrain turbulator is a precision injection molded part designed to boost the rate at which cold water picks up heat. As water flows around the turbulator, it is forced to spin in a path which creates turbulence, as can be seen below. All other things being equal, this doubles the rate at which the cold water picks up heat. At the same time, it does not restrict the flow of water and the pressure drop through the device is minimal. The turbulator itself is made from polypropylene and has been certified for NSF 61 for safe exposure to drinking water.

    The video above shows water flowing inside a transparent square tube with the ecodrain turbulator inside. Air bubbles have been added to the water to show the motion of the water. The turbulator causes the water to spin. This boosts the heat transfer in the same way that vigorously stirring a pot of water on a heated stove top will cause the water to heat up faster.

  • Is ecodrain patented?

    Ecodrain was developed after extensive research, testing, simulation, and analysis of the flow of fluids through pipes. The key to gaining high performance heat exchange in a compact and simple device lies in controlling the flow patterns of the drain water and the fresh water. 

    Based on this research, ecodrain has filed a patent under US 2013 / 0153183  

  • What is ecodrain made of?

    Ecodrain comprises a copper tube assembly, a protective copper plate, a plastic case, and two end caps. The copper tube assembly is a series of straight tubes, with a plastic turbulator inside each tube. The turbulator is a precision injection molded plastic part designed to boost heat transfer. At each end of the copper straight tubes, a manifold is welded. A copper plate is then attached on the top to protect the tubes from drain water. The copper tube assembly and plate are then inserted into the case and then a plastic end cap is applied to each end. 

    Depending on the model, the case of the ecodrain is made of either PVC or ABS. These are the most common materials for drain piping.  PVC is widely used in drain plumbing since it is a durable material. PVC is also the preferred choice in high-rise buildings as it is a self-extinguishing material that does not support the spreading of fire. 

    The fresh water channel is not exposed to PVC or ABS, and is certified for NSF 61 for safe contact with drinking water. 

  • What are the dimensions and weight of ecodrain?

    Ecodrain is 55.75 inches X 6.65 inches X 4.57 inches and weighs 24 lbs.  
    Ecodrain can also be manufactured in custom sizes – even if you require just one unit.  Please contact us for details.

  • What is the payback period for ecodrain?

    Each situation is unique but below are three scenarios that cover a wide range of circumstances.  Each assumes that the household takes three 10-minute showers per day with average water flow and typical shower water temperature.  

    Estimate Scenario #1:  High cost of electricity (~ $0.20 per kWh), self-installed (includes: $125 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install:  $575.00
    Yearly Savings:  $250.00
    Rate of Return 43.5%
    Payback in Years:  2.3
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $4.53 
    Monthly Savings: $20.83
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $16.30
     
    Over a 20 years you'll save approximately $4999.20
     
     

    Estimate Scenario #2:  Low cost of electricity (~ $0.10 per kWh), installed by a plumber (includes: $340 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install: $790.00
    Yearly Savings: $130.00
    Rate of Return 16.5%
    Payback in Years: 6.1
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $6.23
    Monthly Savings: $10.83
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $4.60

    Over a 20 years you'll save approximately $2,599.20

     

    Estimate Scenario #3:  Average cost of gas  ($14.25 per mcf), self-installed (includes: $125 shipping & installation budget)

    Cost to Purchase and Install: $575.00
    Yearly Savings: $100.00
    Rate of Return 17.4%
    Payback in Years: 5.75
       
    Monthly Cost (if financed @5% over 15 years): $4.53
    Monthly Savings: $8.33
    Immediate Net Monthly Savings: $3.80

    Over a 20 years you'll save approximately $2,000.00

  • How does the rate of return on ecodrain compare?

    Ecodrain compares favorably to other opportunities such as rooftop solar.  According to SolarEnergy.net, the best rate of return on a $30,000 rooftop solar array is in Hawaii and is calculated at a 24% return.  

    With a typical self-installation in a high electricity rate state such as California, Ecodrain's rate of return would be 43.5%

    SolarEnergy.net estimates that a rooftop solar installation in California yields a rate of return of 12%.  Even a plumber-installed ecodrain in a low cost electricity state such as Houston or Portland, yields a higher rate of return of 16.5%

  • What is the installed cost of ecodrain?

    Scenario A               Scenario B  
    Self-installed     Plumber-installed  
    Purchase price: $450.00    Purchase price: $450.00 
    Shipping to California:   $45.00   Shipping to New England:   $30.00
    Parts (pipe adaptors, PVC glue, extra cold water pipe and fittings)   $80.00   Budget for installation by a plumber:                    $310.00
    Total: $575.00   Total: $790.00
  • What other factors will increase my savings?

    The key factors that impact savings are the volume of water used and the temperature. If you currently like to take longer showers at higher temperatures, you'll have increased savings.

     

    A satisfying shower is something that many people are reluctant to give up. Consequently, some (many) people have removed the flow restrictors from their shower valves in order to have a more enjoyable, higher flow shower.

    To summarize:

    1) If you or your family take longer than average showers, you'll be saving more money

    2) If you typically take a shower that is hotter than average, you've be saving more money

    3) If you have a rain shower or use multiple shower heads, you'll be saving more money

    4) If you or your family shower more frequently, you'll be saving more money

  • 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 Ecodrain A1000, with a heat transfer length of 44”, at an equal flow of 9.5 litres per minute (2.5 gpm), will recover between 37.5% and 45% of the heat going down the drain. 

  • 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 = energy transferred 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 clog?

    No. Ecodrain has been designed to optimize drain flow and to prevent any materials from getting stuck.

     

    Watch as a large clump of hair easily passes through the ecodrain:

  • 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

    Commercial laundry can also potentially be a major source of heat recovery. Ecodrain has installed a larger M1000 unit on a clothing washer in a hospital. Please contact us if you would like more information about commercial laundry drain water heat recapture. 

  • 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?

    The ecodrain is similar to connecting plumbing piping. If you are uncomfortable installing piping, then you should have a plumber install ecodrain. 

  • Is ecodrain easy to install?

    We designed ecodrain to be easy to install in a variety of scenarios.  In fact, it's the only drain water heat exchanger that can be effectively installed horizontally.  

    Installing ecodrain is similar to connecting plumbing piping. If you are comfortable installing piping, then you will find it easy to install ecodrain. 

  • Can I use PEX tubing with ecodrain?

    Yes, all you need is an adapter from npt to pex. 

  • 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. 

  • How do I install ecodrain in a slab construction?

    Ecodrain should be installed such that it remains accessible. This can be done by making a pit in a mechanical room, garage or other convenient location. Contact us for more information.

    Drain water heat recovery slab installation

  • 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 ecodrain safe for potable water?

    Yes. Ecodrain is certified for NSF 61 which is the pre-eminent standard for safe exposure of material to drinking water. These tests are done by a certified laboratory according a standard test procedure in which they fill the heat exchanger with water for 21 days and then analyse the water using special equipment to see if any materials from the product have leached into the water. For each material, there are acceptable limits. These limits are in the order of parts per billion, which means for every 1 part of the material, there are a billion parts of water. These tests are more stringent than the tests for most bottled water. 

  • Is ecodrain lead free?

    Yes. Ecodrain is certified for NSF 372 and conforms to national lead-free requirements. 

  • 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. 

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