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					                 Know your water geyser
With winters at our doorstep, many of us must be getting ready to buy water geysers.
But before you buy, find out which is the best geyser for you. The results are based on
a step-by-step study conducted by Consumer VOICE. And if you have already bought
the wrong geyser, well…there is always a second chance

An electric water heater or geyser is something that most of us use to have a ready
supply of hot water at home, especially during winters. Immersion rods are a popular
alternative but most consumers like to graduate from an immersion rod to a water heater
because of its convenience, and relative safety from electric shocks. What we know as
water geysers or heaters are actually called “stationary storage type electric water
heaters” and their capacity generally ranges from 6-L to 200-L. The 25-L capacity water
heater is, however, the most sold category of water heaters, as found in the market
surveys done in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangalore by Consumer Voice.
    The water heaters that Consumer VOICE tested were essentially of two types –
“closed” and “vent”. While vent type water heaters are high on safety, the closed types
are more commonly used because they are compact. In the vent type, one needs to
provide         an       open-to-air        vent        or   an       outlet      in     the
form of a pipe to allow any pressure to escape.
    The geyser market is alive with new technologies all set to enter consumer homes in
the future. Consumers may give as much thought to the technology and aesthetic appeal
of geysers, as they do to some other basic features. However, the qualities of safety,
durability, and efficiency still remain top priorities.
    Consumer VOICE tested 10 leading brands of the 25-L capacity water heaters. Tests
revealed that Bajaj is ahead of all other brands, outper-forming popular choices like
Usha, Venus, and Crompton in most tests. In fact, Crompton finished last. Bajaj is also
ahead of respected names like Racold, which is manufactured by a 100 percent
subsidiary of one of the largest geyser companies of the world – the Italian Merloni
Termo Sanitari. However, even Bajaj has drawbacks in quality and that is the reason
why it is a good buy and not the best buy.
    One of the findings from the tests shows that good performance does not necessarily
ensure safety. For example, brand Remson which otherwise does well in energy
efficiency (measured in terms of Standing Loss – Standing Loss per 24 hr has been
defined as “the energy consumption of a filled water heater, after steady-state conditions
have been reached, when connected to the electrical supply during any 24 hr when no
water has been withdrawn”) as also in most other tests, failed in the “water pressure
test” because its tank leaked while it was being tested. Crompton gave a similar
performance in the same test. This can have serious consequences as hot water can
leak from the geyser while a consumer is using it, resulting in serious burns. Besides
this, it can also lead to short-circuiting of wires and damage to the heater insulation.
    Overall, all geysers give a satisfactory performance and stay within limits of the
maximum energy consumption levels set by BIS, in contrast to the recent tests of ceiling
fans and refrigerators, where the performance of some brands was shocking in this
regard. All brands bear the ISI mark, but that does not seem to ensure compliance with
BIS standards. On testing, Johnson‟s capacity turned out to be 22-L instead of 25-L. All
brands have declared their “input” value (power in Watts) as 2000 W but actual results of
some brands vary from 1900 W to 2100 W. Such variation is undesirable since low input
leads to higher reheating time of water.
    Consumer VOICE also feels that the BIS standards for some parameters allow
manufacturers a wide margin of error, which is detrimental to consumer interest. For
instance, for power input, BIS allows a deviation of 10 percent from the value the
manufacturers have declared; for temperature setting of the thermostat at 75 0C, the BIS
lets the actual temperature go up to 85 0C. For heaters, BIS permits the manufacturers a
5 percent error margin, which means that a heater claiming to be of 25-L capacity can
legally be of just 23.75-L!

Inadequate Labeling
Lack of adequate labeling again came to light in our test findings, as some brands did
not declare some mandatory information. Crompton, for instance, consistently did not
declare some fundamental performance values like the temperature at which it heats
water (known as the water output temperature), its reheating time, or its energy
consumption.

How Hot is the Water?
One of the main criteria of judging a water geyser‟s performance is the temperature of
heated water. Our tests found that most geysers heat the water to between 50 and 55
0C. All brands heat water at 50 0C or above.
   All brands had declared what temperatures the geysers heat water (known as the
mean water output temperature) except for Crompton. Interestingly, some of the brands
performed better than their self-declared values.

What is the Heating Time?
One of the important qualities expected from a geyser is that it should take minimal time
to heat (or reheat) water. Remson and Bajaj did well by taking just 34 and 34.45
minutes, respectively, as reheating time, while Spherehot took the longest at 50.52
minutes. Less reheating time not only adds to convenience but also ensures that energy
bills remain low.

Geysers Need to Improve on their Energy Performance
When a geyser is kept turned on for a certain period of time, it switches itself on and off
according to the water temperature that has to be maintained. For instance, if the water
temperature is to be maintained at 45 0C, as soon as the temperature of the water drops
lower than the specified mark, the geyser starts to re-heat the water till the temperature
of the water goes above the specified mark. This is when it stops heating. This process
goes on for as long as we keep the geyser turned on, and this results in loss of energy.
    An energy-efficient geyser should minimize this loss and, although all brands of
geysers meet the BIS requirements of energy efficiency which specifies that the energy
loss should not go beyond 1.54 kWh a day (kWh stands for energy consumed in kilo
Watts in one hour), according to the new draft energy labeling ratings, most brands of
geysers would just get “average” rating in terms of energy conservation (known as
„standing loss‟ – pg 26, col 3). It should also be noted that the standing loss of brands
such as Racold is more than what they have actually stated the value to be, while some
brands such as Crompton Greaves, Usha and Remson do not declare the value at all.
This can be especially misleading for consumers who want to make their buying decision
on the basis of energy consumption since energy conservation is a critical factor in
brand performance.
    Brands such as Crompton Greaves and Hotflo would get “poor” rating according to
the new BIS energy labeling standards while Venus and Racold would get just “1-Star”
rating.
   The most energy-efficient brand is Remson which qualifies for a 5-Star energy rating
on the basis of its energy consumption value of just 0.79 kWh. However, we cannot
recommend Remson as a good buy since its safety performance was dismal in the
“water pressure test” but its energy performance is something that can surely be
emulated by other brands.
   As far as the energy input or consumption is concerned, all brands have specified that their power
input value is 2000 W, but actual input of some brands is off the mark by about 100 Watt.

Safety
Safety is as important a feature in water geysers. Incidents of geysers bursting and
injuring people, sometimes fatally, are not uncommon. This happens when water
pressure developing inside the geyser goes beyond the safe limits and results in an
explosion. In the “water pressure test,” Crompton and Remson failed to withstand
pressure of 90 N per cm 2 for five minutes, thus failing in the test.
   On testing, all geysers were found to have adequate protection against electric shock,
operated well under overloading conditions, withstood moisture, provided good
insulation resistance and electric strength, and had adequate stability and mechanical
strength.
   All brands had a thermal cut-out device, they were drip-proof, and had good quality
internal wiring. However, only two brands, Venus and Thermoking managed to pass all
tests. The other brands had some drawback or the other. Racold, for instance, had no
antisiphonage hole provided in the inlet tube which is a BIS Standards requirement. This
hole is provided for ensuring water level higher than the top portion of the heating
element. So there is no dry heating.

Water Temperature Control
The thermostat is meant to control water temperatures from going too high or falling too
low within the pre-set limits. According to BIS standards, if the thermostat is set at 75
0C, the water temperature should not exceed 85 0C, but in case of Bajaj and Usha, it
reached 94.5 and 92 0C, respectively, thus letting the water attain a very high temperature. Users have
an option of setting the thermostat at whatever temperature they like within a specified range.
The thermal cut-out operates when the thermostat device malfunctions or when dry
heating takes place. The purpose of the thermal cut-out is to cut the supply of power to
the geyser if the temperature reaches around 99 0C. In all brands, except for Bajaj, the
thermal cut-out functioned between 92 and 95 0C, but in the case of Bajaj, it went up to
96 0C. Usha, on the other hand, did not mark 75 0C temperature indicator on the
thermostat. This can put users in a quandary about how to identify the 75 0C mark.
An approximate 500,000 water heaters are sold in India every year. Electric water
geysers are particularly suited to the Indian need of supply of hot water during the winter
months, when the temperatures dip. Indian bathing habits have traditionally been
sustainable and one can make do with just half a bucket of hot water for one person‟s
daily bathing needs. A 25-L water heater is ideal for the purposes of a small family.
The popular Indian system of installation of a water heater in each home is an energy
and water-efficient option. The other alternative used in residential buildings is
installation of a big heating device, generally in the basement of buildings. It not only
requires a constant supply of energy but also needs to give a regular supply of hot water
to every household at all times of the day. This is in direct contrast to an electric heater,
which can be switched on and turned off according to needs.
    Water heaters also come in popular types like “storage” water heaters (the ones we
have tested) and “instant” water heaters. While instant water heaters provide hot water
at the mere press of a button, they tend to consume more energy and the water output is
also low. Instant water heaters are very popular in areas where the temperature does
not dip too low or the need for hot water is immediate, like in a kitchen while washing
utensils.
Storage water heaters are well-suited to the needs of a home where a stored supply of
hot water is needed, for example, a family of three who can easily use a 25-L geyser
capacity heated once to have their respective baths. Storage water heaters are also
relatively more energy-efficient than instant water heaters.

Brands Tested (performance and their ranks)
n Bajaj – Energy Smart
n Venus – B/25/V
n Usha – WH 1125 D Lexus
n Hotflo
n Remson – Goldline
n Thermoking
n Johnson – Max Heat
n Racold – AL-25B
n Spherehot – 25 VPT (R)
  Ver Class II
n      Crompton Greaves – SWH 325

Bajaj, Venus and Usha are “good buys” among the brands tested but even these
brands have a long way to go before they can claim to be market leaders in terms of
quality. Tests by Consumer VOICE reveal that most brands need to spruce up their
safety as well as energy efficiency features to match the upcoming mandatory energy
labeling standards set by BIS. Manufacturers must also give consumers detailed
information to help them choose the desired brand at the time of purchase itself.


Even the top good-buy Bajaj has scope to improve its energy efficiency.
Consumers can take heart from the upcoming mandatory energy labeling
standards which will allow them to know a brand’s energy performance at a
glance from the “energy star” rating.


Table 1: What does running a geyser cost us?

Brand        Standing       What Energy    Actual Cost     Actual Cost    What You
             Loss of        Rating they    (in Rs) of      (in Rs) for    Over-spend
             Energy in a    would Get      Running for     Running for    (in Rs) in a
             Day            according to   a Day           a Year (@      Year on
             (kWh/24 hrs)   BIS Draft      (@ Rs 4 per     Rs 4 per       Energy Bills
                            Standards      unit)           unit)          (0.79
                                                                          kWh/24 h as
                                                                          standard)
Remson       0.79           5 Star         3.16            1153.40        -
                            (Best)
Bajaj         1.028           3 Star         4.11            1500. 88        347.48
Thermokin     1.052           3 Star         4.20            1535.92         382.52
g
Johnson       1.098           3 Star         4.39            1603.08         449.68
Usha          1.24            2 Star         4.96            1810.4          657
Venus         1.252           1 Star         5.00            1827.92         674.52
Racold        1.266           1 Star         5.06            1848.36         694.96
Spherehot     1.283           1 Star         5.13            1873.18         719.78
Crompton      1.41            Poor           5.64            2058. 6         905.2
Hotflo        1.447           Poor           5.78            2112.62         959.22

The good-buy geysers!
Bajaj – Energy Smart gets an overall score of 91.43 in our tests, and stands at the
number one position among the 10 brands of water heaters tested. It heats water to an
acceptable temperature of 52.8 0C and has one of the lowest heating time of 34.45
minutes. Bajaj does well in all safety tests, but its Energy Smart name is not really
appropriate. Compared to Remson which has an energy consumption of just 0.79 kWh,
Bajaj lags behind at 1.028 kWh, thus exerting extra monetary cost on users in terms of
energy bills.
   According to the new draft energy labeling standards, Bajaj would get a 3-Star rating
according to its present energy performance. Bajaj has an MRP of Rs 4,500 and has a
competitive price of Rs 3,800. It provides a 5-year guarantee on the tank and a 2-year
guarantee on the heating element.
   Venus stands two points behind Bajaj at 89.44 points. It heats water in 39.9 minutes,
and stands behind Bajaj and Usha is this regard. In energy conservation, however, it
would get just a 1-Star rating. There is not much to choose between Bajaj and Venus in
terms of the price since Venus has an MRP of Rs 4,700 and a competitive selling price
of Rs 3,800. It provides a 1-year overall guarantee with a 5-year guarantee for the tank.
Usha gets a score of 88.52 and is not far behind Venus in overall performance. Its
energy conservation in terms of Standing Loss is better than that of Venus as it gets a
2-Star rating in energy efficiency. Usha has a very competitive reheating time of 38
minutes and gives a warranty of
5 years on the tank and a 1-year warranty on the entire geyser. Usha has an MRP of
Rs 4,499 and a competitive selling price of Rs 3,350.

Remember these tips before you buy your water heater

First, identify your usage needs. Storage water heaters come in different sizes. The
number of family members should give you a fair idea on what capacity heater to buy.
   Safety and energy efficiency are the most important performance criteria in judging a
water heater. With new energy labeling standards being put into force by BIS,
consumers will know which storage water heater is most energy-efficient. In our tests,
only Remson qualified for a 5-star rating as per BIS draft standards. As far as safety is
concerned, most brands do relatively well except Crompton and Remson.
   If your bathroom or kitchen has a low ceiling, it‟s a good idea to go for a “horizontal”
type geyser, and if you have a single-storey home and like additional safety, a “vent-
type” geyser would be a wise option. A vent-type geyser needs a pipe to go up from the
room to the roof, to allow any pressure to escape, but they can always be converted into
the “closed type” by clamping a bolt on them, which is provided by the manufacturer.
   Choose a heater which gives a guarantee instead of a warranty, because a guarantee
ensures better service. Also, buy a brand which gives a reasonable guarantee period on
the heating element since it is the element which is the key component of the heater.
Among the brands tested by Consumer VOICE, most give just a one or two-year
guarantee on the element, while for the heater tank the guarantee goes up to five years
(for details see comparative performance chart).

Tips for Maintenance and Performance
If your geyser presents a problem, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Always contact the
authorized service center since tinkering with the heater can nullify the guarantee or
warranty. Besides, it can also compromise the safety performance of the heater.
    The thermostat of the heater can be set according to needs. If water temperature
requirements are lower than what the manufacturer has pre-set, one can set the thermostat
accordingly and reduce electricity consumption. The thermostat is a sensitive device and should not be
changed frequently.
If you live in a multi-storey building, make sure you use the “pressure reducing valve,”
since that not only enhances safety, but also does not give the manufacturers or
service people any excuse to nullify the guarantee or warranty.

How Consumer Voice tests products
Comparative testing of the 10 brands of 25-L capacity water heater was carried out at
the Regional Test Centre (North) Delhi – an independent and NABL-accredited
laboratory. Our tests used relevant BIS standards as benchmarks for the testing proced-
ures. Our test program for geysers had the following prerequisites:
n The testing lab should be independent and recognized. It should be suitably equipped
   and staffed to carry out all tests.
n Testing equipment/measuring instruments used for testing should have been
   periodically checked and calibrations and the records of these activities shall be made
   available.
n The lab should ensure that adequate quality control practices have been carried out
   during the tests and it should produce evidence of such practices.
n The lab should preserve the raw test data report and the test results in an approved
   format.
n The lab shall maintain strict confidentiality about the tests and should not
   communicate the test results or any other information to anybody not authorized by
   VOICE.
n        In addition to the above points, all samples are masked and coded before
testing.

 Courtesy: H. Wadhwa, Sr. Manager - Technical, VOICE, 441, Jangpura, Mathura
 Road, New Delhi
Email: cvoice@vsnl.net

				
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