If you are considering buying a hot water recirculating pump, there is a wide range of products to choose from. They vary in size, type, features, and functionality. This article will help you to identify and buy the right one.
It reviews the top picks for the best 7 hot water recirculating pumps and provides a detailed buyer’s guide. It also answers the most common hot water pump questions.
7 Best Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
Best Overall: Watts Premier Instant Hot Water Recirculating Pump System
- Type: Timer-activated, discharge line mount
- Power rating: 120 volts
- Housing material: Aluminum
- Connector size: ¾”
- Warranty: 1-year
The Watts Pump System is our top pick for the best hot water recirculation pumps. It is among the bestselling products in its category on Amazon and has a high rating after thousands of reviews. It is convenient – easy to install and has a built-in timer. It is effective and promises to save up to 15,000 gallons of water in a year.
The maintenance-free watts pump is easy to install on existing plumbing. It fits ¾” pipes. The kit comes with all you need to install including the pump with a time, 10” cord, 2 adapters with rubber washers, valve mounting screws, sensor valve, and two 12-inch supply lines. The manufacturer also provides a detailed installation manual and a user manual. The pump housing is made of aluminum.
The recirculating hot water pump operates by creating a water pressure differential through a thermostatically controlled sensor valve. As a result, the cold or cool water in the hot water supply line bypasses into the cold-water supply line.
Its patented sensor valve opens when water in the hot water line cools below 98 F and forces the cold, cool, temperature-activated, anenergy-efficient, or lukewarm water back to the water heater. This ensures that there is hot water in the hot water supply line, which is instantaneously available on-demand throughout your home.
It is easy to install in three simple steps. Mount the pump directly on your hot water line from the heater. Then, connect the sensor valve to the furthest valve. Connect the adaptor to a power source and power on the system. The sensor valve does not require electricity to operate.
The watts pump is programmable. It features a dual setting timer that enables you to activate the pump only when you need it. Notably, the pump is not designed for use with a tankless water heater. The manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty on it.
- Type: Under-the-sink, temperature-activated
- Power rating: 24 volts
- Housing material: copper, brass, and plastic
- Connector size: 1/2”
- Warranty: 2-year
The PROZRTED HBS24-12 Smart Instant Hot Water Recirculating Pump System is designed to operate efficiently.
It has a high-quality build that is NSF certified. The housing is made of lead-free grade copper and covered with plastic, while the connector is made of brass. The under-sink installation recirculation pump fits into a ½” pipe. And comes with a 12” power cord. However, there are alternative models available for ¾” pipe size and 15” long power cords.
Whichever the model, the manufacturer offers all the necessary accessories for an easy installation. The HBS24-12 comes with two ½” NPT brass tee fittings with washers, two adapter fittings with ½” FPT to 3/8” MPT, a built-in thermostat, two self-tapping screws, two expansion screws, and a power adapter.
It has three programmable modes – energy-saving constant temperature mode,
Smart constant temperature mode, and manual mode. Its design incorporates advanced motor technology.
The pump has a smart memory function such that it can remember the last settings before it was powered off. The motor has 24v DC permanent magnet brushes that make it powerful, safe and durable. It also ensures that the motor runs super quietly.
The pump is set at a default temperature of 33C when on and 38C when off. However, you can change the default setting using a PROZRTED remote controller (it does not come with the remote).
When set in the energy-saving constant temperature mode, the water temperature setting point decreases automatically if you do not use the water heater for some time.
The pump has an advanced design that can withstand a high flow rate. It is rated for a 6.1 GPM max flow. It also has a high lift allowance of 39.3ft. It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
5 Best Water Conditioning Systems
- Type: Under-the-sink, timer and temperature activated
- Power rating: 14 Watts (115 Volts)
- Housing material: Brass
- Connector size: ½”
- Warranty: 1-year or 2-year
The Laing LHB0810092 AutoCirc Recirculation Pump is an under-sink installation recirculation pump. It should be installed on the farthest faucet from the water heater. It does not require a return line to operate.
The unit is quite energy efficient and has a 14 Watts power rating. It comes with a 6-foot power cord, that is permanently fixed on the pump. This Laing recirculation pump is a high performer and you require only one unit for all fixtures along a hot water plumping line. It can save you up to 17,000 gallons of water in a year.
The pump has a compact, sturdy, space-saving design. Its body is made of lead-free brass. It is powered by an electronically commutated permanent magnet motor (ECM/PM technology), which is specifically designed for potable water systems.
The motor’s ball bearing is made of ceramic, while the impeller bearing cap is made of graphite. These materials make the motor highly efficient and durable. The impeller is well balanced and operates silently. The motor bracket has plastic snap rings for easy installation.
The pump has a built-in temperature sensor, which turns it on when the water temperature drops below 85F. The cool water is pumped into the hot cold-water line and back to the heater. The pump turns off automatically when water temperatures in the hot water line reach 95F. The recirculation pump is designed with an auto closure shut-off valve that prevents cold or hot water from either supply line from mixing.
It also has a built-in fixed thermostat and a built-in 24-hour timer. The timer enables you to select operating times depending on your family’s hot water usage.
The manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty from the date of manufacture or a 1-year warranty from the date of purchase.
- Type: Direct line mount, manual
- Power rating: 120 Volts
- Housing material: Stainless steel
- Connector size: 3/4”
- Warranty: None
The KOLERFLO circulation water pump RS15-6 is one of the most affordable hot water recirculation systems on the market. It is highly efficient with low energy consumption. It works well even with tankless water heaters. It also prevents your supply lines from freezing. It is available in different color options including green, and red.
It has a compact, easy to install design. All you need is a wrench to connect the pump to your hot water line. The manufacturer recommends a shaft horizontal mounting position. The pump housing is made of stainless steel, which makes it leakproof, high-temperature resistant, and anti-fraying. Its motor’s insulation is IP44 rated to ensure water does not get in.
It can be installed in different settings including city buildings, air conditioning, solar circulating water, water and pressurized with industrial equipment, suburban villas, etc.
Although the recirculation pump is manually operated, you can install a “smart plug” to enable you to schedule when the pump runs. The smart plug can be operated remotely to turn on the pump during off-schedule hours. It’s also compatible with a wide range of timers.
- Type: Direct line mount, manual
- Power rating: 115 Volts
- Housing material: Bronze
- Connector size: 3/4”
- Warranty: 3-year warranty
The Taco bronze circulator pump has a unique, compact design that incorporates a replaceable cartridge. The cartridge constitutes of all the moving parts for easy replacement. As such, you do not have to replace the entire pump in case any of the moving parts gets damaged.
This Taco pump is also self-lubricating with no mechanical seal for exceptional reliability. The pump housing is made of bronze for enhanced durability. It has a connection that fits perfectly on a ¾” pipe. The body is NSF certified for low-lead compliance.
It runs on a 0.025 horsepower motor that is powerful yet energy-efficient. The motor operates silently. It is multifunctional. It is not limited to being used as a hot water pump only. It can also be used in hydronic heating, heat recovery units, water source heat pumps, hydro-air heating, or cooling among others.
Taco provides a 3-year warranty on the recirculation pump from the date of manufacture. Note that it does not come with a timer, although you can install an off-the-shelf timer.
- Type: Direct line mount, time-activated
- Power rating: 115 Volts
- Housing material: Stainless steel and bronze
- Connector size: 3/4”
- Warranty: Not indicated
The Grundfos GRU-595916 hot water recirculation pump is one of the most durable hot water recirculation systems on the market. It has a sturdy construction made of bronze house and stainless-steel pump. The manufacturer backs it up with a 2-year warranty.
It is versatile and can also be used to circulate the liquid in cooling and air-conditioning systems. It operates on a single-phase motor. It comes with a 6-foot line cord and a timer. The timer enables you to schedule the pump operations and hot water supply.
- Type: Direct line mount, manual
- Power rating: 120 Volts
- Housing material: Aluminum
- Connector size: 3/4”
- Warranty: 2-year warranty
The Happybuy RS 15-6 Hot Water Recirculating Pump is smart and versatile. It can also be used in different settings including city buildings, air conditioning, solar circulating water, water and pressurized with industrial equipment, suburban villas, etc.
It has a high-quality build with the pump housing made of aluminum. The motor is also designed for durability and efficiency. Its impeller is made of corrosion-resistant carbon composite while the shaft is made of steel.
It is easy to install with a wrench. It comes with an NPT ¾ inch inlet/outlet connector. The pump operates silently with minimal power consumption. It is effective even with a high flow rate of up to 9.5GPM. The highest head can reach up to 20ft boosting water flow.
Its most outstanding feature is the 3-speed circulating switch, which enables you to control flow rate and energy consumption. It has a built-in, highly sensitive electronic sensor with three-speed control. You can set the pump to an automatic mode for a convenient operation.
Everything You Need to Know About Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
What is a Hot Water Recirculating Pump?
A hot water recirculating pump is a device that helps to improve the efficiency of your water heater in delivering hot water.
How Does a Water Recirculating Pump Work?
It works by returning unused hot water to the water heater for re-heating once it cools down. As such, it ensures there is heat available when you need it. It also helps to reduce water wastage.
Why Do You Need a Recirculating Pump?
Different people invest in a hot water recirculating pump for different reasons. While some people are keen to conserve water, others want to lower the water bill, yet others don’t want to have to wait before hot water starts running through the faucets. A hot water recirculating pump can also prevent your pipes from freezing during the colder seasons.
If you usually wait for more than 30 seconds before hot water starts running down your hot water faucets, a water recirculating pump will be handy. It ensures that hot water is available instantly as there is no cold water in the supply lines. It particularly works well in large houses where hot water takes time to travel from the heater to the faucets. Or, if the hot water has a low pressure that inhibits its delivery to the faucet on time.
Since you do not have to allow cold water to run for some seconds before the water comes in, you conserve water and minimize your water bill. You may think that the amount of cold water that pours out just before the hot water kicks in is negligible, but some studies suggest that it can add up to 5,000 -10,000 gallons per year.
Advantages of Water Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
- They have a small compact design that fits even in tight places
- They are readily available both online and in stores at an affordable price
- They are easy to install and maintain
- Minimize the volume of water waste
- Provide hot water instantaneously
What are the Downsides of a Water Recirculating Pump?
Hot water recirculating pumps need to be installed near a power source since most have a short power cable. The installation proximity to a power source poses the risk of electrocution or electric fire in case the pump leaks.
Corrosion of the Water Lines
One of the major disadvantages of a recirculating pump is that it can accelerate the tear and wear of the supply lines. The back and forth flow of the water causes corrosion on the pipes, especially at the bends and angles. It also causes corrosion within the pump. Opt for stainless steel circulation pumps as they have better corrosion resistance properties.
Additional Point of Weakness
Any equipment or appliance you add to your plumping system adds another point of potential failure. Recirculating pumps are prone to failure as a result of a motor breakdown, broken impellers, or cracks on the housing. Therefore, it is important to buy a reputable brand and ensure it is installed properly to minimize the risk of system failure.
How Long Do Recirculating Pumps Last?
High-quality recirculation pumps can last 10-15 years. However, the life expectancy of the pump can be affected by the quality of water. If the water coming into the pump is hard and unfiltered, it can cause limescale build-up, which can lead to corrosion.
Types of Water Recirculation Pumps
There are different types of hot water recirculating pumps depending on the point of installation and operation mechanism.
Dedicated Return Line Recirculating Pump
This type of recirculation pump is used on systems that have a dedicated return line. A dedicated return line plumping system is set up such that the hot water pipe branches from the main supply line to individual faucets and fixtures.
Once you’ve closed your faucets, the pump channels any water that was remaining in the mainline back to the heater through the return line. The return line completes the loop from the water heater to the faucet and back.
Dedicated return line recirculating pumps are the most affordable type of hot water recirculation pump. However, they are not appropriate if your plumbing system does not have a return line. This product range has reduced on the market as hot water line recirculating pumps have become more popular.
Under-the-Sink Recirculating Pump
As the name suggests, these types of pumps are designed for point-of-use under the sink. They are usually installed on the farthest faucet in the house. Before buying one, ensure that there is an outlet under the sink.
Discharge Line Mount Recirculating Pump
These are the most common type of hot water recirculation pumps. They are easy to install on the hot water discharge line. You then have to install a sensor valve on the supply line farthest from the water heater.
Tankless Water Heater Recirculation Pump
This type is designed for use on tankless water heaters. It is mounted on the outlet line of the water heater. The pump has a temperature sensor and a shut-off valve that prevents water from flowing back to the water heater. Once the hot water has reached the furthest fixture, the sensor notifies the pump to shut off.
Different models of tankless water heater recirculation pumps are compatible with specific tankless heater models. Therefore, ensure that the recirculation pump you are considering is compatible with your tankless water heater.
On-Demand Recirculation Pumps
These are user-activated. Some are smart and 100% automated while others are operated manually. Some sophisticated models can be operated remotely. On-demand hot water recirculation pumps are highly energy efficient as they only run when there are water demands.
A time-activated recirculating pump is quite efficient. It has a 24-hour timer that can be programmed to turn off during times when there is no demand for hot water and turn on when there is demand for hot water. The downside with time-activated pumps is that you will not have access to hot water outside of the preset time unless you turn on the pump manually.
A temperature-activated hot water recirculation pump has a built-in temperature sensor and thermostat. When the water temperature drops below the set temperature, the pump comes on. It sends the cool water to the cold water line and back to the water heater. On the other hand, when the water in the hot water supply lines exceeds the set temperatures, the pump turns off.
Some manufacturers incorporate a timer, thermostat, and temperature sensor in their hot water recirculation pumps to optimize their efficiency. Others incorporate either a timer or a temperature sensor and thermostat.
Buying Guide: Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Hot Water Recirculating Pump
The right recirculating pump should not compromise your water flow rate and pressure. As such, its flow rate rating should be within the same range as your water supply’s flow rate.
With that said, most pumps will cause a minimal loss in pressure. That is fine as it does not lead to significant pressure loss in the outlet. However, keep away from the units that cause significant pressure loss. Check previous customer reviews for any indication that the unit causes significant water pressure loss.
Some recirculation water pumps operate quietly while others can be noisy. Some are so noisy that they disturb even the neighbors. Check customer reviews to determine whether the pump operates noisily or noiselessly. You want to go for a pump that is silent and without vibration.
You want to go for a pump whose housing is made of durable material such as stainless steel, bronze, or aluminum alloy. On the other hand, materials such as cast iron, brass, and steel are less durable.
Consider the intended use of the water and whether the housing material will compromise its safety. For instance, cast-iron makes water unsuitable for drinking. It is prone to rust and releases rust particles in the water.
Also, pay attention to the material used to make the motor. Ceramic is the most preferable for making the impeller as it is water-resistant, heat-resistant, and operates smoothly. While a stainless steel rotor is powerful enough to provide the required horsepower.
Compatibility with Your Plumping System
The two main factors to consider when determining the compatibility of a hot water recirculation pump with your plumping system are the type of water heater and pipe size.
Some pumps are compatible with all types of water heaters. Others are designed for exclusive use with tankless water heaters. Most are compatible with tank water heaters.
Check if the indicated connector size of the recirculation pump matches the size of your pipes. If not, establish if you can switch with a matching connector.
Ease of Installation
Most hot water recirculating pumps are easy to install using readily available tools. You can do it yourself within an hour or two. In most cases, you need a pipe wrench, which the manufacturer may or may not supply. However, all recirculating pumps come with the necessary connectors and valves.
Most manufacturers provide a detailed instruction manual with their products. Follow the steps provided to install the unit. You may also check out online installation videos for your specific model of a recirculation pump system.
Keep in mind that there might be a bit of water spillage during installation, particularly when you open the pipe even though you have closed the main supply line. Therefore, keep a bucket and towel close by to collect and wipe any water that spills.
Generally, hot water recirculation pumps are maintenance-free such that you can install, program, and forget. In case of damage, you may need to replace the entire unit depending on the damaged parts.
For instance, if the power cord is damaged, you can replace it if it is not permanently attached to the pump. In most cases, motor damage necessitates the replacement of the entire unit. Unless the pump has a replaceable cartridge, e.g. the Taco bronze circulator pump.
The hot water recirculating pump you choose must have at least a 1-year warranty. As such, if you encounter manufacturer’s defects you can return it for repair or exchange. Some sellers and manufacturers also provide a 100% money-back guarantee. The longer the warranty and guarantee period the better. Most provide a 1 or 2 years warranty either from the date of manufacturing or purchase.
Note that different manufacturers have specific instructions and requirements that you must adhere to, to uphold the validity of the warranty. For instance, some manufacturers require that the pump is installed by a professional, otherwise, the warranty is rendered void. Others require that you buy directly from their website or store.
The Programmability of the Pump
A programmable recirculation pump system offers enhanced energy and operational efficiency. Most are time or temperature programmed. You can also enjoy the best of both worlds by buying a time-activated pump and fitting it with an aftermarket temperature sensor and vice versa.
Recirculating pumps are available at different price points depending on their specifications. Don’t just buy a recirculation pump for its price. Evaluate it against specs and features of the products in its price range. Go for a product that caters to your needs and has compatibility with your water heater and plumbing system.
A hot water pump can significantly reduce the amount of time hot water takes to flow out of your faucets. The best hot water recirculation pumps are durable and compatible with various features of your plumbing system including types of water heater, flow rate, whether or not there is a return line, and pipe size. You can choose between different types. While a manual recirculation pump works just fine, automatic ones offer great convenience.
Does a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Work with Tank Water Heaters?
Most hot water recirculating pumps are designed to work with tank water heaters. This is because they leverage the tank heater’s ability to heat water throughout and to hold hot water. As a result, tankless water heaters require a specialized type of recirculation pump. Generally, tankless water heater pumps have a higher power rating than their counterparts.
Do Hot Water Recirculating Pumps Increase Your Electricity Bill?
It depends on the type of recirculating pump and its power rating. Most have a power rating of less than 100W, which does have a significant power consumption. Those that have an automatic timer channel hot water on-demand. Therefore, they do not run throughout.
There might be additional energy loss depending on the distance between the heater and the furthest hot water faucet, and also the temperature gradient between the hot water and the surrounding environment. Insulating the pipes minimizes energy loss due to the temperature gradient.
Is a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Worth It?
The right hot water recirculating pump is worth it. It can help you save on energy and water bills. It also ensures that you have immediate hot water access. As long as it has a high-quality build and a reasonable power rating, it should serve you for a long time without using up too much energy.