## Water Temperature Difference with Depth

I'm trying to find out if the water temperature in a hot water tank (household solar system) varies substantially from the top temp to the bottom. In essence in a stable system, what is the difference in temperature per centimeter drop in height of water in the tank? I assume that the tank size and shape should not matter too much (I stand to be corrected) ie a vertical tank vs a horizontal tank.

Reason for asking is that to set the temperature of the water may depend/vary substantially on the position that the temperature sensor is placed in the tank. ie top, middle or bottom.

Thanks

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 Recognitions: Science Advisor I can't give you a precise answer. However water tanks are heated at the bottom, so mixing is automatic and there shouldn't be a lot of variation.

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 In essence in a stable system, what is the difference in temperature per centimeter drop in height of water in the tank?
lots of different type systems.....see here for some discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_heating

general rule: hot water tends to rise.

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## Water Temperature Difference with Depth

Also I am not aware of any research in that direction. However the oceanic adiabatic lapse rate seems to be about 0.12C per 1000 meter. So the position of the thermometer in the tank may be irrelevant.

 Quote by mathman I can't give you a precise answer. However water tanks are heated at the bottom, so mixing is automatic and there shouldn't be a lot of variation.
My water heater has the heating element near the top of the tank. So, I switch it on, the top water can become very hot, and I can have a quick shower but the bottom of the tank is cold to touch (the top gets very hot).

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 Quote by krd My water heater has the heating element near the top of the tank.
It is pretty common -- dare I say typical to required for larger ones -- to have heating elements both at the top and bottom of the water heater. At the top only, however, would not work very well. Here's an example that discusses replacement: http://www.water-heater-repair-guide...placement.html

Here's a manufacturer's brochure picked at relative random, showing all of their larger ones with two elements: http://www.rheem.com/documents/profe...ating-brochure

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 Quote by Andre the oceanic adiabatic lapse rate seems to be about 0.12C per 1000 meter. =
I wouldn't have thought that was relevant here. That tells you how much a bucket of water would cool (due to adiabatic expansion) if you were to bring it up from depth swiftly.
If the tank is heated from below, that's where the warmest water will be, with the gradient depending on convection versus rate of loss of heat at the top. If from above, it will depend on conduction versus rate of loss of heat from the bottom.

 Thanks for the replies, unfortunately none of them really address my question. Considering that the take-off point is at the top of the geyser, and on occasion while having a shower the water will become cold, (150l tank) indicating that within possibly 20 to 30l of water the temperature variation can be quite dramatic, obviously the whole 150l has not been heated. It could possibly indicate that there is a definite unseen barrier/division between the heated water and cold water??? as opposed to a defined gradient of change in temp with depth of water in the tank.

 Quote by idp It could possibly indicate that there is a definite unseen barrier/division between the heated water and cold water??? as opposed to a defined gradient of change in temp with depth of water in the tank.
I'm pretty sure you're right about that. I'm used to boilers that get hot at the top, and are icy cold to touch at the bottom.

With the heating element at the top, the hot water would have to push it's way down. The tank is under pressure from cold water at the bottom - so it seems, and just from touching these tanks (seeing if it's hot enough yet for a shower) , the hot water is trapped near the top. This is definitely the way my boiler works - I would prefer something fancier, but I am broke. The fancier, the more expensive to install and run. In Europe, the energy costs would give you a heart attack.

My boiler heats from the top - it super heats the water (I'm deadly serious - it's very primitive - there is no thermostat, just an on switch). Which will get me a few minutes of absurdly hot water - hot enough to give serious burns if I wasn't careful. But when the super hot water runs out, it turns icy cold.

 Blog Entries: 2 Recognitions: Gold Member You want to read up on convection If the heating element is at the top of the container, it's probably mounted upside down. As warm water is less dense than cold it will just stick at the top.

 Quote by Andre If the heating element is at the top of the container, it's probably mounted upside down. As warm water is less dense than cold it will just stick at the top.
In my boiler, it's not a mistake. It's just cheaper to heat some of the water and not all of the water. A tank full of lukewarm water would be more expensive than a hot top.

I could have a hot tank all the time. But my electricity bill would be obscene.

 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor There's one design of Solar water heating that uses a small solar-electric (thermostatically controlled) powered pump which delivers very hot water directly to the top of the tank. They claim that you can have small amounts of usefully hot water available very early in the morning but that, eventually the tank will fill (downwards) with hot water. The heat exchanger uses a 'direct' system which requires a water softener to be used. It sounded like a neat idea to me but I guess it may have disadvantages.

 Quote by sophiecentaur There's one design of Solar water heating that uses a small solar-electric (thermostatically controlled) powered pump which delivers very hot water directly to the top of the tank.

Heat pumps have been around a while. A problem is the commercial installations can be expensive and often very bad. It's a combination of manufacturers, designers, and installers not knowing what they're doing. It keeps failing to take off, because people get burned on a very expensive pump that doesn't work very well. Lovely brochure, but overpriced, inefficient, and it plainly doesn't work.

Recently, I heard from a friend, his gym (in England) have a heat pump for hot water - the tank is on the roof, he knows the gym owners, and they say the pump has worked out really well and they get cheap hot water even in the winter.

I have heard (and seen video) of people in central London boring their own holes and laying copper pipe for their own heat pumps.

The water passing through the coil doesn't have to mix with the water you're trying to heat, you just have the coil run through the tank you're trying to heat (at that point you use your electric pump to compress out the heat into the water).

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