Invention of the Electric Water Heater - Possibly Invented by Edwin Ruud, A Norwegian Mechanical Engineer Who Immigrated To America.

Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions

I used Google's patent search to search for "water heaters" and "electric storage water heaters".




 

 

 

 

 

Edwin Ruud a Norwegian mechanical engineer, inventor of the electric water heater.

I've read in several places that Edwin Ruud a Norwegian mechanical engineer, who immigrated to Pittsburg, is the one who invented the electric water heater  in 1889. Ruud founded the Ruud Manufacturing Company, which is still in operation today. That's about it though, there just doesn't seem to be much information available. Not on the internet anyway. Apparently not a famous inventor or famous invention?

The invention of the electric tankless water heater:

If you are interested in who invented the electric tankless water heater you not much better off. I used Google's patent search to search for "water heaters" and "electric storage water heaters". I found a seemingly endless number of patents having to do with electric water heaters nearly all tankless versions, and none intended for use in the home. I was unable to find Ruud's electric storage water heater patents, but plenty of gas fired water heater patents. No famous inventions though.

I found an interesting patent for a little gas-powered furnace that you could lower into a bathtub full of water until the water was hot.  Odd as it may seem the device has no place for air to enter except down the flue... which would not work well at all. Probably was never even prototyped.  Patent number: 1045416

There were all kinds of mechanical mechanisms to control the amount of heat being put into the water, and any number of patents claiming to maximize the heating surface exposed to water.

Storage Tank Water Heaters:

Most people can easily picture a water heater as a tall white tank in the garage, at least in my part of the country. This is known as a storage type water heater because it stores a tank full of hot water. Storage water heaters are generally electric, natural gas, propane gas, or oil fired.  The tank is enclosed in a thick layer of insulation to reduce heat loss over time from the tank. 

Tankless type water heaters:

Tankless water heaters don't have a tank full of water. You can picture a coil of pipe with a flame running up through the middle of the coil of pipe. By the time the water travels all the way through the pipe it exits the heater hot, hopefully.  If the water flow is too high the water won't have time to fully heat.  Also, the flame only turns on when water is flowing in the pipe.  So getting a trickle of hot water doesn't work with tankless heaters.  You need at least one half gallon per minute of hot water flow to activate most tankless water heaters. 

 

 

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