Our personal water usage is quite high here in the states. According to USGS, we use on average 80 to 100 gallons per person on a daily basis! Many of those gallons are wasted by running water waiting for it to get hot. Nothing beats watching fresh potable water run straight down the drain. All of this wasted water costs money, tacking on dollars to your municipal water bill.
There is a solution, however. You can install a hot water recirculating pump, joy! These special pumps drastically reduce the wait time and waste of waiting for hot water.
In this article, I go over the best hot water recirculating pumps on the market and give you helpful information about these special pumps.
Watch my video on hot water recirculating pumps!
Hot Water Recirculating Pump Product Comparison Table
Laing Autocirc E10
Apcom UT1 Undersink
Hot Water Line Mount
Hot Water Line Mount
Tankless Water Heater
Hot Water Line Mount
Built In Timer
6.25 x 6 x 5 inches
8.43 x 7.76 x 7.68 inches
Part One: Hot Water Recirculation Pump Product Reviews
Watts Premier Instant Hot Water Recirculating Pump System
Pros and Cons
The Watts 500800 Hot Water Recirculating Pump is an excellent pump as it comes with all the hardware you need.
The installation process is also very simple, just install on your water heater hot water discharge. Then install the sensor valve at the farthest faucet.
Watts has high customer reviews for the quality of the product. Many say that it lasts for years, even in extremely hard water conditions. The pump runs quietly and has a built-in timer, another component that you do not have to purchase separately.
A couple of things to note is that if there is a power failure, the timer will need to be reset. I would recommend plugging in the pump to a smart outlet that can be accessed remotely via wifi.
This pump is not compatible with all water heaters, namely tankless water heaters and water heaters with heat traps as there is an incompatibility with the nipple connectors on the trap.
The manufacturer claims that you can save up to 15,000 gallons of water per year with this unit. Your results will vary but water savings will likely be in the thousands of gallons.
The pump itself is nearly silent, but some users have complained that it takes up to 30 minutes to heat the water through the return line. Make sure to plan in advance when the timer turns the pump on.
There have been some complaints that support is not great from this company, but they will follow up eventually.
Overall, the Watts pump is a great choice, just make sure that your water heater is compatible before buying.
Pros and Cons
Grundfos pumps are well known for their durability and can last for many years. One user reported that his Grundfos pump lasted an astonishing 24 years! This pump will do the job it was built for and runs so quietly it's hard to tell that it is even on.
The Grundfos pump installs exactly like the Watts pump and is a direct competitor. This pump is more expensive than the Watts pump, but the reviews are higher along with a long withstanding high reputation.
Grundfos has upped their game with a digital timer that is not attached to the pump, therefore you can plug in the timer to any outlet for easy access. The timer can be on battery as well so you don't lose your settings. I still recommend getting a smart outlet so you have more control over the timer and can remotely switch the timer on and off from your smart phone.
Although Grundfos offers a long 36 month warranty, some users have had issues with the warranty being honored via Amazon purchase. Amazon will ship a replacement if the product is faulty.
Overall, this pump is more expensive than the Watts, but the Grundfos brand has an excellent reputation and the pump follows suit.
You can download the Grundfos UP15 manual here.
Best For Tankless Water Heater:
Laing AutoCirc E10 Series Recirculating Pump
Pros and Cons
The Laing Autocirc E10 Series pump is the only pump on the market that is compatible with all tankless water heaters. Although it is expensive, the quality is high and the pump is reliable. The pump is easy to install right under the sink of the farthest faucet.
Laing does recommend that a professional install this pump, but if you are a handy person, especially in plumbing, you should have no problems with the installation.
After much research, this is the only pump that I have found that is compatible with all tankless water heaters! Because of this, and the high quality materials used to build the pump, the price point is really high! But if you have a tankless water heater and are having issues with getting hot water fast, this pump will do the job.
As with anything manufactured, there are reports of issues with this pump.
Some people complain about leaks. Others complain about a whistling noise when the pump starts and stops. Some have to wait for cold water. These are typical issues but if you have any serious problems, there is a 24 month manufacturer's warranty.
Overall, this is an excellent hot water recirculating pump specifically designed for tankless water heaters.
Best For Under Sink:
Apcom UT1 Undersink Hot Water Recirc Pump
Pros and Cons
There are many good reasons to purchase an under sink hot water recirculating pump. First, the access is super easy. Just install it in under the farthest faucet from the hot water heater.
Second, the installation is easier than the standard recirc pump installs. All you need is a wrench and some optional plumbers tape, although the compression fittings fit very snug.
Third, there is hardly any noise that comes from this pump, so you won't be bothered with the under sink installation. Just make sure to screw down pump valve to lessen vibrational noise.
One thing I do not like about the under sink pumps are the need for a close outlet. Not all of our basins are installed with an under sink outlet, so you may be inconvenienced by an extension cord running through your bathroom. If I didn't have an under sink outlet, I would probably go with a hot water line mount model.
You also may have to purchase additional hardware as some valve hookups are not compatible with this pump style. This is not a big deal as this hardware is available at most hardware stores or online.
Overall, this is a great pump! But it is rather expensive!
Download the manual here.
BOKYWOX RS15-6SB Hot Water Recirculation Pump
Pros and Cons
If you want a hot water recirculating pump but don't want to spend the big bucks, then the Bokywox is right for you. This recirc pump's price tag comes in way lower than all the competitors on the market and still manages to get high remarks from its users.
Do note that there are two types of the same pump - one is made of stainless steel and the other is cast iron. The cast iron pump is much cheaper but is not suitable for domestic potable water. You will want to get the stainless steel version for potable water, which is what I have linked to above.
There are two color types that can add to the confusion of which pump to buy. Just make sure you get the stainless steel model regardless of the color!
Some users have said that this pump does not match the flow rate it is advertised to. This could be subjective or specific to a certain case, so keep an eye on your water pressure while using this pump.
Make sure to have a good grasp as to how to install a hot water recirc pump as you will get limited to no instructions with this unit.
Despite a few shortcomings, this pump is reliable, affordable, and does the job.
Gosund Mini Wifi Outlet
These little plugs are awesome! You can control your outlet from your phone, anywhere in the world.
You can set the timer, share with others, and make a schedule.
Just plug it in, install the app on your phone, and follow the instructions.
This will work great with any pump of your choosing and is very low in price.
Part Two: Hot Water Recirculating Pump Information
Is a hot water recirculating pump worth it?
Yes, a recirc pump is absolutely worth it if you are waiting several minutes for hot water. However, if your wait time for hot water is 30 seconds or under, then it probably isn't.
There are several reasons to purchase a recirculating pump:
- You want to conserve water
- You want to lower your water bill
- You are sick of waiting minutes for hot water
- It can help prevent your pipes from freezing
How Does a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Work?
A traditional water heater works by heating the water in the tank with heating elements and then pushing the water through the heat-out pipe. This centralized system causes lag time and therefore wasted water.
The hot water recirculating pump provides practically instant hot water to the tap by recirculating hot water within your pipes so when you turn on the faucet, hot water is released immediately.
All hot water recirc pumps have a thermostat that turns on and shuts off when the water reaches a certain temp.
Depending on the type of recirculating pump you purchase will depend on where you install the pump along the line.
Different Types of Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
There are 4 types of hot water recirculating pumps:
Hot Water Heater Discharge Line Mount -
These are the most common type of hot water recirc pumps and are quite easy to install. These install right at the water heater on the hot water discharge line. You then install a sensor valve at the supply lines of the farthest faucet from the water heater.
Dedicated Return Line -
This type of recirc pump is installed on the cold return line. The pump circulates hot water through this line and is released back into the system when the faucet turns on. This is not the best choice for users that cannot access their return line or does not have a return line, but its usually the cheapest hot water recirc pump. That being said, there are less of these types of pumps available as the hot water line mount models have become more popular.
Under Sink Installation -
This type of pump is installed under the farthest faucet in the house and circulates hot water back through the lines. Make sure you have an outlet under your sink before choosing this type of recirc pump.
Tankless Water Heater -
These pumps are specifically designed for use with tankless water heaters. So far I have only been able to find one model that is compatible with every type of tankless hot water heater and that is the Laing AutoCirc E10.
The pump works by using a temperature sensor and a check valve that keeps water from entering into the return line. The pump then moves room temperature water back to the water heater. The sensor notifies the pump when the hot water has arrived at the farthest fixture and therefore shuts the pump off.
Pros and Cons to a Hot Water Recirculating Pump
After all this information, you still may be on the fence about getting a hot water recirculating pump which is completely understandable. I would say if you are at 30 seconds or less of wait time, its probably not worth it. Here are some pros and cons that may help you decide whether or not to purchase this pump.
Pro #1: On-demand hot water
A given, hot water is recirculated through your pipes, giving you on-demand hot water. This is a great feature for people who have to wait longer than 30 seconds for hot water. This works great in old houses and large houses that could take minutes to get hot water.
Pro #2: Less wasted water
Not having to wait for hot water equals to many thousands of gallons of water being saved.
How many gallons could a hot water recirculating pump save? According to manufacturers, a recirc pump can save up to 15,000 gallons per year! That is quite a bit of water not going straight into the sewer.
However, that figure seems quite optimistic. There are studies done that debate these kind of savings, some reports claiming that recirc pumps only save 500 gallons per year.
Usually, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, so an average home will probably save between 5,000 to 10,000 gallons per year. That is still quite a bit of water saved which reduces your water bill and helps eliminate water waste.
Pro#3: Easy installation
Even if you are minimally handy, this type of pump is very easy to install and does not require any special tools. The under sink models only require a wrench and some plumbers tape. You will want to have a good handle on how to install this pump before you go tearing apart your plumbing, so I recommend this excellent video from Home Depot on how to install a hot water recirculating pump:
Pro #4: Works great for large houses
If you live in a large house, waiting for the hot water to come can feel like eons. Using a recirc pump can save you a massive amount of water and if it's installed with a timer can save you on heating costs as well.
Now for the cons!
Con #1: Higher electricity consumption
Since the hot water recirculating pump always holds hot water in the pipes, this will cause an increase in your energy usage. The pump will always circulate hot water in exchange for your beck and call, but the take is an increase in your electric bill. I will note that this increase is not too substantial, but could add up over time.
However, there is a very easy remedy to this dilemma! Placing your pump on a smart outlet is a simple and affordable solution to this problem.
Some pumps come with a built-in timer, but those timers are not quite smart enough to make the cut. If the power goes out, you will have to reset the timers manually.
This is where the smart outlet comes into play. Just plug in your pump to the smart outlet and set the timer from your phone.
Another solution but not nearly as convenient is to insulate your pipes if you have access to them. I don't imagine many people being able to do this but if you are building or remodeling you can insulate pipes in advance.
Con #2: Corrosion
Water chemistry and aggressive flow velocity can cause the recirculating pipes to corrode quickly. This corrosion is usually concentrated in bends and angles. Make sure to purchase a pump that is made of stainless steel or non-corrosive metals.
There are quite a few pumps out there that are made of cast iron and are not suitable for potable water. Make sure to steer clear of these types of recirculation pumps as they are for industrial use and will rust rather quickly.
If you do have a problem with corrosion, the only solution is to reduce angles in piping and slow the flow with a lower capacity pump.
Con #3: Another component to fail
When you start adding more components into your system, it is yet another point of failure. The recirculation pump is no different. The motor can burn out, impellers can break, housing can crack, etc.
Purchasing a reliable pump with good reviews from a reputable brand can help circumvent this.
Using a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Off Grid
This type of pump can really help out in an off grid situation where water resources are scarce. It will be essential to have your pump on a timer, and even better yet, a sensor to conserve electricity. If your system is not “smart”, you can easily deplete your solar electric resources as anything that creates heat zaps power quickly.
A typical hot water recirculating pump takes an average of 30 watts to run per hour which could add up if left on consistently. For a 100 watt solar panel, that would eat up 1/3 of its electricity output hour by hour.
I would suggest making your pump as smart as possible to minimize energy consumption. You can check out my article on how to build an off grid water pump system for ideas about using pumps for off grid systems.
Making a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Smart
I keep mentioning this because it is such an important component to using a hot water recirc pump at its most efficient capacity. Even though most of the pumps are built in with a timer, it doesn't quite make it smart enough to limit energy usage.
My recommendation is to purchase a programmable wifi outlet. They are cheap, effective, and you can control this outlet with your smartphone. This way, you can turn on your pump a few minutes before you are ready to use hot water and shut it off when you are done, as opposed to being on a clunky timer. Easy!
Hot water recirculation pumps are a great tool to have if you are struggling with hot water times. In a lot of situations they make a lot of sense. In other situations, the dollars and cents just don't add up.
I sure do hope that you found this article informative and helpful on your purchasing decisions! Please feel free to leave me a question or comment about anything!
Thanks for this post. I didn’t even now this existed. I have a wood fired water heater I built. I think this will work for me. I’m going to do some more research. For the time I’m hauling water and hate wasting any off it. My 275 gallon gravity fed system is pretty large, but I still don’t like wasting any of it.
I am glad you enjoyed my post. I never heard of this pump either until I was exploring different types of pumps and stumbled upon this one. Seemed uncommon yet really helpful. Put it on a smart timer, have it kick on 30 minutes before you need it. And boom. Instant hot water!
How is the pressure on your gravity fed water system? Would love to see the wood-fired water heater! Do you have it posted anywhere?
Does the hot water recirculating pump cause an issue when you want cold water? When you turn on the cold water will it come out warm? And if so how long?
You will get some lukewarm water at first for a few seconds, and then it will get cold afterwards. There are some who complain about it, so I suppose it could be an issue. It is a matter of what is more important to you, quicker hot water and longer wait times for cold, or vice versa!
Regina – Great article and video. Wondering if you could share how your system is working with the smart outlet. Thanks!
Why thank you! The smart outlet is AWESOME.