The Best Hot Water Recirculating Pump [2020 Product Reviews]

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Water conservation: it’s not just a hot topic reserved for the green movement, it also applies to us in a very personal way.

Our personal water usage is quite high here in the states. According to USGS, we use 80 to 100 gallons per person on a daily basis!

Many of those gallons are wasted by running the water just waiting for it to get hot. Nothing like watching fresh potable water run down the drain; for me, it’s a frustrating experience!

All of this wasted water costs money, tacking on dollars to your municipal water bill. This is even more costly when you have to haul in water on a cistern system.

With new technology, we have a way to save all those gallons of water by installing a hot water recirculating pump, joy! I am so excited about this!

Not only do these special pumps drastically reduce the wait time and waste of waiting for hot water, but it also gives you a bit more hot water as the heated water is circulated in the pipe.

In this article, I address all aspects of the hot water recirculating pump and offer you in-depth reviews of pumps available on the market.

Let's get into it!

Don't feel like reading? You can watch my video instead!

Best with Dedicated Return Line:

Watts Premier Instant Hot Water Recirculating Pump System

  • Very easy to install with all included hardware
  • Pump withstands hard water and is built to last for many years
  • Hot water within five seconds of turning on faucet
  • Lukewarm water out of the cold faucet for a few seconds
  • Timer is somewhat dated
  • Customer support is crap

The Watts 50800 Hot Water Recirculating Pump is an excellent pump as it comes with all the hardware you need for installation. The installation process is also very simple, just make sure that you have a dedicated return line. The system typically uses the cold water return line, which surprisingly does not cause but a few moments of lukewarm water through the cold line.

The pump 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. This could be an inconvenience, considering where you install the line. I would recommend plugging in the pump to a smart outlet which 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. I am assuming this would be for a standard family of four on a municipal water source.

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 so you need 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 if there are issues with the pump.
Overall, the Watts pump is a great choice, just make sure that your water heater is compatible before buying.

Best with Under Sink Installation:

Laing ACT E1 Under Sink Recirculating Pump

  • Compact design fits nicely under sinks and in small spaces
  • Very little power usage at 14 watts
  • Has a built in thermostat to regulate temperature
  • The price is much spendier than other pumps
  • Lukewarm water out of the cold faucet for a few seconds
  • Reports of broken impeller upon arrival

The Laing ACT E1 recirculating pump is a good choice as its compact design allows for easy installation under a sink.

The pump only emits 30Db of sound, making it one of the quieter pumps.

The manufacturer touts that the pump will eliminate up 17,000 gallons per year of water waste for a family of four. That is quite a lot of water saved!

Although spendy, this model does have a built-in timer which will save some money. It also has a built-in thermostat that cuts off power to the unit, therefore adding to power savings.

Estimates to run this pump are about $12 per year, so keeping it on all the time won't break the bank.

 

People having trouble with faulty equipment have received excellent customer service and quick replacements.

There have been reports of a broken impeller within the unit, so make sure to check the components for installation.

Overall, the unit is very good for its compact design, excellent customer service, and built in thermostat.

Best with Tankless Water Heater:

Laing AutoCirc E10 Series Recirculating Pump

  • Compatible with every tankless water heater on the market
  • Runs super quiet
  • 3 seconds to hot water
  • Timer is primitive
  • cold water runs a bit warmer
  • Price point is high

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.

Some users have had problems with leaks and others report that their cold water does run a bit warmer.

Overall, an excellent hot water recirculating pump specifically designed for tankless water heaters.

Best Value:

Grundfos 59896155 SuperBrute Recirculator Pump

  • Very good value in relation to the quality
  • Known to last for many years
  • Runs so quietly its hard to tell that it is even on
  • Does not have a built in timer
  • Does not come with installation instructions
  • Some users have reported rust as an issue

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 price of this pump is really low compared to other pumps. It runs much less in price on Amazon than it does in the hardware stores.

Although it doesn't come with a timer, one can be bought for 10 to 20 bucks and it still costs less than the other models available.

The pump only uses 25 watts of power which shouldn't make your energy bill go up very much, especially if you place the pump on a timer.

Do take note that it requires a return line in order to work.

The main concern I have for this pump is that it is made of cast iron. Although this makes for an extremely durable pump that can last for decades, some users reported rust coming from their faucets.

It is hard to tell if the rust originates from the pump itself, or from old water heaters. It is something to take note of and keep an eye out for.

Make sure to never run this pump dry or without nominal pressure in your water system. The bearings in the unit require water flow and pressure to function.

The pump can tend to run hot but it is rated for 240 degrees so it should not be a concern.

Overall, the Grundfos pump offers a great price and durability that cannot be surpassed. Get a cheap timer and you've got yourself a great deal on a pump.

Best Buy:

Taco 006-B4 Bronze Circulator Pump

  • Extremely durable and reliable
  • Has sweat valves instead of threaded valves
  • Direct-Drive lower power consumption cuts power usage
  • Does not have a built in timer
  • Pump tends to run hot
  • Sometimes ships with wrong valve

The line of Taco pump products is well known for its workmanship and durability. One user says that his pump has lasted 38 years before needing a replacement!

I have rated this pump five stars because of the high remarks from customer reviews, strong customer support, low price point, and that it uses sweat valves instead of threaded valves.

I also like that the design is more compact than other pumps and is made of bronze.

This pump uses sweat valves instead of threaded valves, which has a tendency to leak much less than its threaded counterparts.

The unit has replacement cartridges so if something did break, you can swap out the cartridge as opposed to purchasing a whole new unit.

This pump does not come with a timer so I recommend purchasing a smart outlet so you can set it up with your phone.

Users report that the unit does run hot which is normal so don't be alarmed.

Overall, the Taco bronze circulator pump is highly durable and is an excellent standard choice for a pump.

Recommended Products:

Sharkbite Water Heater Installation Kit

The Sharkbite fitting makes installation a snap. Connections are done easily in tight spaces without the need for glue or solder.

Make sure to check the connector size and order the appropriate piece.

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.

If your wait time for hot water is 30 seconds or under, then it probably isn't.

There are several reasons that make a recirculating pump worth buying:

  • 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

If you are on the fence about getting a recirc pump, check out my pros and cons section.

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 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.

There are 3 types of hot water recirculating pumps:

  1. recirc pump that requires a dedicated return line (typically the cold return)
  2. recirc pump that is installed under-sink and does not require a return line
  3. recirc pump specifically built for tankless water heaters

For tankless water heaters, 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.

under-sink recirc pump

Pros and Cons to a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

I normally start off with the pros, but in this case, there is one rather significant downside to recirc pumps that I want to address immediately:

  • 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 give and 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.

You can also add insulation to your pipes that helps retain heat for even more energy saving benefits.

If you do these extra steps, the extra electricity consumption will be hardly noticeable.

  • 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. If this becomes a problem, the only solution is to reduce angles in piping and slow the flow with a lower capacity pump.

  • Con #3: Low Flow

Make sure before you purchase your pump that the head pressure is appropriate for your needs. Some models have small motors which cannot provide the desired flow.

Now for the pros!

  • Pro #1: On demand hot water!

This one is clearly obvious as that is what the product intends to do. Since the water sitting in your pipes  stay heated, the water will come out hot almost instantly.

  • Pro #2: Less wasted water

Another obvious but mentionable pro is that 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, up to 15,000 gallons per year! That’s a whole lot of showers!

To me, that figure seems quite optimistic. There are studies done that debate this kind of savings, some saying as low as only 500 gallons saved per year and others claiming 5000 gallons. Usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle, so an average home will probably save between 5000 to 10000 gallons per year.

  • Pro#3: Easy installation

Even if you are minimally handy, this type of pump is extremely easy to install and does not require any special tools.

  • Pro #4: Works great for large houses

If you live in a large house, waiting for the hot water to come can feel like an eon. Heat loss is also a concern for the hot water to have to travel such a long distance. Using this pump can save you a massive amount of water and if installed with a timer can save you on heating costs as well.

Cost of hot water recirculating pump

The cost of a recirc pump can vary greatly depending on the type of model you purchase:

Dedicated line recirc pumps - $90 - $200

Under-sink recirc pumps - $200 - $300

Tankless water heater recirc pumps - $500+

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. If your system is not “smart”, you can easily deplete your solar electric resources.

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 Smart Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Although many of these pumps come with a built-in timer, it just doesn't quite make the pump smart enough to limit energy usage.

Luckily, making a recirc pump smart is a cinch and is cheap!

My recommendation is to purchase a programmable wifi outlet. You can control this outlet with your smartphone.

Just plug into the outlet that you intend to plug the pump into and download the outlet app. Simple!

I hope you have enjoyed my hot water recirculating pump article enjoyable and informative.

Please leave any questions or comments you have below. Thanks!

Hello, I am Regina, the creator of Maximum Off Grid!

I created this website to help others learn about becoming more self-sustainable in an uncertain world.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you have.

Have a beautiful day!

Regina C.

2 thoughts on “The Best Hot Water Recirculating Pump [2020 Product Reviews]”

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply

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