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Ecodrain Drain Water Heat Recovery

user-616070 | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I first learned about Drain Water Heat Recovery pipes here on GBA and wanted to give back a very small token of appreciation in a short review.

I recently ordered and installed Ecodrain’s V1000 and have been quite impressed with it. It’s near the top of the CSA B55.1 list for highest efficiency and the price is quite reasonable:
3-inch diameter models:

VT1000-3-36 ………. $469
VT1000-3-48 ………. $524–my model
VT1000-3-60 ………. $564
VT1000-3-72 ………. $614

4-inch diameter models:

VT1000-4-36 ………. $549
VT1000-4-48 ………. $644
VT1000-4-60 ………. $714
VT1000-4-72 ………. $794

*prices will obviously change over time, shipping was included on my order.

Installation was a breeze and the company had good communication throughout the ordering process. It cannot be ordered online through a checkout so you must contact the company and go through Paypal.

I have no relation to Ecodrain and have nothing to gain from posting. I just found very little info on this company and wanted to add this to the web of info that is GBA Q&A.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Thanks. Longtime readers of GBA will remember Marc Rosenbaum's review of an innovative product from Ecodrain -- a horizontal drainwater heat recovery device. Here is a link: Drainwater Heat Recovery Comes of Age.

    It's interesting that Ecodrain now manufactures a vertical drainwater heat recovery device. Here is a link to their web site: Ecodrain V1000.

  2. user-616070 | | #2

    Thanks Martin. I read Marc's article but the horizontal device wouldn't work for my installation. These units are a no brainer for payoff period.

    Thanks again to you (in Musings, including your book) and Dana Dorsett (from a previous thread) for turning me on to them.

  3. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #3

    The emissivity of bare copper is VERY low compared to most construction materials, so the temperature numbers reported by the camera is probably off by quite a bit. With the pseudocolor temperatures the picture would imply that the temperature of the drain pipe below the heat exchanger is as hot as the section of drain above the heat exchanger.

    I'm pretty sure you're getting more than an 8F rise on the potable from the cold in put at the bottom to the tepid output at the top. The VT1000 3-48 has better than 50% heat recovery under standard test conditions.

    At 2.5gpm in a balanced flow configuration you should be seeing temperature rise of about half the difference between the showerhead temp (say 105F) and the incoming water temp. If the incoming water is the FLIR reported 60F, the output temp would be north of 80F, not the reported 68F.

    If the plumbing is PEX or PVC (and it looks like that is probably the case), the relevant temperature spots to track would be the pipe near the connections. For copper plumbing, a spot of spray paint or a quick wrap of hockey tape at the incoming and outgoing pipes & drains would allow you to get reasonable temperature measurements out of a pistol-grip type IR thermometer or IR camera.

  4. user-616070 | | #4

    Totally agree Dana. My apologies if these thermal images are misleading. The color of the frame relative to the hottest and coolest spots is why the lower drain looks as hot as the upper portion. This was also taken a few minutes after the shower rather than during flow.

    Look to the left of the upper image and you'll see the PEX lines coming in. One is orange/hot and one is blue/cold.

  5. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #5

    I definitely noticed the stark color contrast, and wondered what temperatures the FLIR would report if zoomed in on the parallel cold & tepid water pipes!

  6. user-616070 | | #6

    The FLIR shows 58 for the cold and 64 for the warm in the post image software (I have a Cat S60 phone integrated with FLIR). That is residual heat though, since the image was taken after the shower. I'll try to get a better reading next time my partner takes a shower :)

  7. lance_p | | #7

    The Ecodrain V1000 series is very interesting. They are cheaper, have less flow losses and are more efficient (length for length) than what's currently on the market. They use multiple tubes operating in parallel to keep head loss low, and turbulators to keep the water well mixed so laminar flows don't reduce the Delta T.

    Good to see these are finally available. I spoke with the company nearly a year ago and they weren't ready to supply product at that time.

    Lance Peters

  8. mangler66 | | #8

    I like masking tape on surfaces I want to measure. Let it heat soak for a minute, It tends to even the emissivity field. It's also very close to the 0.8 emissivity the cheap IR guns are calibrated for. Win win.

    For those who are curious, at 50% efficiency, it would save about 85$ a year, assuming you run 100 gallons through it a day. ($0.63 at therm gas, , 85% efficiency heater). Obviously more money saved if you have a non condensing water heater. For me, it's about a 7 year payback, assuming the plumber does not want a fortune to install. Still on the fence. Mostly because I will need a cast iron stack to keep the sound down in that location, and I don't know how good the sound deadening will be at the unit (should be pretty good at least when the shower is running, with that much mass).

  9. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #9

    My basement-installed 4" x 48" DWHR unit was cut into cast-iron drain at the top, with plastic drain out at the bottom shortly before it disappears under the slab. It did not noticeably increase (or decrease) drain noise levels.

    My delivered cost of energy is more than 2x yours, but my hot water use is less than half that. I'm not too concerned about "payback", since a motivating force for me was improved showering performance with an undersized burner on the system. With the DWHR unit boiler never modulates over ~60,000 BTU/hr even during continuous showers and never runs out of showering temperature water even with all heating zones calling for heat. (That would NOT be the case without it!)

  10. mangler66 | | #10

    Basement would be nice, I might be able to sneak a sink and a shower on there...

    Single shower right now, slab on grade house. Stack is in a bedroom closet (plumber could not be bothered to go one wall over to the laundry room 6" wall), so no plastic allowed at all.

    I will have the same type of "boiler" as you Dana, but not worried about simultaneous output. Most installs I have seen put the heating zones on hold when someone is showering. BTW my burner will be 70000btu, and I don't consider it undersize. My calculated heat loss is 46000 on the house.

    BTW this product only makes sense if you pair it with a thermostatically controlled shower valve, where you can set the output temperature. Without one of those, you are in danger of just taking a progressively hotter shower. Then payback is basically never, unless you are prone to reducing shower temperature mid way through a shower. Most people would basically get used to the gradual increase in temp without adjusting the dial.

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