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History of Tankless | Tankless Pros Az | Phoenix, Az

History of Tankless

Water Heater Pros in Sacramento, Ca

Water Heater Pros in Sacramento, California Early 1900's water heaters on display



The first commercially available storage-tank water heater was invented in 1889, and it was highly energy efficient because of its thick copper design—but that also made it expensive. However, tankless water heater development wasn't that much farther behind. There were some early and highly inefficient experiments with them in the 1890s. In 1929, Stiebel-Elton invented the first electric tankless water heater, which made the system more easily available. However, the gas-powered models were more efficient and were the ones that people bought and used, which became more popular.


Still, not until the 1970s, the technology of tankless water heaters was not effective enough at that time to make them viable alternatives to the standard water heater industry. Efficiency started to increase, and Europe and Asia began to adopt more and more of these space and energy-saving systems. This led to the gas tankless water heaters making a bigger impact on the U.S. market in the early 1990s. Now they are a major competitor along with electric heat pump water heaters, with more and more homes discovering their immense advantages. If you want to know more about what a tankless water heater can do for your home and budgetsimply give us a call for a free in-home no-obligation quote, 602-833-1533
























Now Let's Go Through The Water Heater Timeline

In 298 AD–306 AD, the Romans built large baths with heated water, while these were not individual water heaters, this was a first step towards water heating that we know about.

Then after many centuries in 1868, Benjamin Waddy Maughan was a English painter who patented the first instantaneous water heater. He invented the "Gas Geyser" instantaneous water heater; however, this water heater did not include a vent and was dangerous for using in daily life purposes. This gas-powered unit was the first to heat water as it entered the bathtub.

Later in 1889, Edwin Rudd used the ideas of Mr. Waddy Maughan and upgraded his design of the water heater to include additional safety features and took us one step forward to the modern water heater. It was the first automatic storage tank-type gas water.

In 1890 many different designs of water heaters were invented around the turn of the century, including electric and solar water heaters. Solar water heating started catching on around the turn of the century. Originally there were batch heaters, now called internal collector and storage (ICS) units.


Back to tankless water heaters, not until the 1890's, all forms of water heating took place, this included both heated and stored the water. Many types of gases provided another option. Kerosene, gasoline and a variety of other gases have been used to heat water. Some gases, such as acetylene could even be made on site. With the advent of high-energy liquid and gaseous fuels, instantaneous heating became possible. These fuels were much easier to regulate automatically than wood or coal. Sometimes tankless water heaters are called an in-line water heater, as it only heats the water it needs as it passes through the unit, and therefore energy is not wasted by heating extra water all day that is not being used.

























The tankless water heaters that were commonly used in Europe and much of Asia, used a series of tubes running through electric elements to heat only the amount of water needed for a particular purpose. the first electric tankless water heater was invented by Stiebel-Eltron in 1929. The bath heater was one of the first instantaneous type of water heater.


Many different brands and styles of tankless water heaters are available in today's market. Still, recent manufacturers have started to design high efficiency condensing gas tankless units that uses a smaller amount of fuel to produce the same amount or more hot water than traditional storage tanks or tankless water heaters of the past. If you are interested in high efficiency water heating, you can review some of our newest tankless water heaters on this site; click here to see and learn more about the quality brands Tankless Pros Az recommends and installs.

It's hard to imagine living without immediate access to hot water, but many people in the past have and even today throughout parts of the world. Here are some more interesting facts about the history of water heaters.


  • In 298 - 306 AD the Romans had large baths facilitated with heated water. Although not considered real water heaters, many people regard them as a pioneer work for water heating.

  • An English painter named Benjamin Waddy Maughan patented the first water heater in 1868. His water heater is the first residential water heater. It used natural gases to heat the water but didn't have a flue to vent gas vapors, making it unsafe to use in households.

  • Waddy Maughan inspired Edmund Rudd. He took the design forward when he added the safety features which was the initial step toward the invention of the modern water heater.

  • In 1896, Clarence Kemp took things one step further with his solar paneled heating. His invention used solar panels for heating the water which is a popular choice in sunny regions of the world.

  • The modern tankless water heater made its debut in 1970.

  • 1990 is considered the golden period for water heater inventions. Many people advanced the design in the 90s. It was also the time when the heated circulation system came about by providing pre-heated water circulated throughout your home or business on demand.



Bet You Didn't Know? The Tankless Was The First Water Heater,

Edwin Ruud's proof of patent as shown was dated Dec. 30, 1890

This is a typical early 1900's instantaneous water heater or sometimes referred as an 

"Automatic" water heater, this type of water heater worked very well and lasted a long time, Edwin Ruud while working for George Westinghouse as an apprentice, invented and patented the actuator gas valve, this 

made the water heater possible.

Early instantaneous water heater.jpeg

The Ruud actuator valve 

Humphry water heater ad
Edwin Ruud Inventer

Edwin Ruud Biography


Early life

Edwin Ruud was born in the parish of Askim in Østfold, Norway. He was educated in engineering at the Horten Technical School (Horten tekniske skole) in Vestfold, Norway.

The Fuel Gas And Manufacturing Company

In the 1880s, Ruud began working for George Westinghouse at the Fuel Gas and Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eight years after filing his first US patent, Ruud filed the first of five patents he would assign to Westinghouse's Fuel Gas and Manufacturing company.


In 1889, Ruud engineered a design for an automatic storage tank-type gas water heater that used a bottom gas heater and temperature-controlled gas valve. He later patented the plan on December 30, 1890. In October 1890, he expanded on his first water heater design, under the Fuel Gas and Manufacturing Company.


Ruud Manufacturing Company

On January 22, 1897, Ruud filed a patent separate from the Fuel Gas and Manufacturing Company for an Automatic Water Heater. His new design consisted of a cast-iron shell, enclosing burners, heating surfaces (a coil of copper tubing through which water flows), and thermostat controlling gas valves. The object of the design improvement was, "to maintain the supply of water at the desired temperature at all times".

With this new design, Ruud left the Fuel Gas and Manufacturing Company to start Ruud Manufacturing, his own engineering and manufacturing shop where he began to manufacture and popularize in-home, as well as commercial and industrial water heaters. Ruud was issued his patent for the copper coiled tube Automatic Water Heater on September 6, 1898.


A 1915 diagram showing the innards of a Ruud instantaneous water heater

Ruud's business expanded as he popularized and improved on his instant water heater design. In 1908, Ruud Manufacturing acquired two local heating and plumbing firms. James Hay of the James Hay Company, heating, and plumbing engineers, closed his business in order to operate as president of the Ruud Manufacturing Company in 1908. and J.H. Folsom of Folsom-Webster Co., a heating and plumbing contracting firm, dissolved his partnership in Folsom-Webster Company in 1908 to serve as chief of the Cincinnati branch of the Ruud Manufacturing Company. By 1915, the Ruud Manufacturing Company had offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Toronto, Canada; and Hamburg, Germany.

The Ruud Instantaneous Automatic Water Heater

A Ruud Type F Size no. 3 instantaneous and automatic water heater from 1906

Thermal Valve, Model Type F heaters, were manufactured in four residential sizes reflective of their output in gallons per minute: 3, 4, 6, 8. The Thermal Valve Model, Type F, of the Ruud Instantaneous Automatic Water Heater is a design that allows the user to instantaneously heat water for on-demand applications while not heating, thus saving fuel, when not in use. The Type F was able to use LP gas, natural gas, and gasoline, requiring only a change of burner spud orifices, and was manufactured in two variations, the "Standard Pressure Heaters," designed to operate in conditions where pressure was at least twenty-five pounds per square inch (1.7 bar), and "Low-Pressure Heaters," where operational water pressure could be as low as four pounds per square inch (0.3 bar). In 1915, approximately one hundred thousand Type F was installed throughout The United States and Canada.










Ruud Heating and Air Conditioning Equipment

Edwin Ruud died in 1932 and his widow, Minna Kaufmann Ruud died in 1953. In 1959, the water heater arm of the Ruud Manufacturing Company was purchased by Rheem Manufacturing Company and continued operation as a division of Rheem until the present. 



  • 1904 - Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair) Gold Medal for his automatic water heater.

  • 1905- Franklin Institute presented him with the Edward Longstreth Medal of Merit for the Ruud Instantaneous Automatic Water Heater.

  • 1927 - Honorary doctorate at University of Pittsburgh 

  • 1929 - Appointed Knight of the Order of St Olav 



  • Balanced Slid-Valve: July 4, 1882 - US260612

  • Stuffing Box: August 5, 1890 - US433824

  • Water Heater: December 30, 1890 - US443797

  • Fluid Meter: May 5, 1891 - US451881

  • Water Heater: September 29, 1891 - US460513

  • Automatic Steam Regulator for Gas Producers: September 6, 1892 - US482320

  • Automatic Water-Heater: September 6, 1898 - US610281

  • Automatic Cut-off For Gas-Service Pipes: September 10, 1901 - US682345

  • Storage Water-Heater: May 14, 1907 - US853738

  • Thermostatic-Valve-Operating Mechanism: December 31, 1907 - US875217

  • Automatic Temperature Control for Self-heating Flat Irons: September 30, 1913 - US1074467

  • Water Valve for Instantaneous Water Heaters: February 26, 1918 - US1257932

  • Fluid-Mixing Apparatus: April 6, 1920 - USRE14836

Ruud advertisement 1906
Vintage gas tankless
early automatic water heater
very old tankless
old vintage gas tankless
gas tankless old
Antique wall hung water heater
Ascot in kitchen
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