Top 5 Best Rated Hot Water Recirculation Pumps (2020 Review)

Are you interested in buying the best hot water recirculating pump for your home? You are on the right website.

We have created an informative guide on the best instant hot water recirculating systems. A hot water pump will help you get much faster hot water---usually in seconds---rather than waiting a minute or more.

In this article, you will learn…

Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
  • Our #1 top choice for the best hot water recirculating pumps
  • How a hot water pump can save you water AND money
  • A short guide on how to install a hot water recirculation pump
  • Exactly how these pumps work

You wake up in the morning ready to start your new day with a nice hot shower. But there’s a hiccup. The water is cold!

Now you have to wait five freaking minutes just to get hot water. Ugh. Fortunately, there are recirculating pumps that can shorten the wait time from five minutes to five seconds. Sounds nice right?

Let’s get started with this guide!

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

watts 500800 best hot water recirculation pump
  • A very quiet pump
  • Built-in timer
  • 10ft electrical power cord

The Watts hot water recirculating system comes with everything you need to get instant hot water to every bathroom in your home. The pump comes with water lines, two adapters, and a temperature sensor valve. It also comes with a 24 hour (dual setting) timer so that the pump will turn on only when wanted.

What Is A Hot Water Recirculating Pump?

An instant hot water recirculating system is basically a small water pump that is installed above the water heater at the hot water line. The hot water pump keeps hot water in the hot water pipe so that you will have instant hot water at any faucet in the house.

One of the biggest complaints of new homeowners is that it can take one to several minutes for the water to get hot at a sink or shower---especially in the morning. A hot water recirculating pump can decrease the time waiting from minutes to just a few SECONDS. Usually, you will get warm (rather than cold) water in the first few seconds, and it will become hot within 10 seconds.

In fact, these instant hot water systems can be so effective at providing hot water and reducing water waste that the city of Odessa has enacted a rebate program as an incentive to install these recirculation pump systems in residential homes.

Read Also: Top 5 Best Whole House Water Filters For Iron

How Does A Recirculating Pump Work?

A hot water circulating pump works by keeping hot water in the plumbing system through a small electric pump. The pump sends any lukewarm water out of the way by sending it back to the water heater through the cold water line.

Most hot water recirculating pumps will use something called a sensor valve which is installed under the farthest sink in the home (from the water heater) which will close and open automatically based on water temperature. 

If the water at this valve goes above around 90 degrees, then the valve will automatically close. If temperature drops below that set point, then the valve will open, and the recirculating pump will activate (sending the lukewarm water back to the water heater through the cold water line).

Many hot water circulating pumps will come with timers built in (or you can add one) so that the pump will only activate during a certain time period of the day. If you don't install a timer, your water or electric bill may increase significantly depending on different factors.

According to one case study of homes in Palo Alto, a hot water recirculating pump will save about 900 to 3000 gallons of water a year per faucet. So let’s say a home has seven faucets, that can translate to a savings of 21,000 gallons of water each year!

Read Also: Defective Polybutylene Water Pipes (The Ultimate Guide)

use a timer with a hot water recirculating pump

How To Install A Hot Water Recirculation Pump?

1. Shutoff Water To Water Heater

First shutoff water to the water heater at the closest valve, and drain the water heater from the spigot at the bottom. Turn on a far away faucet and leave it running until all hot water is drained.

2. Install The Hot Water Recirculation Pump

Disconnect the hot water line from the top of the water heater. If it is hard copper piping, you may want to get a plumber involved. Insert female end of water pump into thread and tighten, and connect flex hose that you just disconnected to top of pump. The arrow on the pump should point away from the water heater.

3. Turn Water Back On To Water Heater​​

Turn the valve back on to the water heater, and make sure that the water pump doesn't leak at any connections. Turn off the faucet which you turned on before to drain the tank. Now you should plug in the water pump into an outlet.​​

4. Install The Sensor Valve At Farthest Location

Now it's time to install the sensor valve under a sink. This valve tells the water pump when it should turn on. You will have to install the sink water lines into the input connections. You may need to get 1/2" to 3/8" adapters or flex water lines with 1/2" and 3/8" ends. Most sink flex lines are 3/8" but the connections on the sensor valve are 1/2".

Read Also: The Best Point-Of-Use Tankless Water Heaters

Where To Buy Top Rated Hot Water Recirculating Pumps?

Some plumbers will have recirculating pumps, but the best prices will likely be on Amazon. On Amazon you can shop among different pumps in the comfort of your own home and read the customer reviews. Many times customer reviews will have helpful tips on how to buy the best pump and ways to make the installation easier. 

Amazon also frequently has very fast (and sometimes free) shipping. Also, if there are any problems with the purchase, you can rely on Amazon for good customer service. Just make sure to read the return policy on each item especially if it is a 3rd party seller.

Read Also: My Top 5 Best Rated Whole House Water Filters

The Watts hot water recirculating system comes with everything you need to get instant hot water to every bathroom in your home.

The hot water recirculation pump comes with flexible water lines, two adapters, and a temperature sensor valve.

It also comes with a 24 hour (dual setting) timer so that the pump will turn on only when wanted.

  • A very quiet pump
  • Built-in timer
  • 10ft electrical power cord
  • Not for use with tankless water heaters
  • May not work with water heaters with “heat traps” in the water inlets

This recirculating pump is designed to be installed under a sink rather than above the water heater.

A very quiet pump at less then 30 decibels, this unit comes with a built-in timer and a 6ft extension cord.

The manufacturer says that for an average family of four, this pump will save up to 17,000 gallons of water a year.

  • Built-in timer
  • 6ft power extension cord
  • Installs under sink
  • No separate sensor valve needed
  • May have to do extra electrical work
  • Smaller area for installation under sink

The Grundfos instant hot water pump is a high quality pump with a built in timer and a 6 foot power cord.

This hot water pump is made from bronze and stainless steel parts --- higher quality parts than many other water pumps. Grundfos is one of the top manufacturers of instant hot water pumps.

  • Made from bronze & stainless steel
  • Higher quality parts than Watts pump
  • Has a built in timer
  • 6 foot power cord
  • Complaints about customer service
  • Complaints about warranty not being honored

The Grundfos is the no frills and least expensive recirculator pump.

However, the unit doesn’t come with supply lines or any other materials for install except gaskets.

This pump can be installed above the water heater or under the sink. It does not come with a built in timer and it is reflected in the cheap price.

  • An inexpensive option
  • Can add a timer yourself later if you wish
  • May be more difficult to install

The Kiolerflo Hot Water pump is a reasonably priced water pump that can be used to save you minutes at the sink waiting for hot water. 

The pump is easy to install since you only need a wrench, potentially saving you a plumber's visit.

The housing is made from aluminum for a durable finish.

  • Very quiet
  • Easy install with wrench
  • Aluminum housing
  • Inexpensive
  • Not self-priming (must get air out)
  • Plastic impeller

Our Top Pick: Watts 500800 Instant Hot Water System W/ Timer

1. Built In Timer

The Watts has a built in timer so you can have it operate only when you want such as during the day

2. Quiet

The pump is very quiet, and the vibrations are minimal.

3. Ease of Install

This pump can be installed in less than an hour, and comes with supply lines and everything needed (except the wrenches of course).

4. Power Cord

The unit comes with a very long 10′ electrical cord, so you can just plug it into an outlet nearby.

Read Also: How Does A Hot Water Recirculating Pump Work?

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Looking to learn more about home maintenance? Check out our other informative home product reviews and guides!

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Rated Hot Water Recirculation Pumps (2020 Review)”

  1. 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?

    • Hello Mickey,

      For retrofit installs, the water pump uses the cold water supply line as a return back to the water heater, so it will be normal to get some warm water when you want cold water. New homes usually have dedicated return lines for the hot water if there is a recirculation pump so this isn’t an issue.

      It shouldn’t take more than 10-15 seconds (sometimes less than 5 seconds) for the lukewarm water to become cold. This will be more noticeable at the sink where the sensor valve is installed (the valve that sends hot water into the cold water line). At the other fixtures farther away from the sensor valve, you may not even notice any warm water in the cold water supply.

      It is also related to how often you use cold water. For example, if you are in the home and flushing toilets periodically, you won’t notice warm water in the cold water supply because the warm water is getting pushed out. But if you are away for the whole day, when you get home, the entire cold water supply line may have lukewarm water back to the water heater.

      Also, if it seems to take a long time to get cold water, there may be a problem with the sensor valve (usually installed under the farthest sink from the water heater) such as a reverse installation or it may be broken.




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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

Arie is the founder of Home Inspector Secrets, an online resource dedicated to helping people understand how homes work. He is a licensed home inspector in two U.S states and owns a residential and commercial inspection company. To ask Arie a question, please use the comment box at the bottom of the relevant article.

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Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home ownership. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, buying tips, and much more.