Eco Home Living

Published on July 24th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor


Maintenance Tips: Using A Power-Pipe

The Power-Pipe is a proven and affordable technology that reduces energy use and water heating costs for a variety of applications in residential, commercial, and industrial facilities.

power-pipe 5193e0b6-421e-4d6c-9728-9c08bba432b0_400Here’s why, states RenewABILITY Energy: “At 20-30% of home energy consumption, water heating is typically the 2nd highest energy demand. The Power-Pipe can dramatically cut water heating costs and reduce total home energy consumption by 5-10%.”

The Power-pipe works by using outgoing warm drain water to pre-heat cold water going to the water heater. Importantly, this means the water heater doesn’t use as much energy to heat water.

Return on investment

Canadian-based RenewABILITY Energy writes the Power-Pipe will typically pay for itself in as little as two years. In addition, performance  has been independently verified by the University of Waterloo and Natural Resources Canada. The Power-Pipe is also safe for drinking water, requires no maintenance, has no moving parts, increases effective hot water capacity, and can potentially extend water heater life.

Plumbing requirements

Power-pipe can be used with a standard plumbing system and comes with a 10-year warranty. the video provides helpful installation information, however, if you are not comfortable or experienced with the plumbing trade, it may be worthwhile seeking assistance from a qualified plumber.

The Power-Pipe features multiple coils wrapped in parallel around a central drainpipe. This patent-pending design maximizes heat transfer performance. In addition, the Power-Pipe’s self-cleaning design assures a maintenance-free operation.

Here are some basics:

  • All residential (R-series) units include matching drain connectors and connect easily to a 3/4 in. fresh water line.
  • For 3 in. drain pipe and requires a vertical drain pipe length between fittings of 53-1/4 in.

The Power-Pipe is manufactured using quality materials. Copper DWV used for the inner drain pipe is compliant with the ASTM B306 standard. The Type L or Type K Copper used for the outer coils is compliant with the ASTM B88 standard. All parts are silver soldered or brazed.


Understanding the “falling film” effect

After use, 90% of the energy delivered to a shower goes down the drain.

 With a Power-Pipe Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) system installed on a home shower, overall household water heating costs can be reduced. 

The Power-Pipe DWHR system is based on a fundamental physical principle called the “falling film” effect. This means water falling down a vertical pipe does not run down the center of that pipe, but clings to its inside wall.

DWHR connect-drain-water-heat-recoveryThis effect creates a thin “falling film” from which the Power-Pipe can draw heat energy.

 This device can also be used in combination with any water heating system, no matter how economical the energy source, to increase energy cost savings.

The Power-Pipe consists of multiple coils of copper tube wrapped together around a copper central drain pipe. Hot water going down the drain transfers its heat to incoming cold water moving up the coils.

Installation steps

I recommend looking closely at this RenewABILITY installation video before starting.

  1. Measure and mark 3″ up from the bottom of the drainpipe. This will be the BOTTOM CUT.
  2. Starting from the BOTTOM CUT, measure up and mark the length of the Power-Pipe . This will be the TOP CUT.
  3. At the BOTTOM CUT and TOP CUT markings cut and remove the drainpipe section.
  4. De-burr drainpipe openings.
  5. Wet inside of supplied Fernco sleeve coupling and slide over the bottom section of drainpipe.
  6. Remove the ProFlex™ steel band. Wet the inside of the ProFlex and slide the large side of the coupling over the TOP CUT and onto the drainpipe.
  7. Loosen the band and put it back onto the ProFlex coupling.
  8. Push the Power-Pipe up into the ProFlex coupling and then tighten both bands.
  9. Move the (bottom) Fernco sleeve up onto the bottom of the Power-Pipe and then tighten clamps on both connectors.
  10. Connect the INCOMING cold water to the BOTTOM Power-Pipe coil header.
  11. Connect the TOP Power-Pipe coil header to supply the rest of the home.
  12. Check and tighten all connections

RenewABILITY Energy write these important notes:

  • Only qualified persons should perform a Power-Pipe installation.
  • A Power-Pipe must be installed in a VERTICAL orientation.
  • A Power-Pipe must be the same nominal size as the drainpipe to which it is connecting.
  • The Power-Pipe is not sold with freshwater fittings, which are the responsibility of the installer as determined by on-site conditions. The Standard Package includes 2 drain connectors: a Fernco sleeve connector for the bottom and a ProFlex connector for the top.
  • A Power-Pipe may be installed on any level where there is access to a sufficiently tall section of vertical drainpipe that carries drain water. It is usually best to install at the lowest level possible.
  • If the freshwater connections are not plumbed correctly, performance and energy savings will be substantially lower.
  • Plumbing the Power-Pipe for counter-flow operation (waste flowing down, freshwater flowing up) is critical for maximum performance.
  • INCOMING freshwater must be connected to the BOTTOM Power-Pipe coil header.

Tools & supplies you will need

  • Power-pipe
  • Two supply drain connectors
  • Pair disposable plastic gloves
  • Pipe wrench
  • Utility knife
  • Hacksaw
  • Flat file
  • Nut driver or socket set
  • 3/4″ flex tubing
  • Compression fittings for cold water plumbing


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