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Bradford White’s Icon Control Offers Exciting New Options Water Heaters

Options when it comes to domestic water heating is being introduced at break neck speed. When a consumer is in need of a new water heater they are literally being bombarded with high efficiency water heatersoptions, which is good but it can be confusing. So once again we are here to help people make a good decision the next time they are in the market. To all my professional plumbing readers out there, this can help you too. Sometimes its just as difficult for us to find the best products to offer our customers. OK, so what is the latest in domestic water heat? Tankless, Condensing Tankless, Condensing Tank-type and Hybrid right? Most of these water heating technologies are maturing except condensing tank-type, which is just a couple years old. What if we told you that you could get a standard tank type water heater that is 96% to 97% efficient? “How?”, would have been my response until a few weeks ago. The answer is with the controls.

Bradford White’s Icon Series of water heaters was introduced in Oct. of 2009 and adopts a really innovative but simple set of controls and options to boost efficiency, flexibility and consumer protection. The Bradford White Icon starts and stops with it’s gas valve control manufactured exclusively for BW by Honeywell. It is the first gas control valve on a

water heaters

Pilot Lighting – ICON Controller

residential water heater that can be removed and replaced without draining the tank. The control senses the temperature of the water through an immersed thermal well. The Icon is also an intelligent control meaning it has an on-board microchip that can diagnose issues with the heater giving the contractor and homeowner a level of knowledge never seen before on a residential water heater. One example is lighting the pilot, you turn the control to pilot, press the control and hit the pilot button and hold for up to 90 seconds. When the pilot is lit the green LED begins to flash so you know for certain that pilot is lit. The unit also has failure codes using the LED so if the water heater does malfunction you look at the LED see what it’s doing, go to the failure codes on the water heater and look up which failure code you have and there you have it. It is that simple. The Icon system is also upgradable by using plug-in modules here are the modules currently available:

Accessory Module – This is the module that powers all other upgrade modules and it is also equipped with an audible alarm and mounts on the side of the heater. It comes with an adapter that plugs into any home AC.

water heaters

Accessory Model Shown


Protection Package – This is a leak detection unit that is placed at the bottom of the heater. In the event of a leak the unit senses the water send a signal to the Accessory Module and the audible alarm is set off. The package come with a water dam that circles the heater, the dam doesn’t stop a leaking water but it allows the water to accumulate under the heater. This dam is not necessary if your heater was installed with a drip pan, which is quite common these days.

Inlet Shut Off Valve– This is an actuated valve that offers another level of protection

water heaters

Automatic Shutoff Valve and Accessory Module

in case of a leak. In the event of a leak the Protection Package sends the signal to the Accessory Module and the that same signal is sent to the shut off valve and that valve immediately shuts off water to the tank. So the most water you’ll ever have leak out of the tank is the amount stored in the tank.

Performance Package– This is the expansion module that really sets the Icon series water heaters apart from all others on the market and takes efficiency and  ROI to another level. The first feature and probably the most important is the programmable set

water heaters

ICON Performance Package

back feature. It allows for 4 programmable periods per day 7 days a week. For example you wake up at 5:00 am every morning and your entire family leaves the house by 9:00 am, you can program the heater to fire up @ 4:00 am and run until 9:00 am. After 9:00 am the heater shuts off and keeps the temp at around 95 degrees. You can then set the thermostat to turn back on when your family begins to return home and then off again when you stop using hot water. The performance package also has a vacation mode where is can be turned off while on vacation and turned back on when you return. This increases efficiency dramatically pushing 96%. The performance package also comes with a external mixing valve that allows for higher storage temperatures, then the water is safely mixed so it is safe to use at your plumbing fixtures. The mixing valve also has a cold water port so you can pipe an ice maker or humidifier without using a saddle valve. The hot side also has a mixing valve by-pass so you can send unmixed hot water to a washing machine or dishwasher.

If you’ve read any columns here you would know that we are fans of tankless technology however tankless water heaters are not without their flaws. In most cases tankless water heaters operate at around 199,000 BTUs. So anytime the hot water is used it takes 199,000 BTUs to heat the water for as long as the water is being used. So although it is being used efficiently its burning up a ton of fuel while it’s operating. By comparison a 40 gallon Icon uses 40,000 BTUs to bring the water up to the correct temperature only during peak usage. Another issue with tankless is maintenance, anytime you flash heat water you bring out dissolved solids which turns into scale. To properly maintain  a tankless water heater it should be de-scaled once per year, if it isn’t you are drastically reducing the life expectancy of the heater. The maintenance on the heater is seriously eating into the fuel cost savings and in turn the ROI on the heater. Using the Bradford White Icon series heaters eliminates those obstacles and gives you a true return on your investment.

We hope you enjoyed the article and if nothing else give you food for thought when you’re in the market for your next water heater or if you’re a contractor give you some ideas for alternate product offerings.


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