How To Size Thermal Expansion Tanks For Hot Water Systems
Referring to sizing tables in an expansion tank manufacturer’s catalog is the easiest method, although not the best method, for sizing thermal expansion tanks. Sizing tables provided by the manufacturers, give the tank model number and size based on the water heater’s volume and the system supply pressure. These tables, however, are based on three important assumptions that designers need to be aware of.
First, for most manufacturers, the tables are based on a maximum allowable line pressure of 150 psi. This is the maximum allowable working pressure of most water heaters and thermal expansion tanks. It is also the setting of the water heater relief valve. In other words, the thermal expansion tank, if selected by the tables, could accommodate the thermal expansion up to a system pressure of 150 psi, which is the relieving point for the water heater relief valve. Remember that the purpose of the thermal expansion tank is to avoid the relief valve from relieving. Sizing the thermal expansion tank for a maximum allowable pressure of 135 psi, which is 10% below the relief valve set point, is a better alternative.