Home Hotels Why Don’t Hotels Run Out Of Hot Water?

Why Don’t Hotels Run Out Of Hot Water?

by SharonKurheg

Depending on where you live and how your home is heated, you may notice you run out of hot water relatively quickly. You may have a rule in the house that 2 people can’t take a shower at the same time, or no one can take a shower when the dishwasher is running, because you’re sure to run out of hot water if you do. You’d think that hotels would have that problem too, times a bajillion, because there are so many people using hot water, especially during certain times of the day. Yet they rarely run out of hot water.

What’s up with that?

The average American uses between 15 and 20 gallons per shower. Multiply that by several hundred or even thousand rooms in a hotel and you’re talking about a whole lot of water heaters. Hotels in the olden days used huge boilers, but they’d still cross their fingers and hope they’d have enough hot water for everyone, especially for the people on the uppermost floors.

So how does it not happen nowadays?

Well, they still use steam boilers. And they’re HUGE!

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 11.00.16 PM
And most large hotels have several of them (the Marriott Marquis in NYC, which has just shy of 2,000 rooms, has 3 of them, each the size of a tractor-trailer).

But the way they get the hot water to all areas of the hotels nowadays is with multiple heat exchangers that facilitate water movement. They transfer the hot water from the boilers to the furthest areas of the building via pressure by pumps that work to circulate the water 24/7, ensuring that the water never gets cold. The mechanics of it allow for the main hot water pumps to rev up to push more hot water from the holding tanks as needed (i.e., when so many people are taking a shower in that first couple of hours in the morning) and slowing down when the need is not as intense.

They also have redundancy built-in so if one system fails for some reason, there’s a backup.

This video explains it way better than I ever could 😉

And those old hotels that used old systems? Over the years, older boilers have been replaced with ones that use less gas but produce the same amount of heat, which helps to save on energy. Many hotels also have water savers on their showerheads and faucets to decrease how much water comes out at one time, as other energy-saving techniques.

And now you know 🙂

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Elizabeth May 30, 2019 - 3:08 pm

I’ve had hotels run out of hot water! Not often, but it’s happened a few times, usually during a conference when there are MANY people in the hotel all getting ready at the same time.

SharonKurheg May 30, 2019 - 3:56 pm

Yeah, it does happen sometimes – but did it happen just one day (read: there was a specific problem that had to be fixed) or was it a chronic thing that happened every morning (read: they need a new/bigger/different system)?

Brian Cohen May 30, 2019 - 3:42 pm

Ahh, but Sharon: hotels DO occasionally run out of hot water — which ironically puts the hotel in hot water with its customers:


SharonKurheg May 30, 2019 - 3:54 pm

Oh sure, it happens sometimes – even the best system in the world breaks down every once in a while. We’ve experienced it too (and it was fixed later in the day. We did not ask for compensation.). But that’s definitely not the norm.

Tony May 30, 2019 - 11:13 pm

There’s also things called tankless water heaters which produce hot water instantly and thus never run out lol. Lots of homes have them

SharonKurheg May 30, 2019 - 11:43 pm

You’re absolutely right. I wonder, as time goes on and the boiler systems need to be replaced, if more hotels will go with tankless then?

Brian Cohen May 31, 2019 - 4:29 pm

I would think that would be considerably more expensive.

Besides, installing them would be a tankless job…

SharonKurheg May 31, 2019 - 4:35 pm

Whomp whomp…;-)

BB312 February 4, 2021 - 1:22 pm

I foresee tankless water heaters set to lukewarm and not adjustable, just like the thermostats.

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