what temperature should a commercial water heater be set at?Commercial water heaters can achieve higher temperatures than the 120 degrees Fahrenheit that the average residential water heater achieves. So, why do many still recommend you set your commercial water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit? And which temperature should you actually set it to? We’ll discuss what you should consider about your commercial water heater’s temperature settings below.

Regulations for Water Temperature

Various organizations weigh in on what temperature you should set a water heater at. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you set it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends 140 degrees Fahrenheit for certain applications. Your local codes may have yet another interpretation of how warm your water may be.

Ideally, when the water touches someone’s hands, it should be at or slightly above 120 degrees Fahrenheit for safety to prevent skin burning and still provide a safe level of heat that prevents bacteria growth. However, it should not be at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit because at this temperature, water burns skin. Your chosen temperature might be closer to 130 degrees or slightly lower or higher. It really depends on your equipment and comfort.

It is wise to ask a plumber to strategize on temperature with you. Also, keep in mind that you should refer to your local codes to ensure your chosen temperature is acceptable. Further, in commercial settings, higher temperatures may be required for certain applications, which we will discuss below.

Temperatures Under Different Conditions

There are some conditions where you may need to set a commercial water heater to higher temperatures than are recommended to supply taps and faucets. These may include:

  • Radiant heating: When a water heater is part of a radiant heat system, the water it produces should not ever touch someone’s skin. Instead, it just circulates and dissipates heat. It may be wise to heat this water up beyond 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but the ideal temperature depends on your system.
  • Dishwashing: Suppling a dishwasher with hot water is a common reason to set a water heater above the typical temperature settings. In hotels, retirement homes and other places with commercial dishwashers, the dishwasher normally has a dedicated water heater set to its high temperature needs. Large residential buildings need to supply hot water for dishwashers in the units, in which case you should work with a plumber to design a system where the dishwasher gets hot enough water, but people cannot burn themselves with the water from their tank.
  • Other appliances: There are various other commercial-sized appliances that may need hotter water than you would want to supply to the taps someone might use. You should ask a plumber about what temperature the various appliances you have may need.

Professional Guidance

You should set your water heater to a specific temperature that makes sense based on your own plumbing system and your application. Commercial plumbers can help you assess your needs and choose a temperature for your commercial water heater that is safe and functional.