I get a lot of emails asking about the noise the Chilipepper makes. Apparently there are comments from customers complaining about how noisy it is online. I would like to address this issue and explain a few details about the Chilipepper and noise.
When we first began manufacturing the Chilipepper we used a gear pump with plastic gears. It made a very loud noise. A word of advice, do not use a gear pump if you want a quiet one. That little pump would rattle the neighbor’s windows!
Making it less noisy
Now we were the two guys in a garage making these pumps… zero budget, no distribution, and internet only for sales. We weren’t even taking salaries. But we kept working on it and soon found that we could use rubber gears and the noise was much better. It was still pretty noisy, but at least the neighbors didn’t hear it anymore.
Part of the problem was that a gear pump produces little pulses of water as the gears mesh with each other, and these pulses vibrated the piping through the whole house. Gear pumps also produce noise as the teeth engage, even when the gears are rubber.
During the next several years we made minor improvements that reduced the noise somewhat, but it was still a gear pump.
There are of course, other sources of noise besides the pump head. The motor is a high rpm brush type motor. The kind used in vacuum cleaners, garbage disposals, food processors hair dryers, etc. These motors do make noise, more noise than the kind of motors used in typical hot water circulating pumps. The motor does contribute to the noise.
Centrifugal Pumps Make Less Noise
A couple of years ago we came out with a new improved model of the Chilipepper that uses an impeller type pump instead of a gear pump. The pump is actually a centrifugal pump, and makes far less noise than a gear pump.
The Chilipepper model CP6000 makes about as much noise as a hand held hair dryer, but the sound is similar to a small vacuum. However, I would like to note here that my wife purchased a small hand held vacuum cleaner not long ago, and it makes a whole lot more noise than the Chilipepper, and its battery operated! Go Figure.
Not All Noise Is Bad
I do not think the product would be better if it made less noise than it does now, in fact, I think the noise it makes is a good thing. Our main competitor, ACT Metlund, uses TACO brand hot water circulating pumps in their demand systems and they are very quiet. Too quiet in my view. If you are using a fixture at a different location than where the pump is located then with the Metlund system you have no idea when the hot water arrives.
You may in fact be tempted to run the water with your hand in the stream so you will know when the hot water arrives, which kind of defeats the purpose of the demand system to begin with.
With the Chilipepper you have a much better chance of being able to hear the pump shut off, and that way you know it’s time to turn on the hot water. My pump is upstairs in the Master bath, but our kitchen sink downstairs needs the Chilipepper more than any of our other locations.
When I push the remote switch I can usually hear the pump come on, but if the TV is on it’s hard to hear. Even so, I much prefer straining to hear it turn off, then standing there wondering if the hot water has arrived yet.
There are occasionally units that work but are noisy for one reason or another, sometimes a bearing is bad or a seal is squeaky, and we gladly exchange them for a new one or provide a refund. You can’t please everyone.
The Noise Problem Has Been Resolved
I honestly can’t remember the last time someone returned a Chilipepper because of a noise complaint except in the few cases where there was a physical problem with the Chilipepper. We used to get lots of them returned due to noise problems, back when we used a gear pump.
It’s my sincere belief that the Chilipepper noise problems are over, but there is always that money back guarantee. You can always return it within 30 days without any reason at all for a full refund.