What is a tankless water heater and how do they work?
Winters can be very tough to endure without adequate warm water. Have you ever wondered how you would survive without the invention of water heating systems in modern times? Water heating systems have become an integral part of our lives and it is now hard to imagine a world without them. Now a days, most homes in the US have some sort of heating systems that heats up water that is used for showers, laundry, washing dishes etc.., this system is typically a process that produces hot water that is typically store in a tank. The tanks come in different capacities and are meant to heat and store hot water for day-to-day use. However, even the largest tanks can run out of hot water, especially when the water has to be shared by different fixtures at once. Tankless water heaters solves many of the challenges associated with conventional(tanked) water heaters.
Tankless water heaters, also referred to as on-demand water heaters, have gained lots of popularity thanks to the numerous benefits they guarantee. These fantastic heating systems heat water on-demand, or when it's needed, reducing wasted heat as well as energy. If you are currently looking to invest in a new heating unit, a tankless water heater is one type of water heating system that you should absolutely consider.
Conventional water heaters usually feature a giant tank that holds water until someone in your home needs it. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, don't require the use of a tank. They don't generate standby water to store in a storage tank. Instead, they produce hot water instantaneously.
If you are considering getting a tankless water heating system, you will have to decide between an electric or a gas tankless water heater.
Gas tankless water heaters make use of natural gas or propane to heat water for household use. These units are ideal for people who want instant heating with minimal response time. Natural gas units pack more power than electric heaters. The high output and quick response time of gas heating systems make them ideal as whole house units for heating needs.
Electric tankless water heaters need an electric connection to heat water. With that in mind, a whole-house unit electric system will be costlier to operate than the gas-powered alternative. Electric tankless water heaters also tend to be smaller than their gas counterparts, making them ideal for homeowners with limited space. Furthermore, electric heating systems are environmentally friendly because they do not discharge residue, unlike gas-powered units.
It is also worth noting that electric water heaters boast up to a whopping 99% energy efficiency.
On the other hand, though they may not be as energy-efficient as their electric counterparts, tankless gas water heaters are fairly more powerful. And for homes with larger families, gas may be the better alternative. However, it should be noted that gas water heating systems are typically more expensive in upfront cost if your home does not have an existing gas line setup. Even if your home has an existing gas line setup, it likely that setup was mean for your tank water heater and might not be suitable for your gas tankless unit, in which case, a new gas line would need to be run from your gas meter to your unit, this in addition to setting up exchaust vents from your unit to outside the house if you tankless unit is installed inside the house.
Below is a summary of the differences between an electric tankless water heater and a gas tankless water heater:
Energy efficiency: Electric tankless water heaters are, on average, fairly more energy efficient. To be more precise, they can attain a 99% EF rating whereas gas-powered tankless water heaters can only reach a 90-95% EF rating.
Operating cost: Generally, electric tankless water heaters are more affordable compared to gas-powered tankless water heaters. What's more, it is important to note that gas prices often tend to fluctuate more dramatically than electricity prices. Economists generally agree that gas prices are only expected to go up significantly in the coming years, whereas in many areas, electricity costs are expected to remain relatively stable or at least increase at a much slower rate.
Installation: Gas tankless water heaters feature complex venting as well as combustion air supply, especially when you are looking to install them in a confined space. And these requirements can also drive up the total installation costs. On the other hand, electric tankless water heaters are usually relatively smaller, about one-third the size of a gas tankless water heating system. And this, coupled with the fact that they don't require the same extensive upfront setup that a gas unit requires, makes them not only easier to install, but cheaper to install as well. In this regard, they can easily be installed in a closet, under a sink, in a crawl space, or a wide range of other locations where it may not be possible to install either a gas tankless unit or a conventional water heater.
Weight: Due to their relatively larger size, gas tankless water heaters can be several times heavier than electric tankless units.
Maintenance requirements: Electric tankless water heaters usually require very little to no maintenance. In fact, you only need to occasionally clean the inlet screen filter, and you are done. On the other hand, gas tankless units should not only be installed professionally owing to their complex setup, but also require regular servicing and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and safe operation. In the event of an issue, electric tankless water heaters are inherently simpler to troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair. . Gas tankless water heaters, on the other hand, feature highly complex heat exchangers and fuel controls that are quite tough to service and needs a local licensed plumber to service.
Now that we have explained water a tankless water heater is and the different types of tankless water heaters, Let look at why you should prefer a tankless water heater to a conventional water heater
Reason why you should consider tankless water heaters?
Unlimitted hot water: As already explained, tankless water heaters function by heating the water on demand as opposed to heating and keeping it in a storage tank. With this technique, the hot water will never run out as it does in a storage tank. They can guarantee an unending stream of hot water.
Space savings: Tankless water heaters are generally smaller than conventional water heaters. A typical storage-tank water heater is about 2ft wide and 5ft tall. On the other hand, a typical tankless water heater is only around 16 inches wide and 26 inches long, and 6 inches deep. Clearly, it is very much smaller than a storage tank.
Reduced monthly heating energy costs: While tankless water heaters are more expensive, they are also highly energy efficient. In fact, studies have shown that tankless water heaters are at least 20% more efficient than conventional water heaters. Households that consume less than 41 gallons of water a day can save up to 34% on their energy bill if they opt for a tankless setup. The tankless system is also economical for households that use more than 41 gallons of water a day
Tankless systems don't suffer standby loss: Arguably, the biggest selling point of tankless water heaters is that they eliminate standby loss entirely. As you may already know, conventional water heating units reheat water repeatedly, increasing energy costs every time this happens. Even when no one is home, a traditional water heater uses energy because it still fires up to preheat the water in the tank. This significantly increases energy costs.
Constant supply of hot water: In households with heavy hot water usage, conventional water heaters will ultimately run out of hot water, for instance, if three or four people take showers consecutively while the dishwasher is also running hot water. On the other hand, a tankless system ensures that everybody in your home gets an equally warm shower, because it doesn't depend on reserved hot water to meet current demand.
Longer lifespan: A tank hot water heater can last about a decade under good maintenance, where as tankless hot water heaters have a much longer useful life and can serve homeowners for more than twenty years. Additionally, tankless systems last longer because they do not have to deal with mineral build-up. Mineral build-up is a common problem for tank systems, especially those that deal with borehole water. Mineral accumulation causes the water tank to strain in keeping the water hot. And thanks to their lengthy lifespan, tankless water heaters are often covered by longer warranties which is an added advantage for homeowners.
Reduced risk of water damage and leaks: One of the major risks with conventional hot water heating units is that over time, the storage tank will wear out due to corrosion and this will ultimately result in leaks and water damage. Since tankless water heating systems don't feature a tank, there is no risk of leaks and water damage. Of course, this doesn't necessarily imply that tankless water heaters are immune to problems. They can and will occasionally experience problems that could potentially lead to leaks, but the likelihood of having a major leak that causes floods and substantial damage is very minimal.
Ease of maintenance Tank heating systems require frequent maintenance to operate optimally. The tanks have to be flushed and scrubbed regularly to get rid of mineral deposits and other pollutants. The entire process of scrubbing and flushing is time-consuming and tedious. A tankless system does not require scrubbing, flushing, or the use of chemicals in the cleaning process. The tankless water heater maintenance is simple and straightforward and can be done using readily available household cleaning products.
Ok, so now that we have talked a lot about thankless hot water heaters, how do you select the right unit? With so many tankless water heaters on the market, choosing a suitable one for your home can be a tricky. Below is an overview of the top considerations that homeowners should consider before investing in a tankless unit.
What to consider when choosing a tankless water heater
1. Maximum number of fixtures that require hot water
A homeowner should first identify their hot water consumption rate. The size of your unit will depend on the number of people residing in your home, the size of your home and the number of fixtures like washers, showers, faucets etc.. that you have at your home that could consume hot water at the same time. The more fixtures and people you have using hot water, the larger your unit should be to be able to have enough capacity to supply hot water on demand. A home with eight permanent residents will require a higher capacity water heater than a home with two or three inhabitants.
2. Establish the desired temperature rise
Another important factor when choosing either a tankless electric or tankless gas water heater is how efficiently the systems heats water to the desired temperature. Temperature rise is the difference between the incoming water temperature and the required final water temperature. A typical hot shower setup will discharge water at temperatures ranging between 101 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. To determine the appropriate temperature rise for your tankless system, you need to know the incoming temperature of water from your city main. If the incoming water temperature is 35 degrees, you will need a tankless unit with a temperature rise of at least 65 degrees.
Top 5 Tankless Water Heaters
1. The Rinnai Tankless water heaters
Rinnai manufactures high-quality gas-powered indoor tankless water heaters. The RU160Enhas a compact form factor and weighs less than 7 pounds. The heater has a maximum flow rate of 9 gallons per minute, allowing it to supply hot water to multiple facilities simultaneously. The unit has excellent energy efficiency enabling homeowners to save on their energy bills.
The StiebelEltron is an electric tankless heater with a 99 percent energy efficiency rating. This unit has a silent operation and is easy to operate. Despite its compact size, it has an admirable flow rate of 7.5 gallons per minute (GPM). This unit requires a maximum power input of 92,000 BTU, making it ideal for small to medium-sized homes. Its advanced flow control feature heats water consistently. It also has a digital screen that displays the accumulated cost savings.
3. Takagi T H3 DV N
The Takagi T-H3-DV-N is a natural gas tankless water heater with excellent water heating capabilities. It is one of the smallest tankless water heaters on the market. Despite its compact size, the unit has a high heating capacity of 199,000 British thermal Units (BTU). It has a glow rate of up to ten gallons per minute (GPM) and an energy efficiency rating of 93.
4. ECO TOUCH
The ECO TOUCH tankless water heater is an excellent point-in-use unit for lone fixtures such as showers and faucets. It also comes with a self-modulation control feature that monitors the fluctuations in water temperature. This electric-powered unit delivers a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute and a power input of 30,500 BTUs. The heater has a 99 percent efficiency rating.
5. RheemRTE13 tankless water heating system
Rheem is a brand that manufactures both gas and electric tankless heating systems. The RTE13 is one of their popular models. The unit has a compact design at 10 inches tall and 7.25 inches wide. It weighs in at 8.5 pounds. The unit comes in a metallic box with easy-to-install procedures. This electrically powered unit is ideal for point-in-use applications and can deliver up to 4 gallons per minute.
Installation, maintenance and repair cost of tankless water heaters:
First and foremost, it is imperative to note that installation, repair as well as maintenance tankless water heater costs vary depending on the type and size of the unit and perhaps your location. In this regard, solar-powered and gas tankless water heaters are more expensive on average compared to electric units.
Your current location can also have a huge impact on the overall installation cost simply because labor, as well as material costs, can either be higher or lower in different states. In terms of size, there are two distinct types of tankless heaters, including single-point and whole-house. Whereas single-point tankless water heaters support a single output such as shower etc.., a whole-house tankless water heater heat the water for your entire home. As such, a whole-house water heater is much bigger compared to a single-point water heater. Choosing the right unit will depend on several factors such as your family size and price too.
In terms of the purchase price, the unit cost of a electric tankless water heater ranges between $500 and $900 whereas that of a gas-powered tankless heating unit ranges between $1000 and $2200. And on average, the installation cost of both electric and gas tankless water heating units ranges between $450 and $1500.
Proper installation depends on a number of factors, including the source of fuel, climate, safety issues, and your local building code requirements. As explained earlier, the installation cost of gas tankless water heaters will always be higher than that of electric heaters. This is because of the complex venting requirements.
Tankless water heater repair costs are also dependent on certain factors, such as your location, material cost, the extent of damage, and labor costs. On average, contractors charge between $30 and $150 per hour on labor. So, depending on the type of damage at hand, you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars in repair costs. To get an exact quote for repair, contact a Nearby Plumber
Regular maintenance of your tankless water heating unit will not only ensure smooth and safe operation, but will also help spot any potential issues before they become larger and costly problems. Professionals usually charge between $30 and $150 per hour to service and maintain tankless water heaters.