What is a Tankless Water Heater?
What exactly is a tankless water heater? Is it better than the standard traditional storage
tank water heater? We'll explore those questions and more here in this guide.
A tankless water heater consists of a small wall-hung unit that is a heater stores hot water
to use, a tankless does not require hot water to be stored to be heated. The downside of
tank water heaters is that is needs to continuously heat the water in the tank so it is hot
and ready when you need it. It continues to use energy (WASTE MONEY) even when
you're not using hot water. This energy is called standby heat loss.
Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand, there is no storage and no wasted
energy. Sometimes tankless water heaters are referred to as "endless" water heaters.
These water heaters are available in gas and electric models.
When you turn on the hot water tap in your home cold water travels through a heat exchanger in the water heater. This water is the water
when it is turned on until it is heated. This may take a few seconds. Once heated, it will stay hot.
However, tankless water heaters do have their limits. Typically, they provide hot water at a rate of 3-5 gallons per minute on average.
The demand for hot water in the house at one time can limit the amount of hot water the unit can produce. For example, using the shower
and another appliance like the washing machine at the same time can stretch it to its limit. Gas water heaters can produce higher flow
rates than electric ones and may be what you need to meet the demand of your home. There are also other options like installing a
second tankless water heater, or a small water heater for your appliances.
|PROVIDE HOT WATER, BUT WHAT ARE THE PROS
AND CONS OF EACH?
But is it the right choice for you? Is it
worth the additional installation
expense? What really is the
difference...they both heat water
right? We'll explore the PROS and
CONS here. Let;s start with the
traditional tank water heaters.
While they are not as water or energy efficient as
tankless water heaters, conventional water heaters
have numerous benefits, including:
LOWER INSTALLATION COST - Tank water heaters are less expensive than tankless to install.
EASY REPLACEMENT - Typically you are just replacing the tank for the same-sized unit. However, new Federal Energy Standards have
increased the size of the tank water heaters. A professional will have to ensure that the larger units will fit in the existing space when replacing.
LESS INTERNAL PARTS - A tank water heater really has only a few functioning parts. Meaning there is very little maintenance associated with
these water heaters.
HIGH-EFFICIENCY TANK OPTIONS - Many manufacturers offer higher efficiency units to save on water usage and energy costs. Ask our
professionals about these options.
|CONS - TANK (storage) WATER HEATERS
heating for many years. However, while tank water heaters are
an efficient way to heat your water there are some cons if you're
HIGHER ENERGY COSTS - Since hot water is stored in the tank, the gas or electricity needs to run more than a tankless unit to keep the
CAN RUN OUT OF HOT WATER - Once the hot water is used in the tank you will not have any hotter water until the tank is refilled and heated
again. This can happen if you have multiple people or appliances using hot water at once.
TAKES UP MORE SPACE - Tankless units take relatively little space, while a tank water heater needs space for the tank. Another thing to
consider is that energy standards have required manufacturers to make tank water heaters wider to insulate and hold heat better. Ask our
professional about how this affects replacement.
SHORTER LIFE SPAN -Tank water heaters usually last between 7-11 years, while tankless water heaters can last approximately 20 years.
|PROS - TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
Tankless water heaters are energy efficient and have
many more PROS to converting:
HARD TO RUN OUT OF WATER - Run a couple of showers and run the dishwasher or washing machine without worrying about running out of
hot water. Extremely effective for larger families. Could generate upto 9-10 gallons per minute.
LOWER ENERGY COSTS - Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed. You will reduce your energy cost because you will only
need to heat water as you need it. Consider the amount of energy it takes to keep 40, 50, or 75 gallons of water hot constantly, that can add
TAKES UP LESS SPACE - While this seems trivial, we mentioned in the cons for tank water heaters that energy standards have made water
heaters wider. Meaning, when it's time to replace your water heater a new water heater that is the same size as your existing water heater, it
may not fit in the same space the existing unit is located at. This alone may have you consider tankless.
LONGER LIFE SPAN - Tankless water heaters can last 20+ years if well maintained. In some cases that may be double a tank water heater's
|CONS - TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
Tankless water heaters do have some drawbacks that
are described below:
MORE INTERNAL PARTS - Tankless water heaters are compact but have more internal parts than traditional water heaters. They also
require maintenance at least once a year to inspect and ensure proper operation. If you have hard water you may need additional
maintenance to remove scale buildup, or a water softener.
We talked about energy standards and how those have impacted the sizes
and installation of traditional tank water heaters. What exactly does that
mean? Here are the new standards explained. In 2015 the Department of
Energy mandated higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential
gas, electric, oil and tankless water heaters. These changes have impacted
how water heaters are manufactured and installed. Probably one of the
biggest changes that impact tank water heaters are outlined below:
* Tank water heaters will be manufactured with more insulation, making them
wider in diameter.
* Standard water heaters will also be slightly taller.
* The additional insulation will make the water heaters heavier as well.
These modifications can impact you directly if your existing water heater is in a
tight location in your home. It may be difficult to get the same sized unit in the
existing location due to the new diameter and height requirements.
All new water heaters are manufactured to these new specifications.
WILL A TANKLESS WATER HEATER SAVE MONEY?
There is not a simple answer to this question.
However, most people do not see dramatic savings,
simply do to the fact they have all the hot water they
want. Longer showers than they did with the old tank
type water heater. Why? They no longer have to
consider that there may be another family member or
members waiting to take a shower! Now multiply that
times two, three, or four people taking extra long
showers and you can quickly see why most times
there are no savings.
Yes, tankless water heaters will save the consumer
hot water heating fuel cost if they treat the tankless
water heater like they did a tank type water heater!
Most people don't. People that have a tankless water
heater, opt to have them for the fact that they can
have all the hot water they want.
Overall if you can keep your hot water usage similar to
what it was prior to having an on demand water heater
you will likely see your energy costs go down once the
tankless has been installed. The average savings
compared to a 40 gallon standard tank is about $130
per year, if you maintain similar usage.
|ARE TANKLESS WATER HEATERS ENERGY EFFICIENT?
What is energy efficiency? This is determined by the amount of hot water produced by the water heater per unit of fuel consumed in a
day. This measurement is based on the following factors:
RECOVERY - How efficiently the heat from the energy source (gas or electric) is transferred to the water.
STANDBY LOSS - This only pertains to tank water heaters because water is stored in the tank. This is the percentage of heat loss from
the stored tank compared to the heat content of the water.
CYCLING LOSS - This is the loss of heat as water circulates through the tank and pipes.
Really only one of these apply to tankless efficiency since there is no recovery or standby loss. Cycling loss applies only to units that
don't keep the heat cycling throughout the unit. We explain these options further on down in this article.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY EXPLAINED - Standard water heaters have an energy factor of approximately 60% of th energy generated is
used to heat the water, and 40% of that heat is lost in this process. That heat goes out the vent. Tankless water heaters have a 85%
to 99% energy factor. You will greatly reduce your heat loss when you convert to tankless, and use less fuel to heat the same volume
moving from a gas water heater to a gas tankless water heater. Gas tends to be about
23% more efficient than traditional electric water heaters.
Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Electric units require a ton of amps to heat the water. In our area, electrical tankless
water heaters are not a cost effective option to be the main heating source for your
water, especially when the gas is available and much, much cheaper.
Overall, tankless water heaters are more energy efficient as indicated earlier. Once
you eliminate the need to heat and store water your energy efficiency is going to go up
and ideally your energy costs may go down, because you're using less fuel to heat your
REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT - One of the many reasons people choose to
replace their standard water heater with a tankless is because tankless is an
environmentally friendly way to heat your water. You will maximize the heat generated
to provide hot water with little heat loss. Also, if you can use the same amount of hot
water you were using when you had a standard water heater you will reduce your
energy as well.
SIZING AND COSTS COMPARISONS FOR A TANKLESS WATER HEATER:
When determining how much a tankless water heater will be to install in your home you need to think about the water usage in your
produce enough hot water to fulfill your demand, the higher the flow rate the more BTU's you'll need.
It is difficult for us to give you a ballpark cost estimate in this guide due to the variables we've outlined. The graph above should give you an
idea of how your hot water needs determine the size of unit you need to meet your demand. Please note that in some cases if you have a
large family or a large hot water demand it may be necessary to install two units to provide you with enough hot water to meet your demand.
you make an informed decision if tankless is a good choice for you and your family.
HOW MUCH DOES A TANKLESS WATER HEATER COST?
Tankless water heaters are typically more expensive to install than standard water heaters. The cost
difference is due to the process to convert from tank to tankless. Replacing it is not difficult but does
require a bit more work to retrofit.
TIME TO INSTALL - A tankless water heater will take anywhere
from 3-10 hours to install depending on the specific requirements
and configuration of your home.
RELOCATING WATER HEATER - Since tankless water heaters
are smaller sometimes homeowners consider relocating it in their
GAS UPGRADE - Sometimes it is necessary to upgrade the gas
service to the unit. This will need to be evaluated before
installation. Tankless units require higher gas pressure and
sometimes your home's gas line needs to be upgraded or a new
line needs to be added to support the unit.
need a condensation drain line. These are necessary because
the condensation that is created within the gas is very
corrosive. A drain line or pump needs to be run from the unit to
a drain line in your home. Cost may fluctuate slightly based on
the location of your water heater.
VENTING - The venting for tankless is slightly different than a
tank water heater, typically PVC or Stainless Steel and new
venting usually needs to be run to the new unit to adequately
vent the gas from the water heater.
CODE UPGRADES - Every installation is different and
depending on your home there may be upgrades needed to
bring your water heating system up to current code standards.
These items may include pressure or relief valves, expansion
devices... These can vary from home to home so the costs are
difficult to outline. You should talk to us about all your options
and gain a good understanding of the installation requirements
for your specific home.
|TANKLESS WATER HEATER INSTALLATION PROCESS
We hope we've given you enough information in this guide to make an for
you and your family. Really the only thing left to cover in this guide is
A typical tankless water heater installation can take a crew of 2
technicians an average of 6-10 hours, depending on installation
requirements. The process is more intensive than your standard water
heater replacement. It involves removing the tank unit and replacing the
venting and pipes with proper fittings and venting that is up to code for a
tankless water heater.
Ensure that you hire a licensed professional to install the unit.
Remember that in most cases gas modifications will have to be made for
the large number of BTUs that tankless units use. You want to make sure
that you hire a professional that will stand behind their work and warranty
It is never a good idea to cut corners on such an important appliance in
your home. If you still have lingering questions please contact our
experts at 412-223-2560 and request a free in home estimate.
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