Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heaters

Water on demand

Call them tankless, on demand or instantaneous, they provide hot water when it's needed, where it's needed - without holding any in storage. Usually electric water heaters or gas fired, tankless water heaters have the potential for big money savings.

Benefits of ditching the tank

Most of those savings come from eliminating standby losses, the energy that's wasted when heated water sits unused in a tank. And since there's no storage, you won't have to run the water waiting for it to get hot. A further benefit to eliminating the storage tank is avoiding leaks. Most storage tanks will eventually leak and can cost a lot to fix, whereas leaks rarely occur in tankless water heaters.

Temperature modulation

Some tankless water heaters are either completely ON or completely OFF. As flow rates change, they continue to put out the same heat. At the least, this can cause uncomfortable temperature fluctuations and at the worst, scalding. Modulated units base their heat output on the volume of water flowing through. Less water means less heating applied, keeping temperatures even.

Intermittent ignition device

The IID is like a spark ignition device on an oven. It ignites the pilot light when needed. An instantaneous water heater that has a continuously ignited pilot light can waste energy, so look for an IID to save energy.

Will it cover your family's needs?

Residential-sized (gas) tankless units can be great for homes with one or two people. In big homes with a lot of hot water needs, they might not provide enough.

The good

  • You'll almost never run out of hot water.
  • They are compact in size.
  • There are virtually no standby losses.
  • Less water is wasted; there's no running the water waiting for hot water to arrive.
  • The equipment has a longer lifespan; they are less likely to corrode and can last 20 years.
  • They offer a range of prices: around $200 for an under-sink model and up to $1,000 or more for a gas unit providing 5 gallons per minute. The less hot water you need, the lower the costs.
  • In most cases, electric tankless water heaters will cost more to operate than gas tankless water heaters.

The bad

  • They probably won't be able to supply enough hot water to simultaneously use more than one large appliance (shower or washing machine).
  • Electric tankless heaters draw more immediate power than storage water heaters, so if electricity rates include a demand charge, they may be a lot more expensive.
  • Electric units draw a high amount of power because water is heated quickly.
  • Wiring might have to be upgraded.
  • Gas water heaters need to be vented.
  • Gas units that have a continuous pilot light can waste a lot of energy.
  • There is the possibility of temperature fluctuations in tankless water heaters.
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