Tankless Water Heater 101
How Does It Work?
In order to enjoy a hot shower every time you want it, tankless water heaters will heat water directly without any use of a storage tank. It administers heat generated by electric coils or a gas-fired burner and uses a powerful heat exchanger. It is activated by the incoming flow of water, where the incoming water circulates through the activated exchanger, which heats the cold water to your preset temperature setting. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water, as tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water.
There are two types available for tankless systems, whole-house heaters and point-of-use heaters. Whole-house systems are larger and can operate more than one outlet at a time. Point-of-use systems are small and only heat water for one or two outlets.
Pros And Cons
Tankless water heaters use up to 50 percent less energy compared to units with tanks. Tankless units usually operate on natural gas or propane and will only be activated once you turn on the faucet. Instead of keeping 40 to 50 gallons of water hot in a storage tank, you waste less energy and save money by only using it when needed. They also give a continuous supply of hot water and will last five to ten years longer than tank heaters.
The main disadvantage is the upfront price and the expensive special installation that it requires. The smaller units that you often see won't produce enough hot water to serve most households as they usually serve one faucet at a time. Larger units that can handle the demand of a whole family, but are expensive.
Cost And Efficiency
For comparison, standard water heaters range from $250-$600, while tankless water heaters base models start at $800 and can reach to $1,500 for the higher efficiency models. They are expensive, but in the long run they can save you 7%-60% of heating your water which accounts for 30% of your monthly electric bill.
Installation And Maintenance
It’s a big job installing a water heater. When not properly installed, they can leak gas or carbon monoxide. A water heater should only be replaced or installed by a trained professional. Both gas or electric model tankless water heaters require additional setups, like an addition of electric outlets, gas pipes and a fan to cool the heat generated from the internal parts so ventilation pipes or ductwork must be installed.
Maintenance on a tankless water heater can significantly extend your water heater's life and minimize loss of efficiency. With complicated inner workings of a tankless water heater, it’s more laborious than your standard water heater. It’s best that your water heater should be serviced once a year by a professional. Also, read owner’s manual for specific maintenance recommendations.