A tankless water heater is an ideal investment for many homeowners. If you are considering purchasing one, there are several things you need to keep in mind. First, there are several brands and models available. Prior to purchasing any, realize that there are many differences. If you take some extra time to choose the most appropriate water heater, you are likely to save money, have a better resource for hot water and have an easy to install system.
What Are They?
A tankless water heater system is just what it sounds like. It is a water heater which directly pulls water from the water lines rather than from a storage tank. There are several benefits for this. The largest benefit is that with these tanks, no water is being stored and heated. In a standard water heater, the water enters from the pipes into a storage tank. The tank’s water is heated and must be continuously heated to keep it at the right temperature for use. Instead of doing this, a tankless system, draws the water from the pipes and heats it quickly. There is no shortage of hot water, and there is a good reduction in energy used to heat water for use.
In a tankless system, the cold water comes out of the pipes and enters the unit. Most are electric units. These electric only draw water when you turn on the handle for hot water. When this happens, electric elements heat the water quickly. Others are gas fired. In these a high powered gas burner kicks on when you heat the water and warms it through. There is no long wait time for the water to heat up.
In fact, that is one of the best features about these systems: there is no wait. If you have ever had to wait ten, twenty or more minutes for a shower only to step into a cold shower because the person before you used all the hot water, a tankless system could be just what you need.
One of the drawbacks of these systems is that they cannot all do the same amount of work. Most typical tankless water heating systems produce hot water at a flow rate of two to five gallons each minute. Some of the gas heated systems do produce at a higher rate than their electric counterparts. The drawback is that if more than one system is demanding hot water, most of these systems cannot produce enough hot water, fast enough, to supply both demands. This is particularly a problem for smaller systems, rather than larger ones.
Most will run into trouble if there is a large household and multiple demands for hot water are being made from the same tankless system. The good news is that you can overcome even this problem. You have two main options when purchasing these systems. You can purchase what is called a “whole house tankless system” or you can avoid this and install smaller systems at the main points of water need. A whole house system can provide a far larger amount of hot water at a time. If you select two or more of the water heaters to install separately, you can do this through a parallel connection system.
Another way around the problem of having not enough hot water from these systems starts with just that appliances. You may want to install a separate water heater for each of the large appliances you have that consume hot water. This includes your washing machine, your dishwasher and others you may have. This way, when these systems are working, they are drawing on the water coming directly from the pipes and their separate tankless water heater. You can take a shower and wash clothes at the same time with this system.
To buy these systems, there are several things to keep in mind. First, realize that while the system is not as difficult to install as water pipes running through the home, it is a job meant for an expert if at all possible. You will need to ensure that the system has access to the right amount of power and the right type of power (gas or electric.) Check the voltage requirements by the manufacturers of electric tanks. Most require between 110 volts to 277 volts. They also have various amp draw, which means you will need to check the requirements by the manufacturer on amp needs for the system. Finally, you will need to have a separate circuit installed in the home for such devices. Be sure to update this electric properly using a professional trained and licensed electrician .
The next consideration is size. When you are considering the size of the heater, you need to focus on the flow rate. The flow rate is simply how many gallons per minute are able to be drawn from the water pipes, heated properly and delivered to you. Consider this. For a bathtub, you will likely need a flow rate between 2.0 and 4.0. For the dishwasher, a flow rate up to 3.0 is likely. You may need a kitchen sink flow rate up to 1.5. Other areas may have other demands. The flow rate is critical to get right. These systems will generate a temperature rise based on the demand needed (the demand is the flow rate.)
Also, keep in mind that tankless water heaters are not inexpensive. You want to ensure that you purchase one that gives you a quality guarantee. Professional installation may cost a bit more, but it will help you ensure you have the proper tank installed properly into your home.
The benefits of the tankless water heater include decreasing your energy use, which in turn reduces your costs. So, over time, the investment into these systems will pay off. Plus, the benefit of not having to wait for hot water is one that many people appreciate! Keep in mind the importance of using these systems to benefit the environment, too