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Why Tankless Water Heaters Are a Must

Why Tankless Water Heaters Are a Must

Tankless Water Heaters – Have you ever considered how a tankless water heater could transform your home’s hot water system? 

As homeowners increasingly seek energy-efficient solutions, tankless water heaters are rising in popularity. These on-demand heaters provide hot water only when needed, eliminating the energy losses of traditional water heaters that maintain a hot water reservoir. This results in significant energy savings and lower utility bills.

Tankless models are compact, ideal for space-limited homes, and can last over 20 years with proper maintenance, making them a cost-effective, long-term investment. They offer both functionality and a sleek design, enhancing your home’s infrastructure efficiently.


How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Have you ever wondered how tankless water heaters deliver hot water on demand without the need for a bulky storage tank? 

Understanding the technology behind these innovative systems can help you appreciate their efficiency and advantages over traditional water heaters.

Tankless water heaters operate by heating water directly as it passes through the unit. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the tankless water heater. 

An electric element or a gas burner then heats the water instantly, providing a continuous supply of hot water. This process eliminates the need for a storage tank, thereby reducing energy consumption and standby energy losses.

In contrast, traditional tank water heaters store a large volume of hot water in a tank, typically ranging from 30 to 50 gallons. This stored water is kept hot at all times, even when not in use, leading to significant energy waste. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, only heat water when it’s needed, making them much more energy-efficient.

Differences Between Tankless Systems and traditional Tank Water Heaters

Comparing tankless systems to traditional tank water heaters reveals several key differences:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Tankless water heaters can be up to 34% more energy-efficient than conventional tank models, particularly in homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily.
  2. Continuous Hot Water: With a tankless system, you never run out of hot water. As long as the unit is properly sized for your home, it can provide an endless supply of hot water.
  3. Space Saving: Tankless units are compact and can be installed in various locations, including closets, utility rooms, or even outside on a wall. This space-saving design is particularly beneficial for smaller homes.
  4. Longevity: Tankless water heaters generally last longer than traditional models. With proper maintenance, a tankless system can last over 20 years, compared to 10-15 years for a tank heater.
  5. Upfront Costs vs. Long-Term Savings: While tankless water heaters typically have a higher initial cost, they offer significant savings over time through lower energy bills and longer lifespan.

Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Are you considering upgrading to a tankless water heater but unsure about the benefits? Let’s delve into the specific advantages that make these systems an excellent choice for modern homes.

Energy Efficiency

One of the most compelling benefits of tankless water heaters is their superior energy efficiency. Traditional water heaters continuously heat and reheat a large tank of water, which leads to significant energy losses. In contrast, tankless systems only heat water when it’s needed, eliminating standby energy loss. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters can be 24-34% more energy-efficient for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily. For homes that use more hot water, they can still achieve 8-14% greater efficiency compared to traditional models.

Cost Savings Over Time

While the initial investment in a tankless water heater can be higher than a traditional tank model, the long-term savings are substantial. The energy efficiency of tankless systems translates directly into lower utility bills. 

Additionally, their longer lifespan—often more than 20 years with proper maintenance—means you’ll need to replace them less frequently than traditional water heaters, which typically last 10-15 years. These factors combined can lead to significant savings over the life of the system.

Space-Saving Design

Tankless water heaters are much more compact than their traditional counterparts. They can be mounted on walls or installed in small utility closets, freeing up valuable floor space in your home. 

This is especially advantageous for smaller homes or apartments where space is at a premium. Their sleek design also allows for more flexible installation options, including outside on walls in warmer climates, further optimizing space utilization.

Endless Hot Water Supply

One of the most appealing features of tankless water heaters is their ability to provide a continuous supply of hot water. With traditional water heaters, once the stored hot water is depleted, you have to wait for the tank to refill and reheat. 

Tankless systems, however, heat water on demand, ensuring you never run out of hot water, even during heavy usage periods like back-to-back showers or running multiple appliances simultaneously.

Durability and Longevity

Tankless water heaters are built to last. With proper maintenance, they can operate efficiently for over 20 years, outlasting traditional tank models by a significant margin. This durability reduces the frequency and cost of replacements, contributing to their long-term cost-effectiveness.


Types of Tankless Water Heaters

When considering a tankless water heater, it’s essential to understand the different types available to ensure you choose the best system for your home. Tankless water heaters come in various configurations, each with its advantages and ideal applications.

Whole-House vs. Point-of-Use Units

Whole-house tankless water heaters are designed to provide hot water for an entire home. These systems are powerful enough to supply hot water to multiple fixtures simultaneously, such as showers, sinks, and appliances. 

Whole-house units are ideal for larger households or those with significant hot water demands. They require a more substantial initial investment but offer the convenience of a single system managing all hot water needs.

Point-of-use tankless water heaters are smaller units installed near individual fixtures or appliances. These heaters are perfect for localized applications, such as a single bathroom, kitchen sink, or laundry area. 

Point-of-use units are typically less expensive and can be an excellent solution for supplementing an existing water heating system, addressing specific areas with high hot water usage, or providing hot water in remote locations of a home.

Electric vs. Gas-Powered Systems

Electric tankless water heaters use electric elements to heat the water. These units are often more compact and easier to install than gas models, making them suitable for smaller homes or where space is limited. 

Electric tankless water heaters are typically less expensive upfront and do not require venting, simplifying the installation process. However, they may have higher operating costs depending on local electricity rates and are usually better suited for homes with lower hot water demands.

Gas-powered tankless water heaters use natural gas or propane burners to heat the water. These systems can produce a higher flow rate of hot water, making them ideal for larger households with greater hot water needs. 

While gas models are generally more expensive to purchase and install due to the need for proper venting, they tend to have lower operating costs over time, especially in areas where natural gas is more affordable than electricity. Gas tankless water heaters can be an excellent choice for homes with high hot water usage or those looking for maximum efficiency.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Tankless Water Heater

When selecting the right tankless water heater for your home, consider the following factors:

  1. Household Size and Hot Water Demand: Larger households or those with high simultaneous hot water usage may benefit from a whole-house gas-powered unit, while smaller homes or specific applications might be best served by point-of-use or electric models.
  2. Energy Source Availability: Evaluate the availability and cost of energy sources in your area. If natural gas is readily available and affordable, a gas-powered unit might be the most cost-effective option.
  3. Installation Requirements: Consider the installation complexity and space requirements. Electric units are generally easier to install and do not require venting, making them suitable for tighter spaces.
  4. Initial Cost vs. Long-Term Savings: Balance the upfront cost of the unit and installation with the long-term savings on energy bills. While gas models may have higher initial costs, their efficiency and lower operating costs can provide significant savings over time.

Choosing the Right Tankless Water Heater

Selecting the perfect tankless water heater for your home involves evaluating several key factors to ensure it meets your hot water needs efficiently. Here are the essential considerations to guide your decision-making process.

Factors to Consider

  1. Household Size and Water Usage
    The size of your household and your daily hot water usage are critical factors. Larger families with multiple bathrooms and high hot water demands will require a more robust tankless system, likely a whole-house unit, to ensure a steady supply. Conversely, smaller households or specific applications like a guest bathroom or a remote sink might be well-served by a point-of-use unit.
  2. Flow Rate and Temperature Rise
    Flow rate is the amount of hot water the system can deliver per minute, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). To determine the required flow rate, add up the flow rates of all fixtures and appliances you expect to use simultaneously. For instance, a showerhead may use 2.5 GPM, a kitchen faucet 1.5 GPM, and a dishwasher 1 GPM. If you expect to run all three at the same time, you need a unit that can handle at least 5 GPM.
    Temperature rise is the difference between the incoming cold water temperature and the desired hot water temperature. Tankless water heaters need to heat water quickly and efficiently, so knowing the temperature rise requirement is essential. In colder climates, where incoming water is significantly colder, you may need a more powerful unit to achieve the desired hot water temperature.
  3. Energy Source
    Evaluate the availability and cost of energy sources in your area. If natural gas or propane is readily available and affordable, a gas-powered tankless water heater could be more efficient and cost-effective in the long run. Electric models are a good choice for homes where gas is not an option or for smaller point-of-use installations.
  4. Installation Requirements
    Tankless water heaters have specific installation requirements. Gas models require venting to expel exhaust gases, which can add to the installation complexity and cost. Electric models do not require venting but may need significant electrical upgrades to handle the increased load. Ensure you have enough space for the unit, considering that gas units are typically larger and need ventilation clearances.
  5. Initial Cost vs. Long-Term Savings
    While tankless water heaters generally have a higher initial cost compared to traditional tank heaters, they offer significant long-term savings through reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. Consider the balance between the upfront investment and the potential savings over the lifespan of the unit, which can be over 20 years with proper maintenance.

Installation Process

Installing a tankless water heater is a detailed process that requires professional expertise to ensure optimal performance and safety. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the installation process and why it’s essential to hire a licensed plumber.

Steps Involved in Installing a Tankless Water Heater

  1. Assessment and Planning
    The installation process begins with a thorough assessment of your home’s hot water needs and the existing plumbing and electrical systems. A professional will evaluate the best location for the tankless unit, considering factors like proximity to water fixtures, venting requirements (for gas models), and electrical capacity (for electric models).
  2. Shutting Off Utilities
    Before installation, the utility lines (water, gas, or electricity) need to be shut off to ensure safety. This step is critical to prevent accidents and damage during the installation process.
  3. Removing the Old Water Heater
    If you’re replacing an old water heater, it will need to be drained and removed. Proper disposal of the old unit is essential, as it often contains harmful materials that need to be handled appropriately.
  4. Mounting the Tankless Unit
    The new tankless water heater is mounted on the wall. For gas models, this includes installing venting systems to expel exhaust gases safely. Electric models need to be connected to the electrical panel, which may require upgrading the wiring to handle the increased load.
  5. Connecting Water and Gas Lines
    The water and gas lines are connected to the tankless unit. Proper installation ensures there are no leaks and that the system is securely fastened. The connections must comply with local building codes and manufacturer specifications to ensure safety and efficiency.
  6. Electrical Connections
    For electric models, the unit is wired to the home’s electrical system. This step may require a licensed electrician to ensure the wiring meets safety standards and can handle the unit’s power requirements.
  7. Testing the System
    Once the installation is complete, the system is tested to ensure everything is functioning correctly. This includes checking for leaks, verifying water flow and temperature, and ensuring that the venting system is working properly.
  8. Adjustments and Calibration
    The final step involves adjusting and calibrating the tankless water heater to optimize performance. This includes setting the desired water temperature and ensuring the system operates efficiently under various usage scenarios.

FAQ Answered By Our Emergency Plumber


  1. What is a tankless water heater?

A tankless water heater, also known as an on-demand water heater, heats water directly without the use of a storage tank. When hot water is needed, cold water travels through the unit, where it is heated instantly by an electric element or gas burner.

  1. How do I choose the right size tankless water heater for my home?

Choosing the right size involves calculating your household’s peak hot water demand in gallons per minute (GPM) and considering the temperature rise needed. Consulting with a professional can help you select the correct unit for your specific needs.

  1. Are tankless water heaters more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters?

Yes, tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient because they only heat water when it’s needed, eliminating standby energy losses associated with traditional tank heaters that constantly heat a large volume of water.

  1. What are the maintenance requirements for a tankless water heater?

Regular maintenance for a tankless water heater includes descaling to remove mineral buildup, cleaning the inlet screen filter, and inspecting the system for any issues. It’s recommended to have a professional perform annual maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

  1. Can a tankless water heater be installed in any home?

Most homes can accommodate a tankless water heater, but certain factors like the availability of natural gas or sufficient electrical capacity, proper venting for gas models, and space for installation need to be considered. A professional assessment can determine the best installation options for your home.


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