A Look Into On Demand Water Heaters

A Look Into On Demand Water Heaters
January 26, 2012 Lorelie

On-demand water heaters, more commonly known as tankless water heaters, are water heaters that do not have a tank to store heated water at.  Instead, these water heating units heat water only when it is needed – when the hot water faucet is turned on.  On demand water heaters are typically mounted on walls.  Large units, called whole-house tankless water heaters, are usually installed in the garage or basement, and small units, called point-of-use tankless water heaters, are usually installed near the hot water tap they will be supplying hot water for.  Since most households only use heated water intermittently, on-demand water heaters offer a lot of savings on utility bills.  Few of the most notable advantages that on-demand water heaters have over storage tank water heaters is that they occupy less space and that they last longer.  Another advantage that on-demand water heating units have is that consumers are able to turn down their thermostat since there is no water tank where bacteria may breed in.

When it comes to whole-house tankless water heaters, most experts recommend gas-type since fire heats water faster and more efficiently.  Electric-types are more suitable as point-of-use units since they need to be mounted near the particular tap and that no venting is necessary.  There are gas-fired tankless water heaters that are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30 percent which is good since switching from a storage tank type to an on-demand type requires professional installation charges on labor.  Aside from this, consumers may also need to upgrade their water pipes as well as their venting system, making the 30 percent tax credit a welcome idea.  In fact, even without the incentive of tax credit, a whole house tankless water heater should be considered.  For new homes, the homebuilders can design the piping and venting around the gas-type whole-house tankless water heater, further decreasing the amount needed for the installation.

When replacing the more traditional storage tank water heater, experts say the estimated cost for installation would be around $1,500 to $2,900.  There are experts who even claim to reach higher than $3,000.  Thanks to the rebates, credits, and other incentives, the price for installation can be kept down, at a more agreeable price.

The sizing of the on-demand unit depends mostly on the temperature of the incoming water.  If the climate is cold, the flow rate should be about half the rate generated during warmer seasons.  This makes it important to consult local contractors so they can assess whether the piping is good enough or if there is a need to point-of-use units to crucial areas of the home where hot water is necessary.  In addition, the contractor can assess the distance between the main water heating unit in relation to the other taps as too much distance means water loses heat, even if the pipes are well insulated.

Without tax credits and other incentives, when calculated, the payback for going tankless will be about 20 years.  If a household saves around 19 percent of gas and never going above that by using more hot water than they previously have, the household can save a lot of money.

When looking at the reviews for tankless water heaters, you will find mixed reviews from owners.  This is probably due to unrealistic expectations as well as unrealistic advertising, not to mention they are not ideal for all types of homes.  For example, if the incoming water is colder than the average 50° F in U.S., then the tankless unit will have a hard time heating fast enough to provide the acceptable flow rate.  In addition, an on-demand water heating unit is neither suitable nor practical for old homes that have long pipe.  Some owners even complain of burst between hot and cold water – something which can be very unpleasant when taking a shower.  This is why some contractors recommend the installation of a circulating pump to help keep heated water in the pipes continuously.  In addition to this, a circulating pump also helps to minimize the wasting of cold water when waiting for the heated water to reach the tap.  The truth is, circulating pumps can also be an invaluable addition even for storage tank water heaters.

Overall, if you are seriously considering tankless water heater for your home, it is recommended that you consult with a professional contractor in your area, one that has many experience with tankless water heaters, before purchasing one.  Besides, each unit may require the right line, water pressure, and gas pressure to achieve optimum performance and your local contractor may just have the recommendations for your requirements.

Gas Tankless Water Heater

Experts always recommend that you consult a local contractor with good standing records for the installation of tankless water heaters before attempting to choose a mode.  Nevertheless, there are still some models that are highly regarded by professionals such as the Rinnai.  One model, the Rinnai R75LSiN is well reviewed as it is able to provide a flow rate of 7.5 GPM of hot water – plenty enough for two showers running simultaneously.  It has an Energy Star certification, which means purchase of this whole-house tankless water heater is eligible for a federal tax credit, rebate, as well as incentives.  Tests have been made comparing this model to a traditional storage tank water heater and conclusive results have been found that the Rinnai not just saves money, but it also generates and deliver more hot water.  With this, the Rinnai R75LSiN has received high praises not just from owners, but from contractors as well.

These days, newer and more efficient gas-fired tankless water heaters are using condensing technology to increase their thermal efficiency.  The best part about these new-type units is that installation is made easier as PVC can now be used for venting instead of the usual stainless steel.  Although this technology is very promising, reviews for specific models have yet to be found.  Furthermore, a publication recommended to builders and contractors to hold off installing these systems until they have made a longer track record.

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