Choosing a New Water Heater – Tankless Water Heaters

Choosing a New Water Heater – Tankless Water Heaters
December 22, 2011 Lorelie

If you have an old water heating unit that needs to be replaced, you may want to consider becoming open to new options and choose the right type of water heating system that will be perfect for your water heating needs.  Weighing the advantages and disadvantages between the different water heating systems will allow you to narrow down and identify the right unit for you.  One of the ways of narrowing down the right water heater for you would be to look at energy efficiency.  This would include whether your household have high demands or low demands for heated water.  If a water heating unit can provide your whole household the heated water it needs but requires less energy to run, then this would likely be the perfect water heating system for you.  However, it is important to understand that such energy efficient water heating systems are pricey.  Nevertheless, they are more robust and will pay for the added cost in the long run from the savings you get from your utility bills.

There are basically 5 types of water heating systems – storage water heaters, tankless water heaters, solar water heaters, heat pump, and indirect water heaters.  Each type of system has its own advantage including significant disadvantages.  This makes it important to identify which one is most suitable for your water heating needs.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, also called as on-demand and instantaneous water heaters, are water heating units that do not use any storage tank.  This means they do not heat water beforehand and store it somewhere.  Instead, these water heating units heat water only when the demand for hot water is needed.  This means that these water heating systems do not suffer from any ‘standby energy loss,’ which in turn saves you money on utility bills.

Tankless water heaters basically works by passing cold water through pipes or tubes inside the unit which are heated by either an electric heating element or a gas-fired heating element.  This type of water heating system in turn can provide a constant stream of heated water.  The advantage of this type of water heating system as compared to a storage water heating systems is that the hot water you use is not limited to how much the storage tank can store and how fast it can reheat a whole tank.  Its main disadvantage on the other hand is the rate of flow.  This means that if there are two hot water taps being used simultaneously, the water heating unit will not be able to cope and will instead just provide both taps with heated water with a lowered temperature.

On average, tankless water heating units have a rate of flow of 2-5 gallons per minute.  Gas-fired models can usually generate a higher volume than electric models.  Still, there are times that a gas-fired unit, even the largest model, cannot accommodate supplying hot water during simultaneous usage, especially for large households.  A good example for such simultaneous hot water usage would be when taking hot shower at the same time running the dishwater and the clothes washer.  Such usage is simply too much for a tankless water heater to accommodate and may push the unit to its limit.  In order to overcome this problem, the solution would be to have two tankless water heaters installed connected parallel to each other so when the demand of heated water rises, the two units will work in tandem to supply the necessary heated water.  Another solution would be to install a point-of-use tankless water heater to areas you frequently use hot water such as on the dish washer and the on clothes washer.

Although it can be said that gas-fired tankless water heaters can generate a higher flow rate than electric units, they, however, waste a lot of energy, especially since they always need to have a pilot light on.  Such energy loss from gas-fired tankless units can sometime offset the standby energy loss from storage water heaters.  In fact, the pilot light from storage water heating units’ even helps to heat up the tank which is why the energy used from the pilot light isn’t wasted.  This is why when buying a tankless water heater, it is very important to know and ask whether the unit of your choice uses a standing pilot light, or if it has an intermittent ignition device (resembles the spark ignition on stoves) that allows the pilot light to be reignited when used.

If your home or household uses around 40 gallons or less daily, then tankless water heaters may be the one suited for you as they would be more energy efficient as compared to using storage water heaters.  In fact, if you install a tankless water heating unit for every hot water outlet, you will even achieve greater energy savings.

When buying a tanless water heater, you will notice that they cost more than the traditional storage tank water heaters.  However, even if they are pricier, they have lower operating costs which mean the added price will offset itself in the long run.

Buying a whole house tankless water heater can be difficult if you do not know the criteria or aspects to look for.  This makes it important to know the factors you need to know when buying one.  Some of the common factors would be size, fuel type, energy efficiency, and cost.  Size is a very important factor when buying a water heating unit as it should be able to accommodate certain simultaneous usage, such as a shower and a tap.  This type of usage will require you to have a flow rate of at least 3.25 gallons per minute.  Another factor to look for would be the fuel type or energy source.  This would either be electric or gas-fired.  If you decide to choose a gas-fired unit, your area or place should have that fuel source available.  Otherwise, there would be nothing to heat your water if you bought a gas-fire unit when there is no available gas line in your area.

Energy efficiency is another factor to look for in a water heater.  This is because the overall efficiency of a water heating unit will yield to lower operating cost.  As with every household appliance, price and cost is always a factor to consider. The initial cost of a tankless water heater is more than the conventional storage types.  Add to that the installation cost of the unit and the overall price will increase.  Nevertheless, it is necessary for you to hire a reputable contractor as this will help to ensure that your water heating unit is installed properly so that its energy efficiency can be optimized.

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