Tankless Water Heaters provide hot water only when it’s needed, vs. Storage Water Heaters which are filled with heated water in a tank until it’s ready for use.
How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work
Tankless water heaters, also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When you turn on your hot water the initial cold water travels through a pipe into the unit where the water is then heated via a gas burner or an electric component, so the supply of hot water is continuous. No need to wait for a storage water heater tank to fill up with enough hot water.
One potential drawback is that the output on a tankless water heater is limited when it comes to the flow rate. Tankless water heaters generally provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons (7.6–15.2 liters) per minute. Gas-fired tankless water heaters offer higher flow rates than electric ones. Often times however, even a larger gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. For example: Taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a tankless water to the limit…equating to not enough hot water for one, or both. One way to remedy this problem is to install two or more tankless water heaters – ask your local plumbing expert if you plan to explore this option.
A majority of tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years with easily replaceable parts that can often extend usage for a longer period of time. Storage water heaters typically last on average about 10 to 15 years.
Energy Efficiency and Costs
The initial cost of a tankless water heater is higher than a conventional storage water heater – from the water heater itself, to installation costs.
Something to consider when you’re weighing out the expenditures is that tankless water heaters have lower operating and energy costs and generally last longer. The energy costs associated with standby heat losses in conventional storage water heaters can often be avoided with tankless water heaters.
Keep in mind that gas-fired tankless water heaters often have higher flow rates than electric ones, so they can actually waste more energy if the pilot light is constantly burning. This is in contrast to a gas-fired storage water heater where the pilot light heats the water in the tank so the heating energy isn’t wasted.
However if you’re really leaning toward a tankless water heater, take note that some come equipped with an intermittent ignition device (IID) instead of a standing pilot light – a device similar to the spark ignition mechanism on some gas kitchen ovens and ranges.
Ask a Professional
In short, if you’re considering a tankless water heater definitely do your research and inquire with your local plumbing expert about models they might recommend along with their thoughts on the pros and cons for your household specifically.
North County Plumbing has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services… with no overtime charges!
If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “Time for a New Water Heater?”
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