A tankless water heater offers a homeowner many advantages over a conventional water heater. They are energy efficient, have a constant supply of hot water and also enjoy substantial space savings.
The tankless water heater offers builders several advantages also. You are able to up sell to a more expensive appliance, space savings and also selling of an energy-efficient appliance. Today they are installed in most zero energy homes.
Also today, most custom homes are being built with a whirlpool system, high output showers, showers or tubs in other rooms, large capacity washers and dishwashers. All of these put a huge strain on a conventional water heater. Then there is a recovery period when even the biggest units run out of hot water.
How it Works
A tankless water heater is fairly simple concept. Instead of a constant draw on resources to heat, maintain and reheat water in a large tank.
- The tankless water heaters will flash-heat the water as it is needed by running thru a heat exchange.
- When hot water is needed sensors will signal the burners to light and then heat the water.
- When the hot water is no longer needed the whole system just shuts down and there is no pilot light.
This and the fact that there is no recovery period you can save 40 to 60 percent on your utilities bill.
A tankless water heater system is also compact and can be mounted to either an exterior or interior wall to save floor space. Because they are combustion sealed they can also be installed in the closet.
Tankless Growing in Popularity
Tankless water heaters in the past few years have had a 20 to 30 percent sales increase per year. But they still only account for about 2 percent of the overall residential water heater market.
Part of this is the fact the some builders are jumping in the tankless water heater parade but yet others are holding back taking a more cautious approach. Also part of the increase is due to the customer’s are more knowledgeable and aware of the tankless water heater advantages.
While there are several good advantages to the tankless water heater, there are some drawbacks also.
The flow rate or capacity that a tankless water heater can supply is dependant on the heating element. The bigger the heating element is. The larger the capacity or flow rate will be. It is also affected by the difference between the water temperature and the temperature it needs to be heated. This is also known as rise.
If a tankless water heater needs to heat water from extremely hot, such as the case in the colder regions. It will have a lower flow rate. A standard shower temperature is 105 degrees. If the water needs to be heated from 65 degrees (which is common) to 105 it will do so much more efficient and with a greater flow then heating the water from 35 to 105 degrees.
The biggest hurdle to clear with a tankless water heater is the initial cost. This cost is 2 to 3 times higher than a conventional system. A couple long term factors need to be investigated. First the energy savings, many states now offer energy rebates which can also reduce the over all price. You also need to look at life expectancy and repairs.
A conventional systems are not designed to be repaired they are designed to be replaced. A tankless water heater normally has a 10 year guarantee on the heat exchange unit and 3-5 on the other parts. They are constructed to be repaired if needed. Also the lifetime of the tankless water heater can be up to 20 years with most manufacturers stating 12-15.
A tankless water heater very well may be one of the best cost savers you can put into your new home.