What You Need to Know About Tankless Hot Water Heaters

If your water heater is reaching the end of its lifespan – or if you’re having more and more problems with the performance of your water heater, whether it’s having trouble heating your water properly or it is no longer able to provide enough hot water to your home in an efficient manner, then you may want to consider investing in a new water heater. However, before you just upgrade to a newer version of your gas or electric water heater, you should consider a tankless hot water heater.

What is a Tankless Hot Water Heater?

The typical hot water heater contains a tank in which the water is heated before it is sent out throughout the house. With a tankless hot water heater, you’ll only heat water whenever hot water is needed. So how exactly does this work? Basically, a tankless hot water heater will quickly heat your water as it runs through a heat exchanger through the use of high-powered burners. The heater contains a power switch that automatically applies an electrical current to heat up the coils that the water passes through, thereby heating up the water almost instantly.

What Are The Benefits of a Tankless Hot Water Heater?

The following are just some of the benefits of choosing a tankless hot water heater over a more traditional hot water heater that depends on a tank:

  • Reduce energy costs – The fact that a tankless hot water heater doesn’t use standby heat is where you’ll be saving the most money on a tankless hot water heater. With a regular hot water heater, the tank is filled with hot water waiting to be used. Regular tanks will lose heat  as the water sits there – even if it’s well insulated. Not only will this help you to reduce your heating bills, but it will reduce your home’s environmental footprint as well.
  • Longer lifespan – Most typical hot water heaters will last between 10 and 13 years at the very most. A tankless hot water heater can last upwards of 20 years before it needs to be replaced. You could end up having to buy a third hot water heater before you would even have to replace your first tankless hot water heater!
  • Save space – As you most likely know, the tank of a traditional hot water heater takes up a decent amount of space. Consider this – a 40 to 60 gallon capacity tank is usually around 60 inches tall and 24 inches wide. There’s a good chance that the space it’s taking up could be put to much better use if you had it. A typical tankless hot water heater is much smaller, usually around 28 inches tall and 20 inches wide, thereby saving you a ton of space.
  • Cleaner water – There are all kinds of things that could be dirtying up your water in a regular hot water heater. Think about it – it’s just sitting there in the tank waiting to be used. Discolored water isn’t uncommon with a tank hot water heater due to sediment buildup within the tank. This requires the tank to be drained in order to clean out the sediment. If you have an older water heater, then the tank may begin flaking and crumbling, resulting in a metallic tasting and smelling water. This, of course, is no good – you’ll have to replace the tank if this occurs. You won’t have any of these issues with a tankless hot water heater.
  • Improved comfort and convenience – If you have a large family living in your home and happen to be using a lot of hot water at the same time; for example, if someone is taking a shower while the dishwasher and washing machine are running, then the tank of a typical hot water heater may run out of hot water, in which case you’ll have to wait for more water to be heated up. There’s no waiting involved with a tankless hot water heater since the water is heated instantaneously as it passes through.

Are There Any Drawbacks to a Tankless Hot Water Heater?

The major drawback of having a tankless hot water heater is the initial cost. It’s much more expensive to buy and install a new tankless hot water heater than it is to install a traditional hot water heater with a tank; however, the amount of money you end up saving over the long run due to the improved efficiency will make up for this initial expense.

A Few Tips for Purchasing a New Tankless Hot Water Heater

If you’ve decided to go with a new tankless hot water heater, then keep the following tips in mind:

  • Plan ahead – Don’t wait until your current hot water heater fails. Plan ahead – it may take some time to not only determine the size of the water heater you need, but to order it and then install it as well. You don’t want to end up without hot water for an extended period of time, after all.
  • Estimate the capacity – The capacity of typical hot water heaters is measured in gallons. However, with tankless hot water heaters, the capacity is rated by the amount of gallons of hot water is produced per minute (GPM). A professional can help you determine what the GPM is that you need. General rule of thumb is that the shower and bathtub require 2.5 GPM, the washing machine requires 3.3 GPM, the kitchen and bathroom sink require 2.2 GPM and the dishwasher requires 1.3 GPM.

As you can see, there are a number of advantages that a tankless hot water heater has over a traditional hot water heater that makes use of a tank. If you are planning on replacing your current hot water heater soon, think about investing in a tankless hot water heater. Even if the initial costs are slightly more – the amount you save (along with the other benefits) make it well worth it.

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