Tankless Water Heaters: Everything You Need to Know

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A tankless water heater is a type of water heating system that heats water on demand, without the use of a storage tank. It only heats water as it is needed, which can save energy and space compared to traditional tank-style water heaters.

As a result, tankless water heaters can have a higher energy efficiency rating and lower operating costs compared to traditional tank-style water-heaters.

Pros of a tankless water heater:

  1. Unlimited Hot Water: A tankless water heater can provide a continuous supply of hot water as long as the demand is not too high.
  2. Energy efficiency: Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed, which can result in significant energy savings compared to traditional tank water heaters.
  3. Space saving: Tankless water heaters are compact and can be mounted on a wall, freeing up valuable floor space.
  4. Longer lifespan: Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than traditional tank water heaters because they have fewer mechanical parts that can wear out.

Cons of a tankless water heater:

  1. Initial cost: Tankless water heaters are typically more expensive than traditional tank water heaters.
  2. Limited flow rate: Tankless water heaters have a limited flow rate, which means that they may not be able to meet the hot water demands of larger households.
  3. Complex installation: Installing a tankless water heater can be more complex than installing a traditional tank water heater and may require the services of a licensed plumber.
  4. Limited hot water output in cold climates: Tankless water heaters may struggle to produce enough hot water in very cold climates, where incoming water temperatures are low.

What Temperature Should A Tankless Water Heater Be Set At?

A tankless water heater should be set at a temperature between 120-140°F (49-60°C) for safety and efficiency. It is recommended to set it at a lower temperature (120°F) to prevent scalding and reduce energy usage, but a higher temperature (140°F) may be necessary for certain applications like dishwashing. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your building codes for safe and optimal operation. 

Benefits of Switching to a Tankless Water Heater

  1. Lower Energy Bills: Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient as they heat water on demand, rather than continuously heating a full tank of water, reducing overall energy consumption and leading to lower energy bills.
  2. Longer Lifespan: Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan compared to traditional tank-style water heaters, as they don’t have to continuously maintain a tank of hot water.
  3. Space Savings: Tankless water heaters are smaller in size, allowing for more space in the home, as they don’t require a large storage tank.
  4. Cost of Installation: Although tankless water heaters can be more expensive to purchase and install initially, the long-term energy savings can offset these costs over time.

It is important to note that the cost benefits of switching to a tankless water heater may vary depending on factors such as water usage patterns, local energy costs, and the size of the unit. It’s recommended to have a professional assess your specific needs to determine the potential cost benefits for your home.

The cost of upgrading from a traditional water heater to a tankless water heater can vary widely, depending on several factors such as the size of your home, the unit you choose, the cost of labor in your area, and any necessary modifications to your plumbing or gas line. On average, the cost of installing a tankless water heater can range from $2,500 to $4,500, but can be more or less depending on the above factors.

It’s recommended to get multiple quotes from licensed plumbers or HVAC technicians to get an accurate estimate for your specific needs. Keep in mind that although the initial cost of a tankless water heater may be higher, the long-term energy savings can offset these costs over time.

For reference Forbes compares the best Tankless Water Heaters here of 2023

So, determining which tankless water heater is best for your home can be a complex process, as there are many factors to consider. 

How to Choose the Right Tankless Water Heater for Your Home

  1. Assess Your Hot Water Demand: The first step in choosing a tankless water heater is to determine how much hot water you need at any given time. This will help you determine the size of the unit you need, as well as the flow rate. The flow rate is the rate at which water is heated, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). It is important to choose a tankless water heater with a flow rate that can meet your hot water demand, otherwise, you may experience a lack of hot water.
  2. Determine the Fuel Source: Tankless water heaters are available in gas-fired and electric models. Gas-fired models are more energy efficient and have a higher flow rate, but can be more expensive to install and maintain. Electric models are less expensive to install, but may have a lower flow rate and can be less energy efficient.
  3. Consider Your Climate: The climate in your area can also play a role in choosing a tankless water heater. In areas with harsh winters, gas-fired models are a better option as they can provide a consistent flow of hot water, even in extreme cold. In milder climates, electric models may be a more cost-effective option.
  4. Check for Ventilation Requirements: Some tankless water heaters, particularly gas-fired models, require proper ventilation. Make sure to check the ventilation requirements for the unit you are considering and make sure your home meets those requirements.
  5. Look for Energy Efficiency Ratings: The energy efficiency of a tankless water heater is measured by its energy factor (EF). The higher the EF, the more energy efficient the unit is. Look for units with an EF of 0.90 or higher.
  6. Consider the Size of Your Home: The size of your home can also play a role in choosing a tankless water heater. If you have a large home with multiple bathrooms and a high demand for hot water, you may need multiple tankless water heaters or a larger unit.
  7. Budget: Finally, consider your budget when choosing a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters can be more expensive to purchase and install than traditional tank-style water heaters, but the long-term energy savings can offset these costs over time.

In conclusion, choosing the right tankless water heater requires careful consideration of your hot water demand, fuel source, climate, ventilation requirements, energy efficiency ratings, the size of your home, and budget. It is recommended to consult with a licensed plumber or HVAC technician to assess your specific needs and determine the best option for your home.

The pros at Fountain Plumbing are ready to help with whatever you need!
Call us at (903) 566-LEAK to schedule an appointment today!