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Is It a Good Idea to Buy a Tankless Water Heater?


Tired of the long wait before the next person can hop into the shower? Then, you should be considering tankless or demand-type water heaters. Unlike regular heating systems, tankless water heaters provide a never-ending supply of hot water.

While standard heating units constantly heat and reheat the water, tankless water heaters instantly heat it up when needed.

Although instant heating requires more energy, tankless water heaters are still more efficient than standard units. In fact, tankless water heaters have a 22% higher efficiency than regular heating systems, as per Consumer Reports.

So, should you get a tankless water heating system for your house? Read on to learn about the pros, cons, cost, and functioning.

What Is A Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater heats up water instantly and only when it is required. The cold water flows through a pipe to the heating unit – electric or gas-powered – that heats it up.

Usually, these heating systems offer two to five gallons of water per minute. However, gas-powered tankless water heaters have a higher flow rate than their electric counterparts.

Multiple tankless water heaters are common in larger homes or bigger families to ensure a constant water supply for laundry, showers, and the dishwasher.

Here’s how a gas tankless water heater works:

  • When you turn the faucet on, a flow sensor detects the influx of water into the heater.
  • The control panel activates the fan.
  • As outside air comes in, opening the gas valve, it turns on the burner.
  • Tankless water heaters have a heat exchanger that transfers the heat from the burner to the water.
  • A temperature sensor is also present, which checks if the water meets the desired settings. If not, it adjusts the mixing valve and gas valve.
  • Water exits the exchanger, and you get hot water from the faucet.
  • Meanwhile, the vents in the heater carry away the combustion air and exhaust gases.

Benefits Of A Tankless Water Heater

Before you purchase a tankless water heater, it’s wise to weigh its pros and cons. Here are some advantages of a tankless heating system.

Instant Hot Water

With standard units, if someone has just finished a long shower, you have to wait a certain period for the water to heat up again. On the other hand, tankless water heaters heat up instantly, providing an uninterrupted flow of water.

Longevity

Another benefit of tankless water heaters is their longer lifespan. While most standard water heaters last a decade, a tankless heater works effectively for up to 20 years.

Lower Energy Costs

Since a tankless water heater only heats water when needed, it’s not always operational. Therefore, your monthly savings will be higher while your gas or electricity bills will be lower.

Space-Saving Design

Tankless water heaters have a space-saving design as you can mount them on the wall. They’re also less bulky and can easily fit a confined space in the bathroom or the basement.

If you have a smaller home, this is a blessing.

Tax Breaks

As tankless water heaters are more efficient, they qualify for tax breaks in the US. In 2016, the federal government gave its citizens a 10% tax credit on the collective expenditure of tankless water heaters’ purchase and installation.

Less Standby Loss

Standby loss refers to the loss of energy when the heater is not in use. Standard heating units are always working, even when no one is using water. Therefore, the standby loss raises your bills.

On the other hand, tankless heating systems don’t have a standby loss.

Longer Warranties

Since they have longer lifespans, tankless water heaters also come with longer warranties. Some manufacturers might offer a 20-year warranty – as long as the heater’s life.

Shortcomings Of Tankless Water Heaters 

Although tankless water heaters have many benefits, they lack in some regards. 

  • Inconsistent Temps: If you’re using water simultaneously in different parts of the house – such as for showering and running the dishwasher at once – the temperature will be inconsistent. Plus, the heating system does not activate if the faucet is only slightly open, such as during shaving.
  • Expensive: Tankless water heaters are much more expensive than standard units. The cost of a tankless water heater can be as high as $3000, depending on the model.
  • Costly Installation: Since tankless water heaters do not have a traditional setup, their installation is costly. The handyman might have to install a new venting or reroute gas lines, making the final cost even higher.

Although most homeowners consider tankless water heaters to be viable alternatives to traditional heating units, new and better options are available too. One of them is solar heating.

Since the heating system only uses sunshine, there’s no additional equipment or installation cost.

Gas Or Electric Tankless Water Heaters: Which Should You Buy?

If you’ve decided to purchase a tankless water heater, your immediate concern is to choose the type; electric or gas. The major difference between the two is their efficiency.

While gas heaters are about 85% efficient, electric heaters are up to 98% efficient. On the flip side, gas heaters are long-lasting and cost less.

Gas Tankless Water Heaters

Gas tankless water heaters are considered safer than standard heating units. Plus, they’re less expensive than the electric versions and have a higher longevity.

However, these water heaters shut off if there’s scale or mineral buildup. So, regular maintenance is necessary. If your region gets hard water, you should flush the water heater with vinegar every 500 hours.

Electric Tankless Water Heaters

These heaters are more expensive because they’re highly efficient. Along with taking up less space in the house, they also heat up water instantly.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy A Tankless Water Heater?

If you’re prepared to pay a high upfront cost to lower your energy bills later, you should definitely opt for a tankless water heater. Moreover, these water heaters are suitable for smaller families or homes where you’re not doing multiple water-related activities at once.

On the other hand, if you have a larger family and need a dishwasher, two showers, and a washing machine to have consistent water temps simultaneously, conventional water heaters are more suitable for you.

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