Tankless water heaters, also called instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, are gaining a lot of popularity in recent years and this is for good reason. Tankless heaters offer plenty of benefits when compared to the traditional water heaters. However, just like any other product, these tanks also have their drawbacks and limitations which you need to consider before deciding to go “tankless” for your household. In this article, we will take you through what you need to know about tankless water heaters so that you can make an informed decision before investing in them.
What exactly are Tankless Water Heaters?
The tankless water heater has become increasingly popular mainly due to its compact design and energy efficiency. These water heaters have the capability of heating water only when it’s needed, thus their other name, on-demand water heaters. These tanks are different from the traditional storage-type water heaters as these tanks store hot water in a tank and utilize energy in order to keep the water hot as it waits to be used.
To put it in a simpler way, when you install a tankless water heater, your shower will not be limited by the size of your hot water tank! These tanks only use energy only to heat water, but not to keep stored water hot. This implies that they heat and deliver hot water only when it’s needed, unlike traditional water heaters which sit in a storage tank.
How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
The concept behind tankless heaters is actually very simple. When you open a hot water tap, cold water enters the tankless unit where it is heated by an electrical heating element or gas burner as it passes through. Then the water leaves the heating unit hot andready to be used.
Tankless water heaters have the capability to deliver a constant hot water supply, but, they are usually limited by the flow rate of the unit. The flow rate is simply the amount of water the on-demand unit can heat at a given time.
If your tankless unit has a low flow rate it may not be able to deliver enough hot water to meet your needs. Thus, selecting a sizable unit is very important in order to avoid running out of hot water.
Will On-demand Water Heaters Replace the Traditional ones?
Tankless systems have become quite common in Japan and Europe, and in the recent past, they have gained a lot of popularity in the US. This is mainly because they’re environment-friendly, economical to operate and use less space.
Many see tankless water heating systems as the future. As the technology continues to advance, these water heaters will also improve will undoubtedly improve, gaining more popularity and driving their prices lower and lower.
Making the decision to invest in a tankless water heater system might not be the right move for everyone, but if you can take advantage of the many benefits it comes with, it is a clear win!
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heating Systems
There are several advantages of tankless water heaters. These include;
1. Operating Costs/Energy Savings- Unlike traditional water heaters, there is no standby heat loss when you use tankless heaters because they deliver hot on-demand.
2. Longevity – Tankless water heating systems have a much longer life than the traditional water heating systems. On average, and with good maintenance these systems can last 20 years or even more.
3. Replaceable Parts – The fact that tankless water heaters are designed to be repaired makes them last longer. If your traditional water heater starts to leak, there is a high chance that you’ll need to replace the entire unit. However, tankless water heater units are made in such a way that nearly every part of it can be replaced.
Compact Design – With a tankless water heater, less space is needed for installation. They can be mounted on a wall and some of them are even made to be installed outside.
5. Constant Supply of Hot Water – With tankless water units, the length of your hot shower will no longer be determined by the size of your hot water storage tank. When you select a sizable unit, the tankless water heater is capable of providing your household with an endless supply of hot water.
6. Fresh Water – With on-demand water heaters, hot water will not be sitting in a storage tank that might contain mineral scale and rust especially if you haven’t maintained it properly. When you need hot water, it will be heated on the spot and delivered instantly.
7. Peace of Mind – Because on-demand water heater does not store water in a tank, you will not worry about issues of age-related leakage which are often experienced by traditional water heaters at the end of their service life. Not worrying about leakage and water damage can help you sleep better at night.
Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Just like any other product in the market, tankless water heaters come with their own limitations and drawbacks.
1. Initial Cost – You should expect to spend more when purchasing the on-demand water heater. In fact, some brands of these units can cost as much as 3 times more than traditional water heaters including their installation.
2. Capacity – Depending on your household needs of hot water, you might need at least two large on-demand units installed.
3. Power Upgrade – On-demand water heating units require more power to heat and deliver hot water when needed. Many older homes, might not be able to support tankless water heaters without their power source upgraded.
4. Expensive Venting – Tankless water heaters, specifically gas-fueled units require an expensive venting material.
5. Output Limitations – As mentioned earlier, tankless water heaters come with different flow rates. If your household’s hot water needs are higher than the water heater system’s capability, then the unit will not be able to deliver enough hot water. Because these tanks don’t come with storage tanks, they can only be able to heat and deliver as much hot water as they can heat at a given time.
We hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to hot water using tankless heaters and that you use it well to make the right decision for your needs.