The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters, also called instant or on-demand water heaters, only expend energy once a hot water tap is on or if you are using appliances. That is unlike the traditional tank water heaters that use energy continuously to keep the hot water supply.
You can choose a gas or tankless electric water heater. In a tankless gas water heater, cold water passes via a pipe into the water heater system, where it is heated by a gas burner. In a tankless electric water heater, the cold water is heated using electric coils.
Both of those heating methods ensure that you always have a constant hot water supply. Tankless water heaters can provide 2-5 gallons of hot water every minute on average. Normally, tankless gas water heaters produce higher water flow rates than tankless electric water heaters.
Before installing these types of water heaters, it is important that you know all the advantages and disadvantages they will have during and after installation.
Pros of Tankless Water Heaters
Saves cost and energy in the long-term
This is one of the biggest advantages of having these types of water heaters installed in your home. Tank-style water heaters release energy all the time to ensure that all the water in your tank is hot when you need it.
However, the tankless heaters only expend heat once you turn on the shower, tap, or appliance. That means that they do not have standby heat loss, which happens when heat escapes the tanks and requires to be reheated constant reheating.
The US Department of Energy says that tankless heaters are 8-50% more energy efficient than traditional tank-style heaters. However, how much energy you use depends on your water needs and how efficient your tank-system was previously.
If you use below 41 gallons of hot water daily, the tankless heater is 24-34% more energy efficient than the tank-style heater. If you have a large family or use about 86 gallons of hot water daily, the tankless heater is8-14% more efficient.
If you have a tankless heater for every shower, sink or tap instead of having a centralized one for the whole house, the system is 27-50% more energy efficient.
That energy efficiency saves the amount of money you spend to pay your electricity bills and can save you $100-$1500 yearly.
Unlimited hot water supply
In a tank-style water heater, you risk running out of hot water if you have a lot of people taking a shower. However, when using a tankless heater, you will never have that fear because water is heated only if you turn on the shower or tap.
However, you have to make sure that you do not exceed the heater’s maximum flow rate at a time; otherwise, it will not be able to heat all that water.
Occupies less space
If you have a small house or limited space, tankless heaters are the best because they take up less space in comparison to tank-style heaters. They are usually mounted on the wall, unlike tank-style heaters that occupy physical floor space, mostly in the basement.
An average 40-50 gallon tank-style water heater stands at 54-60 inches tall and has a 20-inch diameter since it is cylinder-like shaped. That is in comparison to a tankless heater which stands at around 27 inches tall, has a width of 8 inches, and a 10 inches depth.
Tankless heaters are rectangular.
An average high-0quality tank-style water heater has a lifespan of between 8-12 years, which is not that bad. However, a tankless heater has a lifespan of at least 20 years.
If you plan on building your own home or plan on staying in your current house for a long time, it is wise to install a tankless heater. That is because you will not have to worry about constantly replacing it.
Minimum chances of water damage and leaks
One of the greatest risks you face when installing a tank-style water heater is that the mineral in the water may cause carrion over time. That will weaken the tank and eventually cause leaks. However, since tankless heaters don’t come with tanks, the risk of carrion or leaks is absent.
That doesn’t eliminate the chances of the tankless heaters encountering problems that may cause them to leak. However, the chances of it suffering a major leak that could cause flooding are minimal.
A lot of experts have praised tankless heaters for how safe they are compared to tank-style heaters. They have a lot of control over your water temperature, which reduces the risk of you suffering burns from the hot water.
Also, tank-style heaters have the disadvantage of getting corroded by the minerals present in the water. That corroded and rusted surface could mix with the water you and your family use, which could expose you to dangerous toxins.
With a tankless heater, you are guaranteed that the water you use is safer and purer because there are no corrosion chances.
Tax breaks and special financing
The energy efficiency of tankless heaters qualifies them for federal tax credits. Those credits help in reducing their installation cost. Starting December 2016, the government gave a 10% tax credit on the cost of purchasing and installing tankless water heaters.
Since they have a long life, tankless heaters come with lengthy warranties. That means that if anything goes wrong with your heater before the warranty expires, you won’t have to pay for the repair charges.
No chance of the tank exploding
Plumbing codes have a requirement that all tank-style heaters are equipped with a pressure and temperature relief valve. That valve is supposed to open and release pressure, eliminating the possibility of the tank exploding.
Over time, however, sediments and minerals from the water plus the corroded material could build up and clog the valve, causing it to fail. That can result in high-pressure amounts building up in the tank, increasing the explosion risk.
However, with a tankless heater, there are no tanks, which means that the risk of an explosion does not exist.
Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
High initial buying and installation costs
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of having a tankless heater. The average initial cost of a 40-50 gallon tank-style heater is $889, including installation cost. However, the average initial cost of a tankless heater is $3,000, including the installation cost.
The primary reason why the tankless heaters’ installation cost is high is that there mostly needs to be special wiring done. The wiring is intended to handle the additional load. Also, there might be new vent pipes that need installation.
Another reason is that there may be the installation of a water softening system. That is because hard water, mainly with high mineral levels, may cause your tankless heater to overwork, which may break it down.
Inconsistent water temperatures
If you have only one shower running, you will get the best water temperatures. However, if you have different water outlets (showers, taps, dishwashers) running at the same time, the water temperature may vary.
To avoid this, look at the flow rate of your tankless heater before buying it. That is because if you exceed the maximum water flow rate, the heater will be able to heat all that water.
Also, you may have a ‘cold water sandwich’ if you temporarily switch off the shower or tap then turn it on again. That is because when you switch it off, the pipe still has some hot water in it that will run out first when you turn on the shower.
However, when that is finished, you will have cold water running out for a moment before the heater turns on and heats the water again.
Also, if you turn on the tap or shower below the minimum flow rate, the heater will not turn on, meaning you will not get hot water.
Achieving lukewarm temperature can also be an issue because turning on the minimum flow rate will give you hot water, and if you increase the water volume, you get cold water.
Takes time before delivering hot water
Sine tank-style heaters always have hot water on standby; they deliver hot water as soon as you turn on the shower. However, with a tankless heater, you have to wait for some time before getting the hot water.
That is because the water that was in the pipes was cold, and it has to come out first. Also, it may take time before the heater turns on and starts heating the flowing water.
No hot water during a power outage
You can forget about having a hot shower if you have no lights in your home. Tankless heaters work on demand, and the heater needs electricity for it to start, meaning that if you do not have power, the heater will not turn on.
Takes a lot of work to install
Due to the additional wiring and piping that needs to be done, there needs to be a lot of work during installation. Also, they require a certain level of skill and experience.
There are a lot of considerations you have to put in place before installing tankless heaters, including the initial budget, your space, and convenience.