How to Choose the Right Tankless Water Heater

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Are you looking to upgrade your hot water system? Tired of running out of hot water in the middle of a shower? Want to save money on your energy bills while enjoying endless hot water?

Keep reading to learn more about tankless water heaters, their benefits and how the choose the right one for your home.

What are Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters are a fantastic solution for those looking to upgrade their hot water systems. These compact, energy-efficient marvels provide on-demand hot water, ensuring you’ll never run out during that long shower again. However, choosing the right tankless water heater is paramount.

You want to avoid ending up with a system that can’t meet your household’s needs or is too complex for your setup. That’s where we come in – to guide you through this crucial decision.

How to Choose the Right Tankless Water Heater

Choosing the right tankless water heater for your home involves considering various factors to ensure it efficiently meets your hot water needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed decision on this hot water system:

1. Determine Your Hot Water Needs

Understanding your hot water needs is the first step in choosing the right tankless water heater. Start by considering the number of people in your household and their hot water usage patterns. Do you have a large family with multiple bathrooms and appliances that require hot water simultaneously, or are you a single individual with minimal needs?

Next, take stock of your appliances. Each hot water faucet, shower, and dishwasher has a flow rate, which tells you how many gallons per minute (GPM) they consume. Calculate the total GPM of all the hot water sources you might use simultaneously. It will help you determine the minimum GPM rating your new tankless water heater should have.

2. Types of Tankless Water Heaters  

When it comes to tankless water heaters, there are primarily two types: electric models and gas. Electric tankless water heaters are easy to install, often compact, and ideal for smaller households. On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters are more powerful and suitable for larger homes with higher hot water demands.

The choice between electricity and gas will depend on your household’s needs, infrastructure, and location. Electric units are typically more energy-efficient and have lower upfront costs, but gas units can handle heavier loads and are more common in larger homes.

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3. Calculate Flow Rate and Consider Temperature Rise

Calculate the total flow rate needed for your household during peak demand. To do this, add the flow rates of all fixtures and appliances you expect to use simultaneously. It will help you determine the minimum flow rate required from the tankless water heater.

Determine the temperature rise needed. Subtract the average incoming cold water temperature from the desired hot water temperature. For example, if the incoming water is 50°F, and you want hot water at 120°F, the required temperature rise is 70°F.

4. Select the Fuel Source

Choose between electric and gas (natural or propane) tankless water heaters. Gas units are typically more powerful and better suited for larger households with high hot water demands, while electric models may be more suitable for smaller homes with moderate needs.

The choice between electric and gas tankless water heaters is not just about the type but also the fuel source. Electric units use electricity for power, while gas units rely on natural gas or propane.

The decision often depends on your location, existing infrastructure, and personal preferences.

Additionally, understanding efficiency ratings is crucial. Look for the Energy Factor (EF) and Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) ratings. Higher numbers indicate better efficiency. An efficient unit can save you money on energy bills in the long run.

5. Assess Unit Size

Select a tankless water heater with the appropriate size and capacity based on your flow rate and temperature rise requirements. Match your household’s demands with the unit’s capabilities, as different models are designed for specific flow rates and temperature rises.

6. Energy Efficiency

Look for energy-efficient models that can help you save on energy bills. Check the energy factor (EF) rating, which indicates how efficiently the unit uses energy. High-efficiency teams typically have a higher EF rating.

One of the most attractive aspects of tankless water heaters is their potential for energy savings. Since they only heat water on demand, they can be more efficient than traditional tank water heaters.

Consider the initial purchase cost and installation expenses. While tankless units may have a higher upfront cost, the lower energy costs and savings over time can outweigh the initial investment. Some regions may offer rebates or incentives for choosing energy-efficient models.

7. Consider Venting

For gas tankless water heaters, consider the venting requirements. You may need to install unique venting systems, especially if replacing a tank-based water heater with a tankless unit.

8. Longevity and Reliability

Research the brand and model to ensure it is reputable and reliable. Read customer reviews and consider warranties. Some tankless water heaters have longer lifespans and better warranties than others.

9. Installation and Maintenance

Evaluate the installation requirements and costs. Tankless water heaters often require professional installation, especially if switching from a tank-based system. Also, consider maintenance needs, such as periodic descaling for challenging water areas.

Proper installation is critical to the long-term performance of the electrical system of your tankless water heater. Hiring a professional is highly recommended for this task. They will ensure the unit is correctly connected to your gas or electric supply, vented properly, and placed in an optimal location.

Also, check whether tankless water heater installation requires permits in your area. Complying with local regulations is essential to ensure your safety and the tankless water heater maintenance’s efficiency.

Tankless water heater

10. Budget

Set a budget for your tankless water heater purchase and installation. Remember that tankless units may have a higher upfront cost than tank-based heaters but can lead to long-term energy savings.

11. Brand and Model Research

Not all tankless water heater brands are created equal. Research reputable brands are known for producing reliable units. Explore user reviews and ratings to get an idea of customer satisfaction.

While you research, pay attention to the specific models these brands offer. They often have slight variations in features, performance, and price. Take your time to find the model that best fits your needs.

12. Consult a Professional

If you need help determining which tankless water heater is best for your home, consult a professional plumber or HVAC technician. They can assess your needs and help you choose a suitable unit.

Considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can select the right tankless water heater to provide energy-efficient, on-demand hot water tailored to your household’s requirements.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand electric or instantaneous water heaters, work differently from traditional tank-based water heaters. They design these innovative appliances to heat water as it flows through the unit, providing hot water on demand.

This process offers numerous advantages, including energy efficiency, cost savings, and continuous hot water supply.

The Operation of a Tankless Water Heater

  • Water flow: The process begins when you turn on a hot water tap or appliance in your home. Cold water enters the tankless water heater from the main water supply line.
  • Heating element activation: When the cold water flows into the full-size tankless water heater unit, a heating element, such as an electric heating element or a gas burner, is activated. The type of heating element depends on the model and fuel source of the tankless water heater.
  • Rapid heating: The heating element heats water and quickly raises the temperature of the cold water as it passes through a heat exchanger or a series of coils within the unit. It results in almost instantaneous heating, providing hot water as soon as you open.
  • Hot water delivery: The electric tankless water heater unit now delivers the heated water to the hot water fixture, such as a shower, sink, or appliance, at the desired temperature. The tankless water heater continues to heat the water as long as the hot tap is open.

Critical Factors Affecting Tankless Water Heater Performance

  • Flow rate: The flow rate, measured in gallons per minute (GPM), is a critical factor in determining the capacity of a tankless water heater. Different full-tank water heater models have varying flow rates, so choosing the right one for your household’s hot water demands is essential.
  • Temperature rise: The temperature rise is the difference between the incoming cold water temperature and the desired hot water temperature. Tankless water heaters can handle a specific temperature rise, and the capacity to achieve this temperature rise factor depends on the unit’s heating power.
  •  Fuel source: Tankless water heaters are available in electric and gas (natural or propane) models. The choice of fuel source can impact the tankless water heater’s efficiency and operation cost. Gas-powered units often have higher flow rates and can provide more hot water simultaneously.
  • Sizing: Properly sizing a tankless water heater is crucial for ensuring it meets your hot water demands. Factors such as the number of hot water fixtures, climate, and the incoming water temperature play a role in determining the right unit size for your home.

In conclusion, tankless water heaters work by rapidly heating water as it passes through the unit, providing on-demand hot water with many advantages compared to traditional tank-based water heaters.

To maximise the benefits of a tankless water heater, it’s essential to consider factors like flow rate, temperature rise, fuel source, and proper sizing when selecting and installing a unit in your home.

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Advantages of Using Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, offer several advantages compared to traditional tank-based water heaters. Here are 10 of the critical benefits of using tankless water heaters:

1. Energy Efficiency

  • Reduced energy consumption: Tankless condensing water heaters only heat water when needed, which eliminates standby energy losses associated with traditional water heaters that keep a tank of water hot all the time. It can result in significant energy savings.

2. Cost Savings

  • Lower energy bills: Because of their energy efficiency, tankless water heaters can lead to lower monthly utility bills, saving homeowners money over time.
  • Longer lifespan: Tankless water heaters typically have a longer lifespan than traditional tank water heaters, reducing the frequency of replacement and the associated costs.

3. Space Savings

  • Compact design: Tankless water heaters are much smaller and can be mounted on a wall, freeing up valuable floor space. This is particularly beneficial for homes with limited space.

4. Continuous Supply

  • Hot water on demand: Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand, ensuring a constant need for hot water. It can be particularly advantageous for households with high peak hot water demand.

5. Reduced Water Waste

  • No waiting for hot water: With tankless heaters, there’s no need to wait for a tank of water to heat up, reducing water wastage while waiting for hot water to arrive at the tap.

6. Better Temperature Control

  • Precise temperature settings: Tankless heaters allow users to set the desired water temperature precisely, ensuring consistent and comfortable hot water.

7. Longevity

  • Longer lifespan: Tankless water heaters often have a longer operational life than traditional tank heaters, which typically need replacement every 10-15 years. Some tankless units can last 20 years or more.

8. Reduced Risk of Water Damage

  • No tank leakage: Since no other tankless water heater can leak or rupture, the risk of water damage from a tankless water heater is significantly lower.

9. Lower Maintenance

  • Reduced maintenance: Tankless water heaters generally require less maintenance than tank-based systems. They are less susceptible to sediment buildup, corrosion, and other common issues associated with tanks.

10. Environmentally Friendly

  • Reduced carbon footprint: The energy efficiency of tankless water heaters results in lower greenhouse gas emissions, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.

While tankless water heaters offer many advantages, it’s essential to consider factors like installation costs, fuel type, and hot water demand when deciding if they are the right choice for your home. Different models and sizes are available to suit various applications and budgets.

Use a Tankless Water Heater Now

As you reach the final decision, consider all the factors discussed. Check your hot water needs, fuel source, size, brand, model, and environmental impact. Once you’ve made your choice, arrange for professional installation.

Ensure your chosen unit is installed correctly and meets all safety and permit requirements. An expert installer will provide you with peace of mind and optimal performance.

In conclusion, choosing the right tankless water heater is essential for your home. It’s not just about having endless hot water; it’s about ensuring efficiency, energy savings, and long-term performance. We hope this guide has helped you navigate the selection process.

Remember, a well-informed decision will meet your household’s hot water needs, save money, and contribute to a more sustainable and cost-effective future. Make the right choice for you, your home, and the environment

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See After Hours Plumbing’s Terms & Conditions here.

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