Tankless Water Heaters
In this article we are going to be talking about tankless or electric water heaters as they are also known, and some pricing and info on some of the better models currently available. At the moment there are a large range of different units to choose from at a wide variety of prices, so which unit will be best for your home? Keep reading to find out more.
What are the advantages of this kind of water heating?
First off we will start be talking about some of the advantages of owning one of these heating units. These units are also know as instant water heaters so keep this in mind. If you already know what the advantages of these units are you can skip right onto the products section below this.
In Europe, tankless heaters have more or less been standard in most homes for the last 50 years, and only recently have they started to gain popularity in the United States. We’ve all heard about climate change, and how reducing your energy consumption can help to stop it. Around 30%-40% of a houses energy consumption comes from the water heater alone, so the first major advantage of this type of heating unit is that you will save energy since it is only running when hot water is actually needed. Conventional storage tanks run 24/7 whether you need hot water or not, which is hugely wasteful. Going on holiday is another prime example of how wasteful conventional heaters are, as so much energy is wasted since the boiler is running all the time without any use.
Another advantage of tankless water heater models is the unending supply of hot water that they provide. I’m sure many of you have gone to run a bath or shower, only to find that the hot water supply has been exhausted by your family or housemates. This can be very frustrating, and with a tankless unit you will never run into this problem. It isn’t all good news however, as there can be some minor drawbacks to having these types of units which we will talk about below.
What do you need to know before you choose one?
Before we start looking at actual products, there are some things you should know and consider before choosing your ideal unit.
The first main choice you will need to look at is whether or not you want a gas or electric tankless unit. In general most people tend to go for gas units as these are quite efficient and can heat most water sources with ease. However don’t discount electric heaters, as these can be great for smaller homes. One consideration you will also need to find out about is if you have enough power capacity to run a electric heater. Some homes need to upgrade their breaker capacity to accommodate the higher power requirements for the tankless heater, but this isn’t really an issue with most newer homes. Gas heaters are also a popular choice in areas where there are frequent power failures, so keep this in mind if you live in this type of area. Cost wise they are more or less the same, so it all comes down to what your specific house requirements are.
What is GPM, and why is it so important?
The next choice you will need to make is what GPM you need. This is the really important choice, and is where most people tend to go wrong when choosing their heater. GPM or Gallons Per Minute is the maximum amount of hot water the tankless heater can provide. The average tankless heater will provide a GPM rate of around 5 or 6. To give you an idea of what the GPM is of some typical household items are – bathes are generally around 3GPM, showers about 2GPM and the kitchen sink is around 1GPM. So if you have a bath running and a shower running at the same time, the hot water supply will more or less be exhausted on a 5GPM unit. This is why the GPM rating of your water heater is very important. You will need to sit down and work out exactly what your required hot water flow will be for your house, then look at getting a heater that will comfortably accommodate this.
One other thing you should think about is the temperature of your incoming water. Those of you would live in the northern areas like New York or Washington for example will undoubtedly have colder ambient water temperatures than say those folk living in California. Since the water is a bit cooler, you will need to have a more powerful heater to get the water heated. So keep this in mind when you are looking at the specifications of the various models available. Certain models are designed with cooler ambient water temperatures in mind, so perhaps keep an eye out for these particular units.
What do they cost?
In terms of cost, most tankless heaters tend to be a little more expensive than the traditional water heating solution. They do pay for themselves though, and many people see the difference in savings after only a year. They range in price starting from around $100 for a basic model, all the way up to about $2000 for the very top of the line type. Some models come with a lifetime warranty so you can have good peace of mind with your purchase. Installation is fairly straightforward on most of the models, but obviously if you don’t know much about plumbing then we would strongly recommend you ask a friend or hire someone to do the job for you! Now lets take a look at some of the more popular models you will find on the market!
Popular models – Rheem RTE13
First off we will take a look at one of the bigger brand names on the market – Rheem. Rheem has been around since the 1920s, and is a American owned and operated company so you know you are getting a quality product at the end of the day. The RTE 13 model has a flow of 4GPM, so it is designed for smaller to medium sized homes. This type of unit will happily run a bath or a shower while the washing machine is on, but anything more than that will cause it to take strain. For light to moderate hot water usage, you won’t find a better water heater at this price! It is electric, so does require a 60amps breaker to operate properly. All in all this is a great buy for the price, but remember that it isn’t designed for large houses where a constant flow of hot water is needed. It uses a standard 1/2″ water connector so should work in most homes. The warranty unit on this model is 1 year for parts, and 10 years on the heat exchange. At the moment this model retails for around $250, so it is very good value for money. With over 350 five star reviews on Amazon, it certainly seems like a good choice.
Popular models – Ecosmart Eco27
Next up we will have a quick look at the Ecosmart ECO27. Ecosmart is another American company operating out of Miami, Florida. This is a popular choice for those of you who live in the northern parts of the country, and have a lower incoming water temperature than normal. The GPM of this unit is largely dependent on what temperature you like your water to be heated at, but the self modulating technology allows a large quantity of water to be heated, and this should be suitable for your average household. For peace of mind this water heater comes with a lifetime warranty, and is currently one of the best sellers on Amazon in the water heater category for good reason! The price of this unit is close to the $500, but it does seem like quite a good purchase. You can take a look at some of the many happy reviews on Amazon over here.
Popular models – Rinnai RL75IN
So far in our product section we have looked at two medium sized electric heaters, but now we are going to look at something a bit more beefy and capable of a large output. The unit we are going to be discussing is the Rinnaa RL75iN gas heater. Rinnai was founded in Japan in the 1920s, and opened up their North American operations in 1974. The are one of the most trusted brands in the water heating business today. The particular unit can heat a amazing 7.5GPM, which is enough to power most households with ease. It is gas powered, so there is no real need to worry about upgrading your electrical capacity to handle this. It is a bit on the pricey side, but this particular unit is a workhorse and avoids the common problem that most tankless water heater units suffer from which is lack of capacity. This unit is a great purchase for a large house, and should provide enough hot water for the whole family at any time of the day! The retail price is around $1000 for this unit, but that is more or less what you should expect to pay for a quality unit that can produce that amount of output. You can read some of the satisfied user reviews over at Amazon.
So that is a brief look at some of the options and features you should consider. There are also a few models to look at, all of which have mostly positive reviews. This should give you a good starting point for you search. Remember to use a qualified plumber if you you aren’t sure what you are doing, as thiswill likely save you a lot of hassle.