In this article we are going to be talking about tankless water heaters, or electric water heaters as they are also known. We are going to talk about whether or not they will work in your household, and also discuss the costs involved and provide some 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 suit your home? Keep reading to find out more.
What are the advantages of tankless water heaters?
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 hot water 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 electric water heater 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 is the downside of a tankless water heater?
There are a few minor disadvantages when it comes to electric tankless hot water heaters. One such issue is that they can draw a lot of power when in use, so you may need to look at upgrading the breaker on your home. More on that below. You also need to plan ahead and make sure that your unit provides enough waterflow for your requirements. We will also look into that in more detail in the GPM section 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 water 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 hot water 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 heated water that the tankless heater can provide. The average tankless hot water 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 hot water 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 or two. 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 electric models – Rheem Water Heater RTE13
Popular electric models – Ecosmart Eco 27
Popular gas models – Rinnai RL75IN
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 this will likely save you a lot of hassle.