If it’s time to replace your old hot water heater or you’ve decided you want to upgrade to a tankless model, you may be wondering how to choose the best model to meet your needs and budget. Understanding what sets tankless water heaters apart from tank models can help steer you in the right direction.
The biggest selling points when it comes to tankless hot water heaters are improved energy efficiency and a never-ending supply of hot water. Besides the fact that saving money on your electric bill is always a good thing, who wouldn’t love knowing that they’ll never run out of hot water in the middle of a shower again? If you’ve heard that tankless water heaters are the way to go, but don’t know how they work, understanding their basic principles should reassure you that they do deliver on these promises.
First, let’s look at why they’re more energy efficient than your old tank-type hot water heater. With tank models, water is drawn into a tank where it is heated to your set temperature. Once it reaches temp, electrical heating stops, which allows the water to slowly cool, which, in turn, triggers the electricity to crank up again and reheat that water. How often this cycle is repeated depends on the size of your tank, how much hot water you use, and how well insulated your tank is (a poorly-insulated model will cause the water to cool more quickly). This means that you’re spending money on electricity to continually heat and reheat water in that tank when you’re at work all day, sleeping at night, or even on vacation for a week. Tankless models do not store water. Instead, when you turn on a hot water tap, cold water is drawn into the heater, heated instantly, and delivered. This saves electricity by ensuring that the water is heated only once–when it’s en route to your faucet. Pretty simple, right?
The concept of an endless supply of hot water is just as simple. If you have a tank model, how much hot water you can get is limited by the size of your tank. Too many people showering (at once or in succession), washing dishes, or doing laundry can result in the hot water in your tank being used quicker than it can keep up with heating new water. Since a tankless model heats water on demand as it flows through the unit, you can run the hot water all day and never run out. If you live in a busy household and are tired of having to coordinate hot-water jobs or, worse yet, tired of being the one who finds out–the hard way–that the hot water’s all gone, this feature might be worth its weight in gold!
While tankless hot water heaters absolutely do save electricity and provide a limitless supply of hot water, there are a couple of things that can cause problems for buyers who haven’t done enough homework. One thing that a lot of people misunderstand is that the fact that tankless water heaters heat water on demand does not mean that hot water delivery suddenly becomes instantaneous. How long it takes hot water to reach your faucet still depends entirely on how far away that faucet is from the water heater. The other big misconception among some is that a tankless hot water heater will allow you to successfully run all of the hot water applications in your home at once. You can certainly run multiple applications at once, but many models will lose some water pressure if the demand on the unit is too great. When shopping for a tankless water heater, make sure you understand any prospective model’s max load. Larger units will handle more water more quickly, but have price tags that reflect their added power. If seamlessly running multiple hot water applications at once is a priority, you might consider running two or more units parallel to one another.
When all is said and done, tankless hot water heaters can definitely save you money and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ll never run out of hot water again.
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