What is a tankless water heater?
A tankless hot water heater is the heater that doesn’t have a storage tank and heats water on demand. Unlike storage water heaters, where tanks store water and keep a desired water temperature until the user turns on the faucet, tankless heaters heat water only in case of an actual demand.
The main difference between tankless water heaters and conventional ones is that a tankless will heat the water directly. If you turn on the shower, cold water will travel through a pipe to the tankless water heater. There is either a gas burner or an electric element that heats the water, providing a constant supply of hot water for however long that shower lasts. And you don’t have to worry about running out of hot water while taking the shower because you don’t have to wait for the storage tank to refill as in case with tank water heaters.
Keep in mind though that the output of a tankless heater can limit its flow rate. It is known that tankless water heaters usually provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons a minute, with gas-fired tankless units producing a higher flow rate than units powered by electricity. But even gas-fired tankless heaters will not produce enough hot water for someone to take a shower if the dishwasher is also running. A potential solution for this problem – installation of a couple tankless water heaters at your property. Connect them alongside each other so that they can fulfill any simultaneous hot water needs. Another option is to install separate tankless water heaters for different appliances.
What tankless water heater should you buy?
Below are some tips to help you choose the best tankless water heater for your hot water needs.
- Know your water heater flow rate.Tankless heaters are rated by the maximum temperature increase possible at a given flow rate.
- Decide how many hot water devices you expect to use at one time.Know the flow rate (water gallons per minute) for each one. Add those together to know the maximum flow rate you’ll need. Many tankless units cannot keep up with the demands of high-flow fixtures, such as rain shower heads and spa tubs.
- Choose a water heater with the longest warranty available.
- Consider groundwater temperature. This means calculating how much power is required to achieve the desired temperature with your tankless electric water heater. Groundwater temperature matters because it is your starting point. If you live in a colder climate, more power is needed to heat your water to 104° F, which is the average shower temperature, than if you lived in a warmer climate. Groundwater temperature maps should be used to verify the groundwater temperature in your area.
Three factors to consider when you do buy and install a tankless water heater.
A tankless unit does require maintenance. The harder your water is, the more maintenance you need. If you have a big family, you will need a lot of hot water.
water heater in modern boiler room
Consequently, your tankless unit gets a lot of use and you will have to flush it once a year. That’s basically a solution that you would have to flush through the burner system to remove all that calcium deposit from the hard water. If there are one or two people living in your house, you will have to flush your unit every 2-3 years. If you have a water softener system, you can even go 5 years or longer before you have to flush your water heater. You may never need to flush it if you have really soft water, but remember that maintenance is something you’ll need to do on a regular basis with a tankless water heater.
The tankless units have electricity to them and they need it for both circuitry and to fire up the burner, so if the power goes out at your house, you won’t have any hot water. If you had a standard tank water heater, you’d at least had 50 gallons of hot water left in the tank enough for 1-2 showers. With a tankless unit there is no hot water without electrical power.
If you have a tankless water heater, it would be wise to install it somewhere in the air conditioned envelope of your house, so you don’t have to worry about its freezing. In the northern parts of the country, garages and basements are great places to put your tankless units. However, in the south you might have an exterior tankless unit. On the one hand, it saves space out of the house, but on the other hand, you’ll need to take a couple of extra precautions to keep it from freezing in cold season.
First of all, you need to make sure that the power to your tankless is on in freezing weather, because it has an internal electric heater. It is good even for very low temperatures. Second of all, although the main body of the tankless unit is protected, there are also pipes below it that lead up to the unit itself. They are outside and need to be wrapped in insulation or heat tape to protect them from freezing.
It is good to consider these factors ahead of time, in that way you would know what to expect when you have a tankless water heater at your home or business facility.
If you’ve made up your mind concerning a tankless water heater as the right option for your home, the next step is figuring out the size of the unit. To help you determine the right size and parameters of a tankless that your home requires, consult our specialists from Brea/Orange County Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning. We will answer all your questions and help you come up with the best water heater option for your household.