If you’ve ever had to settle for a lukewarm shower or held off doing the dishes until the wash was done, the term “being in hot water” might not be a bad thing. With a traditional water heater, once you’ve used up your share of the hot water, you’re forced to wait a while before to supply is replenished. But with a tankless water heater, the hot-water waiting game could be a thing of the past.
What Is a Tankless Water Heater?
A tankless, or on-demand, water heater generates hot water only when it’s needed. Instead of heating and holding a tank full of water, tankless systems use a series of heated pipes (powered by gas or electricity) to warm the water flowing through it. This provides a quick and efficient way to heat the water and eliminates the ambient heat loss that occurs when hot water sits in a tank.
Unlike traditional water heaters, tankless water heaters aren’t broken down by gallon capacity, but by how many gallons per minute (GPM) of hot water they can produce. Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 GPM. Compare that to the needs of those living in your home and your appliances, and you’ll have an idea of how well a tankless system will work for you. Some average GPM rates are listed below. Remember to add the amounts together if you use them simultaneously.
- Washing machine: 1.5 to 3.0 GPM
- Shower: 1.0 to 2.0 GPM
- Bathroom faucet: 0.5 to 1.5 GPM
- Dishwasher: 1.0 to 2.5 GPM
- Kitchen faucet: 3.0 to 9.0 GPM
Beyond flow rates, there are several other factors that should weigh into your decision to invest in a tankless water heater. Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of these units, so you can decide whether you should say “tanks” or “no tanks” when choosing your next water heater.
The Pros of Tankless Water Heaters
Heating Speed –
The biggest advantage of a tankless hot water system is the speed at which it can generate hot water. On average, it takes an electric water heater 60-80 minutes to increase the heat of 40 gallons of water 60 degrees. Gas units will heat it up in about half that time. But there is no heat-up time for a tankless system – it produces a continuous supply of hot water and produces it almost instantaneously.
Energy Savings –
Another advantage is the energy savings tankless water heaters offer. Because water heating accounts for almost 30 percent of a home’s energy bills, a tankless water heater can significantly cut these costs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates gas-fired tankless heaters save an average of $108 in energy costs per year over their traditional tank counterparts, while electric tankless heaters save $44 per year.
Ease of Use –
Tankless hot water heaters last an average of 20 years and are easy to maintain. They are also very small and can be put in many places that won’t allow conventional hot water tanks. The average size is about 28 inches tall by 20 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
The Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
The Cost –
The biggest disadvantage of tankless water heaters is the initial cost of the purchase and installation, which is higher than the total cost of conventional water heaters. You can expect to pay around $1,000 for an electric unit, or $3,000 for a gas-powered one. In addition, installing these units is not a DIY project. You’ll have to pay for professional installation costs on top of your initial investment.
Inconsistent Temperature –
Tankless hot water systems have been touted as producing “instant” hot water, but that’s not exactly true. It still takes a short amount of time for water to heat up to the desired temperature. Also, distance can be a factor. The further the distance from the water heater to the faucet or appliance, the longer it will take for the heated water to reach it.
Hard-Water Issues –
Untreated, hard water flowing through these units can leave a calcium buildup and drastically shorten the life of the water heater. If you have hard water, you’ll need a water softener added to your system to keep it functioning as it should.
Who’ll Benefit Most from A Tankless System?
If your daily hot water usage is less than 41 gallons, a tankless water system is a great option for you! Even if you use significantly more hot water, you can install multiple units or use one in conjunction with a traditional water heater. This can provide a great hot-water boost to homes which:
- Have remote kitchens or bathrooms.
- Need extra hot water for appliances, such as dishwashers or clothes washers.
- Have a solar water-heating system.
Need a Tankless Water Heater?
If you’re considering a tankless water heater, your best plan of action is to first check with a licensed professional, who can answer all your questions and help you find and install the model that’s right for you. Blissfield Heating and Plumbing can help you with your search. Give us a call at (517) 486-3575. Our team of professionals are on call and ready to assist you. Contact us today!
8593 E US Hwy 223
Blissfield, MI 49228
Phone: (517) 486-3575