Sep 14, 2011   //   by Daniel Cordova   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on The Pros & Cons of Going Tankless: Is A Tankless Water Heater Right For You?

With all of the hype about “going green” and conservation acts in the twenty-first century, is a tankless water heater really the way to go for you and your family?  Here we will discuss what a tankless water heater is, how it works, the pros and cons of tankless water heating units, and help you decide if the investment is actually worth it for you.

What is a tankless water heater?

A tankless water heater is a water heating unit that instantly heats water as it flows through the device.  It does not store any water internally except for what is left in the heat exchange line.

How does a tankless water heater work?

When hot water is requested by either opening a hot water tap on the sink, shower, tub, or washing machine, internal components of the tankless water heater sense the flow and begin the heating process.  Each tankless water heating unit comes with its own control board that allows the user to regulate the heat temperature of the water, as desired.  When water begins to flow, the control board checks the current temperature of the incoming water and desired temperature, as set by the user, and calculates the difference.  Depending on this difference, the gas and electric flow into the burner assembly in order to ignite the burner.  Water is then heated to the desired temperature, as designated by the user per the control board, as it circulates through the heat exchange line, providing a continuous flow of hot water.  When the hot water is turned off, or is not in use, the tankless heating unit shuts down and is placed on standby until called upon again.

What are the pros of having a tankless water heater?

Having a tankless water heater can be a great investment.  Not only do they provide an endless supply of hot water to your household (you’re not just limited to the hot water stored in the tank like most conventional tank units), they are tremendous space savers, and are extremely energy efficient.  Tankless water heating units can save you on the upwards of $100 per year off of your utility bills, and as an even greater incentive, some are also eligible for certain state and federal tax rebates of up to $300 (see below for more information on these rebates).  Since tankless water heaters run off of both gas and electric, they run off of an ignition which is only turned on when requested by the water flow, unlike most conventional water heating units that stay lit at all times.  When serviced properly, a tankless water heater can generally last up to five to ten years longer than any conventional tank water heating units.

What are the cons of having a tankless water heater?

Aside from all of the great assets of having a tankless water heating unit, as with any large appliance, there are always a few downsides.  Not only do tankless water heating units cost quite a bit more than most conventional tank units, the installation and setup is quite a bit more as well.  It also takes a while longer to get hot water, as compared to a more conventional tank unit which stores hot water to have it on hand when requested, often causing what is referred to as a “cold water sandwich”; The remaining hot water left in the heat exchange will run out, followed by cold water while the tank begins to heat, and then an endless stream of hot water.  However, since tankless units run off of electricity which is used to start the ignition and operate the control board, these units do not work during power outages.  Also, as per any type of water heating unit, annual maintenance is recommended.  It can extend the life of your unit and will help avoid any type of emergency service; however, with a tankless heating unit it is crucial due to the high expense of replacement parts.

Is a tankless water heater right for you?

Overall, since there are an equal amount of pros as cons when it comes to tankless water heating units, it comes down to one thing: is it right for you?

  • If you have a large household, or a large family, hence lots of showers or baths and lots of loads of laundry throughout the day, you are a great candidate for a tankless unit and it would definitely be worth the investment.
  • If you have a very small household, or family, and do not take more than 2-3 showers or wash 1-2 loads of laundry at a time, a tankless water heater is not necessary and might not be worth the investment.
  • At the same time, if you live in a very small household where space is a big issue, a tankless unit is a great space saver and would again definitely be worth the investment for you.
  • Lastly, if you live in an older home with the original plumbing, you should keep in mind that the majority of the plumbing in your home will probably need to be replaced prior to installing your new tankless unit.  This might add to the cost, but if you fall within the first or third categories listed above, it still might be worth it to you.

So, now that you have all of the information, it’s time to make a decision!  However, if you’re still not sure and would like more detailed information, Daniel Cordova Plumbing is always here to help!  Feel free to give us a call at any time!

For more information on rebates for tankless and energy efficient water heaters please visit the following site: Energy Star.


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