A tankless water heater might be a green product but before you get it, be sure to read the below 6 points that I have summarised and feel that they should be considered before you buy a tankless water heater in your household. This will be “extra important” if you have a tank water heater previously, and it has served you well with no major mishaps and spikes in utility bills.
1) The size of your family or household
Tankless water heaters can come in various capacities; the amount of hot water that is produced by the water heater per minute. The units of measure are in gallons per minute (GPM). If you have a large household, or have a lot of hot water usage you will need a tankless water heater with a larger capacity. So you will have to choose a unit that is most suitable for your usage.
Not one size fits all!
2) Type of units
There are two types of tankless water heater; indoors and outdoors usage only. The difference between these two types of units is the requirement for venting. Indoor models will require venting of the exhaust gases while outdoor models do not.
And as the type suggests, indoor models can only be installed in any rooms as long as it is indoors, and vice versa for outdoors.
So do take note of the models that you are getting!
3) The temperature of your region
If your region has very cold winters, your outdoor tankless water heater might be susceptible to freezing damages and will not be suitable. Another point to consider is the heating capacity of the tankless water heater; maximum and minimum heating range of the heater.
This is especially important if your inherent water supply is very cold, for this you might need to take into consideration of a tankless water heater with a suitable heating capacity. If your region has freezing winters, it might cause freezing damage to the pipings of a outdoor tankless water heater.
So it will not be suitable for the installation of a outdoor tankless water heater while it might be more feasible for you to buy a tankless water heater for indoors. In short, take your climate into consideration when you are buying a tankless water heater.
4) Energy-Star certification
For your tankless water heater to be Energy-Star certified, it is dependent on the energy factor that will allow you to save on your utilities. Energy factor1 or (EF) is an indicator of the overall efficiency of your water heater (storage, on-demand or heat-pump) based on the overall amount of hot water produced per unit fuel on a normal day.
So the higher the energy factor, the more efficient the water heater model. But note.. higher energy factor values do not mean lower annual costs! You will take into account of other factors like fuel costs as well.
5) Thermal Efficiency
One more related specification to take note of is the thermal efficiency of your water heater. This value essentially means the amount of energy utilised to do the actual heating of water with the rest relased as heat being released into the surroundings. So the higher the percentage the more energy-efficient is your water heater. The typical thermal efficiency of a gas or oil-fired water heater is about 80%.
Another specification that you take note of is the heating power of your water heater that is measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. One BTU stands for the heat required to heat one pound of water by one Degree Fahrenheit. So if you have a heater of 33000 BTUs it means that it can heat 33000 pounds of water by one Degree Fahrenheit in one hour.
The higher the range of heating power for your tankless water heater also means the higher the temperature range of your tankless water heater. This is will be important for those who stay in cold regions and would want a heater that can provide the appropriate temperature for their water.
6) Installation procedures
The tankless water heater is a rather new technology so the installation procedures; like the venting will be different from the conventional tank water heaters. To prevent any complications or a steep learning curve, so it is best to engage a certified installer. This might contribute to the higher costs already incurred in when you buy a tankless water heater.
However there are also successful cases of installations by the consumers themselves to also make this a project for DIY enthusiasts!
7) Inherent water pressure at source
Tankless water heaters will need a certain amount of inherent water pressure for it to start working properly. Therefore its water pressure is already fixed and cannot be increased like tank water heaters that can make use of gravitational force to increase the pressure.
8 ) Long-term savings
Although some consumers have observed savings in their utility bills, there are still some debatable points about the actual savings when you buy a tankless water heater for installation. This is probably due to the high upfront costs like the actual unit itself and probably the installation costs incurred.
Other points to consider include wastage of water; you have to turn on your faucet initially to let you water run in order to allow the water temperature to reach the intended temperature. This also includes the relatively higher initial installation costs. All these costs incurred will probably affect the duration in which you break even with your spending and start to earn back your money on your tankless water heater. These points are summarised below in a report by consumerreports.org.2
After considering the above 6 points, if you feel that a tankless water heater is for you do read through my Tankless Water Heater Buying Guide that will provide you with the features that you should look out, with some recommended models, when purchasing a new tankless water heater!
List of References