Tank-less or “on demand” hot water heaters are becoming more popular in America. These gas-heated models take up less space than the large water heaters we’re used to and heat water as you need it, as opposed to keeping a supply of water continuously heated, which saves energy. These models have become the norm in Europe and Japan, where living space is limited. There are some differences in performance between these models, so determining in they’re right for you will take some research. Here are some things to consider.
Hot and Cold
Traditional water heaters push cold water that has sat in your pipes through your faucet before delivering hot water. Electric or gas-fired models are no different. Where they differ, however, is that tank-less models use internal sensors to determine how hot the water should be. A little cold burst after some initial hot water is not uncommon. If you’re shaving and using just a small stream of water, your unit’s burner may not fire. And, since tank-less water heaters use electric internal controls, a power outage means no hot water
Cost of Tankless Hot Water Heaters
One selling point for tank-less models is that their efficiency trumps initial costs and that, over time, they save you money. The relative savings you’ll experience using a tank-less model will be determined by how much water you use. Units that heat water with natural gas will be cheaper than those that use electricity, as the former is a cheaper energy supply than the latter.
Models can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, with perks like performance and efficiency being the premiums. A cheaper heater may be in your budget range, but if it doesn’t pay for itself during its lifespan and requires repairs and servicing, then there’s little financial incentive to replace your old model. All models should be serviced, by the way, with exceptionally hard water drastically cutting down on your product’s efficiency. Make sure you’re acquainted with the different types of on-demand models before committing to any one. Single-point electric models are used for one purpose, heating a single sink or shower, for example, or assisting water heating where long pipe-runs make heating water significantly inefficient. Gas-fired heaters are intended for larger-scale use.
On-demand systems that are heated with natural gas and propane also need to be vented, so a check with building codes and professional assistance will be needed to effectively and safely channel exhaust away from your heater.
Colder climates have lower ambient incoming water temperatures. A model that works well in Arizona, where ambient incoming water temperature is warm, might not perform as well in Pennsylvania, for instance, where groundwater is generally cooler.
With all this said, the larger adoption of this technology will bring its price down and demystify it for consumers. Some states, such as Oregon, offer tax rebates for installing more-efficient on-demand models. If you generally conserve water, tank-less options will be a better option for you