Tankless Water Heaters - Some Like it Hot!

By: IC

Tankless water heaters have pros and cons, just like everything else. They can supply an endless supply of hot water, and can save energy.

However, they are limited in the amount of hot water that can be produced at one time and they are more expensive to purchase than a conventional storage type water heater.

They also make it take longer for you to get your hot water, since they don't start heating the water until you turn on the faucet. This problem can be solved by using a demand hot water pump, which in combination with the tankless heater can get your hot water to you at less than half the time it would take running the faucet full blast, and the pump doesn't run water down the drain, so you save not only time, but water as well.

The tankless water heaters also cause an increase in water wastage since you have to let the water run longer to get your hot water. This problem is also solved when using the demand pump.

Tankless water heaters come in a variety of sizes for different applications, such as a whole-house tankless water heater, a source for a remote bathroom or hot tub, or as a boiler to provide hot water for a home heating system.

Tankless hot water heaters are available in propane (LP), natural gas, or electric models.

Tankless water heaters can also be used as a booster for dishwashers, washing machines, and as a backup for solar or wood-fired domestic systems.

You may install one centrally, or you can install one at the point of use, depending on the amount of hot water required. For example, you can use a small electric unit as a booster for a remote bathroom or laundry, or in the kitchen for cooking and instant coffee etc.

Gas units with a standing (constantly burning) pilot light, however, offset some of the savings achieved by the elimination of tank standby losses with the energy consumed by the pilot light.

Moreover, much of the heat produced by the pilot light of a tank-type model heats the water in the tank, heat that is just lost with the instantaneous units.

An alternative to the standing pilot light is an intermittent ignition device. This resembles the spark ignition device on some gas kitchen ranges and ovens. You should check with the manufacturer for models that have this feature.

Small units are usually installed in a closet or underneath a sink, and are usually electric due to the difficulties involved with installing a flue. If the unit is gas, a flue and gas piping will need to be installed, which can cost a significant amount of money. If electric you will probably need 220 volt service run to the location where the unit will be installed, which can also be some what expensive.

Gas-fired models typically have a higher gallons-per-minute output than electric models. The largest gas models, which may provide all the needs of an entire household, are usually installed centrally. The flue required will be larger than that of a gas tank type model.

As with many tank type models, even the largest whole house models may not be able to supply enough for large simultaneous, multiple uses (i.e., showers and laundry).

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