Is It Time to Buy a Tankless Water Heater (and which one to select)

You may not realize the importance of water heaters for your home until there is a short supply of hot water in your shower, no hot water, your old and bulky water tank is leaking, or you are simply looking for ways to save money. Truth be told; water heaters affect every of our daily routines. Whether you want to take a warm bath, wash dishes or clothes, water heaters are the only source of hot water for domestic and commercial use.

If you are looking to replace a faulty water heater or install a new unit in your home, the chances are that you’d be in a fix deciding whether to buy a tank-type or tankless water heater.

There are several brands and types of both tank and tankless water heaters on the market – gas, electric, and solar-powered, to mention a few types, and Rinnai, Noritz, Takagi, Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White from the manufacturers.

So, the first question you would ask yourself is whether to select tankless or tank. You can find differences between these two types in this article comparing tankless vs. tank.

Is it the right time to buy a tankless water heater? Read on to find out! In this post, we’ll show you why you should give tankless water heaters a serious consideration when you hit the market. So, sit back and relax while we help you to make an informed decision.

So what really are tankless water heaters?

Rinnai tankless water heaterRinnai tankless water heater

Today’s tankless water heaters are perfect for modern families. Many homes are equipped with multiple baths and showers, whirlpool tubs, and spa, so they need a lot of hot water. That is why heating water has a significant impact on your wallet.

It is important to know that water heaters consume an average 20% of home annual energy use (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). And if we add factors such as the unit price, operational costs, fuel price and efficiency, which vary between brands, types, and models, buying the cheapest heater could result in paying more. That is why you have to make a smart decision when purchasing a water heater.

Tankless water heaters offer a lot of benefits, from space and energy savings, an environment-friendly operation to longer lifespan, and enhanced comfort, the benefits are simply numerous.

Tankless water heaters are small and compact devices that guarantee a steady supply of hot water for domestic and office use. They are also regarded as “on-demand” water heaters, because, instead of housing a storage tank to store hot water, they are designed with high-powered burners to instantly heat water from its initial temperature to the set temperature and then deliver hot water directly to your shower or faucets. Water is heated on demand and delivered in endless supply.

Tankless are usually electric or gas-powered, using either natural gas or propane. No matter which fuel type they utilize, they are tank-less, which makes them small, compact, and lightweight. According to a report by Consumer Reports, tankless water heaters are 22% more energy efficient than the traditional water heaters models. So manufacturers claim that savings are over 50%. The gas burners are durable, most of the time eco-friendly, and can heat water with the efficiency of over 90% and significant reduction of greenhouse gases. Great examples are Bosch Therm C1210 and Noritz NRCP.

How are they different from tank-type water heaters?

Tank-type water heaters are very common in most homes. They are designed to heat and store water in an insulated storage tank, which typically holds between 30-50 gallons of water for small and mid-sized homes or 80-gal or more for large homes. It is constructed in such a way that water is continuously being heated before supplying to needy areas like your bathrooms and kitchen. However, they often suffer leakage, low efficiency, as well as standby heat loss.

Just like tankless models, tank-type water heaters also use gas or electricity as their fuel source. Read more about tank vs. tankless.

Let’s now take a look at the benefits of installing tankless water heaters in your homes.

Benefits of tankless water heaters

  • Long life span: Tankless water heaters last longer than traditional water heaters. According to available records, it takes between 20 to 30 years for a newly installed tankless water heater to develop a fault that would warrant a replacement. This is double the lifespan of tank-type water heaters.
  • Better warranty. Tank-less design and capability to replace each part are the main reasons why the warranty is 12 and 15 years for a tankless while from 6 to12 years for the tank-type.
  • Saves space: Installing tankless water heaters doesn’t take up floor space, in fact, you can install them in tight spaces, and on any interior or exterior wall.
  • Continuous hot water delivery: If you live in a house where the demand for hot water is very high, tank-type water heaters would eventually run out of hot water, especially when two or more showers and a dishwasher are running. However, tankless water heaters guarantee a constant supply of hot water to multiple applications since they don’t rely on reserved hot water.
  • Saves money: No doubt, tankless water heaters are expensive, but they are more efficient than their tank-type counterparts, so they pay off earlier. As a homeowner, installing tankless water heaters would help you save a lot of money annually in terms of electricity bills and gas. They can also increase the resale value of your home.
  • Special financing and tax breaks: Tankless water heaters are energy-efficient, as such; they qualify for tax credits, which help to offset some of the installation cost. Almost every federal government would offer a tax credit to anyone who buys and install tankless water heaters, while the utility companies would offer rebates.
  • Eliminates standby loss: Eliminating standby loss and the pilot light is the most significant advantage of using a tankless water heater. On the other hand, tank-type water heaters are designed repeatedly to heat water; thus, rising energy costs. Even when nobody is at home, the unit will continuously function to keep the water in the storage tank hot.
  • Tankless are available in both gas and electric models: Most tankless water heaters on the market are natural gas-powered. However, electric-powered tankless water heaters are also available for you to buy depending on the electrical infrastructure in your home. If you worry about rerouting gas lines, then electric-powered tankless water heaters are a no-brainer.
  • Better on the environment. The tankless design allows users to replace every part of the heater, so there will be much less malfunctioning units in the landfills.
  • Energy-efficient. Tankless can reach up to over 90% energy efficiency.
  • Advanced electronics allows accurate temperature control and easier diagnostics. Some models are Wi-Fi and Alexa voice control compliant.
  • Recirculation – some models, such as tankless from Rinnai RUR series are equipped with the recirculation system for faster hot water delivery.
  • Consistent temperature. Due to the modulating gas valve, the temperature of hot water is constant and can be delivered to one fixture in small volume or multiple applications with higher volumes.
  • Variety of types. There are multiple variations of tankless, and that includes, direct vent, power vent, point-of-use and whole-house, water heaters and boilers (provide combined heating of water and space).

Sizing tips

The correctly sized tankless water heater will bring needed comfort, efficiency and optimal use of the resources. You won’t spend too much money on gas and will have enough hot water when you needed it the most.

Select the model with the capacity that can meet the amount of hot water that is needed during peak demands, which is usually in the morning before the work/school and in the evening before going to bed.

Find out what is the temperature of the incoming groundwater, using this map, and the temperature of the outgoing water temperature, so you can calculate the temperature rise (the difference between these two temperatures).

Before that, use the following estimates for the water flow per application;

Showerhead 1.5-2.5 GPM

Bathtubs 2.5-4 GPM

Single faucet 1-2.5 GPM

Dishwasher 1-2 GPM

So, if you want to run two showers and a dishwasher at the same time, you will need approximately 7 GPM (2*2.5+2) of hot water. If you want to get hot water with the outgoing temperature of 120 F, where the temperature of the incoming cold water is 50 F, you will select a tankless water heater that can provide more than 7 GPM at the 120-50=70 F temperature rise.

Which tankless water heater is right for you?

There are several brands of tankless water heaters on the market, from Rinnai, Rheem, Noritz, and Bosch and Takagi from gas-type, to EcoSmart, Stiebel Eltron, Titan, Rheem from electric type, the list is simply endless.

However, despite the long list of tankless water heater brands on the market, we found out that the Rinnai RUR series of tankless water heater comes with the most advanced features such as the condensing technology, interior and exterior recirculation, a powerful and eco-friendly gas burner, and capability to offer high water flow, greater efficiency, and ultra-low NOx gases.

It also comes with an intuitive screen with the temperature control and diagnostics to help you adjust the water temperature accurately to suit your domestic use and check the problem. Another group of tankless water heaters you should give serious consideration is the Rinnai RUC series.

Also worth a place in your home is the Takagi T-H3 tankless water heater. This particular brand offers 10 gallons of water per minute and can help you save energy due to its higher energy efficiency.

Noritz NRCP is another wonderful model to behold. It also has a built-in recirculation pump, which helps to deliver instant hot water, fast and consistently. The gas burner with the power of 199,000 BTU is as strong as burner found on the above models, while the water flow reaches amazing 11 GPM.

Either you buy Rinnai RUR98, Rinnai RUC98, Takagi T-H3 or Noritz NRCP, rest assured that either one will provide substantial energy savings and reduced greenhouse emission, due to tankless design and many advanced features such as microchips, electronic boards, and sensors, diagnostic system, commercial-grade heat exchangers.

Summary

Tankless water heaters come in different sizes and shapes. They are either gas or electric-powered and are more energy-efficient than their tank-type counterparts. Installing tankless water heaters in your homes would help you save money in the long run, even though their initial installation cost is high. Conclusively, if you worry about leakage, low efficiency, and standby loss, but would like to have a return on initial investment and peace of mind, it is a no-brainer to opt for tankless water heaters.

Tankless is 20-30% more efficient than the tank type, and have up to 98% energy efficiency. The water flow can reach up to 11 GPM, providing hot water to up to 4+ fixtures. And due to modulating power, tankless is installed in small and large homes, vacation property, apartments, cottages, and also commercial buildings, either for one or multiple fixtures, depending on the capacity.

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