You may or may not have heard about tankless water heaters. Maybe you are wondering how these units work. A tankless water heater doesn’t hold water like the traditional hot water heater. Instead, it heats water as it is used. When a water faucet or valve is open the heating element within the water heater is activated. As long as the faucet is open it heats the water. When it is turned off or closed it stops heating the water.
These special units are supposed to have several advantages over a conventional water heater. The first is an unlimited supply of hot water. Secondly, a continuous flow of hot water should be available. Plus they are supposed to reduce the cost of heating for example in your gas bill or electric bill. One other advantage is that they take up a small amount of space. A large unit only requires 24 inches square and they extend out from the wall about 8 to 11 inches. When they install the tankless water heater it is usually by hanging the unit.
There could be some issues with this innovative product. What if you have more than one shower running along with a dishwasher. Even the largest unit may not supply both shower and other running appliances with hot water. The reality is that a tankless system won’t fit the needs of a large family. As the volume of the water pressure increases the temperature will decrease while moving through the heater. So if more than one faucet is running the temperature of the water drops even more. The point here is that the water temperature may never be constant.
If you do use a tankless water heater they usually need an upgrade in electrical service. A tankless water heater has a 4,500 watt element. This operates on a number 10 wire and a 30 amp circuit breaker. Some units require even more watts depending on what size you get. This may actually end up costing you more when installing. You should check with a licensed electrician or electric service provider for information on whether your home wiring needs to be upgraded.
These tankless water heaters can also be used by gas. The gas units generally do not need to be upgraded electrically. However, the same concerns of constant water temperature still applies. The gas units are Energy Star qualified for a federal tax credit in 2009. This doesn’t mean the electrical units are not sufficient, but the gas
units are the only units qualified.
As you can see there are pros and cons for everything. These units will work great for some lifestyles. Only you can decide if a tankless water heater meet your needs.