Tankless Water Heater – Your FAQs Answered

In recent years, tankless water heaters have outstripped storage tank heaters in popularity. They offer many benefits to any household and are more economical and convenient to run. Let’s take a look at the frequently asked questions on tankless water heaters below.

1- How do tankless water heaters work?

Unlike conventional water heaters, which heat and store up to 40 or 50 gallons of water at a time, tankless water heaters only heat the water you need. That’s why it’s also called an on-demand water heater. When you turn the hot water faucet on, cold water runs through the tankless water heater, which begins to heat up the water using a gas burner or electric elements. The hot water continues to be dispensed from your faucet until you turn it off. The tankless heater then goes into standby mode. This makes the tankless system much more energy efficient as it avoids the cost of heating up large amounts of water at a time and maintaining that heat, like traditional storage tank heaters.

2- Is a tankless water heater worth it?

While tankless heaters cost more to purchase and install, they’re proven to be more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan. According to Energy.gov, tankless water heaters can be up to 34% more energy efficient for households that use less than 41 gallons of water, and up to 14% more for larger households that use around 86% gallons of water per day. This translates to lower utility bills and savings in the long-term. Also, because a tankless system lasts about twice as long as a tank storage unit, it cuts down on your initial purchase cost. However, whether it’s worth it or not depends on your specific requirements and you’ll only know if you do the math. These heaters also add to your home’s overall value, which is significant if you’re on the market to sell your home (see Point 6).

3- What is the best tankless water heater?

To find the best tankless water heater, it’s important to consider several factors, including cost, size, capacity, lifespan, power input, flow rate, venting, energy and energy source. Taking all this into account, you can then select the best unit for you. We’ve reviewed hundreds of models and come up with our list of the best tankless water heaters in our comprehensive reviews and buying guide.

4- Do you really save money with a tankless water heater?

At the start, a tankless heater system will cost you more to buy and install. But in the long term, operating costs will be less than a storage tank system. According to the US Department of Energy, you can save around $108 for a gas tankless heater and $44 for an electric tankless heater in annual energy costs compared to a storage tank heater. Tankless heaters also add to your home’s value (see Point 6).

5- What is the downside of a tankless water heater?

There are a few disadvantages of a tankless water heater, most notably the higher cost of purchase and installation. Additionally, ongoing maintenance can be more expensive because the system is more complex than a traditional storage tank. One more thing to note is that while these systems are highly efficient, if you’re using up a lot of water at the same time, they may not be able to keep up with the demand and unheated water can get through.

6- Does a tankless water heater increase a home’s value?

The short answer to this is yes. Because these heaters are more expensive in general, and have several benefits over storage tank water heaters, they can add to the value of your home. According to a recent analysis, tankless water heaters increased a home’s value by up to 4%. These homes also sold faster than storage tank heaters. So, while the upfront cost is higher, it appears that it’s well be worth it.

7- What size tankless water heater do I need?

This decision will largely depend on the size of your home, the amount of water you use and water flow rate. Tankless water heaters can range in size from 30 gallons to 75+. Smaller models can cost around $200 and are easier to maintain while larger models can cost over $1000.

8- Do tankless water heaters run out of hot water?

No, these heaters never run out of hot water, which is a major point of difference compared to storage tanks. Because they work on demand, you’ll always have hot coming out of your faucets. However, while they don’t ‘run out’ in the traditional sense, they can let cool water run through if the demand for hot water is very high at any given time. So, if you’re using two showers and the laundry at the same time, you might experience a cooling off in the water for a while. To avoid this, stagger your water usage.

9- How long do tankless water heaters usually last?

This type of water heater is highly durable and has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years with reasonable maintenance. This is twice the lifespan of a storage tank heater.

10- Why is tankless water heater installation so expensive?

The main factors that impact the cost of installation are the labor charges of the professional. If you need to remove and dispose of the current heating system, this will add to the cost as well.
You may also have to purchase material for the installation, including fittings and mounting hardware, insulation and piping and a termination vent kit if applicable. Overall, labor and parts cost can range from around $1000 to upwards of $3000. And no, this is not a DIY project, so unless you’re a professional, don’t try to install the unit yourself.

11- How long do tankless water heaters take to heat up?

It doesn’t take long at all. It takes about 15 seconds for the tankless heater to heat up the water. You’ll also have to factor in the time it takes for the water to get from the heater to the faucet, which varies depending on the distance between the two.

12- Pros and cons of tankless water heater vs. storage water heater.

Both tankless and storage tank heaters have their own pros and cons. Possibly, the most significant difference between the two is the upfront costs of the two. Tankless heaters are much more expensive to buy and install, and may also have more complex repairs, but apart from that, they’re more economical, energy efficient and convenient to use.
Storage tanks are much less expensive and more basic in their repairs but take up lots of space and uses up significantly more energy. The graphic below shows the pros and cons of the two.Tankless vs tank water heater infographic

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