Tankless water heaters have been the norm in much of Europe and Japan for quite some time, and due to the green movement have also recently gained popularity in the United States. If you’re a good candidate for a tankless system, you can save a substantial amount of money every year on your monthly bills while simultaneously conserving natural gas and energy.
How do tankless water heaters work?
Typically, tankless water heaters are enclosed wall mounted rectangular boxes that house a burner or heating element, controls, and internal piping. In order to get your steamy shower on demand, the heater will use a powerful device called a heat exchanger to raise the water temperature. The heat exchanger simply transfers heat from one source to another, and in this case is activated by the incoming flow of water.
When you turn on your hot water tap, the incoming water circulates through the activated exchanger, heating the cold water to your preset temperature. Combustion gases must exit safely through a dedicated, sealed vent system, which makes a tankless water heater installation a job for a professional Costa Mesa plumber.
Tankless systems come in two varieties; point-of-use heaters and whole-house heaters. Point-of-use systems are smaller units and only heat water for one or two outlets, such as your kitchen sink. Because of their compact size, they can fit in a closet or cupboard. These point-of-use heaters are beneficial because they can be installed closer to your chosen outlet, which limits water loss due to lag time. In large houses, the lag time it takes for the hot water to reach your faucet can be significant, sometimes even several minutes. Whole-house systems are much larger and therefore more expensive, but can operate more than one outlet at a time.
When purchasing a tankless water heater, you can choose from electric, propane or natural gas models. Point-of-use models are generally electric, while whole-house systems are usually powered by either natural gas or propane.
What are the benefits to going tankless?
Tankless units, also known as on-demand heaters, heat water only when needed. This can save your household a great deal of money on energy costs, simply by eliminating the extra price of constantly keeping stored water hot. This can save a typical family at least $100 or more per year, depending on water usage. Most tankless units also come with a federal tax rebate of $300, saving you even more.
As long as fuel in the form of electricity or gas is present, on-demand water heaters also offer an unlimited supply of hot water. When it’s time to unwind, tankless water heaters are the ideal choice for filling a hot tub or a whirlpool without the worry of running out of hot water.
On-demand heaters are much more compact than a standard water heater, and in most cases save floorspace by mounting to a wall. Some models can even be installed outdoors with an anti-freeze kit. Most units are operated by remote control and offer up to four available separate settings.
Although the initial cost of a tankless heater is considerably higher than a traditional tank heater, they last five to 10 years longer, and are guaranteed to save you money each month for those several years.
Why are traditional water heaters inferior to tankless?
As previously mentioned, in a traditional heater system there’s a large tank that holds and heats 40 to 50 gallons of water, even when not in use. The energy used to keep the water hot even when it’s not being used is called standby heat loss, and does nothing to keep your family’s energy costs and consumption low.
Additionally, with a tank-type heater you can supply only as much hot water as your storage capacity and heating element recovery capability allow. This becomes a significant issue in larger households when the hot water demand is high, as additional storage tanks may be required to meet your family’s needs.
Finally, one of the most important risks in keeping with your traditional water heater is the potential for flood damage. Water heater storage tanks leak, break, and can be ruptured, potentially spilling out dozens of gallons of hot water and spelling disaster for your home. Corrosion is also a primary reason that tanks fail in traditional water heaters. If this common problem of rust producing a hole in the tank strikes, the tank and possibly the entire unit must be replaced.
If you are considering purchasing a tankless water heater, or are currently looking for a plumber in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, or anywhere in Orange County, Parzival Plumbing is ready to help with all of your plumbing needs! Call us today for a free estimate at (949) 355-1575.