Pros & Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

When a tank-style water heater reaches the end of its life, you need to consider if a newer tankless system will meet your hot water, budget and general household needs. While there are several compelling reasons for and against tankless water heaters, it all comes down to what will work best for your situation.
Tankless water heaters take up a lot less space than a traditional tank-style heater, and they are typically more efficient. These systems heat water on demand instead of continually maintaining the heat level of an entire tank of water. Due to this method of heating the water, tankless water heaters do not need to be active constantly. Additionally, there is no limit to the amount of hot water, so you no longer need to worry about running out midway through a shower.
Find out more about tankless water heater pros and cons to help you decide if a tankless system is right for your home.

What is a Tankless Water Heater
You know that big tank of hot water in your garage or basement? What if we told you that you could get the same amount of hot water (or more) from a water heater the size of a carry-on suitcase—and save on your utility bill?
That is the promise of tankless water heaters, also called on-demand water heaters. Tankless water heaters take up much less space than storage water heaters as they heat the water directly. When you turn on the hot water, the cold water travels through a pipe and into the tankless water heater unit where it is heated by a gas burner or an electric element. This allows you a constant supply of hot water.
On average, tankless water heaters can provide 2 to 5 gallons of hot water per minute. Gas-fired tankless water heaters, according to energy.gov, can produce higher flow rates than electric models.

PROS
Tankless water heaters use 30 to 50 percent less energy than units with tanks, saving a typical family about $100 or more per year, depending on water usage.

Energy Efficiency
Generally speaking, tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters. Tankless water heaters can be as much as 50% more efficient in optimal conditions. This is because the water heaters only use energy when hot water is needed and not like the tank model which uses energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Energy Savings
Tankless water heaters can save you money throughout the system’s lifespan. The initial installation and purchase ideally will be less than the money you will save in energy costs over the life of the appliance. Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than traditional water heaters, so you will have anywhere from 10 to 20 years to recoup your investment. If you opt for an electric model, you will start to see saving even sooner than with gas units.

Saves Space
Not having a storage tank means tankless water heaters are small, making them a great option if you are looking to free up space in your home, or if you have limited room. The suitcase-sized yet powerful unit can hide anywhere. Compared to a tank water heater it saves you a lot of square footage and floor space. Tankless water heaters are 1/10 of the size compared to tank water heaters. Tank-style heaters take up floor space, usually in the basement, while tankless units are mounted to a wall like a circuit breaker and can fit in most closets.

Instant Hot Water
Hot water on demand is one of the biggest pros of the tankless water heater. Unlike traditional water heaters, tankless water systems heat as much water as you need to use at any given time. When you open the hot water tap or start the shower, the water flow through the heat exchanger and gets heated instantly so there’s no waiting for water to get heated. While there are some limitations, in theory, a tankless water heater could let you take a hot shower for as long as you would like without ever getting cold.

Lower Risk of Leaks and Water Damage
One of the biggest risks with tank-style heaters is, over time, minerals from hard water build-up within the tank which leads to corrosion and eventually leaks. Since tankless water heaters do not have a tank, there is no risk of leaks or flooding. This does not mean that tankless water heaters are immune to issues. They can and will run into problems that could result in leaking, but the chances of having a major leak that floods your entire garage or basement and causes significant damage are slim.

Green Option
Tankless water heaters use less energy and are more efficient than traditional water heaters. Tankless systems are considered friendlier to the environment because they use less energy. They only heat water as needed, which is an efficient and environmentally friendly use of energy when compared with traditional units. Traditional units are not as energy efficient because they are always heating water whether it is needed or not.

Longer Lifespan
On average, tank-style water heaters last between 8 and 12 years, however, tankless water heaters usually last over 20 years. If you are already in your “forever home” or plan to stay where you are for a while, investing in a tankless water heater will save you from needing a replacement for a very long time.

CONS

Nothing is perfect, so read on to see the downfalls of a tankless water heater.

Limited Hot Water for Multiple Outlets

Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, so users never run out of hot water, but if you use a vast amount of water during certain blocks of time, it may not work for you. If you demand more hot water than the unit can generate—for instance, if you run the dishwasher, washing machine and shower at the same time—the temperature of the water will fluctuate since the heater is trying to provide for all three locations at once. It is possible to work around this issue by installing more than one unit or using less hot water.

Seasonal Issues
Tankless water heater systems can be installed pretty much anywhere in the country, but there are challenges for these modern systems for those who live in areas that experience colder winter temperatures. When groundwater sinks to low temperatures during the winter months, tankless water heaters will take longer to heat on-demand hot water. During the winter months, your tankless water heater will work harder and longer to warm your water to desirable temperatures, which will add more wear and tear to the system. This also means a longer wait for hot water during certain parts of the year. Also, the colder the water is when it enters your system, the more energy your tankless water heater will need to spend to heat your water.

Power Outage
Because tankless water heaters, even gas models, need electricity in order to run and regulate, if the power goes out, then so does your hot water. So if you live in a region with frequent power outage problems then you might have to take this into the account. A tankless water heater cannot provide hot water during a power outage. This is an area where tank-style water heaters have a significant advantage over tankless. Regardless of the power source, the water stored in their tank will remain hot for several days.

Low Flow or Fluctuating Water Temperature

If you have several appliances that use hot water at once that are making demands on your tankless water heaters, you may need multiple systems to maintain your current usage flow. Finding a whole-house tankless system that can meet the needs of multiple heavy-use appliances at once may be challenging without additional add-on point of use systems. The best way to tackle this situation is to use a properly sized water heater, use low-flow fixtures and avoid using multiple fixtures at the same time.

Federal Tax Rebates
One of the benefits of a tankless water heater being energy efficient is a tax rebate. As of December 2016, Energystar-certified tankless water heaters are eligible for a 10% federal tax credit on unit and installation expenses.

Costs More Upfront
The initial costs of converting from a traditional water heater to a tankless system can present a significant financial investment. Conventional water heaters are as much as three to four times cheaper than tankless water heater systems. While the expense may deter you at first, keep in mind that a tankless water heater—with its longer lifespan and energy savings—will pay for itself in just a few years.
The average unit cost for a tankless water heater is slightly higher for natural or propane gas models ($1,000 to $1,500) than electric models ($500 to $1,500).

When to Contact a Plumbing Professional
If you need help with your garbage disposal, sinks, or any other plumbing issue, call Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321 for professional drain cleaning methods. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.