There’s nothing like stepping into a hot shower after a long day, especially during a freezing winter evening. That is, unless your water runs as cold as the air outside!
Whether your larger household runs through hot water fast, or whether your traditional water heater is on its last legs, it may be time to consider tankless water heaters as a better alternative. With these systems, you’ll enjoy virtually limitless water—no matter who else in your home has showered first—in addition to a wealth of other benefits for your home and your wallet.
But if you’re not sure how to get started, or why you should make the switch, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a simple tankless water heater guide to make the decision easier.
When Do You Need a Tankless Water Heater?
Before we get too far into this guide, it’s important to consider the most foundational aspect of buying: do you actually need a tankless water heater?
If you aren’t already aware of the common tankless water heater benefits, you may not have realized how helpful it can be to make the switch. From energy efficiency to added space, there are many reasons to consider upgrading your home water heating system. However, here are a few signs you should make the change:
- Your water heater is reaching the end of its expected lifespan, which ranges from 5-15 years on average
- You’re seeing a high monthly utility bill that you’d like to cut down
- You have a larger household that uses a lot of hot water, meaning that you run out of your stored hot water quickly
- You prefer fresher water that isn’t sitting in a tank containing rust or added minerals
- You’re trying to shrink your environmental footprint, and you’re conscious of how much energy a conventional water heater can waste
- You need extra space in the storage area where your traditional water heater is
- You don’t have the spare time to invest in the maintenance of a water tank
Each household is different, of course, so be sure to consider your home’s needs with care before you make the decision. If you’re ready to make the switch, keep reading for tips on buying the right model!
Types of Tankless Water Heaters
Once you’ve decided to purchase a new water heater, you’ll need to decide what type you want. There are three different options to choose from: non-condensing, condensing, and hybrid.
The first types of tankless water heaters on the market, non-condensing units heat your water using a heat exchanger, which is a long-trusted heating technology. However, heat exchangers can give off hot exhaust, which can limit their energy efficiency and requires the installation of a venting system.
With condensing units, the hot exhaust from the primary heat exchanger is reused by a secondary heat exchanger. This increases the system’s overall efficiency—but it can also make this option a little more expensive.
Condensing hybrid units are a hybrid of a tankless and traditional systems: they use the same heating technology of tankless systems but include a small water tank, usually between one and two gallons in size. This can help raise their efficiency overall, and it makes them the best tankless water heaters for larger homes drawing on hot water in frequent bursts.
Location of Your Tankless Water Heater
It’s worth noting that you can choose between either a whole-house tankless heater or several point-of-use systems. Both will offer up hot water almost instantly, but there are a few things to consider when choosing the right model for your home.
These systems are often situated near a specific device that would require hot water, such as a washing machine, shower, or kitchen sink. They’ll need to be installed close to your tap to work, allowing for little to no lag time in receiving hot water. This makes them a great resource to complement a larger water heating system as needed.
However, installing several point-of-use systems can be more complicated than installing one centralized system. This makes them ideal for new construction, as it’s easier to plan for their implementation on the front end.
A whole-house or “centralized” tankless water heater will heat water for all faucets within your home. There may be some lag depending on how far the tap is from the water heater, and you may need to add ventilation that requires you to place the system in a storage area.
However, whole-house systems are easy to install, and they won’t usually require complex updates to your gas or electric system. This makes them ideal for an existing home, as they require little to no additional construction or rewiring.
Fuel Types for Tankless Water Heaters
No matter what type of tankless water heater you choose, you’ll have the option for one of two main fuel types.
This option will require you to install a new gas line, which can get complicated if you’re opting for multiple point-of-use systems. Gas can provide a better temperature rise than electricity, but it will often require additional ventilation—which is why most homeowners will place these heaters in a storage area.
Electric heaters are often easier to install for both whole-home and point-of-use systems. They don’t require ventilation, they’re often smaller, and homeowners have a little more flexibility over where to place them in the home.
If you’re not sure which way to go, the U.S. Department of Energy has a handy tool to help you calculate the energy costs associated with both types of water heaters.
Costs Associated With Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters, like anything else, can range widely in price. You can expect to pay anywhere from $270 for a small unit to over $6,000 on the high-output system. The cost also depends on where you buy: plumbers and plumbing supply stores may have better prices than online retailers or big-box chains, but it’s best to shop around.
In addition, you’ll need a professional installation for a leak-free job. An expert can also help you consider factors like the system placement, ventilation, and gas or electric connections. The installation price will depend on the type of system, the number of new units installed, the fuel type, and the complexity of the work.
Find the Perfect Tankless Water Heater
Though there are multiple factors to consider in your decision, finding the right tankless water heaters shouldn’t be hard. Keeping your household’s needs in mind, take the time to research and weigh each factor to find the perfect system for your home.
If you need expert advice on the right system, or if you’re ready to get your new water heater installed, the team at Killeen Plumbing is here to help. We’re the trusted resource for water heater installations for the Westlake area and beyond, and we’re happy to take care of your new system! Contact us today with questions or for a free estimate on your installation.