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When it is time to replace the water heater, it may be worth the time and effort to consider a tankless water heater.  They offer several benefits, but also several drawbacks.

Benefits

  • They only heat the water that is needed, compared to a standard water heater that constantly consumes energy to keep water heated.  Therefore, tankless water heaters can be up to 20% more energy-efficient than conventional units, saving approximately $120 per year.
  • They take up less space.
  • They should outlast conventional units if property maintained.

Drawbacks

Tankless water heaters have several drawbacks..

  • Tankless water heaters are limited by the flow rate of water through the unit.  If you exceed that flow rate, the water will not be in the tank long enough to heat up adequately.  Additionally, the maximum flow rate is usually lower than the manufacturer specifies, because tankless heaters are typically rated at a 40-degree temperature rise, compared to 90 degrees for conventional units.  In the winter, cold water will be at about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 40 degree temperature rise will bring that to 82 degrees, not the optimal hot outlet temperature of 130.
  • It will take tankless heaters longer to produce hot water because they have to heat up.
  • A separate storage tank will need to be installed if you want to use it with a hot water return line.
  • You must delime the unit every three years at a cost of $340.
  • Replacement parts may be more difficult to obtain.

Next time we will discuss purchasing a tankless water heater.

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