Tankless Water Heaters – A Few Issues

These days it’s all about being “green”, sustainable and energy conscious, so it isn't hard to find a lot of advice about how to incorporate features into a new home or remodeling project to reduce our adverse impact on the environment, not to mention our pocket books.  

One popular improvement suggested is installing a tankless water heater rather than the traditional tank type units. 

When we were adding on to our house, we had planned on changing out to one or maybe two of them.  But, we found that there are some misconceptions and misunderstandings about these devices and the big savings they promise. 

Typical promises are:

  • Unlimited (continuous) supply of hot water
  • Instantaneous hot water if installed at point of use
  • Reduced water-heating costs
  • Small amount of space required for installation (usually wall-hung)

Are they accurate?  Well, sorta, kinda.
  • Unlimited? Not exactly – there are a variety of units on the market with differing capacity ratings. A big family can overstep the capacity of a low-end or even mid-range unit.
  • Instantaneous? Pretty much true, but only if you open a faucet enough to trigger the flow switch. You will still have a delay if the heater is far from the fixture, though.
  • Reduced water-heating costs – looking at operating cost only, probably true over the long term.
  • Amount of space required – true, but you still need to be able to work in the flue for a gas unit.
What tends to be missing from the typical discussion, however, is that you will very likely need to have a larger gas line for a gas tankless unit, and a larger electrical service for an electric unit.  That can add thousands to the total cost, and could very well make it impossible for the operating cost savings to actually save you money, even over the long term.  

THAT was the deal-breaker for us, needing to replace the gas line with a larger one -- and we were looking at a couple of hundred feet of that!  NEVER MIND!  We are happy as clams with our new larger high-efficiency tank unit... because we didn't have to dish out an extra few thousand clams.

So, bottom line, make sure you take ALL of the costs into consideration before you jump on that bandwagon.  Google is your friend!

Here’s one source I looked at that is a good nutshell view, from The Cooperative Research Network.

Jim Pedicord RE MAX  Top Realty
http://jimatthetop.com jimpedicord@remax.net
281-610-7847 Cell
713-558-2537 Direct
713-773-3700 x 2537 Office  
713-773-3311 Fax
2911 S. Sam Houston Pkwy. E.   Houston, TX 77047


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