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Tankless water heaters are also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters. They provide hot water as needed instead of keeping a ready supply of hot water like traditional water heaters. A tankless water heater also allows more flexible placement. The mild climate in San Antonio, TX, lets you hang a small tankless heater outside your home if you want to conserve space inside.
Tankless water heaters, powered by gas or electric, heat water directly. Their design limits hot water output, which may be a disadvantage, but they also eliminate the need to wait until a storage tank fills up. The average rate of flow for tankless water heaters is 2 to 5 gallons per minute, and gas-fired tankless heaters tend to have higher flow rates than those powered by electricity.
Advantages of Tankless Heaters
Although tankless water heaters generally have higher initial costs than traditional heaters, tankless models usually last longer and use less energy over their functional lifetimes. The biggest advantage of tankless water options is energy efficiency. Most households in the United States spend more on heating and cooling than any other utility cost, but heating hot water is the second largest expense.
Hot water heaters with tanks, no matter how well made or how much insulation is used, are affected by standby heat loss. Tanks store anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of water. Water inside the tank is kept hot continuously, even though hot water is only used sporadically. The lost heat is lost energy.
A tankless water heater takes up less space than a traditional heater. The smaller footprint is ideal for people living in small homes with limited storage space. Some tankless models are small enough to fit under an average sized kitchen countertop.
Anyone who has ever dealt with a leak from a water heater tank probably doesn’t want to deal with it again. Hot water flooding a garage, basement, or storage room can be difficult to clean up and may damage the surrounding area. Tankless water heaters can’t flood a room because they don’t hold water. They can only release as much water as a typical leaky faucet.
Sometimes tankless water heaters are used in conjunction with traditional water heaters. An additional tankless heater provides hot water beyond the normal needs of the household. Some uses include remote bathrooms or hot tubs, surplus hot water for dishwashers or washing machines, and boosting hot water production from solar water heating systems.
Challenges of Tankless Heaters
There are drawbacks to tankless water heaters. They may struggle to provide enough water to run multiple water-heavy appliances at the same time. This issue can be managed by planning ahead. Make sure you won’t have to run the dishwasher and washing machine simultaneously, and everyone in the household should avoid showering while large amounts of water are needed elsewhere.
You can avoid most output challenges with properly sized tankless water heaters. It is best to hire a professional to help you determine household demand and choose an appropriate heater. Tankless heaters can also take time to produce hot water. Waiting time depends on the water’s ambient temperature. The colder the water, the longer it takes to heat. Some remote apps can be programmed to work with tankless hot water heaters and have hot water ready when you get home.
Some manufacturers offer sizing and temperature rise information for large units meant to serve an entire house. You can also choose to install multiple single-point or point of use tankless systems meant to supply specific appliances or a single bathroom.
Hot water is still accessible, for a time, from a traditional hot water heater after a power outage. This may not be true for water heaters with a central control system that isn’t accessible without power. Power outages cut off hot water immediately with tankless heaters, but there is a solution. Tankless heaters use smaller amounts of energy than traditional heaters, so tankless systems can be powered by a generator or battery back-up. This solution works well to produce small amounts of hot water for hand washing or cooking. It takes more power to produce hot water for appliances or showers.
Switching to a Tankless Heater
Switching from a traditional water heater to a tankless version is a big step, at first. Plumbing retrofitting is the biggest issue, but some homes may also need to upgrade electric or gas infrastructure. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy states that approximately 90% of hot water heater installations are the result of an emergency. It’s much less stressful, and often less expensive, to choose a new water heater of your choice before the old model runs into problems.
Installing tankless water heaters isn’t a job for amateurs. Proper installation takes many factors into account. These include fuel type, local building codes, climate, and safety issues. The water lines must be the correct size, and gas lines may need to be altered as well. Although gas-powered tankless heaters use less energy overall, they need access to more gas at any given time than a traditional heater needs. Even the site of installation has to be chosen carefully to make sure the unit is vented to discharge exhaust safely.
Call a professional plumbing and heating contractor to install new water heaters to optimize energy efficiency and minimize potential problems. Plumbing professionals in San Antonio, TX, are familiar with relevant laws and ordinances and handle any necessary permits. Regularly scheduled professional maintenance can also extend your water heater’s lifetime. Many tankless heaters are made with easily replaceable parts, so you can extend your heater’s lifetime even more by keeping up with necessary repairs.
Call the professionals at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of San Antonio.