Tankless Water Heaters

Integrity’s Opinion on Tankless Water Heaters

After heating and air conditioning, water heating is most homeowners’ biggest energy expense. Heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home’s energy budget. Some makers of gas-fired tankless water heaters claim their products can cut your energy costs up to half over regular storage heaters.

So is it time to switch?

If you are considering converting your standard water heater into a tankless system in order to reduce your utility costs, let Integrity Heating, Air, & Solar help! Another alternative for your consideration would be to simply allow your hot water heating system to tie into a thermal hot water system also. The solar hot water heating system will preheat the water, which will use less fuel, lessen the demand on your water heater, and increase the output of your hot water.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless water heaters, also called instantaneous or demand water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed. Traditional storage water heaters produce standby energy losses that cost you money. We do not leave our homes heated while vacationing. We only heat our homes when there is a demand for heat. In the same way, a tankless water heater is used only when there is a demand for hot water.

How do Tankless Water Heaters work?

899px-Rinnai_water_heatersTankless water heaters heat the water you need, turning any water source into hot water on demand. You are not limited to the amount a storage tank heater can hold, whether you are washing the dishes, washing your clothes, or drawing a hot bath. Tankless water heater technology will supply endless hot water to your lifestyle demands—even if you do them all at once!

  • Tankless models don’t store hot water.
  • Getting the right size water heater is crucial.
  • When opening a hot water tap or starting the dishwasher, the tankless water heater recognizes the need for hot water and starts the heating process.
  • Water flows through the device and the flow sensor fires the burner.
  • The flow must be fast enough, typically a half gallon per minute, to turn on the sensor.
  • The temperature of the incoming water is used to calculate how much heat the burners must produce to deliver water at the desired temperature. Water lines around the heat exchanger warm the water to the desired temperature.
  • When the demand for hot water ceases, the hot water valve is closed. The flow sensor turns off the burner, and the unit shuts down and uses no energy, waiting until more hot water is needed.
  • Capacity is expressed in gallons per minute. The maximum GPM rating for your water heater needs depends on how many fixtures and appliances you will be drawing hot water for at the same time.
  • Tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to recover with enough hot water.
    Tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2 to 5 gallons (7.6 to 15.2 liters) per minute. Typically, gas-fired tankless water heaters will produce higher flow rates than electric tankless water heaters.
  • The end result—hot water that is not limited to what’s available in your tank. You always have clean, hot water when you want it for as long as you need it!

For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily

Tankless water heaters can be 24 to 34 percent more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. You can achieve an even greater energy savings of 27 to 50 percent if you install a tankless water heater at each hot water outlet.

For larger homes

Tankless water heaters can be 8 to 14 percent more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water—around 86 gallons per day.

To find out what size system your home would need, start here!

  1. Exhaust
  2. Heat exchanger
  3. Burner
  4. Fan
  5. Control panel
  6. Flow sensor
  7. Hot water to faucet
  8. Gas supply
  9. Cold water coming in
  10. Cold water to faucet
HVAC Unit Components

How much does a Tankless Water Heater cost?

In general, the purchase and installation costs of a tankless water heater can be 2 to 2 1/2 times as much as a conventional tank-style water heater. However, energy savings with a tankless water heater typically result in a payback within just a few years for a family of four, making a tankless water heater a better long-term investment.

What Size Tankless Water Heater do I need?

Getting the right size water heater is crucial. Undersize the unit and you won’t have enough hot water; oversize it and you’ll overpay to both purchase and operate the tankless heater. There are many sizes available, ranging from 19,000 BTU to 200,000 BTU. It is stressed that a detailed consultation be set up to review your water use habits. This is the best way to make the most accurate estimation of your heater size and needs.

Factor in location.

Unlike a regular water heater, a tankless model’s water output is immediately affected by groundwater temperatures. The same model that produces 7.2 gallons per minute (GPM) when installed in a warm Florida garage will output only 4.2 GPM in a cold New England basement because the colder water requires the temperature to be raised 77 degrees rather than 44. Use your coldest groundwater temperature to calculate the gallons per minute you’ll need.

Get the details right.

Look for an oxygen-depletion sensor that shuts off the water heater if carbon monoxide is detected and a film wrap around the heat exchanger that will shut off the device if it gets too hot. Since tankless models are still relatively uncommon, consider using manufacturer-trained installers. Some companies extend the warranty if you do.

Tankless water heaters deliver hot water instantaneously. It takes time to heat the water to the target temperature. Just like storage water heaters, any cold water in the pipes needs to be pushed out. And tankless models’ electric controls mean you’ll also lose hot water during a power outage.

What Fuel Type Do I Need?

tankless-water-heaterThe first thing that you’ll need to decide when selecting a tankless water heater is the fuel type. If you plan to purchase a gas-fired tankless water heater, consider the gas type and venting requirements:

First we need to identify whether your gas type is natural gas or propane. It is imperative that we examine your current gas line to ensure that it will meet the requirements of your new gas-fired tankless water heater. The requirements of the tankless water heater may exceed that of your existing tank-style water heater.

We also need to consider venting requirements for your specific installation scenario. There are a few important things to keep in mind when purchasing the gas venting accessories for your gas-fired tankless water heater.

Be sure that your system is installed with category III stainless steel (UL1738 certified) venting for your gas-fired tankless water heater. “Type B” venting accessories are not acceptable. Integrity will be sure to check local building codes to ensure that your specific needs will be completely met.

Additionally, many tankless water heater manufacturers offer gas venting kits. Depending on where the tankless water heater is installed, a pre-made kit may not meet your needs. Integrity will ensure the vent route is complete and is up to code.

*Note: Gas-fired tankless water heaters may still require a minimal electrical connection. Be sure to review installation requirements for the units you are considering for purchase.

Tankless units might need more care.

Many industry pros recommend that tankless models be serviced once a year by a qualified technician. Calcium buildup can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow, and damage tankless models. Experts suggest installing a water softener if your water hardness is above 11 grains per gallon. Ignoring this advice can shorten your warranty and the longevity of your tank. Many tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years.

Tankless Water Heaters recommended by Integrity:

Other Options:

Another alternative for your consideration would be to simply allow your hot water heating system to tie into a thermal hot water system. The solar hot water heating system will preheat the water, which will use less fuel, lessen the demand on your water heater, and increase the output of your hot water.

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