We’re incredibly lucky to live in an era of modern-day appliances that give us lifestyle conveniences we hardly even think about. Nearly 200 years ago, we didn’t have the luxury of indoor plumbing. Now we can use hot water on demand for our showers, dishwashers, and laundry machines without a thought.
As our appliances have evolved, so have our options for more efficient systems that are environmentally friendly. Homeowners that have experienced the shock of a cold shower after their hot water tank ran out prefer to upgrade to a tankless water heater.
With the added upfront cost, you may be wondering if a tankless water heater is right for you. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of a tankless water heater before you jump on the bandwagon – depending on your water needs, it may not do you any good.
What is a Tankless Water Heater?
A tankless water heater is just like it sounds – it’s an appliance that will heat your water without requiring a storage tank. The traditional water heater has a large container that takes up a ton of space and continuously turns on and off all day to heat the water inside. The advantage of this is that hot water is always at the ready. However, there is a lot of energy wasted in this process.
A tankless water heater works the moment you turn the tap on or use an appliance that needs hot water. Once the cold water enters the heater, the sensor communicates with the gas or electric burner to turn on. The water enters the heat exchanger, and you get hot water out of the tap before you know it. When you shut the water off, the tankless water heater shuts off too.
Pros and Cons of a Tankless Water Heater
Switching to tankless might seem like a no-brainer when considering energy efficiency, but we don’t recommend them to all our customers. Let’s dive into the pros and cons.
Pros of a tankless water heater
Lifespan, energy efficiency, and lower utility bills are some attractive pros for homeowners considering a tankless water heater. Below are our customers’ top reasons for the switch.
Tankless systems typically outlast a standard water heater by 10+ years! A typical water heater lasts 7-10 years, whereas a tankless water heater can last more than 10 years with a regular maintenance schedule.
Hot water forever (in theory)
Your hot water is continuously heating while the tap is on. You don’t have to worry about the tank’s supply running out, and you can essentially use that hot water forever.
Compared to a traditional water heater, tankless systems are 8-50% more efficient. A large part of this is due to the method of heating the water. Since the tankless systems don’t have to heat a large tank continuously, less energy is being used.
According to Energy.gov, you can save 34% on your water heating cost by making the switch.
Save storage space
A tankless water heater is significantly smaller than a traditional tank. When you’re in a small home where every square foot is crucial, it’s a great option to save some space.
Prevent common problems for a hot water heater repair
The replacement parts are easy to come by, but can be pretty costly. Tankless heaters can cause just as much damage if a leak goes undetected. The water will continuously leak until the supply is shut off, just like a tank model.
Cons of a tankless water heater
Let’s start by saying that a tankless water heater may not be for you if you have a large family or need to use hot water for multiple appliances at once, such as your dishwasher, laundry machine, and shower.
This is due to the flow rate – most of the tankless water heaters have a 1-5 gallons per minute (GPM) range. A high-flow showerhead could have a flow rate of 2.5 GPM. If you’re taking a shower while doing a load of laundry at 3 GPM, you may not have as warm of a shower as you would like. While there are solutions for this, such as point-of-use systems or installing additional tanks, it may deter large families or individuals that tend to use a lot of hot water at once. Other cons for consideration are listed below.
Higher upfront costs
Tankless water heater systems typically have a higher upfront cost, but this pays off in energy efficiency and unit replacement costs over time. If you need your gas line rerouted or water lines moved, you may have additional costs incurred.
No hot water during power outages
A typical tank already has hot water available if your power goes out until it’s used up or cooled down. However, a tankless hot water heater requires power to heat the water when you turn it on. If the power goes out, you’re out of luck.
Tankless water heaters are great for homeowners that don’t want to worry about their water heater leaking, want to reduce their carbon footprint, and save on energy bills. If your water heater is on its last legs and you’re considering what to do for your next system, contact our friendly technicians at Plumbing and Heating Paramedics. We can help guide you through the pros and cons list for your specific household needs.
What kind of water heater do you have? What’s your favourite feature of tankless water heaters? Share your thoughts with our readers in the comments below.