When we bought our house, we knew the water heater was on its last legs. When it finally kicks the bucket, we plan to replace it with a fancy new tankless water heater. The dream of endless hot showers while saving both money and space is too alluring to pass up! But it pays to do your research to see if an on-demand system is right for your home. Luckily, I've already weighed the pros and cons of tankless water heaters for you!
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How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
A tankless water heater is basically a heat exchanger connected to your home's plumbing system. When someone open up a hot water faucet, it turns on the heating unit. This unit may be gas or electric, but they perform the same task.
Water runs through the heat exchanger which heats the water to the desired temperature before delivering it to the faucet. There is almost no lag time before the water is hot, just like magic! When the faucet is closed, the heater shuts off.
Here's an infographic of a guy taking a shower in his underwear to illustrate the on-demand system. 🙂
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
- Hot Water Won't Run Out
- Imagine long, hot showers without your significant other banging on the door to remind you not to use all the hot water! Or filling up a bathtub without a layer of cold water on top. You can also shower while the dishwasher or washing machine are running without it turning to ice when the rinse cycle starts!
- Energy Efficiency
- With no holding tank full of water kept at a certain temperature at all times, it wastes less energy. A tankless unit only operates when it's called upon.
- Saves Space
- We would have loved a tankless water heater in our old condo, where a huge tank took up half a closet that could have been used for more storage! The entire on-demand system is mounted on the wall to save you tons of floor space.
- Less Chance of Water Damage
- Another consideration in favor of going tankless is that there is less chance of water damage if something should happen to the unit. No tank to crack means none of this...
Although tankless water heaters appear to be the perfect answer for supplying your home with hot water, there are some downsides to them as well.
- Even though prices are dropping, tankless units can still be expensive. They can run anywhere between $500 to over $1,000 depending on heating capacity.
- If you live in a cold climate, you'll need a more powerful heating element to bring the water in your pipes up to your desired temperature. More power = more expensive. To get an idea of the typical ground temperature of your area, check this map.
- If you are converting to a tankless water heater, the installation can add considerably to the cost since it may require rerouting gas or electrical connections.
- Finding a professional to install the system can be tricky. Check with your local plumbing company or even try Amazon Home Services.to see if they have someone who is familiar with the process.
- Building Codes
- You should also check building codes in your area before purchasing a tankless unit since many areas require mounting them on external walls only, limiting where you do an installation and complicating the requirements for gas or electrical connections.
I hope this clarifies some of the pros and cons of tankless water heaters for you. Now you can feel confident in your decision about whether this type of system works for you and your home!