The Complete Guide To Choosing A Tankless Water Heater

Choosing the right water heater for your home is an important decision that requires careful consideration of your needs, budget, and options. Tankless water heaters are an increasingly popular choice among homeowners due to their energy efficiency, endless hot water supply, and long lifespan. This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know about selecting the best tankless water heater for your home.

What Are The Benefits Of A Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, have become more and more attractive to homeowners in recent years. Here are some of the main benefits tankless water heaters offer over conventional storage tank models:

  • Endless Hot Water – Tankless heaters provide hot water as needed without running out. This allows longer showers, filling baths, running dishwashers and washing machines simultaneously, and more.
  • Energy Efficiency – Tankless models only heat water on demand rather than maintaining a full tank at temperature 24/7. This results in significant energy savings.
  • Space Savings – Taking up about the size of a small suitcase, tankless heaters free up room compared to bulky tank heaters.
  • Durability – Tankless heaters last approximately 20 years compared to 10-15 years for tank models.

With all these advantages, it’s no wonder more and more homeowners are going tankless.

How Does A Tankless Water Heater Work?

Tankless water heaters don’t store hot water like conventional versions. Instead, they use heating elements that instantly and continuously heat water as you need it. Cold water travels through a pipe into the unit where gas or electricity heats it directly. The water is then sent to fixtures giving you a constant, unlimited supply of hot water on demand.

When you turn on a hot water tap, a flow sensor in the tankless unit detects water moving through the heater and activates the heating elements. Once the tap is turned off, the heating elements deactivate. This immediate and energy-efficient operation makes tankless heaters ideal for homes.

Important Factors To Consider

Choosing the right tankless water heater involves taking into account several key factors:

  • Fuel Type – Tankless heaters run on either gas, propane, or electricity. Gas models are typically less expensive to operate but might require venting. Electric tankless can raise your electrical bill but don’t need vents.
  • Power Source – Gas tankless heaters need a gas line while electric models require high amperage breakers since they consume a lot of power heating water instantly.
  • Flow Rate – The right heater needs to support your home’s hot water requirements based on shower heads, faucets, and appliances. Over- or under-sizing can decrease performance.
  • Climate – Colder climates do best with gas models that aren’t impacted by frigid temperatures. Electric tankless can be less effective in very cold weather.
  • Cost – While tankless heaters have higher upfront costs, they result in long-term savings on energy bills and eliminate the need to eventually replace storage tank water heaters.

Determining The Right Tankless Size

Choosing a tankless water heater with an adequate flow rate and heating capacity for your household is key to enjoying endless hot water. Follow these tips for picking the right size:

  • Calculate peak demand by adding up the flow rates needed for all fixtures running hot water simultaneously.
  • Prioritize appliances, showers, tubs, etc. since not everything may run at once.
  • Choose a tankless model that meets your peak demand flow rate or is slightly above for contingency.
  • For electric heaters, ensure your electric panel and breakers can handle the power load.
  • Consider adding multiple smaller tankless units to distribute capacity around your home if needed.

Professional installers like those offering tankless water heaters in Cincinnati, OH can assess your home’s demand and recommend properly sized models. Oversizing your tankless water heater doesn’t improve performance and results in higher operating costs.

Installation Considerations

Proper installation is critical to ensure your new tankless water heater works safely, efficiently, and reliably. Here are key factors to keep in mind:

  • Skill – Hire professional plumbers experienced in tankless installations. Their expertise avoids potential problems down the road.
  • Codes – Local building codes likely have specific venting, gas line, and electrical requirements to meet for permits. Professionals handle these.
  • Venting – Gas tankless heaters need proper venting to the outside to run safely and efficiently.
  • Condensing vs Non-Condensing – Condensing models are more efficient but their corrosive condensation requires PVC venting.
  • Water Treatment – Hard water can damage tankless heaters, so install water softening if necessary.

Regular maintenance like annual water flushes keeps your tankless heater operating smoothly for decades.

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