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Tankless Water Heaters: An Overview

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Water heaters have come a long way since they first emerged in residences. Most traditional models heat water in a large water storage tank and keep it warm until it travels to the different fixtures throughout the house. The water heater will refill the storage tank with cold water, hopefully heating the new water before it's needed. Today, tankless water heaters save space and eliminate the wait for the unit to heat new water. Learn more about tankless water heaters before you install one in your own home. 

How does a tankless water heater work?

A tankless water heater heats water on-demand using a heat exchanger inside of the metal casing. Since the heat exchangers heat the water instantaneously, the device will never stop producing hot water. 

Gas tankless water heaters use a home's gas supply to heat the coils in the heat exchanger using a gas burner. Electric water heaters use electric heating elements to heat the coils in the heat exchanger. While some condensing gas tankless water heaters reach high-efficiency ratings, electric tankless water heaters tend to be more efficient but less powerful. Tankless water heaters produce hot water at a designated flow rate. 

Is a tankless water heater a good value?

Tankless water heaters may require a significant upfront investment. The unit itself will vary in price depending on the size and features. However, installation costs more, especially if you attempt to install a tankless water heater in place of an old storage tank water heater. Always get professional installation, and be prepared to hire for upgrades to the gas lines or the circuit board. 

However, since tankless water heaters don't use as much energy as conventional water heaters, homeowners see a return on their investment the longer they use the unit. A tankless water heater makes the most sense for new construction or for families who plan to stay at the house for the next couple of decades. 

What are the benefits of a tankless water heater?

Tankless water heaters offer a number of benefits over standard water heaters:

  • Higher efficiency 
  • Space-saving design
  • Long-lasting hot water 
  • Life span of 20 years 
  • Tax credits (if applicable)

Almost every household can make the change to tankless. Now, you need to determine the size and features you need. Contact a residential plumbing service in your area to learn more about installing or replacing a tankless water heater in your home.