Utah Tankless Water Heaters, Their Limits, and Fascinating Alternatives

Recently here in Utah County Tankless water heaters are all the rage.

They SEEM so good. Regrettably, “seeming great” isn’t the same as “being good.”

Utah homeowners frequently ask us about “instantaneous,” or tankless water heaters. Many individuals consider they are considerably more energy-efficient than tank-type heaters. Typically, they’ve heard about how much better they are than tank heaters when it is wanted since they heat water only, and therefore, there should be no standby energy losses. And that they are popular by the remaining part of the world and have been for years. The trouble is, this is not especially accurate viagra en chine. In some situations, they can be an option, but not, by any means, in all. Let’s take it point by point. What Do You Really Need? We know the response, although we ask this question rhetorically. Surveys have been done and what folks want is: 1. Not to have to wait for hot water; and, 2. Not to have the hot water run out while they’re showering. There is a third corollary: Nobody desires 1 and 2 to cost them an arm and a leg. Lest you start feeling a little crippled so read carefully! The Risk Factor Tankless water heater businesses have come and gone. When they come, they sell lots of units. When they go, they leave their customers high and dry: no warranty, no technical support, no spare parts. Some of the ones in the marketplace today left their customers previously but now they’re back. The Hype Factor Tankless heaters, then and now are what we call “oversold.” That means that consumers are seduced by claims of greater efficiency, greater economies, and perhaps a chance to be “really green” or maybe “really trendy.” This warms many hearts until their owners recognize that they paid a lot more money up front, that their utility bills are significantly higher than before, that they face expensive service invoices and that virtually anything, including bypassing such service, will void their tankless guarantee (Hint: Read the fine print; it ain’t so fine).Apples and Oranges There are no standards by which to compare the efficacy of tankless heaters to that of tank heaters. Tankless producers have a tendency to make comparisons that make their products look good, such as with a tank heater with one inch of insulation, although tanks are available with up to three inches of insulation — a big difference. Or they may assert efficiencies based on a 35-degree rise in water temperature — which is half or less of real world states in many areas of the country. And authorities Energy Variable ratings are based on evaluations that have nothing whatsoever in common with real-world use, something like the EPA’s mileage standings (your mileage may vary — oops…will be totally different). First Cost The sad fact is, it is challenging to cheat the laws of physics. If you heat water, gas is going to be burned or electricity is going to be used and (unless you find a condensing heater) it is going to cost the exact same to warm a specified amount of water, no matter whether you do it with a tankless apparatus or in a water heater. Tankless heaters generally are priced several times higher than

Tankless water heaters are all the rage. They SEEM so good. Regrettably, “seeming great” isn’t the same as “being good.” Learn why. Folks frequently ask us about “instantaneous,” or tankless water heaters. Many individuals consider they are considerably more energy-efficient than tank-type heaters. Typically, they’ve heard about how much better they are than tank heaters when it is wanted since they heat water only, and therefore, there should be no standby energy losses. And that they are popular by the remaining part of the world and have been for years. The trouble is, this is not especially accurate. In some situations, they can be an option, but not, by any means, in all. Let’s take it point by point. What Do You Really Need? We know the response, although we ask this question rhetorically. Surveys have been done and what folks want is: 1. Not to have to wait for hot water; and, 2. Not to have the hot water run out while they’re showering. There is a third corollary: Nobody desires 1 and 2 to cost them an arm and a leg. Lest you start feeling a little crippled so read carefully! The Risk Factor Tankless water heater businesses have come and gone. When they come, they sell lots of units. When they go, they leave their customers high and dry: no warranty, no technical support, no spare parts. Some of the ones in the marketplace today left their customers previously but now they’re back. The Hype Factor Tankless heaters, then and now are what we call “oversold.” That means that consumers are seduced by claims of greater efficiency, greater economies, and perhaps a chance to be “really green” or maybe “really trendy.” This warms many hearts until their owners recognize that they paid a lot more money up front, that their utility bills are significantly higher than before, that they face expensive service invoices and that virtually anything, including bypassing such service, will void their tankless guarantee (Hint: Read the fine print; it ain’t so fine).Apples and Oranges There are no standards by which to compare the efficacy of tankless heaters to that of tank heaters. Tankless producers have a tendency to make comparisons that make their products look good, such as with a tank heater with one inch of insulation, although tanks are available with up to three inches of insulation — a big difference. Or they may assert efficiencies based on a 35-degree rise in water temperature — which is half or less of real world states in many areas of the country. And authorities Energy Variable ratings are based on evaluations that have nothing whatsoever in common with real-world use, something like the EPA’s mileage standings (your mileage may vary — oops…will be totally different). First Cost The sad fact is, it is challenging to cheat the laws of physics. If you heat water, gas is going to be burned or electricity is going to be used and (unless you find a condensing heater) it is going to cost the exact same to warm a specified amount of water, no matter whether you do it with a tankless apparatus or in a water heater. Tankless heaters generally are priced several times higher than old fashioned water heaters. A recent price comparison between a 40-gallon tank heater that can provide two showers at the same time and a tankless that can do the same demonstrated $328 against $989. Those are the costs of the units off the shelf. Installed costs run something like $600 for tank heaters vs. $2,500 for tankless — more, perhaps, if you’re retrofitting. That is a serious matter to take into account because it is going to take a lengthy time to save enough on energy bills — if that’s even possible — to make up the premium you pay right at the outset. And your tankless heater, being quite complex, may well break before then. There’s another problem. An average tank-type heater is about 40,000 Btu. To get the identical, it is often necessary to use a 160,000-Btu tankless. That might require a bigger gas line, and will need the additional expense, maybe a costly one made of stainless steel, and a bigger port to have it installed. If your setup is electric, you might desire more serious -duty wiring to accommodate a tankless heater, with the same problems. Flexibility With a tank water heater, it’s not impossible to wash the dishes and take a shower at precisely the same time. Or do two or three other jobs concurrently. With tankless heaters, that’s generally impossible or difficult. Particular attention needs to be given to flow rate and the number of heating done. To do two or more things at once, you might need to get an even bigger tankless apparatus. If you need only a trickle of hot water, a tankless heater probably will not even turn on. Beyond that, there may also be temperature fluctuations that can make taking a shower an ordeal. Five degrees too cold can be cycled by the temperature, then right five degrees too hot. The Cold-Water Sandwich Then there’s the dreaded “cold-water sandwich,” which happens when the tankless heater shuts off after an endeavor. There is hot water in the piping and if you turn on hot a few minutes after the first job, that may start to flow out, followed by the sandwich — cold water flowing past the tankless heater before it’s triggered into coming back on. Adding a storage tank can work out some of those problems, because they wish to get rid of tanks but most folks go with tankless. If they add a storage tank, tankless efficiency goes way down — and their costs rise still more! Oh, and Incidentally, They Are Not Instantaneous! How long do you think it takes to get hot water flowing once you open a hot tap? With a tank heater, since water has been warmed and is simply sitting in storage, it starts flowing instantaneously. This says nothing about the length of time you wait before you feel the heat now if your tap is some space from the tank. That is a distinct problem that also applies to tankless devices. But do you believe it takes before the tankless heater starts sending hot water your means? Would you believe 10-15 seconds for gas-fired tankless? A flow sensor “wakes up.” Subsequently a fan turns on, then the burner fires. Only afterward does water start to heat. Tank heaters are the accurate “on demand” product here. Recall what we said about hype. Dependability Tankless water heaters have tons of parts and controls that are complex. The more complex the apparatus, the more to go wrong. In colder climates, caution needs to be taken to completely drain them if they will be out of use or they will be damaged by freezing. In hard water regions, they’re prone to “lime upward” and that critically lowers their efficacy. In fact, there’s a post on Dec. 31, 2006 in The Tank about just such a difficulty. In the bottom, where they vacuumed out or can be more readily flushed, the minerals in hard water settle with tank heaters. Additionally, sediment in the bottom of a tank type heater was shown to have little effect on functionality. In spite of heavy sediment buildup, efficacy is seldom reduced more than five percent because most of the heat exchange occurs in the flue(s), not in the tank bottom. Upkeep costs must be factored into the tank-vs.-tankless equation as well. Tankless heaters want attention more than tanks do and are basically miniature boilers. Again, read the fine print (maybe we should say small print) because you’re likely to find your warranty is voided if a qualified tech does not service your unit frequently — and those service calls are going to get expensive quick — often more than a hundred dollars a pop.And remember: This whole website is about servicing tank water heaters, which are far easier than tankless. It’s a major chore to get folks to do it. Mainly, they forget about their water heaters until those flood the garage (or worse!). Are you going to break that form and religiously service your tankless heater? If not, better stay with tank heaters. They’re simpler, cheaper and much less likely to cause you grief. Energy Savings Unless the pilot light in the tankless heater is kept off when the heater isn’t in use, it will not perform considerably better than a well-insulated tank-type heater. The actual location you will lose heat with both types of heaters is from the conduits. Every time you use hot water, it heats all the metal plumbing between the heater and the faucet and then all that heat radiates away. A tankless heater would be outstanding if it could be installed at each faucet (although that could get very pricey). From being used that method venting problems generally preclude gas tankless heaters. Insulating all the piping will reduce standby heat decreases with both types of heaters. Oh, and incidentally, tankless controls use electricity and they’re on all the time. To be honest, electric tankless are a bit better than gasoline tankless. A lot of the bugs have been worked out. If you happen to live in a portion of the U.S. where the utility rates give electricity equivalent basis with gasoline (unlike here in California), then an electric tankless might serve you — if you can get past the initial cost and service issues. Because electric tankless still “lime up,” and the sediment has to be cleaned out periodically or they may neglect. The Rest of the World: More Apples and Oranges Tankless manufacturers and warranty may assert that units in Japan typically last 10-15 years. Problem is, the units are not the same as those sold here. Japanese have different expectations, different use patterns and an alternative culture from their heaters. As to the tankless units being sold here, nobody is certain what their life will be because they haven’t been around long enough for anyone to be sure. That may be one reason why tankless makers are so excited to invalidate your warranty for the least infraction (Let’s say it again: Read the small print).The Bottom Line We work to keep things simple and understandable. We make an effort to make equipment more easy to live with. Generally speaking, our take on it’s that tankless does not achieve these goals. There’s a lengthy exchange between a tankless representative and ourselves in The Tank on Dec. 26, 2006, that goes over many of the essential issues. It’s labeled “Tankless water heaters: what tank producers don’t want you to understand.”And somebody who said many of the same things, but in a different format. This is a YouTube clip and it is quite amusing unless you sell tankless water heaters for a living! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vffdymvjluk Additional Reading Others have delved into the issue of whether tankless heaters are more efficient than tank heaters or not.

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