Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters work by heating water as it comes into your house. This water is heated on an as-needed basis. Either electric coils or gas burners are responsible for the original generation of heat. Subsequently a heat exchanger transfers this heat to incoming water that is supplied at the water main and which comes from your community’s fresh water supply. The incoming water, which is activated when you turn on your faucet or shower, activates the water heating system and the heat exchanger, heating the water before it travels up the pipes to the shower or sink you are using. The temperature can be preset in these systems so that they heat water to a specific temperature that is monitored by a thermostat.
Though more efficient than tank based hot water heater and thus cheaper over the long term, tankless water heaters can be fairly expensive on initial purchase. Often they can cost between $1000 to $2000 for the system itself and several hundred more for installation. Thus, a homeowner must be prepared to pay around $1500 to $2500 in total for a tankless water heater.
Long Term Savings
A tankless water heater does not have to continually heat the water in a water tank to keep it at the desired temperature. It only needs to heat water at the time of use so that it reaches the desired temperature. This means that a tankless water heater ends up using much less energy in the long run, though as noted above it is usually more expensive initially.
Because they do need a large and bulky tank, a tankless water heater takes up much less space than a tank heater. This allows for the space to be used for other things or simply frees up basement space to be used for living or recreation.
No Limits on Hot Water
There are theoretically no limits on the hot water that can be produced with a tankless water heater. With a tank system, when the tank runs out of hot water, the house occupants need to refrain from taking showers or using hot water in other ways until the water in the tank is again heated.
As noted above, these systems can be quite expensive initially. Though they save a lot of money in the long term, they are sometimes simply out of a homeowner’s price range initially and thus are not practical in a financial sense.
May Be Intermittent
Sometimes, due to the fact that water must be continually heated and then sent up the pipes, there will be intermittent periods of hot and cold water. This usually does not occur with a water heater since the water in the tank is already at the desired temperature and only needs to be sent to the shower or faucet. It often sets up a situation in which a faster flow rate produces intermittent water temperature and a slower one produces more even temperature.
Only Common Heat Sources
These systems generally only work with electrical or gas heat. This means that alternative energy sources like solar heat are hard to implement with tankless heating systems. However, most people do have the more common heating methods in their houses, so for the most part this is not a problem.