Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Tankless Hot Water Heater

Tankless Hot Water Heater

Apr 12, 2011

When looking at ways to cut your bills and become greener a tankless hot water heater is an excellent choice. These suitcase sized units are available in electric or gas models and can fit in just about any space. The advantage to these tankless units is that they do not keep a large tank of hot water ready for your use. Instead they heat up the water on demand, thus saving energy when the units are not in use which is about 90% of the time.Of course in order to do this they have to heat up the water fast and use a lot of energy to do so. In theory they will keep hot water coming as long as the owner needs it. I have owned a takagi unit for 6 years and have never run out of hot water, so they do work well.

A few things to keep in mind when deciding on a unit:

  • Gas or Electric: this depends on how close the unit will be to a gas line, and what was in it’s place before. Gas tankless units usually require a 3/4″ gas line coming to them. Most old hot water heaters have 1/2″. Older electric hot water heaters have a similar story, the older units usually have lower amp requirements. So in either case you may have to shell out $$$ to make the upgrades.
  • Plumbing requirements are about the same for either unit and comparable to the older units.
  • Venting for gas requires stainless steel vent pipes such as z-flex to comply with code. These are large 4″ pipes and are single walled and also pricey.
  • Sizing: these units are only capable of generating so much hot water based on their size and BTU rating. Don’t get a small unit and expect 3 people to shower at the same time. You will end up with a luke warm shower at best. Take the time to decide which unit will work best for your needs. You can also put 2 or more of these on the same feed to split the work load.

Expect to spend around $2500 to upgrade for an old style tank unit to a tankless. Your gas or electric savings will start immediately. It took me about 5 years to recoup my investment but it was worth the effort and cost.

Lets not forget with government incentives you can recoup hundreds of dollars in tax savings the year you install the unit.