Demand (also know as Tankless or Instantaneous) water heaters provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which can save you money. How they work: Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. However, a demand water heater's output limits the flow rate. You need to run the water a minute or two before hot water exits. Nevertheless, the money you save on your electricity bill is well worth the initial cost of the unit.
It's interesting that you should address this issue. I was just calling around talking to several individuals and businesses about this very topic and hour earlier. I'd talked to our local gas company, two plumbing supply stores that sell them, two different plumbers, one of which was also a contractor who put them in both his and his daughter's homes. The concensus of everyone I talked to was that if you were not going to live in your house for at least 5-10 years, the tankless system would not pay for itself. There is a lot to consider: whether you want a gas, propane, or electric system, the cost of utilities where you live, if the tank being installed is gas and no electric outlet is available you must have an electrician come in to install one, if the unit will be interior or exterior, you may need special plumbing pipes (inline needs to be a non-routine size for gas) and vent pipes (minimum of $25 per foot plus installation), maybe a circulating pump depending on the size/shape of your home, etc.. And I was quoted prices from $1000-2000 for the (natural gas)unit alone. I was also told that most are imported, and if they break down, you will have to wait (without hot water) until parts can be shipped, they are much more expensive to fix, and things do go wrong with them (example: scale build-up from the water). On the positive side, they are a great selling point if you put your home on the market. While both plumbers said they'd be happy to install one for us, neither plumber thought we needed one and told me that we should consider it carefully because of the cost.
The problem with these water heaters is you can't have hot water at more than one faucet at a time. For example: You are taking a shower & you wife wants to wash her hands, do the dishes or wash clothes in warm water. She will not be able to get ANY hot water to her faucet or any others in the house. At least, that's what I've read...
---> These Tankless water heaters are amazing things, & I would LOVE to have one, but if you have a large family, you may want to reconsider if what I've read is true.
Just wanted to say that my sister loves hers.
I've had mine for about 5 years without problems until now. I was out of town for a month, and when I got back the pilot was off, and since then (just a week) the pilot has gone off two more times. Any suggestions about this?
If you want to save money with your Hot Water Tank, a simple timer switch applied to the electric wire will shut down the unit automatically, according to your setting. It will also turn on your tank an hour or two before you wake up and before you need to take a shower. I also suggest you wrap your tank with insulation wool in order to keep the water hot while the unit is shut down. Cheap electric timers seem to be a long lost secret nobody talks about.
As for the Tankless system, they are off until you turn on the water and a large family might need more then one unit...one for the bathroom and one for the kitchen. I prefer electric units to gas but that is a personal preference.
I have to laugh to myself with all this talk on the 'new' tankless waterheaters. Ask any GI who has lived in Europe...we lived in Madrid for 8 yrs back in the mid 60's to early 70's and that is all there was there...tankless waterheaters. Ours ran on a small Propane tank, which was in the kitchen...a connector from the tank to the wall Unit is what fueled it...no electricity. We had an abundance of hot water in every sink, tub, etc. I'm sure technology and safety have advanded, but these things have been around a long time and work well. Just watch any Britsh TV/film production which shows a kitchen and you will see one on the wall. Wish I had one now.
Yes Memere, you are correct. These have been used for decades in Europe, but the technology is new to us in the USA. And as with any other appliance, once it makes its emergence in America, we must make it our own to fit our lifestyles. The gas units sold here require an electric outlet. The reason why it takes a while to get parts if they need fixed, is because they are imported.
Smaller units are the only ones that only allow you to use one 'application' at a time. There are new, larger units in which two people can shower while another has the washer running and is using the dishwasher at the same time. You're supposed to buy according to the number of people, size of the home, and amount of water being used. From what I've been told by plumbers, the cost of circulating pumps needed in larger homes make it more feasible to install two units rather than one large one (with circulating pump). This would also come in handy if one breaks down, allowing you to still have hot water in at least a portion of the house (to wash, etc.). As with any appliance, they're supposed to be fantastic when they're working, but a headache when they break down. The bottom line, like everything else, is the cost.
No more worrys with the new tankless heaters. The thing people need to consider is the water temp. comming into the unit. If it is well water (colder than most city water) the unit should be larger or put inline a small 5gal. tank to subsidize.
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