If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that if you’re a plumber once, you’ll always be one. My friends family and former clients always seem to be coming my way with questions about how to fix this and that, and to ask which brands I would suggest. I’ll take it as a compliment, and I always enjoy helping folks out.
Seems like I’ve been getting even more questions than usual this year, specifically about tankless water heaters. These things are pretty recent, but I’ve worked with a fair number of them and I figure that since so many people in my life are curious, you folks might be too.
As you probably know, your traditional water heater is a big tank, and it’s got heating elements in it near the bottom. Heat rises, so the top of the tank is where all the warmest water stays. That’s what your shower or your washing machine draws from, that top layer. It’s a pretty solid design, which is why it’s lasted so long.
Only problem is, when the tank runs down, you have to wait for the heating element to get the whole thing up to temperature. Unless you have a pretty enormous tank, that’ll happen pretty quickly, after a normal shower or a load of dishes.
Most of the folks who have called me about tankless water heaters wanted to know things about efficiency and energy, which is definitely a big selling point. These things use a small portion of the power or gas you’d use to heat up a big tank. You also get away with using less energy through the day, since there’s no reserve tank to keep warm all day and night. Essentially, you heat what you need, when you need it. It’s a pretty nifty system. You save a lot on your heat bill, definitely. So, thumbs up in the energy department.
The main benefit to my mind is still the constant supply aspect. You don’t have a limitation on the amount of water you can draw, since you’re getting water on demand, not from a limited reserve.
There’s a few things to be aware of, though. Since you’re not relying on a tank, you can theoretically draw as much water on demand as you want. It’s worth knowing that there are limits, though.
You can have as much hot water as you want over time, but you can only do so at a set rate. So, if I get a tankless water heater that has a max output of 6 gallons per minute, I can safely assume I’ll be able to get around 6 gallons of hot water every minute for as long as I want it. I can’t get more than that, though. So, you have to make sure the capacity on your heater covers whatever appliances or fixtures you want to run.
I suggest you figure out how much flow rate in gallons per minute you think you need before you go choosing a tankless model. It’s the same calculation you’d have to make when you chose a tank size in the past, but a lot of folks seem to think tankless machines are miracle workers. They have a capacity just like anything else. They also cost a pretty penny up front, even though everyone I know with a tankless water heater had theirs pay for itself in savings pretty quick.
So, here’s my main advice to you regarding the best tankless water heaters online (or from brick and mortar shops).
If you’re thinking about getting a tankless water heater already, go ahead and pull the trigger.
If you’re thinking about replacing your water heater anytime soon, you should almost certainly go tankless. They make better money sense, and in my experience they don’t need service as often, if at all.
Personally, and I know other plumbers might disagree, I can’t really think of a downside, as long as you know your flow rate.
If you need to find a model, or figure out more about the different types available, I would suggest that you click here (it’s a very helpful guide on Tankless Reviews.) They’re very knowledgeable, and they have a better idea of the actual models out there right now than I do since I’ve retired.
Anyway, I hope you found that useful. If you ever have questions of your own about plumbing or general repairs, just shoot me an email and I can try to help you out.