Choosing the Right Tankless Water Heater for your Needs

Once you decide to install an on-demand water heater the question becomes choosing the right tankless water heater to meet your needs. There are four basic options: whole house gas, whole house electric, point of use/zone gas, and point of use/zone electric. Instead of simply drawing straws to decide – since you really couldn’t go wrong with any of them – let’s consider more rational means of making the choice.

A Whole House Gas-Fired Tankless Water Heater May Be Right for You IF:

1. You want to reduce your energy bills substantially over a gas or electric conventional water heater. You’ll enjoy a 30% to 50% reduction in the water heater part of your utility bill!

2. Your home would be better served by a single large-capacity unit rather than several smaller units. This is true if you live in an older home that makes running new electric or gas lines extremely tough if not impossible.

3. You want to reduce initial costs. A single on-demand water heater with 10 gallon per minute capacity will cost less than 2 with 5 g.p.m. capacity or 3 with 3.5 g.p.m. capacity. If you plan to be in the home for less than 5 years you’ll do better reducing initial costs even while paying slightly more in fuel costs per year.

 

A Whole House Electric Tankless Water Heater May Be Right for You IF:

1. You want to reduce your energy bills substantially over a gas or electric conventional water heater. You’ll enjoy a 20% to 40% reduction in the water heater part of your utility bill!

2. For some reason natural gas or propane is not available, even a single main gas pipe cannot be run, or venting a gas-fired unit would be impractical/impossible. Otherwise, since both natural gas and propane cost less than electricity for the same amount of heating, a gas-powered tankless water heater will make more sense, all else being equal.

 

Point of Use/Zone Gas Tankless Water Heaters Might Be Right for You IF:

1. You want to save the absolute most you can on your monthly fuel costs, even if you have to pay a bit more upfront. These are the most fuel-efficient units made and they have little or no stand-by heat losses. Their capacity is typically 1.0 to 6.0 gallons per minute.

2. You want to be as “green” as possible in your energy usage and minimize your production of greenhouse gases.

3. The combustion gases can be easily vented in the framework of your home’s construction.

 

Point of Use/Zone Electric Tankless Water Heaters Might Be Right for You IF:

1. You desire to be very fuel efficient while reducing your carbon footprint.

2. You want to save a substantial amount of money over the use of a conventional hot water heater.

3. Venting a gas-fired system would be a major hassle and expense or would simply be impossible.

4. You plan to install the units yourself and have good to excellent DIY skills.

 

Remember: All tankless water heaters should be installed by a licensed professional. If you decide to DIY make sure to read your warranty as well as your local codes first. Don’t know where to start get free quotes from your area.
Using these factors, which of the 4 options makes the most sense for you? Do you have other comments to add that would help readers choose the right tankless hot water heater or heaters for their purposes? How did you determine which type of units to install? We encourage you to further the discussion by providing feedback and making this page as helpful as possible to other homeowners searching for solutions to their hot water needs!

 

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Comments

4 Responses to “Choosing the Right Tankless Water Heater for your Needs”
  1. charles says:

    I need 50 gpm of on demand electric hot water [25 showers]
    how can this happen?

    • DaveT says:

      You are looking for a very serious amount of hot water. I am not aware of any one unit that will produce that kind of volume however you might want to consider these two options. Since I do not know the application I will have to stay general. It might be possible to look at Electric Shower Heads. They are not difficult to install but do have some special needs for obvious safety concerns. The second option might be to look at linking several tankless units inline together. Noritz is one company that offers a quick connect system that allows you to add several unit in a series. I hope these suggestions will help get you on a track to solving your hot water needs

  2. Kim B says:

    I need to replace my 61 gal electric tank heater. I have a 4 bdrm 2 bath 112 yr old home in a small town in Indiana. The tank is in the cellar so space is not an issue. I can easily get a gas line anywhere I need down there. I have decided to get a tankless to save energy costs. What would you suggest as a tankless replacement, gas or electric, and size?

    • DaveT says:

      Kim: You have a few separate issues to consider. One is the age of your home (This leads to water pressure concerns). Your location in the country ( the temperature of the water coming into your house).Number of faucets drawing on this unit. Including kitchen,laundry and bath. First off I always worry about older galvanized pipes not because they are bad but because if you are changing your heating system you might be able to consider putting smaller First off I always worry about older galvanized pipes not because they are bad but because if you are changing your heating system you might be able to consider putting smaller point of use tankless heaters in. units in each bathroom. So that the hot water does not have to travel as far and through undersized aged pipes. Point of Use heaters are a great option. You could put a much smaller unit to tend to the rest of the household hot water needs. Remember that tankless units are rated in flow rate. so a unit like Bosch 2700 produces up to 7.2 gallons per minute. That in its self is plenty for your whole house. The mutiple smaller units may give you a better option. Also if you decide to look at smaller point of use units remember that your electric units don’t need gas pipes or venting. As far as energy source I use propane at the cabin and electric in town. Cost of electricity and propane should be compared before deciding which is best for you I hope that others will join into this great topic.

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