Tankless water heaters are more common than they used to be, but they still haven’t overtaken traditional tank-style heaters in widespread use. Many consumers aren’t quite sure how they work and because of this, they’re hesitant to buy one. You may wonder if they can really keep up with your water demands or if they can get the water as warm as your current water heater can. After all, if you’re not sure about how a tankless water heater performs, then you’re certainly not likely to buy one.
In general, tankless heaters perform about as well as standard water heaters and actually manage to avoid some of the problems that you’d encounter with traditional tanks. Let’s look at some of the benefits these heaters offer so you can decide whether a tankless water heater is right for your home.
There’s Always Hot Water
One of the biggest problems with traditional water heaters is that you only have as much hot water as the heater’s tank can hold. If you’re using a lot of water for dishes, laundry, baths and everything else, you can run out of hot water and be left with water that’s warm at best and possibly just straight cold. When this happens, you have to stop everything and wait for the tank to fill back up – then wait for all of that water to heat up.
Tankless heaters avoid this issue by heating water as it’s used. A water pipe passes through the heater, the water in the pipe is quickly warmed to the temperature you set and once you’re done using water no additional water is heated.
It Can Save You Money
That bit about tankless heaters only heating up water as you’re using it is very important. Traditional heaters have to keep an entire tank full of water heated up in case you need it, while tankless heaters only heat the water that you’re actually using. This uses significantly less energy and that can lead to some very significant energy savings in the long run.
There may be additional savings involved as well, since tankless water heaters are often designed to be more energy efficient than their tanked counterparts in general. This means that you not only have less active usage, but that active usage requires less energy to heat as well.
It Requires Less Maintenance
A typical water heater essentially contains two heating elements and a thermostat that controls them. This allows the water in the tank to have approximately the same temperature throughout – so long as none of these parts are working properly. If (and when) they fail, you’ll have to deal with lower water temperatures and the cost of replacing one or more components to get the heater back to normal operation. Additional costs may be incurred if you have your water heater tank cleaned to remove sediment, along with the inconvenience of not having hot water until it refills and reheats.
Tankless heaters have fewer parts to maintain and no tank to collect sediment. Instead of two separate heating elements, you have a single heater unit that isn’t constantly in use.
It Takes Up Less Space
One of the big drawbacks of traditional water heaters is that they’re big. The more hot water you want available, the bigger the tank has to be and the more room it takes up. This means that there’s going to be some spot in your house with a large tank sitting in it, possibly using up space that might otherwise be used for storage or other purposes.
You don’t have this problem with tankless heaters as they are typically wall mounted and have a very small footprint. All you need is enough room for the heater unit and the pipes leading into it, freeing up potentially valuable storage space and giving you many more options on where to position your heater.
It Prevents Ruptures and Leaks
One of the worst things that can happen with a hot water heater is to get a major leak or rupture. Given how much water one of those tanks can hold, you don’t want it all spilling out onto your floor or into your basement or crawlspace. If you’re not home when it happens, you might have even bigger problems since the water will still be running and trying to refill the leaking tank.
Tankless water heaters avoid this problem by simply not having a tank to rupture. You can still have a leak in one of the pipes entering or leaving the heater, but you’ll have a lot less water coming out of a small pipe than you would a large tank. More importantly, it’s easier to fix a pipe than a water heater tank.