As the name suggests, Tankless water heaters are a type of hot water heaters which do not have a tank to hold hot water. Conventional hot water heaters have a large tank to store the hot water. Both tankless water heaters and conventional tank water heaters can be either gas powered or electric powered. Since tankless water heaters operate on demand, they use much lower energy than the conventional water heater. When someone turns on a hot water faucet or a shower, cold water flows through the tankless water heater system and the heat exchanger heats up the water which is then supplied throughout the household. There is a limit on the flow rate of the tankless hot water heater depending on the model. Tankless water heaters generally provide about two to five gallons of hot water per minute.
1. According to the Department of energy, tankless water heaters are 24% to 34% more energy efficient than the conventional tank water heaters.
2. Tankless water heaters generally last much longer than the conventional water heaters. The life expectancy of a tankless water heater is more than 20 years where as the conventional water heaters have a life expectancy of 10-15 years.
3. Tankless water heaters will result in lower utility bills due to higher efficiency of operations.
4. Tankless water heaters are compact and require less space compared to a conventional water heater.
1. The primary disadvantage of a tankless water heater is the high upfront cost of the appliance and installation.
2. Because there is a limit on the flow rate of the hot water, tankless water heater may not be suitable for large families. This can be eliminated by putting multiple tankless water heaters to supply a higher flow rate of the hot water.
3. The burners for the heat exchangers for tankless water heaters are high powered and require additional venting requirements. Any conversion from a tank water heater to a tankless water heater will result in higher installation costs. The gas pipe for the gas-powered tankless water heaters also needs to be larger and must be replaced if converting from a conventional water heater setup.
Gas tankless water heaters are generally more expensive than electric tankless water heaters. Electric tankless water heaters are more efficient than gas tankless water heaters. Electric tankless water heaters have an efficiency of more than 98% whereas gas tankless water heaters have efficiency in the range of 80-85%. The operating cost of both the electric and gas tankless heaters are similar considering the lower cost of natural gas compared to electricity and the higher efficiency of the electric water heaters. Gas tankless water heaters need higher maintenance compared to electric tankless water heaters. Also, gas tankless water heaters have a complex design compared to the electric ones and are generally more expensive to repair.
Homeowners must evaluate the pros and cons of gas vs electric tankless water heaters and make an informed decision. In New York City, there has been a push in recent days to phase out natural gas usage in buildings and move to electric appliances for cooking, heating, and hot water to combat climate change. New York City recently passed a law to ban natural gas hookups to new constructions starting at the end of 2023.