There is probably nothing worse than getting out of bed on a cold morning, jumping in the shower and finding out you are out of hot water because the other four people in your house have already used it all up. A lot of people have been sold on the idea that a tankless water heater will solve this issue because you won’t have to wait for the tank to refill after it’s been emptied, but that might not be quite true. There are pros and cons to installing this kind of system, and you should be careful to review the full impact of it before going ahead and doing so.
There are Risks
Companies selling these units have come and gone in the past. There are some companies who have come into the market, sold a lot of units really quickly and then left customers high and dry without support, spare parts or warranty. So if you’re keen on getting one be sure to know as much about the company installing it as possible, and read all the fine print – twice!
The Cool Factor
These units are being sold on a lot of hype that they’re environmentally friendly and really cool; they’re all the rage. These are keywords used to trigger a reaction in consumers: everyone wants their home to be green, and who doesn’t want to have the coolest thing out there? Be sure that if you are purchasing one that you are not being taken advantage of based on these two things, as you may find out later your utility bills aren’t any less and any small infraction, such as missing a scheduled maintenance service, could void your warranty (if you even get one).
They can’t be compared to Their Counterparts
A lot of companies will sell these units based on how they compare to water heater tanks, but this is almost like comparing apples and oranges – they just are not the same and do not have the same properties.
Many companies will compare the least efficient water heater tank to their best tankless model when water heater tanks are available in a variety of efficiencies – usually anywhere from one to three inches of insulation.
Your Initial Investment
So, realistically no matter the method you choose you need to use some kind of energy to heat the water being used – you just can’t cheat physics that way. No matter if your home is tankless or not it’s going to cost the same amount, or use the same amount of energy, to heat a given volume of water. Tankless heaters are often priced significantly higher than their old-fashioned counterparts, so you have to really consider if it’s worth it when you’re still using the same amount of gas to heat the water.
Say Goodbye to Multitasking
With a tanked water heater you can usually do multiple things requiring hot water at once: wash the dishes and have someone taking a shower. This is because the tank has a stored amount of water and it will distribute until it’s empty. However with tankless this is difficult to do.
They’re not as Reliable
These systems are much more complicated than tanks are, so there’s a lot more that can go wrong. If you live in climate that experiences cold winters you may have to properly drain them or they will be subjected to damage during freezing temperatures. In areas that use hard water there have been cases where lime will build up inside the unit and will cause severe decreases in the efficiency promised.
You Won’t Save that Much
When energy uses are compared from homes with tanked water heaters and tankless ones, the difference usually is not enough to justify the investment to purchase one (see: laws of physics in heating water). So the sales pitches promising significant savings when switching may not be true, and you should always do sound research before making the investment.
Overall, from common use – like a house – it appears there isn’t really that much difference between these two systems and it ultimately will come down to your personal preference. There isn’t one system that will greatly increase (or decrease) your home’s carbon footprint but with careful research, and by reading all the fine print, you will be able to determine which one is right for your home and your lifetstyle.