What Is a Tankless Water Heater? – WeatherMakers

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

A plumber connects a tankless hot water heater in a home

Tankless water heaters provide instant hot water, and so are known as demand, on-demand, or instantaneous water heaters. They’ve become a popular alternative to traditional hot water heaters that both heat and store water for later use. Tankless heaters don’t store any water–the water flows through as you need it.

So, aside from the instant hot water that tankless water heaters provide, what are the advantages?

Overall efficiency–no water is stored, so no water needs to be kept warm, as you would see in a typical hot water heater.
Smaller size–again, since they don’t store water, they are smaller units that can sit flush against a wall or support. They can free up a lot of space in your home, and small, or secondary point-of-use units, can even be placed under sinks or near thirsty appliances.
Long lifespans–these units tend to last longer than storage hot water heaters. Tankless water heaters may be warrantied for 10 years and last for 20 to 25 years if bought from a reputable manufacturer and installed by a professional.
Replaceable parts–most parts in a tankless water heater are easily replaceable.
Near-endless supply–depending on the flow rating of the unit, an entire home can enjoy an endless supply of hot water.

That all sounds great, so why doesn’t every home come with one of these? To understand that, let’s take a look at the math and the requirements.

Efficiency Savings vs. Total Overall Cost

The heating efficiency of tankless water heaters needs to be balanced with the higher front-end costs that come with them–both for purchase and installation. Tankless heaters are more expensive to purchase than a conventional water heater, and they can be more expensive to install. If your home is large, you might find that you need more than one unit to meet water use needs, which can more than double your costs right from the get go.

Another factor to consider is the energy source that your tankless water heater will use. If it’s electricity, in Alberta, that could get expensive, especially if the utility becomes unregulated. A tankless water heater running on natural gas is a better overall idea, as the resource is affordable and plentiful in our area. One point to note is that gas heaters require venting, which will add to installation costs. A clever option for a large home is to run your main unit on gas and any small, auxiliary units on electricity.

Making the Call

So, when making the decision of whether to go with storage or tankless water heaters, you’ll have to consider how much water you need, how much hot water you will need at your highest consumption point any given day, and from that you’ll determine what size unit or units you will need.

From there, the math is cost of purchase, cost of installation, cost to run over its lifespan. Add those estimates up and compare against the figures for a new hot water heater.

If the math doesn’t convince you, consider your home’s layout. What makes more sense, a smaller tankless unit, or do you have plenty of space to spare?

If You Have Questions, We Have Answers

There’s a lot to consider when choosing whether to switch to a tankless water heater. But you don’t have to decide on your own. WeatherMakers plumbers have experience designing plumbing systems for homes, businesses and some industrial set-ups. Call WeatherMakers today and we’ll explore your options with you. We’re happy to provide an upfront, transparent estimate to help you make your decisions.

Learn more about WeatherMakers’ master plumbers and plumbing services.