Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unlimited Hot Water with Lower Cost.

The days of the water heater tank in the basement or in the garage could be heading for oblivion. The day of the tankless water heater is upon us! Or is it? I first started hearing about these devices about 12 years ago when I was in England. The flats are so compact over there that they needed to do something like this for space sake if not just for efficiency. I thought that this was a great idea since this seemed like it would be great for my house by freeing up space in the garage, thus allowing me to store more 'stuff' where the tank was. I never got around to it until just this past year. I spoke to several plumbers about tankless heaters and I got the same response from all of them, "how much hot water do you need for how many people at once" and "do you plan on running your dishwasher or washing machine while you shower?". Odd questions I thought but I pursued it further and was told that the concept was good, it's just that the pipes need to be larger in the house than it was built with to get the needed 'gallons per minute' from the unit. Oh well, maybe another time.

The tankless water heater works by electrically heating the water while it's still in the pipe and delivers it to where the demand is. No demand means the unit is off until hot water is needed again.

The Upside - hot water on-demand without having run down of stored hot water, since none is stored. Uses electricity ONLY when water is required, thus lowering electrical costs. Small unit mounts on wall thereby eliminating a bulky tank.
Units can run from $200-$500 USD, not including installation which is reasonable for long term cost savings.

The Downside - unless your home was/is designed for this system during construction the pipe size and flow rate will diminish with multiple calls for heated water. A home with 2 adults not washing clothes would be appropriate for this system, not for families.

Recommended with reservations noted above.

Disclaimer: The unit shown above is for example purposes only and does not reflect any judgement on this units abilities or performance.

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