What to consider when choosing a tankless water heater?

With a plethora of tankless heaters to choose from, figuring out which heater is best for your home might seem confusing.
Sales of tankless water heaters are on the rise in the U.S. Unlike a traditional water heater, which stores hot water until it is needed, a tankless heater does not store any water. Cold water flows through a heating element, which warms the water.

See how tankless water heaters work.

With a plethora of tankless heaters to choose from, figuring out which heater is best for your home might seem confusing. A tankless water heater installer can help explain your choices and determine the appropriate heater to purchase.

Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a tankless water heater:

What type of fuel will you use?

You can choose an electric heater or a gas heater. Gas-fueled heaters are more popular than electric heaters, which require a significant amount of electricity to run and are therefore more expensive to operate. If you do choose an electric heater, hire an experienced electrician to make sure that your home's electrical system can handle the voltage requirements.

What is your household's hot water usage pattern?

The size and flow rate for a home with one bathroom, a dishwasher, and no laundry machines will be much different than a home with 3 bathrooms, a dishwasher, and a washing machine. Tankless water heaters come in various sizes to match the hot water needs of each home. There are two basic kinds of tankless systems. Point-of-use heaters are small units installed typically in a cabinet right at the point of need, for example a bathroom sink. Then there are whole house units which provide the hot-water needs for the entire house, condo, or apartment. Whole-home systems are capable of providing endless hot water at any level if they are sized correctly. Your installer can help you choose the model that fits your usage needs.

Do you live in a warm or cold climate?

The temperature of the water coming into a home in January will be dramatically different for Minnesota than Arizona. So, if you live in an especially cold climate, your choice of tankless water heaters will need to be able to handle this need for a greater temperature rise.

Where will the heater go?

You will want to decide if you want a unit in the interior or exterior of your home. Some of the factors in this decision may be your local climate and, if you install a gas system, how you want to vent the unit. Speaking of space ... a traditional tank can take up to 16 square feet of floor space. A tankless water heater is about the size of a carry-on suitcase

How old is your home?

Older homes may need their electrical system upgraded to handle the load of an electric tankless system. Gas heaters may require new pipes and venting to bring gas to the unit and then direct exhaust outside. These modifications can drive up the price of installation.

A professional installer can help walk you through the process of buying a tankless water heater.

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