Water heating has become effortless with the advent of electric tankless water heaters. These water heaters bring about economic and environmental benefits, something you cannot hope to achieve with tank water heaters. If you have been looking out to get your home an electric tankless water heater, this article will help you through with deciding whether or not your investment is worth it.
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What is an Electric Tankless Water Heater?
These water heaters have become quite the in-thing, owing to numerous benefits that had not previously been available with traditional water heaters. These water heaters provide hot water on-demand as and when needed.
With tankless water heaters, you are essentially saving up both energy and hot water. A traditional water heater functioned in an inverse manner. It would heat up and store hot water in a tank. Now for as long as that stored water is not utilized, you are wasting energy keeping it hot. And let’s suppose you have changed your mind about showering that day, you are going to let it go cold.
Let’s put it this way – an electric tankless water heater saves up all this effort by providing only the amount of water that you require at any particular time, without heating up more than what is needed.
How do these work?
The functioning of these tankless water heaters is as easy as it could get. As soon as you turn on the hot water tap, the cold water runs into the tankless unit where the electrical heater is put to action. The heater heats up water as it runs through and is available on-demand for use.
These electrical heaters come equipped with flow rates, stating the amount of water each heater is capable of heating at a given time, nothing more or less – but just the right amount. These heaters are thus, limited by the flow rate when it comes to delivering hot water on-demand.
This means that while selecting a water heater, the flow rate requirement takes precedence! If you end up buying a tankless water heater that has a low flow rate, it can turn out scanty. It won’t be able to provide hot water to cover most of your households needs. So, in case you wish to avoid such a situation, then consider its flow rate, before looking out for other features.
Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters
Traditional water heaters included a tank that is used to store hot water. These water heaters have seemed less effective across Europe and Japan, where tankless water heaters are the preferred choice for homes. Since these heaters are eco-friendly, people have embraced the idea of this technology. Tank water storage heaters and tankless water heaters differ in the following ways:
- A traditional water heater is cheaper than electrical tankless water heaters. The average cost of a tank storage water heater is around $900 for a 50-gallon tank capacity. On the contrary, a tankless water heater will cost on average about $3000.
- Tank water heaters entail easy installation, which takes no more than a few hours. These tanks are available in electric, gas, and propane powered models. As for electrical tankless heaters, despite being a little technical with installation, they take up much less space.
- Tank water heater has a relatively shorter lifespan, about 10 to 15 years. However, electrical tankless heaters can last for up to 20 years or more which effectively justifies the hefty initial expenditure that these water heaters call for.
- In case the tank runs out of the water, you may be required to wait longer before fresh hot water supply becomes available with tank water heaters. This applies to tankless water heaters in terms of the claimed flow rate that these heaters come powered with, a lower rate means you could run out of fresh hot water supply on-demand.
- A tank water heater can be your optimal choice of water heater if your house has a constant supply of cheap gasoline. Whereas if your area or state has lower electricity charges, a tankless water heater is recommended over an electrically powered traditional water heater.
These differences have led to people embracing the utility and longevity of tankless water heaters and replacing their traditional heaters with these. More so, for smaller rented apartments that have become commonplace owing to the ever-increasing population rate, the compactness of these water heaters make them all the more optimal for use at home.
Tankless Water Heater – Buying Guide
Now, if you are looking out to buy an electric tankless water heater, make sure you know which features to look out for and what considerations to take into account.
Since tankless water heater requires a substantial investment, picking the right one becomes crucial. Make note of the following factors that will help you choose a water heater that is a perfect fit for your home and family.
The whole point of substituting traditional water heaters with tankless heaters is to achieve energy savings. So, efficiency is key! Make sure to look up products with a higher ER rating; a higher rating indicates increased efficiency per unit of fuel. However, a point of caution, this decision must also take into account the flow rate and temperature rise that a water heater is able to generate. ER rating on a stand-alone basis is not capable of keeping down operating costs incurred by these tankless water heaters.
You cannot ignore the warranty feature of your tankless water heater at any cost. The warranty varies for each model and from manufacturer to manufacturer. A reasonable warranty signals that a certain product has been manufactured keeping into consideration essential quality and reliability features. For reference, look up warranties that span 10 to 15 years.
Size is probably the most important factor that you need to account for when buying a tankless water heater. Size has two determinants; maximum temperature rise and flow rate. So, for this purpose, you need to check how many devices you are trying to run and their total flow rate. Add these up and you have a flow rate that you are looking for in the tankless water heater. Next is to determine the temperature rise; this may be estimated by subtracting the water temperature for the desired output temperature. So, the answer will dictate which demand heater you will be mandated to purchase the requirements. Don’t undersize your water heater, as it would lead to hot water shortage in the near future.
Another one of the most critical factors to consider before finalizing a purchase decision is the fuel type. This will eventually determine the size and efficiency of your chosen water heater, but this decision will depend largely on the area where you are currently residing. If the area has ample supply of electricity, then choose an electric tankless water heater for optimal energy efficiency and savings. Electric units are 1/3 of gas units and cost significantly less than gasoline-powered heaters. These require no venting, are easy to maintain and have inexpensive installation requirements.
5. Water Type
Know your water type and then choose a water heater accordingly. Hard water states can have a really hard time keeping all of their electric-powered devices running efficiently. If your house has a hard water supply too, gas water heaters are not for you! Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are most likely to build-up in the heater and its filters, thereby obstructing performance. This makes electric tankless water heater a much better choice to install. So, choose wisely!
This is an essential feature to consider when selecting the right tankless water heater. Both gasoline and electric water heaters require maintenance, that too, frequently. Gas-powered water heaters require filter flushing more frequently than electric water heaters as the mineral build-up can hamper performance. Allowing mineral to accumulate in the filter will eventually lead to reduced efficiency over time. The heater will have to work harder to achieve the intended output which is likely to reduce its overall lifespan, making maintenance the inevitable phenomenon. So, consult your manufacturer regarding maintenance of the water heater, and follow guidelines to have it working for as long as 20 years.
Tankless Water Heater – Benefits & Drawbacks
We have yet to talk in detail about the numerous benefits that these electric tankless water heaters come equipped with. Once you have sifted through each one, you might finally agree to purchase a water heater ASAP!
- Environment-Friendly – Electric tankless water heaters are 99 percent energy efficient. They use only the required energy for each on-demand water requirement. There is no process to reheat water, as has been the case with traditional water heaters that consume double the energy. Hence, the term on-demand!
- Longevity – While a traditional tank water heater ensures you hot water supply for up to 10 years, a tankless water heater stays with you for up to 20 or more years. It tends to have a higher lifespan, which essentially justifies the initial investment cost.
- Compact – Tankless water heaters do not include a 50-gallon tank with them and are hence relatively more compact. So, you won’t be required to own a garage to have these water heaters installed, as would be the case with traditional tanked water heaters. A few of these are small enough to fit into a basin, how amazing is that!
- Fresh Water – In the case of tank water heaters, the heated water sits in the tank until it is utilized. This is not the case with tankless water heaters; as soon as there is a requirement for hot water, it is heated there and then and supplied immediately. So, there is no rusted water being supplied to you as would have been the case with tank water heaters.
- Replaceable Parts – The absolutely amazing characteristic of these tankless heaters is that they can be easily repaired. The entire unit will not have to be replaced in case of any malfunctioning, but one of the many parts may have to be replaced, to get the unit working as good as new!
No invention in the history of inventions ever came bearing only pros, so is the case with these electric tankless water heaters. A few of their cons have been listed down below:
- Limited Flow Rate – Although these tankless water heaters provide hot water on-demand, they have lower flow rates. So, you may not be able to have a hot water supply for showering and doing laundry at the same time. This may require having to install multiple tankless water heaters.
- Costly – Tankless water heaters require hefty upfront costs. The unit can cost about $3000 and this isn’t all; installation costs may as well be higher, depending on the choice of manufacturer. Traditional water heaters do not cost as much when it comes to investment.
- Maintenance – In order to keep these tankless water heater working for as long as their lifespan claims, they need to be frequently maintained and looked after. Filter flushing ad replacement may be necessary every now and then, plus you must have these inspected by the manufacturer within the warranty period.
- Power Upgrade – This could become necessary is your home power supply fails to support one or more than one tankless water heaters. With gasoline-powered tankless water heater, this is not really essential.
If you are still wondering whether or not an electric tankless water heater is worth investing into, then the following section will help you make a rational decision.
Top 10 Electric Tankless Water Heaters to choose from
We have reviewed the top 10 electric tankless water heaters available on the market. Each one of these has its features, pros, and cons listed down below. Look through each one of these and select the ideal water heater that makes for a valuable option for your home and family.
The Bosch Tronic 3000 electric tankless heater from Bosch is available for point of use in the basin and bathroom, and a separate unit to be used for the whole house. It comes equipped with a built-in flow sensor that keeps a constant temperature, while the external temperature control offers greater temperature stability and control.
It comes with a thermostatic control to regulate temperature according to your heat requirements. It is 98 percent efficient relative to a traditional tank water heater and offers nominal standby loss. This water heater comes in four different models for point of use, and two models for the whole house.
It comes with a 5-year warranty for the heating unit and 1-year warranty on other replaceable parts. You may use this water heater for both residential and commercial applications.
- It is available in a compact size, so install it anywhere you like, under the bathroom and kitchen sinks or in the laundry area
- This water heater has been designed to adorn your home décor, so don’t worry if it’s installed in a visible place, nobody will cringe!
- It is amongst the most affordable tankless water heaters
- Based on its small size, it does not require maintenance as frequently as its whole house model
- It is more efficient and provides a constant supply of hot water using less energy.
- Only the 12 kW operates to heat water for showers, other versions fail to do so
- You can only supply hot water to a single basin using this compact water heater.
The Ecosmart ECO 27 is another water heater that has been designed to ensure optimal efficiency, longevity and easy replacement is this compact design from Ecosmart. It comes equipped with a lifetime warranty for the heating unit, which has a 98 percent energy efficient rating and can save you up to 50 percent on water heating costs.
During warm weathers, this water heater can deliver hot water on-demand at a flow rate of 6 GPM and higher. It may also be used for 2 showers simultaneously and up to 4 showers and basin during such weather conditions. It comes with a digital display for temperature adjustment between 80 degrees F and 140 degrees F.
- This particular model ensures a cost saving of up to 50 percent with the help of its self-modulating technology
- It has been designed for greater efficiency, durability, and simple replacement using stainless steel and copper-made components
- Its digital temperature control enables temperature adjustment with 1-degree increments
- It is easy to install and operate
- It comes in a sleek and compact design, so install it under the basin of your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry, as you like
- It ensures an endless supply of hot water on-demand.
- It comes with several warranty clauses that may render the lifetime warranty as being void.
If you are out looking for a stylish and compact water heater, one that blends with your home décor effortlessly, look no further — the Rheem RTEX-13 is just what you’re looking for! It is amongst the best electric tankless water heater in the market. It is 98 percent energy efficient, requiring basic installation process and simplistic replacement.
It has been powered with a self-modulating technology to provide an endless supply of water on-demand for a single point of use and multiple household uses.
- This water heater is available at a reasonable price, contrary to beliefs that electric tankless water heaters require a heavy investment
- It requires a simple and easy installation process
- It comes in a compact design, making it suitable for storage in small places, like under the kitchen basin perhaps
- Its unique design allows it to gel with the home décor effortlessly
- It has been powered with an external digital thermostat control that lets you regulate temperature as per needs
- It comes equipped with components that have been manufactured for durability and reliability to ensure the longevity of the unit.
- You may not be able to use this heater for multiple showers simultaneously.
Another great compact water heater is the Titan SCR2 N-120, which comes with an energy efficient rating of 99.5 percent. This tankless water heater enables an endless water supply on-demand for up to 3 bathrooms in the house.
With a flow rate of 4 GPM and maximum temperature rise of 20 degrees F, it provides sufficient hot water supply to meet all household water needs. Its temperature control display features a graph indicating low-to-high temperature. It has been ideally designed for use during warm climates, and hence powered by an inlet water temperature requirement of 65 degrees F.
- This tankless water heater comes with a simple and easy installation process
- Despite being a compact water heater, it ensures maximum GPM
- Its compact and sleek design allows it to be installed everywhere and anywhere, without the hassle of storage space
- It comes equipped with a long warranty period, making maintenance all the easier
- It provides a constant output temperature by making adjustments to the flow rate in accordance with input and output water temperatures.
- It provides great value for money since it’s inexpensive relative to its counterparts.
- Its default starting temperature is 105 degrees F
- During winters it does not function as efficiently as it does during the rest of the years, owing to its high inlet water temperature.
Despite being more expensive than its counterparts, the Stiebel Eltron Tempra Plus is one of the most powerful tankless water heaters in the market. This water heater has been manufactured to fulfill all on-demand hot water requirements for the whole house and to serve commercial uses as well.
Its digital temperature display allows temperature adjustment from 86 degrees F to 14 degrees F. With a maximum flow rate of 3 GPM and temperature rise at 40 degrees F, it is capable of providing 6.5 GPM to 75 degrees F. It has a 7-year warranty on the heating unit and 3-year warranty for replaceable parts.
- It ensures an efficiency of 99 percent, relatively higher than what is claimed by its competing brands
- It comes in a compact design, does not require venting and is the most advanced technology in the water heater industry
- Despite changes in the flow rate, it delivers a constant output temperature with the aid of advanced flow control functionality
- It comes with a 3-year warranty on all replaceable parts
- It is the least noisy tankless water heater available in the market.
- It costs more than its counterparts and can be heavy on the wallet.
The Bosch WH27 Tronic tankless water heater from one of the largest and finest European manufactures Bosch comes equipped bearing a flow rate of 3.3 GPM and a temperature rise at 55 degrees F. It ensures an endless supply of hot water on-demand at 97 percent efficiency rating, but for one major application only!
- This tankless water heater has been designed for residential and commercial uses and may be installed anywhere
- It comes powered with element modulating control unit that ensures a constant output temperature
- It has been made to serve the whole house, providing 97 percent of thermal efficiency with a low standby loss
- It comes in a compact design, so space is not an issue with this technologically advanced water heater
- Its external temperature control knob is ideal for temperature stability and control.
- A few customers complained that after turning on the faucet a 30 seconds delay is evident
- Maintenance and repairs costs for this unit may exceed investment cost.
With a flow rate of up to 1.5 GPM at a temperature rise of 30 degrees F, the SioGreen IR260 tankless water heater provides enough hot water for one shower at a time. It is also powered with infrared quartz element to help maintain the proper taste of clean water and to prevent the metallic taste that you may experience with other tankless water heaters.
- This tankless water heater is easy to install
- It is one of those infrared tankless technologies that create heat without traces of bacteria and algae in the water, making it an ideal choice for hard water.
- Its compact design makes it suitable for installation under or above the basins
- With a stylish and sleek design, these water heaters complement your home décor
- It requires minimal maintenance costs, hence providing cost advantages
- A constant output temperature is likely with its thermo-couple temperature monitor
- This little water heater is not to be used for the whole house, only sufficient for a single basin and single shower at a time.
The Stiebel Eltron DHC E-12 is designed to perform with a consistent 99 percent efficiency rating, to be used specifically during warm weather. With this water heater for residential and commercial uses, you can achieve energy savings for up to 20 percent. It comes with a 3-year warranty on replaceable parts.
- It has the most basic electrical requirements, making it an easy to install a water heater
- It comes powered with a self-modulating technology that adjusts electricity usage on the basis of water requirements
- It comes at a reasonable price, in comparison to its counterparts
- It has an external electronic temperature control that regulates the temperature and provides a constant output temperature, despite the flow rate
- It is a compact and sleek design that can fit anywhere and everywhere.
- The outer body is made from plastic material, hence not as durable as intended
- This compact water heater does not satisfy whole house hot water requirements
- A delay of on-demand hot water has been experienced by a few customers.
The Rheem RTEX 18 provides hot water on-demand with a 99.8 percent energy efficiency rating, for single point-of-use and multiple applications. With a maximum flow rate of 4.4 GPM, you can use this tankless water heater to provide water for 2 showers (not simultaneously though) or 1 shower and 1 faucet during cold weather.
- This self-modulation technology has an automatic feature to adjust the power to deliver the desired temperature for heating
- It comes with an external digital thermostatic control with an LED display to regulate temperature, based on needs
- Its heating elements are covered in durable copper, so rusting is not an issue
- It is easy to install and entails simplified replacement
- It provides maximum temperature control in increments of 1 degree F
- You can have this compact water heater installed anywhere, under basins in the kitchen, bathroom, and
- You may not be able to use this water heater to run two showers simultaneously.
- When running with two showers, it produces only lukewarm water, rendering useless.
The Atmor Thermopro water heater has been powered with Thermopro technology that ensures safety as top priority. It has been certified with IP54, so it essentially protects you against splashes. Plus, this certification makes it all the more ideal water heater to be installed close to showers and basins.
It helps to provide up to 50 percent savings, relative to what a tank water heater will provide. Its digital panel for temperature display enables temperature regulation according to needs.
- It comes equipped with a digital temperature control, which enables temperature control in increments of 1 degree F
- Its Smart Flow technology ensures an endless hot water supply on-demand with constant output temperature
- It entails easy installation and usage
- For an average price, this electric tankless water heater comes equipped with premium quality features and parts
- It has been designed to heat incoming water at a minimum temperature of 37 degrees F, with a flow rate of 1.9 GPM.
- You may not be able to use this tankless water heater to run more than 1 shower simultaneously
- It may only run a single faucet at a time too.
Tankless Water Heater – FAQs
Still confused? Well, it’s all right to have a few questions and queries in mind regarding these tankless water heaters. We have gathered a few common queries and responded to each one to make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into!
1. How much money do I save with these water heaters?
Tankless water heaters only heat water when you turn the faucet to fetch hot water. On the contrary, tank water heaters run around the clock, meaning there is greater energy consumption. So, you are essentially saving 5 to 69 percent of energy, however, it differs for gasoline-powered and electric tankless water heaters. Convert these energy savings into money you are actually saving!
2. How does this water heater heat instantly?
When you turn on the faucet, it triggers the heater to start heating the water that passes through the unit. The water heats as it flows through it, so it’s as quick as turning on a tap and waiting for water to pour. The burners are shut off as soon as the faucet is turned off. So, there is no hot water being stored away for use later.
3. Does it only perform well with soft water?
Gasoline-powered tankless heaters may perform better with soft water, but this is not true for electric tankless water heaters. These function well with hard water too, but you might need a water softener if you intend to keep the water heater to function for as long as it is intended. More so, hard water may require filter flushing more often than necessary.
4. Can I have this water heater installed indoors?
Yes, definitely. That’s the whole point of a compact tankless water heater. It may be installed in a basin, close to the dishwasher, inside the bathroom and even in the laundry area. This is not feasible with traditional water heaters that come equipped with a 40-50 gallon tank capacity. So, yes install a water heater wherever there are a water supply and power socket.
5. Are these water heaters really reliable?
There used to be times when these tankless water heaters were not as reliable as intended or claimed. However, with trial and error innovations in this technology, these water heaters have improved significantly and they do operate as efficiently as claimed or intended. More so, these water heaters tend to last longer relative to the average lifespan of a tank water heater. So, yes these are reliable.
6. What is the average payback period on a tankless water heater?
This largely depends on the amount of water used in your daily household requirements. Moreover, the payback is also determined by how hot you like your routine water for bathing, washing and other purposes. On average you can achieve payback in about 3-7 years, while a well-kept and maintained tankless water heater will pay back your investment for years to come!
7. How do I get this water heater installed?
Since these water heaters vary in size, you may find the small ones easy to install and run. However, the larger and expensive models may be more complex to install, so it’s recommended that you seek the help of a professional. The installation will cost you extra, but it will ensure a peace of mind too! You don’t want to mess with an investment as huge as this one right here! Have your manufacturer send an expert or plumber to fix this wherever you want.
8. How often is maintenance necessary?
Maintenance is fundamental with tankless water heaters. You will be required to flush the filters every 6-12 months. In addition to this, you could be faced with the malfunctioning of certain parts of the units, which are all replaceable. Maintenance frequency depends majorly on the hardness of water and type of filter being used by the unit. Make sure to have your water heater checked every year, or twice in a year for long-lasting performance.
9. What is the biggest benefit of a tankless water heater?
The biggest benefit of an electric tankless water heater is that it provides a constant supply of hot water for as long as the tap is turned on. With traditional tank water heaters, you could run out of hot water supply, and so you had to wait long before the water was heated and ready for supply. So, you may not be able to use this as an excuse for getting late for work. Your shower was late, really? Well, not anymore!
10. Is this new technology?
Not really, the technology has matured over time, but it has been in place for decades. The tankless technology is over 100 years old, and many countries across Europe and Asia have embraced it. More so, many of these countries have had higher energy costs, and so they have been using tankless technology for as long as 75 years now. Bosch Water Heating has been selling tankless water heaters since 1979 across the USA.
11. Does it come equipped with a pilot light?
A few of these models do come equipped with a pilot light, but the electric tankless water heaters come with an electronic ignition. There is no requirement for an open flame unless you are buying a gasoline-powered tankless unit.
12. How hot is the water from tankless water heaters?
Tankless water heaters come equipped with a thermostat allowing you to set the temperature as per your requirements. A huge number of people run their water heaters at 120 degrees. If you want really hot water, then set your thermostat accordingly and get optimal results. So, you’ll find 120 degrees as a default setting, but this may be regulated up or down as you want.
Now that you know the various benefits of a tankless water heater over a traditional tank water heater, you may choose from one of the many best electric tankless water heaters mentioned in the article. Each one is a unique model that comes bearing a range of features and respective pros and cons. Get your family a compact tankless water heater that is the right size for your home and family and provides good value to your investment!