The Pros & Cons of on Demand Hot Water Heaters


If you are building a new home, or just looking to replace your current hot water heating system, using a tankless or on demand hot water heater is a great option that should be considered. It is not totally without its downsides, but can be a greener, more cost-effective option for many. Is a tankless hot water heater for you? Let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs of both these new style heaters and the conventional holding tank heaters of yesteryear.

Benefits of the tankless system
Increased energy efficiency
Because the water is not heated until it is needed, a tankless system will be more energy efficient than a traditional model that has to hold 70 or more gallons of heated water at all times. Savings amount to about $75 per year for the average household, which can mean about $1500 over the 20 year expected lifespan. These savings are significant, and mean that it is also better for the environment than a conventional water heater.

No maximum water limit
As the water is heated on demand, there is no maximum capacity for water being used at once like there is with a traditional system. For a large family that all needs to take showers at once, a 100 gallon or larger system is often needed to accommodate this brief morning rush, before being wasted away for the rest of the day. A tankless system can heat as much water as necessary. This also means that an on demand hot water heater will take up a lot less space than a conventional system, which means more floor space for the rest of your home.

Minimal risk of water damage
With a large tank system, there is a risk of water leaking out from the tank and causing water damage to your floors or walls, as well as putting you out of hot water for an extended period as the heater is replaced and the damage is repaired. Because there is no water stored in a tankless system, there is no such risk of water damage for your home.

Unfortunately, not everything is perfect with on demand hot water heaters – at least not yet. There are a few downsides to going with this modern, green technology.

Higher initial cost
While tankless water heaters provide savings in the long run, there is a much higher startup cost involved. A typical conventional hot water heater can be purchased and installed for about $700, while a tankless system with installation will usually run above $2,000. This can be a challenge for new homeowners who are trying to make all their payments along with all of the other home improvement costs.

Less energy options
A tankless hot water heater can use electric, natural gas, or oil, while a traditional system can also make use of solar or geothermal energy, which could make the energy savings less on a tankless system if these types of energy are available in your area.

Irregular water temperature
If hot water is turned on and off repeatedly, there will often be fluctuations between hot and cold as it takes a few seconds for the heating mechanisms to engage and heat the water. This is not a problem if the water is used continually, but can be an issue if constantly turning the water off and on.

Water lag time
For the same reason as above, there is often a lag time of a couple of seconds between when the water is turned on and when it is hot. This is often the case for conventional systems as well, but it may be more pronounced using a tankless heater, especially if the heater is far away from the faucet.

There are many pros and cons to both tankless and conventional hot water heaters. Which one you choose will depend on your own budget and needs.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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