The first experience I had with a tankless water heater was in Singapore, many, many years ago. There were three: One for each bedroom and one for the kitchen. Many things seemed strange to me since it was my first time out of the states, but these tankless water heaters were some of the strangest. They were not new by any means but they immediately supplied as much hot water as we needed whenever we needed it. They were not as small as the units made now, but they were a lot smaller than the hot water tanks we’d been used to.
Now, you can find tankless water heaters that are made powerful enough to heat an entire house instead of just one bathroom or the kitchen, so you only need one. The sizes run from small enough to install under the sink in an RV or large enough to heat water for a commercial operation. They’ve come a long way!
The only difference you’ll notice (besides having an endless supply of hot water) is that you will have to turn the water up to a certain flow before the heater will come on. If the heater is adjusted well and the filter is clean, you will hardly notice. With our three units, we had to turn the water up quite a bit before the heater would turn on. The technology for both gas and electric tankless heaters has progressed tremendously since those days in Singapore.
Tankless water heaters cost more to purchase than traditional tank heaters, but they will save money over time and are a good investment with utility prices going up and up everywhere. If you’re interested in buying one, be sure to look for the Energy Star label to save even more gas or electricity over the life of the heater, which, by the way, is much longer than a tank heater – twenty years, easily. That’s twice the life expectancy of a traditional tank heater. When you figure the length of use and the savings on gas or electricity, a tank heater can be quite a bit cheaper to operate and much more convenient. No more cold showers or waiting for the water to heat up again.
Another great advantage is the space saved. Tankless water heaters by definition take up less room than a tank and since they’re installed on the wall, they free up what little floor space they would take. That makes them an excellent choice for apartments, recreational vehicles and anywhere else space is needed.
Both electric and gas tankless water heaters are practically maintenance free other than cleaning a small filter occasionally. There is a downside to this though. You must be sure that the plumber chosen to install the tankless heater is familiar with them and knows how and where to put the filter as well as other minor differences.
A tankless water heater can replace all conventional heaters and work with solar and other alternative types to ensure that you always have enough hot water for anything you do.