The Tankless Water Heater: How Does it Work?

When most people think about a water heater, they will think about a model with a large white cylindrical tank that sits in a basement. This traditional water tank model has been a mainstay in homes for decades, but now there are other options available. These are tankless water heaters, and using them will remove the need to install bulky water tanks and some other problems related to traditional water heaters. Let’s take a closer look at how a tankless water heater works and how it’s different from a traditional water heater. Traditional vs. Tankless: A traditional water heater heats up the water that is stored inside the water tank until you’re ready to use it. A timer is usually installed to ensure that you have sufficient hot water available at times when you usually use it. The downsides are that the amount of hot water is limited by the capacity of the tank and any unexpected periods of hot water use may not be possible. A tankless water heater uses an electrical or gas heater to heat the cold water on demand. When the hot water faucet is turned on the heater will activate automatically and quickly heat up the cold water that is passing through. This is an efficient method for heating water, and your supplied hot water is not limited to the capacity of a water tank. Practical for Installation: The installation of a traditional water heater has to take into account the placement of the water tank. This limits where the water heater can be located, this is often the basement, and it can take up a lot of room. A tankless water heater is small and very easy to place virtually anywhere in the home to service your need for hot water. Multiple units can be connected together even in out of the way locations, such as attics and additions. This can be invaluable if you need additional bathrooms, sinks and shower stalls. All that is required for installation is access to an electrical or gas power source and a plumbing line. Energy Efficiency Considerations: If your home doesn’t use a lot of hot water, you could save a significant amount of energy. A home using less than 41 gallons of water a day may use 34% less energy if they use a tankless water heater instead of a traditional tanked water heater according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A tankless water heater doesn’t have standby heat loss issues as the water isn’t stored in a water tank for a prolonged period of time. Over time the energy savings enjoyed by using a tankless water heater could save a significant amount of money. Are There any Disadvantages? There are some downsides; a tankless water heater is usually more expensive to purchase and install when compared to a traditional water heater. A tankless heater may not be a good fit for a home that uses a large volume of hot water unless multiple units are installed, and this will inevitably raise the cost. By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.