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How does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

Do you know what it’s like to wait in line for the chance to shower?As a result, you get to suffer with only leftover cold water! Most homes have water heating systems that depend on a large tank that stores hot water for use throughout the house. Each use temporarily reduces the amount of hot water left for immediate use. As the tank refills with cold water that hasn’t had the time to heat up, you get a cold shower!

There is an alternative solution for hot water fans: a Tankless Water Heater.

Tankless Water Heaters turn on only when necessary. Instead of wasting energy and resources by heating an entire 30-50 gallon tank and keeping it hot until it is used. Tankless Systems heat water on demand. Japan and Europe have been using them for decades. Their popularity is slowly starting to grow in the United States as the “green” movement gathers momentum.

Find out more about our Tankless Water Heater services.

What are the different types of Tankless Water Heaters?

There are currently three main designs. Each generation has been engineered to be more efficient than the previous. Here are the three most popular versions of Tankless Water Heaters:

  1. Non-condensing – This was the first popular design for Tankless Water Heaters. These systems utilize a single heat exchanger to rapidly heat the water. It works by passing cold water through special heat resistant plumbing that is heated directly by a natural gas burner. Non-condensing systems do produce a very hot exhaust which requires the installation of expensive venting made from stainless steel.
  2. Condensing – The second generation of Tankless Heaters was able to boost its energy efficiency to 92-94%. These systems use a second heat exchanger that captures and uses the hot exhaust gases to preheat the incoming water supply. Then it routes that warm water into the main heat exchanger to get to a higher temperature. By using the heat of the exhaust, condensing systems also take away the need for expensive heat-resistant ventilation.
  3. Hybrid – The U.S. was a pioneer in condensing hybrid systems and represented the leading technology for Tankless Water Heaters. These systems house a small holding tank that holds between 1 liter and 2 gallons of water. This small reservoir is designed to hold hot water in order to eliminate the lower efficiency of shorter draws. These hybrid units achieve a much higher energy efficiency rating than the other two versions. Like the condensing version, these hybrid units don’t need the high-temperature-rated ventilation.

What are the potential installation and lifetime costs?

The installation costs for Tankless units vary significantly. In general, homeowners can expect to spend anywhere between $2,000 to $4,500. In addition to the actual Tankless Water Heating systems, there are a few changes that need to be made during the installation process. A dedicated natural gas line must be attached to the unit. You will need to install PVC or stainless steel ventilation to vent exhaust gases to the outdoors. And finally you will connect dedicated electrical power line with the Tankless Heater.

Homeowners who install Tankless Water Heaters do end up saving on natural gas and water bills. And with proper installation and tuning, these systems last about 10 years longer than their large-tank-based counterparts. However, these Tankless Systems are more expensive on the front end and require significant upgrades.

Thompson and Thompson Savannah plumbing can install Tankless Systems in new construction or retrofit your older house. We offer free consultations and can help any homeowner with any and all your plumbing and HVAC needs.

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