6 Ways Tankless Water Heaters Differ From Traditional Water Heaters

When choosing the type of hot water system you want in your home, it is important to understand the differences between a tankless water heater and a traditional water heater. Each of these systems has benefits, but they differ in many features. Knowing how each system works will help you decide on the best option for your needs.

1. Delivery of Hot Water

The main difference between tankless and conventional water heaters is the type of hot water delivery. Tankless water heaters operate on demand, provide continuously heated water as long as it is requested and do not store water in a tank. The water is heated as it passes through a heat exchanger. A conventional system stores heated water in a tank and is capable of instantly dispensing hot water. When the hot water that is currently in the tank is used, the replacement water in the tank will be cold until it gets heated again.

2. Minimum Flow Rates

Tankless water heaters have a higher minimum flow rate than traditional systems. Some tankless heaters have a minimum flow rate of .5 or .6 gallons per minute and will not turn on for any flow rate that is lower. This can be an issue with plumbing fixtures with a low flow rate, such as bathroom faucets.

3. Longevity and Cost Effectiveness

A tankless water heater can last more than 20 years, almost double that of a traditional water heater, which typically lasts from 10 to 15 years. A tankless heater will require significantly less energy for homes that use less than 40 gallons of hot water per day. A tankless water heater also has less moving parts to replace, so longevity is increased.

4. Space Requirements

A conventional water heater is installed on the floor and takes up space around it. On the other hand, a tankless water heater can be installed on a wall either inside or outside and thus won’t take up floor space. For tankless water heaters that use gas, the size of the gas line can be a consideration during placement. Tankless water heaters need a lot of combustion air. A small model requires around 30 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air for combustion, and a larger unit needs around 45 cfm of air to operate at top capacity. A traditional water heater takes up space on the floor but does not need to consider placement requirements for air combustion or large gas lines.

5. Maintenance Requirements

Traditional water heaters require less maintenance than tankless models. Tankless water heaters that are mounted outside need temperature protective systems in place. Hard water can cause extreme scaling and will require an installed water softener, and additional provisions may need to be made during installation for future periodic flushing of the heat exchanger coils with a vinegar solution. Traditional water heaters do not have scaling problems.

6. Initial Cost

Tankless water heaters are more expensive in their up-front costs. These systems can cost up to three times more than a conventional water heater. Other costs can be incurred during installation if upgrades need to be made to existing electrical wiring. Using a qualified plumber can add to the cost as well.

Since opening in 1985, East Coast Mechanical has grown from a one-man and one-van operation into a large air conditioning company with 225 employees and 127 trucks that are on the road seven days a week. If you need help with any water heater-related service in Boynton Beach, we’re here for you. We’re also here to help you with your air conditioning, electrical system and appliance repair needs, so contact us today.

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