by Don Braddock
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Most man-made appliances and devices (airplanes, cars, phones, etc) ever created and developed were envisioned to benefit everyone by the men who made them. Tankless water heaters are one.
Already used extensively in Asia and Europe for about fifty years,tankless water heaters are now slowly being adopted into American homes, slowly overtaking the domain lorded over by the traditionalstorage tank types of the old days.
On demand hot water:
Tankless water heaters deliver on demand hot water at a preset temperature without storage. They have an electric, gas or propane heating device that is activated by the flow of water.
Efficiency of the tankless water heaters is higher than an equivalent tank-type because there are no losses in heat. Moreover, the sealed combustion gas units have a higher fuel-burning efficiency than natural-draft gas water heaters.
These heaters are rated by the maximum flow rate. Special features may allow the user to set the delivery temperature.
Installing tankless water heaters are the same with their tank-type counterparts. Connections for water, gas, and electrical tankless water heaters are nearly identical to tank-type units.
Units are usually hung on the wall. Points-of-use units are usually installed under sinks and in closets. Usually, electrical units are used for these installations given their small size.
Initially, installation costs are 2 to 4 times higher than the tank-type water heaters. The electric tankless heaters use more power and require multiple circuits which increase installation costs.
However, high efficiency tank systems costs are close to that of thetankless water heaters. Also, the more hot water the tankless unit can produce, the more it will cost less.
In this area, however, electric tankless water heaters cost 10 to 20% less to operate than comparable tank-type water heaters.
Gas savings are higher at 20 to 40%. Added to these figures are the expected 20 years of life span for tankless water heaters compared to their counterpart at 10 to 15% years life expectancy.
The inherent benefits of tankless water heaters are in its compact size and the elimination of standby losses. They provide warm water at remote points-of-use and less water is wasted while waiting for the warm water to reach a remote faucet.
Tankless water heaters last longer than tank-type heaters because there is less to corrode. They have an expected life span of 20 years, compared with between 10 and 15 years for storage tank types.