The importance of water heater cannot be understated, especially for homeowners living in temperate regions. Despite the advantages of installing a water heater, however, there is no denying that it comes with one considerable drawback – maintaining one is expensive. Since traditional water heaters have tanks where water is heated and stored, they tend to use up a lot of energy when in operation, easily racking up the electric bill. Fortunately, tankless water heaters are now easily available, giving homeowners a more energy-efficient alternative.
What is a tankless water heater?
As the name suggests, a tankless water heater is a type of water heater that does not have a storage tank. As opposed to storing and continuously heating water in a tank, tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through the unit. However, since the unit only heats up when the faucet is turned, it takes a few moments before hot water comes out. Despite this minor setback, however, tankless water heaters are more cost-effective and energy-efficient as compared to its tank counterparts.
What are the different types of tankless water heaters?
With more homeowners leaning towards tankless water heaters in recent years, manufacturers have released more types of tankless water heaters. Each of these types have different specifications catering to different needs.
To help you choose which tankless water heater to purchase and install, here are five different types of water heaters:
- Point-of-Use Tankless Water Heater
Point-of-use tankless water heaters are compact water heating units that are typically small enough to fit inside sink cabinets. Due to its small size, point-of-use tankless water heaters are also typically dedicated-use and can only be used in one sink, faucet, or shower. They are also more affordable than whole-house units. Note, however, that since point-of-use tankless water heaters are compact, they are best used as supplements to larger water heating units.
- Whole-House Tankless Water Heater
At the other end of the spectrum are whole-house tankless water heaters, which are larger water heating units with higher flow rate capacity. This type of water heater can handle the demands of several fixtures at a time, depending on the water usage of the specific fixture involved. Due to its larger size and capacity, whole-house tankless water heaters are more expensive than point-of-use water heating units. However, fewer whole-house tankless water heaters are necessary to meet a household’s hot water demands. If you are living in a smaller unit, or if fixtures are not used simultaneously, one unit might even be sufficient.
- Non-Condensing Tankless Water Heater
Non-condensing tankless water heaters are regarded as the first-generation tankless water heating units. This type heats water on-demand with the use of a heat exchanger. While non-condensing tankless water heaters are older models, they are actually reliable and models tend to have very few manufacturing issues. However, this type has certain drawbacks. For one, this type has issues with hot exhaust, so installing stainless steel venting is necessary. Since it is also an older model, it tends to have a lower energy efficiency, especially when using smaller amounts of water at a time.
- Condensing Tankless Water Heater
If non-condensing tankless water heaters as considered first-generation tankless water heating units, then condensing tankless units are considered as the second generation. This type builds on the technology used in condensing tankless water heaters to produce a more powerful and more energy-efficient unit. Specifically, condensing tankless water heaters also make use of a primary heat exchanger akin to that of the non-condensing type. In addition, it also employs a secondary heat exchanger which further heats the water by re-using the heat from the exhaust. Hence, the exhaust produced by this type of water heater is significantly cooler than that of the non-condensing type, so exhaust venting can be mate of PVC. This type, however, is more expensive than the non-condensing type while still retaining the low energy efficiency as regards short water draws.
- Condensing Hybrid Tankless Water Heater
The last type of tankless water heaters is the condensing hybrid. This is regarded as a third-generation water heater and is a cross between a tank and a tankless water heater. To eliminate the low energy efficiency associated with short water draws, condensing hybrid tankless water heaters are fitted with a small holding tank for hot water. The holding tanks typically only have a capacity of one to two gallons, ideal for small usage. As with the condensing tankless water heater, this can also be vented with the less expensive PVC.
To determine which type of tankless water heater is ideal for your household, it is important to carefully consider your hot water usage, as well as your budget.