Unlike conventional “boiler” water heaters, the tankless or “on-demand” water heater only heats up the water that is needed as it is needed. This takes away the need for a standing tank of heated water as well as the significant energy losses that take place in this “standby” tank.
In addition to the energy-saving benefits of the tankless water heater, they also last significantly longer — 20 years is the life expectancy of a good brand of a tankless water heater. The tankless is also more resilient and doesn’t breakdown or present leaks and the need for costly repairs and maintenance.
This short article will introduce you to the inner workings of the tankless water heater and why it has such a beneficial function in domestic use. Read on!
How It Works
The tankless water heater heats water in the most direct way possible. When the hot water tap is opened, the cold water is drawn through the water heater and warmed to the desired temperature before being delivered to the awaiting receptacle or bather.
The temperature of the water is raised with the help of a heating element that can either be electric or gas-powered. With this design, the hot water supply never runs out and can be used to heat large quantities of water, albeit with a slightly reduced flow rate.
The tankless water heater has a flow rate of between 2 and 5 gallons per minute. Of course, some units can produce a faster flow rate. Gas-powered tankless water heaters have a significantly faster flow rate than their electric counterparts.
There are various different tankless water heater designs that can be used to address different needs. There are smaller units that must be installed relatively close to the facilities they will be serving. Then there are larger units that can be used to provide heat to an entire building.
Smaller units can also be used in conjunction with a conventional water heater to help offset the energy losses caused by stand by. This can actually save energy costs if balanced out properly. They can also be used to supplement a heating supply to a specific area or location far from the main heater water supply.
The small tankless water heater can eliminate the thermal loss caused by water running through extensive cold pipes in the dead of winter. They can also save on energy and water wasted waiting for the water to “heat up”.
The larger type built for addressing the entire home can provide hot water at various points-of-use across different locations. Unless the hot water piping is well-insulated, these will still experience some loss of heat energy as they pass through the pipes.
Benefits of Tankless Water Heater
The point-of-use design and lack of storage tank mean the tankless water heater will provide various benefits to the user.
Cost-Effective — a tankless water heater will cost anywhere between $200 for a small compact model to a gas-powered unit capable of a 5-gallon flow rate. This same unit will likely be the last unit you need for a couple of decades and provide energy-saving functions as well.
Save on Water — Because the heating is instantaneous and exactly at the desired temperatures there is no time wasted on heating up the water. Because the hot water is provided at the point-of-use, there is no travel distances and no pipes to heat.
Compact Size — the smaller dimensions of the tankless water heater make it small enough to set up anywhere because they don’t take up much space. This can even be placed in the same room as the point-of-use.
Longevity — a tankless water heater is also the longest-lasting option. These can provide extensive use as long as they are operating within their capacity. The expected lifespan of your typical tankless water heater is 20 years. Compare this to the 10 or 15 years you can expect from a conventional heater.
Eliminate Standby Loss — The water inside a conventional water heater is being heated and cooled and heated and cooled all day long. This can cost significantly more energy than is needed for hot water. After this, the water will still lose much thermal energy in its trip through the pipes to the outlet.