Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Most claims are troublesome and even misleading
Many homeowners have seen advertisements for electric tankless water heaters. The ads promise savings. But are they accurate? Companies that make electric tankless water heaters generally cite four advantages the design has over a tank-type water heater:
- Unlimited (continuous) supply of hot water;
- Instantaneous hot water if installed at point of use;
- Reduced water-heating costs;
- Small amount of space required for installation (usually wall-hung)
'Unlimited' Hot Water?
An unlimited supply of hot water may sound appealing, but it is not compatible with responsible water use, particularly in those areas of the country suffering from drought or chronic water shortages. Moreover, even the largest whole-house electric unit may not supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses.
Because an electric tankless system must heat cold water coming into the house, it has a difficult time heating water fast enough to a desired hot-water temperature.
For these reasons, many plumbing companies have stopped installing electric tankless water heaters due to wide-spread customer complaints.
Your Electric Service May Need an Upgrade
Electric tankless water heaters usually require an upgrade in electrical service, something home improvement stores often do not mention. This load requires wire and a circuit breaker that will handle at least 120 amps, at a cost many times that of electrical service to a conventional tank water heater. The load will also necessitate a larger and more expensive meter loop and main panel for the house.
Picking the Right Water Heater
If consumers want to reduce their water heating energy costs, there are several ways to do so. According to a report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, measures such as tank insulation, temperature setback, timers, heat traps and low-flow shower heads are more practical, much less expensive and have a greater return on investment than installing a tankless electric water heater.