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The Best Tankless Water Heater for Your Home

Since up to 20% of every household’s heating expenditures come from heating up water for use in the home, it is important to have a proper water tank. Some people prefer old style water heaters, which are big, bulky cylinder drums but the latest trend is to install tankless water heaters to use less space and run more efficiently. This helpful guide will help you choose the best tankless water heater for you and your household.

Tank-Style vs. Tankless

You may not be familiar with the workings of water heaters and how they make your life easier and more comfortable every day. There are two common types of water heater, tank-style and tankless.

Tank-style heaters are big cylinders which take up a fair amount of space, usually in your basement. They hold heated water on reserve for whenever you turn on your hot water. Tankless water heaters work on-demand and only heat water as you use it. They also outlast traditional heaters with a life span of about 20 years compared to 12 to 13 years.

Why Not Just Keep Renting?

You may wonder why you should cancel your rental contract for your current water tank and purchase your own when monthly rental fees are relatively low. Critics of purchasing your own tank argue that rentals won’t cost anything to fix and they are transferable to a new owner with no loss on your part. However, if you look at this from a different perspective you will see that an initial investment will be needed at first but then you will eliminate that monthly fee to a provider. As for repairs, it is very seldom you need work done on a tankless water heater but it is like any part of home maintenance. A tankless water heater could save you close to $1500 a year over renting and will add value to your home.

What to Look for in the Best Tankless Water Heater?

Size Matters

Every household will have differing needs in terms of how much hot water they use. How many fixtures are in use within the household is usually a good measure of how much water is being used and will help you determine what size tankless water heater is best for you. This video explains the different sizes and capacities and how to choose the right one.

Gas or Electric

tankless hot water heater

Tankless water heaters are available in both gas and electric options. This means that the power element is controlled either by hydro or by natural gas. This is an important consideration since with an electric heater, should there be a power outage, you will not have hot water at all until your power is restored. With a gas option, you will have hot water even without hydro.

INSTALLATION: Installation of the tank is a very large difference between gas and electric water heaters. With an electric water heater, you can install it basically wherever you wish within your house as long as there is enough electric service. Gas units will need special installation with venting and can be costly, sometimes as much as the actual unit.

ENVIRONMENT: Environmental concerns may be of interest to you and your household and if they are then you will likely wish to consider an electric water heater over gas since electric doesn’t emit greenhouse gases nor does it waste important fossil fuels. With the electric water heater, there is also an option to use solar or wind power like you would electricity, making it a very environmentally conscious choice.

MAINTENANCE: A commitment to maintenance is an important consideration as well when it comes to the gas versus electric subject. Electric tankless water heaters don’t require any maintenance at all, whereas gas tanks will need to be inspected yearly to check on the fuel combustion and overall operation of the tank. Here is a video tutorial of descaling a tankless tank.

ALTERNATIVE: If neither option will work for your home or cottage due to unavailability of proper utility services, there is the option to use a propane tankless water heater. Usually they require electricity as well and will also require a propane tank.

Budget

budget

Choosing to purchase a tankless water heater is a significant investment. You will want to not only research your options and talk to experts but also decide on what your budget will be for your new tank. This will help determine whether you will be looking at electric versus gas as well as size. The range in pricing for tankless water heaters is pretty vast from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Budget-friendly tanks usually run under $500, moderate from $500 to $1000 and upper range $1000+.

Flow Rate

Flow rate tells you how many gallons per minute can be heated in one application. This number is important in telling you if the tankless water heater you are choosing will meet your household hot water needs. This helpful chart tells you the flow rate required for typical applications within a home.

Application

Flow Rate in GPM at 60 PSI

Typical Shower

1.5 to 2.0 GPM

Typical Bath Tub Faucet

2.0 to 3.0 GPM

Bathroom Vanity Sink Faucet

0.5 to 1.5 GPM

Kitchen Sink Faucet

1.0 to 2.2 GPM

Clothes Washer

1.5 to 3.0 GPM

Most households use a maximum of two applications simultaneously so it is easy to determine your own required flow rate for your family.

Five of the Best Tankless Water Heater Choices

This is a great choice for small homes or cottages with a 3.6 GPM flow rate and operating on a high intensity propane pilot. This unit comes with everything you need to install it right away, including the venting. It also requires a 110-volt outlet for powering the digital display and the exhaust fan. It is intended for indoor installation only since it cannot stand up to freezing temperatures.

PROS


  • Budget-friendly
  • Perfect for areas where natural gas may be unavailable
  • Will heat water for two applications at once
  • Includes necessary venting for installation
  • Digital display to keep you informed

CONS


  • Will require propane tank installed nearby to power the heater
  • Must vent outside similar to natural gas heater—installation could be costly compared to electric tankless water heater
  • 3.6GPM flow rate only ideal for small homes or cottages
  • If you run out of propane, you have no hot water
  • Need a minimum 40PSI of pressure to trigger the electronic ignition

Being that this tankless water heater is operated using natural gas, you will require proper venting and expert installation. The silver design is very contemporary and fits into most household décor. This heater is ideal for medium sized homes, up to three bathrooms with a flow rate of 7.5 GPM. There is a converter kit available for commercial use of this tank as well. It comes backed with an Energy Star approved rating for those looking to be energy efficient.

PROS


  • Can accommodate typical medium sized homes with up to three bathrooms with a 7.5 GPM flow rate
  • Energy Star rating for energy efficiency
  • Natural gas operation means even in a power outage you still have hot water accessible
  • Easy to read digital display
  • Can be used for commercial and residential use
  • Aesthetically pleasing silver color
  • Quiet operation

CONS


  • Upper price range
  • Installation could be costly since proper venting is required by an expert
  • Regular maintenance and inspection is required
  • Requires 2” gas pipe so it is important to check your current piping; may need replaced

If you prefer your tankless water heater installed on the outside of your home, this tank is a great choice. It is fueled by the power of natural gas and boasts an ultra low NOx burner, making it an environmentally conscious choice. It has a flow rate of 6.4 GPM which works well in medium sized households. The simple design works well to blend in with the rest of your house exterior so as not to stand out.

PROS


  • Moderate price range, especially for natural gas tank
  • Good flow rate at 6.4 GPM for average sized homes
  • Low NOx means it is environmentally friendly
  • Energy Star rating for efficiency
  • No venting required since it is installed outdoors or on exterior walls
  • Remote included to adjust temperature from a distance or remotely
  • Still have hot water during power outages
  • No venting required at installation

CONS


  • Works well in warmer climates but not where there is risk of freezing
  • Requires ¾” gas line so adjustments may be needed to existing pipes
  • Requires 110-volt electricity, must be hard-wired
  • Best suited for homes with no more than two bathrooms

The Rinnai Outdoor Tankless Propane Water Heater is a great option for anyone wishing to operate their tank using propane and electricity as opposed to natural gas. It is an outdoor mountable unit which emits low nitrous oxide emissions which those who are environmentally conscious will appreciate. It features a flow rate of 6.6 GPM, great for mid-sized homes with two bathrooms. This unit is also certified for installation on mobile homes.

PROS


  • Moderate price range
  • Emits low nitrous oxide emissions (NOx)
  • Error code reader to let user know of trouble
  • Remote thermostat included to control temperatures from a distance
  • Compact size
  • Works for homes with up to two and a half bathrooms
  • No venting required for installation
  • Easy to install

CONS


  • External/Outdoor mount only
  • Requires propane to operate; will need a propane tank nearby
  • Won’t operate at 6.6GPM in colder climates
  • Requires electricity to operate ignition
  • If power outage, you won’t have hot water
  • Need more space since you have to accommodate the propane tank as well

This lightweight, compact unit is not only budget-friendly but great for all climates. In colder temperatures it can heat up to 3 GPM and in warm climates 6 GPM. It doesn’t require a lot of space in your home either, or special duct work since it runs on three 40 amp breakers. It is important to ensure you have proper electrical capacity to run this tankless water heater. The digital display shows the set temperature and can be adjusted in 1° increments for precise control.

PROS


  • Very budget-friendly
  • Compact and lightweight
  • No venting or duct work needed
  • Efficient in all climates
  • Can be adjusted 1 degree at a time
  • Self-regulating to use only the exact amount of energy needed to heat your water to your desired temperature
  • Could save you up to 50% on your water bill
  • Don’t need a lot of space in your home to install

CONS


  • If you have a larger home in a colder climate, this water tank may not do the job
  • Remote control is sold separately to control the temperature
  • No hot water if there is a power outage
  • Professional installation is highly recommended even if you are handy due to the electrical requirements and needs

In Conclusion…

The best tankless water heater is determined by your specific household needs and of course, the services available to your home. If you don’t have natural gas in the house you wish to install the unit, then you will obviously have to choose a propane or electric tank. Having said that, of these five choices I would select the EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater with Patented Self Modulating Technology as the winner.

The EcoSmart is a super budget-friendly selection and fits the budget of most people, while at the same time saving money on their overall water bill when all is said and done. It is true that the flow rate is lower in colder climates, but this is true of most tankless water heaters. Even at 3 GPM this tank can heat two showers and one faucet running simultaneously. Although professional installation is recommended, the budget wise price of this heater allows a little more room in the budget for a pro to come in.

shower

Because there are not very often power outages that last great lengths of time, this shouldn’t be an issue for the most part. The lightweight, compact design fits easily and neatly into your home.

Hopefully this has been informative and has helped you decide on which is the best tankless water heater for yourself and your family. Please leave a comment and let us know your thought—we love hearing from you!

Jennifer Shackelford
 

Hi, I’m Jennifer, the founder and editor of TheMamaNeeds.com. On The Mama Needs, I write about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms.. I love that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. I love seeing comments on my posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.

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