Updated: June 8, 2015
Tankless Water Heater Reviews:Are you looking to get rid of your water heater and replace it with a tankless one? Tankless water heaters have gained some popularity but they are still way behind the traditional water heaters in terms of sales. When you look at your home energy needs, heating water is one of the biggest expenses at about 30% of the monthly budget. Why heat water when all it does is just sit in your water heater waiting to be used at a later time? Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand - this means the energy efficiency is up to 87% on the tankless models. Energy efficiency on tank water heaters is roughly 65%. You get the picture here - regular water heaters just aren't that energy efficient when compared to tankless models. So why isn't everyone switching to a tankless water heater? Cost is perhaps the biggest reason. They typically cost 2 to 3 times more than the tank models. Will you regain the up front money in long term energy cost savings? Depends on how long you own the water heater and live in your house. If you just want to be a good earth friendly human being, then sure owning a tankless water heater helps conserve energy use. They certainly take up less space than the bulky tank water heaters. You normally see water heaters in dedicated spaces in garages or in interior closets. The tankless water heaters are so small they fit right on a wall (inside or outside). We will go into features and other buying guide factors down below for tankless water heaters.
Choosing a Tankless Water Heater - Inside the tankless water heater box is a heat exchanger where the water is routed and heated before being sent to your faucet or showerhead. Essentially you get hot water on demand with these gas fired tankless water heaters. There are different size tankless models. The Rheem RTE 13 Electric Tankless Water Heater heats up about 4 gallons per minute while the Rinnai RL94eP propane model does over 9 gallons per minutes (GPM). Per Consumer Reports, electric tankless water heaters are not good at delivering hot water quickly enough when groundwater is cold. Besides, you are looking at having to upgrade your electrical in your house to a 240v, 60A breaker. Not everyone is equipped to handle that load and the cost to get your house setup properly can be quite expensive. The natural gas and propane tankless water heaters are easier to install and deliver more consistent hot water throughout your house. The Ecosmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater is one of the few electric models that rated high with consumers for hot water efficiency and overall performance (still need to get past the install). At less than $500 it's still one of the more expensive electric tankless models. Takagi and Rinnai are the most well known gas fired tankless water heaters and experts recommend their models the most. We looked at several Takagi models (Takagi T-T-KJr2-OS-LP and the Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG). One is an indoor natural gas model and the other is an outdoor propane model. Both receive high marks from owners and they are easy to install. If you want a whole house water heater that is tankless, we suggest looking at the Takagi T-H3-DV-N that is closer to $1000 (like the Rinnai listed above). A great article was posted on Apartment Therapy by Jason Yang for the pros and cons of switching to a tankless water heater. He found many of the same issues we did in our research. Electical issues to hook up a new system, prices are higher (you may never recoup that cost), and water on demand does have it's limits. Overall, only go with an electric tankless water heater if you are living in a small apartment or perhaps just have a family of 2 or 3 total. For larger houses and families, consider the natural gas or propane run models that heat up to 10 gallons a minute. Browse the best selling tankless water heaters here.