Tankless Water Heater Installation
The tankless water heater market is steadily growing particularly because of the need for green options in companies and households. A research done by the Persistence Marketing Research estimated that the revenue generated from the sale of tankless water heater units in 2016 was approximately $16.9 billion. They expected this figure to increase by about 5.3% per year from 2016 to 2024. Tankless water heaters are also called continuous flow, on-demand, flash, instantaneous, and inline heaters. Read on to discover why you should opt for a tankless water heater and how to go about the installation process.
Why choose a tankless water heater over the conventional storage tank system?
The hot water does not run out
With a conventional tank water heater, chances are some people might end up using cold water if the demand for such is quite high. This is because such models make use of an insulated tank to store and heat water. Once the heated water is depleted, you have to wait for the tank to be filled up and the water to get heated.
This is not the case with a tankless water heater. Once you turn on a hot water faucet or appliance, cold water is drawn into the unit and is heated by electric coils or gas. This creates an endless flow of hot water.
Improved energy efficiency
Conventional tanks use a great deal of energy as water has to be heated and reheated if it cools off. The tank has to be full of hot water even when it is not being used or required, resulting in huge amounts of wasted energy.
Tankless water systems are rising in popularity due to their reduction in energy losses by up to 20%. This results in lower energy bills
They have a longer lifespan
While conventional water heaters have a lifespan of between 10-12 years, a tankless water heater could last as long as 20 years. However, you need to observe its proper maintenance.
They are compact hence space saving
Conventional water heaters take up valuable floor space as it could occupy up to 15 square feet. On the other hand, tankless water heaters are about the size of a suitcase. This implies that they could be installed practically anywhere. They can be mounted on the wall, installed under a sink or in the outdoors.
They have a higher distribution rate
Whole-house tankless water heater systems are made for high volume distribution. This means that you can perform several hot water activities at once. Attempting to perform such when using the conventional water heater will only result in depleting the hot water.
The water produced is purer
In the long run, the reserve tank in a conventional water heating system is susceptible to rust which contaminates the water. This problem is instantly solved when you use a tankless water heater. As water is not constantly stored in the unit, it will take longer to rust. With proper maintenance, it might never rust. A tankless water heating system produces clean and safe water.
How to choose the right size for your needs
Tankless water heaters can be used for domestic and commercial purposes. You will need to first establish your hot water needs before making your choice. For instance, you will need to ask questions such as; what is the peak demand? What temperatures should the water be at the outlet? Do not try to save on costs by under-sizing your tankless water heating unit as it could result in inefficiencies.
Establish the number of hot water devices and the total flow rate. The flow rate is normally on the fixture or appliance’s documentation supplied during their purchase. If you did not buy the appliance or fixture and therefore, have no documentation to refer to, you can make use of the following presumptions:-
- Laundry machines and dishwashers have a flow rate ranging from 1 to 2 gallons per minute (gpm).
- Older showerheads’ flow rates range from 2.5 to 3.5 gpm.
- Low-flow showerheads’ flow rates are between 1.2 to 2 gpm.
- Faucets have a flow rate of between 0.75-2.5 gpm.
Older fixtures and appliances use the larger figures while newer figures have a lower flow rate. If you are uncertain of the fixture’s or appliance’s age, use the higher flow rates to avoid obtaining a tankless water heater whose size will not meet your needs. If you are using older appliances, you will need a tankless water heater with a high flow rate such as the Rheem RTGH-95DVLN which has a flow rate of 9.5 gpm. You can reduce the flow rate by replacing them with low flow rate fixtures.
You will also need to establish your required output temperature. This will largely depend on your locality, but you can assume that the cold water temperature is 50ºF. Using a low temperature ensures that you do not acquire an undersized unit. While most units will provide heat up to 160ºF, most households require output temperatures of about 120ºF. In this case, the temperature rise will be 70ºF.
You will then need to decide whether your tankless water heater will be gas-powered or electric. The gas-powered water heater is more powerful the electric unit and is ideal for commercial or whole-house applications. You will, however, need to know whether your gas supply will be enough to power the unit and whether you have sufficient ventilation to get rid of the exhaust fumes the unit creates. You might need to upgrade the gas piping and maybe install a new gas meter and regulator.
There are strict codes governing the unit’s venting should be installed with many manufacturer’s voiding warranties if a unit is not professionally installed. Alternatively, you can opt for an outdoor tankless water heater such as Takagi T-KJr2-OS-NG. Such units are designed to withstand damages from the elements and feature a freeze-protection device. In addition, you will be saving on venting costs.
Electric tankless water heater’s primary concern is the load the unit will place on your overall electric system. Whole-house units are more likely to be more costly due to the electrical upgrades that might have to be carried out. For this reason, point-of-use electric models are more preferable if you do not want to carry out any electrical upgrades. On the positive side, electric units do not require any venting, thus saving you valuable space, time, and money.
Installing a new tankless water heater
To install a tankless water heater, you will need to have good plumbing skills and an understanding of the local building codes. If you have neither of them, it would be best to engage a licensed plumber. As mentioned, check with the gas company on whether the main will support a gas-powered unit. If it is not, ask them to redo the piping. They could also replace the gas regulator at a small fee or none at all. For an electric model, you will need a 240-volt power plugged to your service panel or to an outlet.
The costs involved in the installation process varies depending on the cost of a unit, labor, and the upgrades involved. The labor costs could cost anywhere from $100 to $500, while a venting kit necessary for gas-powered units ranges from $40 – $100. An electric tankless water heater might require to have its private power supply as well as a backup battery for instances where there may be a power failure.
The cost of a full installation could fall anywhere between $1,500 to as much as $5,000. If it is a relatively new household designed for a tankless water system or if you are replacing a worn out tankless water heating system, the costs are significantly lower.
Manufacturers highly recommend the use of special union connectors which have a bypass capability. For example, the BassCraft PSB1096 L Installation Kit which makes the descaling and other maintenance projects easy.
Follow the following steps to install the unit:-
- If replacing an old tank, drain it of any water before removing it. Shut off the water or gas to the hot water tank before commencing with the draining.
- Use a hole saw to drill a hole on the exterior side of the house near where you want to install the unit. You will use this hole to run PVC pipes for venting purposes.
- Mount the new unit on your preferred location while following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ascertain that its weight is appropriately supported.
- Use a ¾” copper pipe to connect the supply like to the new unit and the hot water lines out of the unit.
- An electrician will help you connect the water heater to the circuit panel in the case of an electric unit.
- Turn on the water and power supply and test your newly installed unit.
Due to the emphasis placed on going green, installing a tankless water heating system could considerably improve your home’s resale value. While their initial costs could be up to three times the cost of a conventional water heater, the energy saved is well worth the cost. They also outlast the traditional models.