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What are Tankless Water Heaters?

tankless water heaterTankless water heaters, or instantaneous water heaters, heat water only when it’s needed. While they may cost more initially, they can last longer than regular water heaters and help save on energy costs. Learning about the different types of tankless water heaters, their benefits and how they work, may be helpful before you decide to make a purchase.

How do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Tankless water heaters work by using your home’s heat source (electric or gas) to heat up water on demand as opposed to storing it in a tank. When hot water is turned on, cold water travels to the tankless hot water heater, then the heating element heats it right away. Because of this, hot water will never run out. Regular water heaters preheat and store 30-50 gallons of water, having to refill when the tank is empty.

Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Because tankless water heaters don’t have to store water, the units are small and easily concealed by being mounted on a wall.

  • Tankless water heaters have a long life expectancy as compared to regular water heaters. They can last for as long as 20 years.

  • Due to the fact that they only operate when warm water is required, their safety ratings are high.

  • They’re energy efficient.

  • There’s no possibility of flooding due to a broken tank.

  • Electric models don’t produce greenhouse gases.

Types of Tankless Water Heaters

There are two main types of tankless water heaters—gas and electric. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to decide which one would work best for your home.

Electric tankless water heaters are generally less expensive to purchase and install as compared to gas tankless water heaters. In addition, advances in technology allow them to meet high flow rate demands in most climates. They last longer, require less maintenance, have longer warranties and are better for the environment.

Gas tankless water heaters are slightly less expensive to operate than electric tankless water heaters, but efficiency is the most important factor to consider. Gas has an efficiency rate of 80-85%, whereas electric has over 98% efficiency ratings. Also, gas prices tend to fluctuate, but electricity rates generally remain stable over a large period.

Hot water supply is also a factor to take into consideration as both the gas and electric tankless water heaters provide different levels. Gas is able to provide a higher water flow rate, which makes it suitable for large families. Electric provides a water flow rate slightly lower, depending on the incoming water temperature, which is generally only enough for an average sized family.

Installation and Maintenance

Special venting is needed for gas units in order to function properly. These vents are required for proper ventilation to get rid of harmful flue gases caused by operation. Because of this, these units can’t always be installed in the desired area of the home, and can make installation difficult and more expensive.

Gas units will need more maintenance than electric units. An inspection by a licensed technician needs to be performed annually to ensure proper performance and fuel combustion. Also, in the event that a repair needs to be made, it can be more difficult because of the complex heat exchanger design and fuel controls.

Because electric units don’t emit harmful gases, they don’t require special venting. This keeps their size compact and installation simple, allowing them to be mounted anywhere in the home.

Electric water heaters require very little maintenance and care. Cleaning the filter inlet to remove any debris and flushing it 2-3 times annually should be sufficient for proper performance.


Now that you know the benefits of tankless water heaters, call the experts at Raby anytime at (918) 224-6471 for a free quote.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Raby Plumbing does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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