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Speaking of tankless water heaters!!!!

January 30, 2007

Gals that posted on Steven's "7 Circles" about tankless water heaters, please tell me more.

We saw one on Ask This Old House and were totally interested in them. Sooo, you all really like them? I understand they're a bit more in price but way more efficient. Big question...How's the water pressure in the shower? Our well water is a little hard so I imagine we'll be needing a replacement tank in a few years.

Thinking of going tankless, georgeanne

Comments (20)

  • fammsimm


    My neighbor said to tell you that the water pressure in the shower was great. No problems.

    Yes, they are more expensive but she said the energy efficiency and the compactness of the unit are real pluses.

    We are planning on purchasing one, too, but would like to hear if anyone has had a negative experience with one.

    Thanks for starting this thread, Georgeanne.


  • Eduarda

    I keep being distracted from my work with all these interesting posts, you are all to blame :-) Can anyone explain in lay terms what a tankless water heater is? I googled it and it seems not to be too different from what I have at home (gas powered). Am I missing something? American households are so different from ours here.

    Actually I have considered replacing mine, not because it doesn't run well, but because the price of gas has rocketed over the last few years here. The alternative for me would not be electricity (which is even more expensive than gas) but solar.

    I'm seriously considering the purchase of a solar panel for heating up water at home. The Government is planning to give tax deductions for homes going the renewable energy way next year, we have great solar exposure in our home and I like the idea of going green and independent (at least a little bit) from fuel corporations. I started doing a little research on what may be available for energy generation for the home, so I'm curious to find out whether any of you out there is considering any sort of renewable energy for your home (solar, wind, etc.)


  • fammsimm


    Actually you do have the type of water heater we are discussing. :-) It's my understanding that tankless water heaters are standard in European homes.

    I've attached a picture of the type of water heater common here in the U.S. As you can see it's much bigger and bulkier than the style you are familiar with, and not as efficient as the tankless variety.

    Hope this helps!


    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:596435}}

  • Eduarda

    Marilyn, the type you have attached the pic is also available here in Portugal, but much less popular due to the cost of electricity. We call them "termo acumuladores". Usually only people who work for the electricity company and get discounts run these babies. Is the one you show also used to run central heating, or is it just sanitary hot water?

    Our water heater, as I said, is gas (as in propane gas, not gasoline) powered. (There are some which are diesel powered as well). However, much to my dismay, I found out shortly after installation that it needs electricity to run, which means that if we loose power for some reason we have no hot water or central heating! :-( As the zone we live in has somewhat older power infrastructure, power cuts are not unusual... To overcome at least the I'm_in_the_middle_of_the_shower_and_power_went_off syndrome, my DH, ever the resourceful man, installed a UPS on the heater. If the power suddenly goes down we have at least the time to finish our shower and not go to work displaying shampoo on our heads!

    As I said, nothing wrong with it, but running it for central heating has a prohibitive cost. Of course, in the US all fuels are much cheaper than in Europe, so this may not be a problem for you - at least for the time being. For us, it certainly is a problem and the situation only tends to get worse. More and more people are interested on going renewable here.


  • georich5

    Thanks for asking your neighbor. It's always nice when you know someone firsthand. It seems like a real plus. Not that we're thinking of moving but it would be good for resale too.

    Can't tell you how many people hang on to those ugly big old tanks. Then they spring a leak a make a huge mess, or the flu is faulty and can cause CO to seep into your home. Definitely not healthy.

    The one I'm thinking of mounts on the wall and seems so simple I'm amazed we haven't switched over to this eons ago.

    We should all go tankless!! woohoo

  • Steveningen

    There were several reasons we decided to go tankless. While it's true, they are fairly expensive to buy (ours was $998), you save money in the long run. Plus, we get a $300 Federal tax credit for installing one. The other issue is space. They take up very little space compared to "termo acumuladores" (I learned some Portuguese!) We will be able to conceal the unit behind a standard kitchen cabinet so you'll never know it's there. They are also more environmentally friendly. The aren't constantly having to maintain a volume of heated water. Water is heated on demand and then they sit idle. And perhaps best of all, even if you have company, you can be the last person to shower and STILL have plenty of hot water. No more soaping up and going cold!

    I'm attaching a link for Bosch tankless water heaters. We got the Bosch Aquastar 250SX, although we probably could have gotten the less powerful model and been just as happy. We got the stronger model knowing it will be a better selling point down the road.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Bosch Water Heaters

  • Eduarda

    Ours is a Junkers and also feeds the central heating system (radiators). We switch the heating system part on and off as we please. The heating water part is reasonably cost effective, we have discovered that the real expensive part is when we switch on the central heating. When it's running, you might as well dig a hole in the ground and sink Euro bills in there... Yes, it's that expensive. So, if you're planning just to use this sort of equipment to heat sanitary water, go ahead, otherwise I suppose it's better to stick to whatever you've got. As Steven says, ours is hidden behind a cabinet door in our utility room and takes up little room.

    Georgeanne, I can't believe you're telling me these tanks are still widely popular in the US. Talk about waste of energy!

    Is nobody thinking about installing renewable energy for the home? My neighbours in front have a solar panel for sanitary water heating and they say it works very well. My dream would be to have a solar panel which actually fed our tankless system including the central heating, but so far I haven't come across one in the market - they only work for sanitary water. I talked to our supplier, Junkers, and they are due to launch some new equipment later this month, so I'm going to check with them again.

    A significant part of the energy consumption in a house, other than heating, comes from the washing machine and the diswasher. I have now heard there are new models for these two types of equipment which can handle getting already warmed water, such as you would get from a solar panel system. That's a consideration for me as well - once our current machines die get the new technology to help with the payback of a solar panel.


  • mrsgalihad

    We have a tankless water heater too. I love it. Steven is right about how nice it is to have lots of guests and not get a cold shower. Spaace saved is nice too. The PO partially finished the basement and made a little closet around the old water tank. Now we have the tankless one in that closet and the kittly litter boxes.
    DH is a tecnophile and I'm a little bit of an environmentalist so it was and easy choice for us. We probably could have repaired our existing tank but we used it as an excuse to get the tankless.
    Eduarda, DH and I (someday) plan on building a house and incorporating solar panels and a greywater system and probably a few other things. Right now though we are only in the dreaming phase.
    On an amusing note... we had some guys over the other day to look at the furnace. DH mentioned to them that we had a tankless heater installed by their company. They immediatly asked "Ooh, can we see it?" Ours is a Rinnai Continuum 2532.

  • girlgroupgirl

    I especially like the tankless for homes that can not code the regular tanks properly. We can not do our renovation and keep a tank downstairs or upstairs now. There is not enough over or under clearance for the building codes. So that is one excellent reason to go tankless!!

    We will be getting a Rinnai also.

    For now this purchase is a gas heater. Eduarda, the electric ones currently available in the US are significantly behind in technology compaired to the gas right now. We are hoping that in 10 years or so, that we can head on over to an electric model when we go solar.

    Mother Earth News has a fantastic article about paper thin solar panels which are dirt cheap and can be mounted on a surface, then mounted on your roof. Lightweight too.

    We are having storage areas for solar batteries made in our crawl space during our renovation, with enough room for a grey water conversion unit to be placed in the same space. Planning for the future, but not quite there yet!


  • debbieca

    OK, I have been telling dh about these, as our huge tank is 28 years old and we are slowly replacing all our appliances. I told him one advantage is instant hot water. He wants to know how, as it seems you still have to drain the standing water from the heater to the faucet. Any answers or experience?

  • Eduarda

    Debbie, I think the issue here is the definition of "instant". Mine is not "instant". As your DH says, there is water standing in the pipes that has cooled down and it needs out before the hot water arrives. But isn't it the same with your water tank? I mean, the water currently in the pipes cannot be warm either? Then there's an additional small delay from the moment the flame kicks in (when you open the tap) until the water actually warms in the tubes. Depending on the temperature of the water (whether it's Summer or Winter) and proximity of the equipment to the tap being serviced, this can be more or less, usually a few seconds. But there is always cold water coming up first. This is the water I collect into a bucket in my shower during Summer months and then reuse in the garden, as it's perfectly clean and a shame to throw away.

    I suppose the main reason for the "instant" word comes from the comparison with the tank systems, which, once they have exhausted their water, need some time to warm it up again. This doesn't happen with the tankless, because the flame is kept on and warming the water for as long as you keep the tap open.

    I hope I haven't totally confused you now.

  • thinman

    Debbie - I think your DH must be right. I believe the "instant" hot water feature is sometimes mentioned because it's possible to mount the heater almost anywhere, so it could, in theory, be really close to the shower, unlike a standard water heater that is usually in the basement or utility space.

    Speaking only from thought, not experience.


  • lupecatt

    I know it has been a few month, but..
    We are planning on installing a tankless water and use it for radiators. We cuurently have central air and for many reasons hate it. we live in a split level w/ bedrooms over the gagare which are always cold.
    We are deciding between electric and propane..any thoughts? I noticed the comment by GGG that the electric models were not up to snuff, anyone have any info on that?
    And if you do have radiators - what kind of clearance do you need? Our house is small, so I am not sure how the radiators are going to fit.
    thank you

  • trailrunner

    I have a 6.4 gpm tankless and we love it. We have natural gas. It is very efficient and VERY cheap. I highly praise them. We have used it more than a year w/o any problem. It is mounted outside on the wall of the house by the gas meter. I don't know about the radiators. I do know that all reviews said electric is much less efficient and also that you want it outside if possible as the gas ones are loud. Caroline

  • toad08

    lupecatt, the electric tankless is much better. I installed a Titan-SCR2 tankless water heater in my new 1200 sq ft house and love it.
    This site explains how it works, etc. http://www.tanklesswaterheater.com/products1.html
    ebay has the Titan tankless water heaters. My tankless came out of MIRAMAR, FL and they stay behind their product.
    One feature that I especially like on my tankless is that I can turn down the temperature for a shower. That way I don't mix the hot with the cold when showering. When the temperature is turned down there is a steady stream of warm comfortable water while showering. There is no wasted time and water to turn the faucets while showering. The only time I turn the temperature up is for the dishwasher which is installed adjacent to the tankless.
    To save additional energy insulate your pex pipes with insulation tubes. But if you use gas you cannot insulate near the flue.
    If I ever move into another house with an old fashion tank water heater I would change it out to a tankles right away.

  • mamakat

    My mother and I are building what the builder calls a "condo", and we call a "duplex". It is in a gated retirement village and they have their own builders, plumbers, etc. We each purchased a Bosch tankless hot water heater and thought there wouldn't be a problem since the house was being built and not renovated. Well, I just received a letter from them stating it would cost us each $2,000.00 to install the tankless. Is that a pretty normal figure or are they just trying to keep from having to install something they don't know anything about? I really don't want to (can't afford to) spend that much extra just for the installation so I will probably send it back and settle for the same old type of hot water heater. I was trying to help with "green", and also to install cork flooring since it is renewable, but how does the average person afford to go "green" if it is that much more expensive? I guess I am just frustrated!!! If anyone has any insight on this I would certainly appreciate the input!

  • girlgroupgirl

    $2.000 is about right for the tankless for plumbing especially if you have a contractor. Don't forget, the contractor has added his fee on top of the plumbers fee in most likelyhood. Plus, when you bought the tankless unit, did you buy the vent unit as well? Some have to be purchased seperately and don't come with the unit. They can be expensive.

    Cork floors are not all they are cracked up to be. I also looked into them. Be careful and go to places with samples. Better yet, go to places with samples that have the samples installed on their own floors.


  • mamakat

    GGG...thank you for your input on the plumbing and installation for the tankless. I do feel better knowing they aren't trying to rip me off...but I just can't afford to install it with all of the extras that are coming up that are pertinent during the building of a new home. And I have decided not to go with cork since I have a 15 year old Papillon who is becoming incontinent and I was afraid if she had any "accidents" it might damage the cork. I guess my attempts on going Green have been thwarted. *sigh* Thanks again GGG. I do learn a lot on this website :o)

  • jerry_2008

    all the lp gas tankless water heaters ive found say not to install them into a manufactered home but not why.
    why cant i use one. my heater is outside in a closet
    any help would be greatly apreciated

  • newzorro

    Also, besides saving you up to 25% on energy costs, ENERGY STAR gas tankless water heaters are one of the qualifying energy-efficiency improvements that are eligible for a tax credit (in the U.S.) IF you make the change January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010. If you're a U.S. resident, you should read over the tax credit info for 2009-2010 before you choose products. Read here http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tankless Water Heaters

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