Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print
guyandsam

Replacing tank water heater with tankless style Rinnai vs Navien

The home we just purchased needs a new gas water heater. We're sold on going tankless as we loved our previous Rinnai 98IN. One of the plumbers I spoke with said Navien was far superior to Rinnai, but i'm somewhat undecided. Features that are important to us are: machine reliability, honest and knowledgeable service techs.


What do you have? Have you had any positive or negative experiences with Navien? I've attached a picture of where it would be located. Thanks for your help


Comments (37)

  • 4 years ago

    Hi,

    In what general part of the country is your home?


    I have installed Rheem tankless in my last two homes . Why do you want to install a tankless heater (energy savings, space savings, continuous hot water, long life, other)?


    Samantha McCormick thanked Jake The Wonderdog
  • 4 years ago

    @Jake The Wonderdog . Thanks for the opinion! We're in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. We loved our Rinnai for the essentially unlimited hot water, energy savings, and brand reliability.


    @Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor. Thanks for the opinion! We're in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. I spent some time looking into Navien this afternoon and it seems that they have a shakier reliability record than other top brands like Rinnai. They had a number of units recalled last year and while a lot of contractors seem to like them, but the Navien customer reviews contained a higher ratio of poor reviews/experiences to good ones. when compared with other top brands. Any idea about why consumer and contractor reviews seem to be so different?

  • 4 years ago

    We have a Navien and could not be more happy with it. We’ve had it about 3 months now and have noticed a nice drop in our natural gas bill. We also got a nice rebate from the gas company.

    Samantha McCormick thanked MiMi
  • 4 years ago

    In a sample of one, we've had a Navien for the last 3 and a half years or so with zero troubles, also in the Seattle area. The internal recirculating pump wasn't activated correctly on installation so I had to figure out the DIP switch configuration, but it's been fine since.

    Samantha McCormick thanked AvatarWalt
  • 4 years ago

    Thanks everyone! We really appreciate all the comments and advice. It's quite helpful. :)

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    I used Rinnai for my sister’s whole house remodel a few years ago. No complaints. Stone cold reliable. I’ve had a tankless first 23 years. I wouldn’t be without!

    Samantha McCormick thanked User
  • 4 years ago

    Installing a gas tankless will be expensive when you include vent and gas line.

    So here's an idea: What about an electric hybrid?

    They have a lower DOE cost to operate than even a gas tankless. You won't get continuous hot water - so there is that difference. OTOH you will get hot water faster than a tankless.

    The cost to install would be much less.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    @Samantha McCormick


    Why consumer vs contractor reviews differ.


    A consumer usually gets a single experience with a product vs a plumber who might install dozens or hundreds and the installation experience is a part of their satisfaction. Sometimes that's good, sometimes not.


    Technology and statewide energy requirements are changing the product regularly. The integral recirc seems to have some capability to reduce or eliminate the "cold water sandwich" which plagued my initial installs in the mid 2000s. Plumbers forgetting to set the dip switches to activate the recirc seems to be common. Takes a few minutes. Any of those items can change current reviews. Look at current reviews both good and bad. Either brand would be fine.


    Regarding Jake's comments. You have an existing recirc line. My install included a plastic flue run vertically through the existing roof jack. I haven't seen expensive stainless steel vents for a few years. Sometimes existing gas lines are large enough. Electric may require a new circuit. Some electric utilities will offer a larger rebate incentive vs gas. Depends.

    Samantha McCormick thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I am assuming that there will be a PVC vent required either through the wall or through the roof.

    That kinda looks like a 1" gas line there - but with a 200k BTU unit you are almost always looking at bumping up the gas supply from the meter. You also must install an outlet. It's all do-able (I've done it on my houses) but the point is if continuous hot water isn't a priority - consider hybrid electric. It's cheaper to install and cheaper to run in many cases. I've seen gas tankless retrofits go $3k or more. Yes, it does require a 30 amp 240v circuit run to the breaker box - but I'm guessing that's also in the garage with the heater.


    There may be rebates from utilities - usually that's when you convert from standard electric to hybrid. In those cases the rebate is significant - $500 or so.

  • 4 years ago

    @Jake The Wonderdog and @Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor Thank you both so very very much for your comments and input! It's been extremely helpful to us in making sense of all of this.


    @Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor Great response. Your rationale for the difference in reviews/satisfaction makes total sense now that you mention it. With your advice, I'll be sure to remind our contractor to ensure he/she takes care of the DIP switch.


    Even though we're not actively considering them, It's nice to know that the huge con of required stainless for non-condensing tankless units is no longer an issue. We decided against electric tankless, so a breaker box upgrade is moot.


    Here in the Puget Sound area our utility's rebate offer is around $300 for gas tankless. Which isn't as much as it was a few years ago when we converted our starter home. The rebate at that time was nearly $5000.


    By comparison if we opted for a 1:1 tank replacement or went with an electric tank the rebate would be $50.


    @Jake The Wonderdog: Thanks for the suggestion! We did consider a hybrid water heater, but decided against mainly because some articles said they don't work especially well in unheated spaces like ours. Bumping up the gas supply line is interesting... That hasn't been mentioned by either of the last two plumbers who gave me estimates on the project. I'll be sure to ask them about it while deciding who to hire.

  • 4 years ago

    Which one did you finally go with? My plumber is also recommending the Navien with re-circ 240A which seems quite pricey. Did you consider any cheaper but reliable models with the re-circ option>

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    @Joe Macker

    I'm seeing prices of ~$1,400 -$1500 for the Navien 240A - which seems in line with other tankless units. For example, a similar Rheem unit without circ pump is ~$1,200 from Home Depot.

    They are pricey to start with - but it's the installation that makes these units crazy expensive - esp on retrofits. The flue has to be redone, the gas line has to be redone, an outlet installed - as well as a drain if there isn't one.

    If you have hard water I'd also really consider a water softener - esp with tankless.

    Retrofitting can be great if it solves other problems. In older homes, the water heater was put near the chimney - which was in the living room instead of near where water was used. PVC venting can allow one to move the water heater near the use and also avoid lining a masonry flue.

    @Samantha McCormick

    Would you mind sharing your general geographic location?

  • 3 years ago

    @AvatarWalt what was the problem with the dip switch setting and what did you have to change it to?


    Has anyone used the navilink remote control and wifi app? How was your experience?

  • 3 years ago

    Stick with tank. I have Navien tankless. Don't like.

  • 3 years ago

    @strategery what is it specifically that you don't like?

  • 3 years ago

    Joe Macker-- It's been a few years, so I don't recall specifically, but the switches need to be set a particular way to turn on the internal recirculation pump but they weren't. I found the info either online or in the manual and set them correctly and it's been fine since. We only have the recirculation loop through the kitchen though and, to do over, I would have gotten a concealed button that would recirculate only when I want hot water: slightly better energy savings; slightly better water savings. I thought about adding a remote but I don't really need to change the temperature. Is it useful for other things?

  • 3 years ago

    @strategery what didn’t you like? We are considering tankless for a summer home.

  • 3 years ago

    The tankless units are expensive and require yearly maintenance. Have not required a service call but I expect repair to also be expensive. We have not seen any cost savings in usage, and that's with recirc disabled. Only 2 people in home so hot water usage for showers is not an issue for us. With tank, you could run out of hot water but that's not a problem for us since we have no kids.

  • 3 years ago

    I've got two Rinnais (7000 sf house). One has a recirc on it (should have done it on the first but was talked out of it). How much maintenance you need to do depends on what your water quality is like. Never a problem.

  • 3 years ago

    My navien 240A with re-circ takes about 1 and a half minute for hot water. I am thinking of installing the remote button (Naviink) for recirc pump to reduce that time. Anyone have experience using that. Is it worth it?

  • 3 years ago

    I had a Rinnai for 10 years with no issues. I have a Navien in my new home and my hot water is brown and they say it needs regular maintenance. Rinnai did not. Wish i had gone with Rinnai. I hate this Navien. Here is my water. Navien tech support would not help. They require a licensed plumber on site and having trouble getting them back on site. https://youtu.be/y9zP_Y7DHZ0

  • 3 years ago

    I doubt if that is due to the Navien. Pipes maybe?


    I agree that the strict licensed plumber maintainance requirement for the Navien is painful.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Its never cold water. Only hot. Why i think it is the Navien and not the pipes. New home. Plumbing is pvc and pex(sp)

  • PRO
    3 years ago

    I have a Rinnai RL94 for 7 years and nothing but maintenance problems (igniter; flame rods; etc.). What should I expect to pay to have a licensed plumber (labor only) to replace with Navien 240A?

  • 3 years ago

    I just had a Navien NPE-240A installed (replaced an older tankless system). I’m seriously considering having it taken out and replacing it with something quieter. My home is a one story ranch and the Navien is in the attic not too far from my master bedroom - every time it cycles on/off it can be heard clearly in the master bedroom — I now try to make sure nothing is running or requiring hot water anywhere in the home at bedtime — although, it still will cycle at times. My previous tankless systems was totally quiet (did not hear it anywhere in the home) — the Navien is installed in the same location.

  • 3 years ago

    Same experience with the navien. It is installed in the garage and we can hear it across floors and several room walls.

  • 3 years ago

    The GC and installation plumber made an attempt to quiet the NPE-240A down -- they turned the recirculating pump completely off. That certainly helped with the periodic cycling on/off. I'm giving it some run time -- to see if this will be acceptable. If I have to avoid running warm/hot water at bedtime to prevent the noise, it will be replaced.


    Regarding the recirculation feature (faster hot water). --I didn't notice the benefit of the recirculating system (seemed to take just as long to get hot water), and turning it off hasn't shown to be an impact on performance/speed.


    The GC and plumber feel that Navien is among the best systems -- however, they are willing to replace the unit with another manufacturer (???), but I'd rather not go through all of that (again).


    Just one more thing to note - the Navien is in my attic and it is mounted to roof framing and bracing. It is not mounted against a wall and doesn't have a backing (e.g., plywood). That may have something to do with the loud(er) noise levels (nothing to muffle the sound coming out of the back of the unit). The former unit was mounted the same way (and was dead quiet).

  • 3 years ago

    My Navien was initially set to incorrect dipswitch setting and it used to take 4 minutes for hot water to start flowing. After I fixed it, it is now down to about 50sec. Go thru the manuals yourself. Don't trust your plumber.

  • 3 years ago

    Joe Macker makes a good point. Our dipswitch settings were wrong for recirculating, so it wasn't doing it even when I thought it was. We have the Navien in a small utility room adjoining the master bedroom, and I can hear a deep hum when it goes on, but it isn't intrusive.

  • 3 years ago

    @Joe Macker, what was the incorrect setting you found?

  • 3 years ago

    Following up on my Navien posts. The Navien representatives (two of them) stopped by my home to check out the installation and system. They did go into the attic and also ran most of my faucets - hot water. Didn’t find anything wrong with the system. To maintain the system at a quiet level, the plumber had turned the recirculation feature off. They thought that was a good solution.


    Unfortunately, the result of turning recirculating off is VERY, VERY slow water heat up at my kitchen sink (I can finish my hand washing and sink clean up before the water gets hot).


    I either have to live with the recirculating noise OR have very slow water heating (which results in much more water consumption).


    One more add: the Navien is louder than my previous instant water heater (I hear it whenever any hot water is running)


    I told my builder today that the Navien has to be replaced. Will bite the cost bullet.


    My recommendation for others considering a Navien, ask if you can hear one in operation somewhere and a competitor brand. Barring that, see if you can get a guarantee from your plumber (or builder) that they will replace it if you’re dissatisfied (in the first 14 days or so).




  • PRO
    3 years ago

    Hi, Scott,


    One of the advantages of a hot water recirculating system is that the hot water heater can be located some distance away from the use points without waiting long times for hot water to be delivered. We typically install our hot water heaters in the garage. The last place I'd want to install a hot water heater-whether tank-type or tankless--is in an attic. Water heaters and pipe connections eventually fail and there is risk of freezing in the event of a power outage. On most tankless units you can tell when the burner fires off. For that reason alone, I'd install them as far away from bedrooms as possible.


    We've installed a good number of both Rinnai and Navien units and had overall good results with both. Your issue with noise won't likely be remedied by changing brands. I think you'll be better served by changing the location of your water heater.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Hi Charles Ross Homes,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    My home is a 1960 single story ranch situated in a Southeast Texas. All of the homes I have owned here have had the water heater (tank or tankless) in the attic. City code permits for this install location. Not all, but many, homes in the area have water heaters in the attic.

    I understand about the potential leak issues - we have water leak monitoring and emergency shutoff and water collection pan/drainage in place.

    My garage is detached and on the Northeast side of my property. It would take quite a bit of work and cost to move the water heater (and associated gas/power) to the garage.

    I could consider putting the Navien on an outside wall, but that would require it to be installed on my master bedroom wall or in an unprotected area. I don't feel it would help with the sound issue anyway and there is the cost issue as well.

    I think the Navien NPE-240A is just not a good fit for my needs and constraints -- given its operations and operating requirements.

    My last instant water heater was a Noritz - put in by the previous homeowners. I never heard it operating. I'm sure it made some sound but that sound wasn't loud enough to permeate to any of the living areas. They don't make that Noritz any longer.

    Do you have recommendations or suggestions for a "quiet(er)" tankless system?

    Thanks.

  • PRO
    3 years ago

    Hi, Scott,


    I can't give you any guidance with respect to noise produced by tankless units. We've installed lots of the them, but in locations where whatever noise they produced was not an issue.


    If you are convinced the recirculating system is the culprit, I suggest you explore alternative controls which would let you turn the recirculating feature off when you go to bed and back on in the morning.

  • 3 years ago

    There are a number of options for not-full-time recirculation with Navien, though I can't say how well they work. I wish I'd known about the button when we were remodeling our house, as ideally I'd have had no recirculation except when I want hot water in the kitchen. The bathrooms are close to the heater, but the kitchen is a ways away.

  • 3 years ago

    Navien has a learning mode where it learns the pattern of when hot water is used and turns up accordingly. That should take care of it not turning on at night.


    Navien apparently sells a remote for hot water turnup. Some kind of a button that you keep near the shower/kitchen and press it when you want hot water. I am trying to find out how well it works.