Going Tank-less with Your Hot Water Heat
Adams video pick-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlkJtya-iV0&feature=related
Tank-less hot water heaters seem to be the new craze in the world of plumbing and HVAC. Their claim to fame is their ability to heat water instantly and efficiently. Sounds good right? It does, but there are several points to consider before converting to a tank-less unit in your home.
How Tank-less Units Solve the Problems with Old Hot Water Tanks
Traditional hot water heaters use a large tank to store the water they heat before sending it to the different parts of a home. Whether the unit is gas or electric, the water is warmed by heating elements and then held inside a tank until it is needed. The problems associated with this type of unit are:
- Heat loss
- Space consumption
- Time needed to refill and reheat
Heat loss occurs when the water is left standing in the tank for long periods of time. Hot water tanks are internally insulated, but depending on how much water is in use, your hot water tank could be wasting energy trying to keep the water in the tank at the set temperature.
Hot water tanks also take up a lot of space. If you live in a home with limited room, a 40 gallon hot water tank will occupy a good chunk of the little storage space that you may have.
The biggest problem that homeowners have with hot water tanks is the amount of time it takes for the unit to refill with hot water. If you have several people living in your home (or if you take really long showers), chances are you have had the unpleasant experience of running out of hot water. As cold water enters at the bottom of the tank to be heated, you remove the hot water from the top. Once the hot water is gone, a typical hot water tank can take about 45 minutes to refill with hot water!
Tank-less hot water heaters seem to provide a solution to each of these problems. This type of unit heats the water using either an electric element (electric powered) or a gas burner (gas powered). These heating devices are run at a much higher temperatures than those in a tank unit. This enables the unit to heat the water instantly, therefore eliminating the need for a tank. If we eliminate the tank, we eliminate heat loss, space consumption, and refill time. These units do not store the hot water, they are typically small enough to be mounted on a wall, and they do not have a tank to refill because the water is heated the moment it enters the home and sent directly through the pipes.
What to Expect From a Tank-less Unit
Consumers often make certain assumptions about this type of water heating method. Since it is often referred to as “on demand” or “instant” heat. Homeowners typically expect there to be hot water readily available the minute they turn on the faucet. This is not necessarily the case. With any plumbing system, there will always be water in the pipes. That water will become cold rather quickly and must be drained from the system before new hot water can flow. This causes what plumbers refer to as a “cold water sandwich” between the old and new hot water. This is often brief and should be the only time when you receive unwanted cold water with this type of system.
Yet, many people who have these units still complain about inconsistency in the water temperature. This should not be a problem if the unit is properly sized for the home. To prevent this type of problem, you need to make a few checks before purchasing a tank-less unit.
Gas or Electric?
First, you need to determine whether you require a gas powered unit or an electric unit. Electric units are good for heating only small areas of a home. Some people will put each appliance, like the shower, washing machine, kitchen sink, ect, on a separate unit. The benefit with this is that your home will heat water up to 50% more efficiently than if you had a hot water tank. But, the installation of several units is often too costly to make this option practical for many people.
However, if you are looking to heat the water for your entire home with only one unit, you are better off going with a gas powered system. Gas powered systems can typically produce higher flow rates of hot water than an electric system. This higher flow rate will allow you to run multiple appliances at once. For example, someone can take a shower while someone else is doing laundry without sacrificing hot water in either area.
In addition, climate has an effect of the efficiency of your tank-less hot water heater. This is because the water for your home comes from underground: The warmer the climate, the warmer the ground water. If the water coming into the home is warm, the water heater will use less energy to get it to the desired temperature. Therefore, if you live in a colder climate, like Detroit, you should probably invest in a gas powered unit to get enough hot water. But in warmer climates like Florida, a moderately sized home can probably run an electric unit without any problem.
Placement of Unit
The location of the tank-less unit is also something to consider. You will need to avoid long runs of piping between the unit and a faucet. The further away a water outlet is from the water source the longer it will take to get hot water to the outlet. It is important to note that this is something any hot water system has to deal with, but the difference is a tank-less system will never run out of hot water.
The system also has to be properly vented. A gas powered water heater must be vented directly to the outdoors, because it needs a good source of oxygen to create combustion. Also, tank-less systems create more combustion by-products because they run at higher temperatures. So, take into account the placement of other venting systems so that the dangerous combustion by-products, like carbon monoxide, are not pulled back into the home.
Benefits of Efficiency
Tank-less hot water heaters are more efficient than the traditional tank storage units. Depending on the amount of water you use, the efficiency may vary from home to home. If your home uses only about 40 gallons of water daily, your tank-less unit will be 24-34% more efficient than a hot water tank. If your home uses more water, 87-90 gallons a day, your unit will only be about 8-14% more efficient than a hot water tank. Either way, you will save money on your energy bills in the long run with the installation of a tank-less hot water heating system.
Finally if tank-less hot water heat sounds like something you want in your home, you need to make sure you hire a reliable and experience contractor. Many contractors will shy away from this type of unit because it is new to them. If you choose the wrong contractor, there is a good chance that you will have problems with your system. You need someone who can properly assess the hot water needs of your home, and install a tank-less system that is able to meet those needs. If successful, you will be able to enjoy the convenience of endless hot water in your home.