We often recommend tankless water heaters to customers. These alternatives to the standard water heater that uses a tank have numerous advantages:
- They consume less energy
- They have longer service lives
- They take up much less space
- They provide unlimited hot water
Except … we want to talk about that last point a bit. It is a major selling point for tankless water heaters, but it can also give people the wrong impression. It’s perhaps better to say that a tankless water heater won’t run out of hot water. This might sound like the same as saying limitless, but not exactly. It’s a description that better explains how a water heater works.
Why Standard Water Heaters Can Run Out of Hot Water
To make it easier to understand the situation with a tankless water heater, it’s best to start with something you’re familiar with: a standard water heater running out of hot water. We’ve all experienced that time when relatives were visiting and the hot water ran out for showers in the morning.
The reason this occurs is because a standard water heater keeps a tank of hot water ready for use. It has to come on regularly to keep the water at the desired temperature. When there’s a demand for hot water, the storage tank only has a limited supply at hand. Although the water heater will start heating up more water as it comes in, it takes a while before a fully heated supply is available again.
The Heating Process of a Tankless System
A tankless water heater doesn’t store any water. It’s heating system that heats up water as it passes through a series of pipes. A heat exchanger swiftly moves heat from gas jets to the water moving through the pipes: it’s a fast process and the water heater can just keep doing it and sending out hot water.
There’s no supply that will get drained and a long process afterwards to heat up more. As long as a hot water tap is turned on in the house and the water is moving through the tankless water heater, more hot water will come out.
So … That’s Unlimited, Right?
Yes, technically. There is a catch however. A tankless water heater can be overwhelmed by demand. The system does have a limit on how much water it can heat up at a time. If there’s only one tap on in the house, no trouble.
If multiple taps are on, such as two showers plus somebody running the washing machine, the strain can cause the water heater to lose energy efficiency as it tries to keep up. This can also cause temperature fluctuations.
Know When Tankless Works for You
Tankless systems are best suited for homes where multiple hot water taps won’t turn on at once, such as small family homes. Larger households can use multiple tankless water heaters to meet the higher demand, although in these cases it may be more economical to have a correctly sized storage tank water heater.
We offer water heater installation in Campbell River, BC and we can answer any questions you may have about getting one.