General Question

McBean's avatar

Waterheaters: tankless or not? Which would you recommend and why?

Asked by McBean (1703points) June 9th, 2009

Time to buy a new water heater – something I’ve never had to do before. I live in California, where I must comply with Title 24 codes, but I believe that a tankless water heater is still an option. I’m tempted by 1.) the allure of virtually unlimited hot water, 2.) the absence of a tank of scalding water in my garage. Is there anything I should beware of here?

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8 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Tankless cost quite a bit more. But if you’re in your house “for good”, then I think it’s worth the investment.

BTW, the big tank water heaters typically rust out at end of life… meaning that they leak all their water out the bottom. Usually while you’re on vacation. And they will continue to try to “fill up” with incoming water, meaning the drainage won’t stop until you turn off the water at the source.

I’ve seen a lot of new construction recently where they place the big tanks up in the attic. I guess that’s to maximize the possible water damage to the greatest extent possible.

Tankless are safe and efficient. I say go for it.

whatthefluther's avatar

Here’s a good Buying Guide for a tankless heater. Gas fired is more efficient than electric and your energy savings should provide a good payback for the higher initial cost of the tankless system. Your utility company may also have a rebate program to go with the higher efficiency tankless system and may even send a representative to your home to review your situation and make recommendations. When my current tank quits, I plan on going tankless. Good luck to you. See ya…wtf

susanc's avatar

We replaced a leaky tanker with a gas-fired tankless about five years ago. Yes, it was expensive – bout three times as much as an electric of adequate size. But yes, the costs have been met by the efficiency of only having the water heated when it’s needed. I live alone. I don’t need 40 gallons or more of scalding hot water sitting around all the time. But it’s great when everyone comes to visit, too, because no matter how many showers are taken, you always have hot water.
And these things are tiny compared with tank heaters.

Lupin's avatar

I had a gas fired tankless unit about 12 years ago. When it kicked on you heard the roar of the flame and got static on the radio from the spark igniter firing at about 4 Hz. I’m sure they must be better now.
@susanc Is your unit quiet? Do you get static on the AM radio?
I think it cost us money because my then 16 year old could take as long a shower as he liked.

susanc's avatar

I do hear a little “distant”-seeming roar though the unit is right behind the wall. I don’t listen to the radio, I prefer to listen to the little roar I guess. This one only went in five years ago – maybe a newer models are more user-friendly.

Btw, @Lupin, the carpenter says fine on the price. Ha! @everybody else, always ask Lupin if you need help selling something obscure. He can figure it out!

Lupin's avatar

@susanc All parties are happy and you probably made a friend. That’s the best possible outcome! I’m so glad it worked out for you.

As for this question, if you get a chance, try doing a test with your clock radio so @McBean (and the rest of us) will have data. I used to listen to an AM station. It would be very noisy even in the bedroom 30 ft away. I could tell every time my kid turned on the water to brush his teeth, wash, or even rinse out a dish. for a light sleeper it was annoying.

Judi's avatar

I love my tank-less but it is expensive. You also need a special vent through the roof.
Pros- energy efficient, hot water on demand, long showers without running out.
Cons- expensive, requires new specialized expensive venting, Can’t try to buy a cheap point of use one. Need the real thing.
I threw that last one in there because i read a bad review about a small point of use water heater and someone was complaining about cold showers. That unit was for washing your hands at a sink. Not for whole house water heating.
Mine doesn’t effect the radio and is petty darned quiet!

susanc's avatar

@Lupin, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a clock radio, isn’t that shameful? But since Judi’s
tankless doesn’t affect her radio, I think we must assume there’s something funky about your particular unit – as it were.

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