Tankless Water Heater or not?
I’ve been getting a few questions about tankless water heaters lately. I’m not much of a salesman since I talk most of my customers out of the bigger job of converting to a tankless water heater. Under most circumstances, for most homeowners, it just simply does not make very much sense to me. However, for certain business applications it may be just what you need.
Pros for Tankless
- Never-ending hot water (in theory)! In some households, that initially sounds like a colossal plus, especially homes with kids that like long showers.
- Take up less space and can even be mounted on an exterior wall or attic.
- Have a lower cost per year to operate (though, as I will explain later, the long term cost is much higher)
Cons for Tankless Water Heaters
- Requires electricity to operate no electricity = no hot water
- The initial cost is much higher
- The long term cost is higher
- No in-home water storage tank. With a 50-gallon traditional tank water heater, in an emergency (earthquake, power outage, civil unrest), you would have 50 gallons of clean drinkable water in the house. With a tankless water heater, you will have none other than what is in the pipes.
- If you want to just stop reading here and get a regular water heater click here.
Will if I need venting or a special electric setup for the new tankless heater?
A tankless water heater requires a more extensive gas line than a traditional water heater. It requires electricity and special venting. Due to this, a typical cost to convert from your existing tank water heater to a tankless water heater is around $3900.00. This price can vary depending on your particular situation. A typical fee to replace a standard 50-gallon water heater is $1120.00. So the difference in initial cost is $8780.00 (average prices). These prices are fairly accurate as of 4/10/23, and does NOT include the tankless water heater.
Brands of Tankless Water Heaters:
The Noritz NR71 is an excellent tankless water heater for a small home and has an EF (energy efficiency) rating of 0.83. The Bradford White 50 gallon water heater model #M4TW50T6FBN has an EF rating of 0.67. I calculated the cost per year to operate each of these units using the information from here and here and found that Nortiz will cost you $81.44 per year less than running the Bradford White 50 gallon. The initial cost of $2580 divided by the price per year of $81.44 shows it will take you 32 years before you hit the break-even point. And honestly, you will never break even since you will have to replace that tankless water heater at least once.
There are circumstances where I think tankless water heaters are okay if you are limited in space and need to free up that water heater closet. If you can afford the space and money to store water by other means for emergencies.
As a side note, if you are running out of hot water for your showers, it can often be remedied by simply replacing your existing water heater with one the next size up or with a larger “first-hour rating.” To investigate the installation of a regular water heater click here.