Understanding How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Understanding How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Tankless water heaters, also known as demand or instantaneous water heaters, only provide hot water when you need it. This means the standby energy loss associated with storage water heaters doesn’t exist with tankless versions. This saves energy to lower your monthly water heating bills. Here’s a brief look at how tankless water heaters work so you can decide if they’re right for your home.

How Tankless Systems Heat Water

When you turn on the kitchen faucet, take a shower, or start the dishwasher, cold water travels down a pipe and into the tankless water heater. Depending on the heat source, an electric element or gas burner turns on, heating the water instantly. The freshly heated water then travels down the pipe to the appliance or fixture where you called for hot water.

Tankless Water Heater Flow Rates

In general, tankless water heaters provide two to five gallons of hot water per minute. Gas-fired models tend to have a higher flow rate than electric units. However, gas water heaters waste energy if the pilot light is constantly burning.

To prevent this drawback, be sure to choose a tankless unit with an intermittent ignition device (IID). This uses a spark ignition device similar to the one on a gas kitchen range, eliminating the need for a standing pilot light.

Whole-House vs. Point-of-Use Systems

Even the largest gas-fired water heater with the highest flow rate may not be able to keep up with multiple hot water needs occurring simultaneously. For example, taking a shower while the dishwasher runs may push a tankless unit to its limit.

You can overcome the flow rate restrictions of demand water heaters by installing a whole-house unit and two or three point-of-use systems in your home. Kitchens are an excellent location for point-of-use water heaters. They are small enough to fit under the sink and virtually eliminate the lag time for hot water. Plus, a point-of-use unit facilitates hot water activities in the kitchen, freeing up the whole-house unit for hot water needs in the bathrooms and laundry room.

Potential Savings

If your family consumes less than 41 gallons of hot water per day, a tankless water heater may save you 24 to 34 percent on your water heating bills compared to a storage water heater. Even if your home consumes more than twice this much hot water per day, you can still appreciate energy savings of 8 to 14 percent. The greatest savings come from using point-of-use systems, which can cut your water heating bills by 27 to 50 percent.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of tankless water heating in your San Jose, CA home, Mike Counsil Plumbing can help make it happen. We’ll give you an accurate, upfront estimate so you know the details and cost of your investment before work begins.

To ask more questions about tankless water heaters, or to request an installation estimate, please contact us today.


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