Installing a Tankless Water Heater
Thinking about switching over from a traditional tank water heater to a tankless water heater? If you are, congratulations: there are few appliance upgrades that will bring more benefit to your home than a tankless water heater. Not only will it reduce your monthly power bill, it will also cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide your household with an endless supply of hot water.
Which Tankless Water Heater to Choose
Before purchasing a tankless water heater, you'll want to ask some basic questions about your home and your water usage:
* Gas or electric? You can purchase an electric tankless water heater or a gas-powered tankless water heater. Gas-powered units are generally more expensive in terms of up-front cost, but typically cost less to run over their lifetime. However, gas-powered units (natural gas or propane) tend to be less energy efficient, and tend to be more difficult to install.
* How much water do you need? Not all units are created equally. Just as a big family needs a big tank water heater, a big family will also need a bigger tankless unit. If you purchase the wrong size for your water usage, you may regret it later, as the promise of “endless hot water” will seem like a joke.
Tips for Installing a Tankless Water Heater
* Ventilation: It's very important that gas-powered units are properly ventilated, because they produce exhaust fumes. Some of these fumes can be very harmful, even deadly. Although some models have safety features to automatically shut-off when harmful gases are detected, this problem is best avoided by properly ventilating the unit.
* Combustion Air: Gas-powered tankless water heaters also need an adequate supply of fresh air for combustion. This is important to know if you are planning to install a tankless unit in a small, enclosed space. Some tankless water heaters can be installed outside, which solves the problem of ventilation and combustion air, but on the other hand, installing a unit outside also exposes it to the elements.
* Water and Gas Piping: Where you can install your tankless water heater depends upon where the gas and water lines are for your home. Generally, your unit must be placed within 20 to 70 feet of your gas meter. If you are installing a gas-powered unit and you have other appliances that run on gas, you may need a thicker gas pipe. Otherwise, your gas supply may not be enough to power multiple appliances at once. Likewise, when it comes to water piping, you should check to make sure your water pressure is in the 30 to 50 PSI range.
* Electricity: Whether you choose a gas-powered tankless water heater or an electric model, you'll need to make sure your home can handle the demanding electrical requirements. As a rule of thumb, you will need a dedicated 120V AC circuit. Some electric models require even higher voltage and amperage.
The bottom line when it comes to installing a tankless water heater is to be very careful and follow all the instructions. If you are an electrician, a plumber, or have had previous experience installing a tankless water heater, you may feel comfortable navigating the installation by yourself. Otherwise, get it installed professionally, either by the manufacturer or by a professional installer with experience with tankless hot water heaters.