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How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Tankless water heaters instantly warm water as it circulates through the device, eliminating the need for a storage tank. The heating elements, similar to those in electric storage water heaters, then activate to rapidly heat water only to the set temperature as it passes through the heat exchanger.

At the core of the tankless system is a heat exchanger that utilises a high-efficiency gas burner or electric elements. The heated water then flows directly from the unit to your tap or appliance, evidencing the system’s efficiency.

Instant gas hot water systems can have higher maximum flow rates, often over 11 litres per minute, ensuring water your showers and appliances receive is consistently heated. These heaters, functioning on demand, activate only during use, akin to air conditioning units, ensuring hot water is provided instantly and efficiently without the wasteful cycle of maintaining a heated reserve.

Gas water heaters deliver hot water instantly, meeting significant demands while saving energy across several fixtures at once. Tankless systems are energy savers, ideally supporting homes with moderate daily hot water needs, typically below 400 litres.

Comparing Tankless vs Traditional Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters and traditional storage systems both offer distinct advantages and limitations.

However, the higher initial expense and more involved installation of tankless heaters, along with their limited ability to service multiple fixtures simultaneously, must be considered. Storage tank systems may be more economic to set up and simpler to install, but they can lose heat and run out hot water due to their limited capacity until a reheating process occurs.

Ultimately, energy efficiency and energy rating considerations also play a significant role when choosing between gas electric tankless hot water heaters or traditional models, along with your hot water usage and patterns.

Tankless Water Heaters: Lifespan and Maintenance

A properly maintained tankless water heater can exceed 20 years of service, underscoring its durability compared to other systems. Tankless units typically boast extensive lifespans and superior energy efficient operation compared to tank heaters, outlasting traditional storage tank models which endure 10-15 years on average. The non-corrosive design of tankless units makes them more resilient than tank-based systems, ensuring key components like the heat exchanger remain efficient over the years.

Regular maintenance of your hot water system can enhance both its efficiency and lifespan, with checks recommended every 1-2 years. Catching any problems early on can extend the operational lifespan. Overall, the long-lasting nature and reliability of tankless heaters means excellent value from the initial investment.

Maintenance tasks include descaling, inspecting electrical connections, verifying safety features, and optimising burn rates in gas models.

Calculating the Return on Investment for a Tankless Upgrade

When deciding whether upgrading from a traditional storage tank water heater to a tankless system makes financial sense, it is good to calculate the return on your investment. Installing a tankless unit costs between $2,000 and $4,000, in contrast to traditional storage heaters which cost $500 to $1,500. However over its lifespan of 20+ years, the energy savings of a tankless model, which heats up water on demand, compared to a traditional water tank, result in it being cheaper long-term.

To determine the payback period, you’ll consider how much the upfront installation will set you back, alongside reduced energy bills, and the number of years you plan to reside in your dwelling. When it comes to financial considerations, if installing a tankless heater costs $3,000 compared to $1,000 for a regular system, the upfront difference is $2,000. Now if your energy bill decreases by $300 per year with a tankless system, it would take just over 6 years to recoup the initial investment through energy savings.

This lifespan easily fits within the 20+ operational years expected from a tankless unit.

While an instant gas heater has higher initial costs, choosing a tankless water heater is a good investment that can pay for itself over time in energy savings. And you get the added benefits of an endless hot water supply that can save space in your home and can potentially save money on energy.

Key Considerations When Choosing Gas vs Electric

When deciding between a gas or electric tankless water heater, there are several key factors to weigh up:

  • Energy source availability - Gas hot water systems require connection to natural gas lines which may not be accessible in all areas. Electric models only need a suitable power outlet.
  • Gas and heat pump systems typically feature higher maximum flow rates, at around 11 litres per minute, over the 7 litres offered by electric models. This enables gas systems to satisfy consistent water demand by maintaining a steady flow of hot water for more simultaneous demands.
  • Although running costs for gas models and solar hot water system installation are lower, their initial setup demands a more significant energy investment. Electric and solar instant hot water systems, while costing less upfront, may have higher ongoing energy costs.
  • Environmental impact - Gas emits greenhouse gases when burned. Electricity may come from clean or fossil fuel-based sources depending on your utility provider.

In summary, gas tankless units work best for homes with high hot water usage, access to natural gas, and ability to invest more initially for long-term savings. Electric models suit smaller households with lower flow rate needs and cheaper installation costs. Carefully weigh your household’s unique requirements.

Tankless Water Heater Installation and Setup

Installation of tankless units, especially electric models, requires meticulous planning and a professional plumber’s expertise. Before installation, select the ideal spot in your house, considering hot water demands, proximity to gas lines or electrical outlets, and the necessity for proper ventilation. Ensure your gas line or electrical circuit can handle the unit’s power needs, which for a substantial gas heater, could be as much as 199 MJ per hour.

Wall-mounted units require solid mounting surfaces to guarantee consistent delivery of instant hot water.

Installation of tankless water units mandates correct ventilation, condensate drainage, and checking the pilot light. Consider installing multiple units if your household usage exceeds the peak flow rate. Finally, the system requires programming to control output temperature.

The system must be connected to cold water inlet pipes of a diameter that ensures adequate flow rates, typically about 11 litres per minute for gas tankless heaters.

Leveraging over a decade of plumbing expertise, Balmain Plumbing specialises in the particulars of tankless water heater installations. Contact us today on 1300 349 338 or jobs@balmainplumbingservices.com.au to upgrade to an endless flow of hot water.

As a licensed and insured business serving Balmain, we adeptly manage the entire hot water system process, including permits and paperwork.

Tankless Limitations and Potential Drawbacks

Although tankless water heaters offer advantages such as on-demand continuous flow and energy efficiency, there are limitations to be mindful of:

  • Complex installation - Tankless systems have more complex venting and plumbing requirements compared to traditional water heaters. Upgrades may be needed.
  • Higher upfront costs - Purchasing and installing a tankless unit costs significantly more upfront than a conventional storage system.
  • Cold water sandwich effect - It takes a few seconds for the heater to ignite when turning on a hot water tap, resulting in a burst of cold water between cycles.

Under circumstances of extensively high peak water flow demands, minimal usage, or tight budgetary limits, a conventional water storage tank system might be preferable to a tankless model. Consult with a professional to learn more about and assess your household requirements.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Right for Your Home?

Determining whether a tankless water heater suits your home depends on multiple factors. Reflect on your household’s hot water needs – require a ceaseless supply for prolonged showers, large baths, or to run appliances concurrently? Tankless hot water systems deliver a constant supply, with the capacity to provide several gallons per day of hot water, making them an ideal choice for larger families.

In addition, evaluate your available area and financial plan for integrating heaters into your living environment. While more expensive upfront starting around $2000, tankless units take up less area and offer energy savings over their 20+ year lifespan. Make sure you have adequate gas line capacity or electrical power to meet the tankless heater’s demands.

Also, expect a short burst of cold water when turning on the hot tap before the tankless heater ignites.

Contact our team at Balmain Plumbing to schedule a consultation. Reach us on 1300 349 338 or jobs@balmainplumbingservices.com.au.

As licensed experts in hot water heater installation, we can provide personalised advice on whether a tankless upgrade makes sense based on your household’s specific water usage, space constraints, and budget.

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