Tankless water heaters are known for cost savings and efficiency. People enjoy the thought of non-stop hot water, but some may hold back because they do not understand how tankless water heaters work. The concept almost sounds too good to be true! If you harbor these same doubts, continue reading to learn more from a plumbing contractor in Grand Rapids, MN.
First: The Overall Concept
The tankless water heater is just what its name indicates. Rather than fill a tank with water, heat it and then store it until it is time to be used, the tankless version heats water as someone demands it. While they are only now gaining popularity in the U.S., this technology has long been in wide use all over Europe and in Japan.
It saves costs because it takes more energy to heat a tank of water than to do the same thing as water is turned on. There is also energy expended to keep that water warm. While going tankless requires upgrades to the gas and water systems that will likely give you sticker shock, the long-term benefits and reduced utility bills make up for that quickly.
The Main Component: The Heat Exchanger
All tankless heaters include a heat exchanger. Using electric coils or a gas burner, it will heat the water as it leaves your faucet. Turning on the water activates it and all water flows through it before it gets to you. This heats it immediately to a preset temperature.
Although you may notice a delay in hot water delivery when you have a traditional tank and the water must travel between rooms or stories, you will not detect any delay with a tankless heater. That is because the heat exchanger is a very efficient piece of technology made to transfer heat immediately to its target.
Important Factors: Flow Rate and Temperature Rise
Tankless heaters are different sizes and can run on electric power, natural gas or propane. Not only do you have to consider your power source but also how much of a demand will be on the heater.
Flow rate is the amount of water needing to be heated at one time. Showers will have a greater flow rate than the sink in the guest bathroom, for example. A water-saving showerhead will release two gallons per minute while the older models can go as high as four. So if your tankless water heater is limited to three gallons per minute and you have an old showerhead, your shower will likely be cooler than usual.
Temperature rise is the difference between the resting temperature of your water and the desired output temperature. For example, if your water is naturally 65 degrees and you like showers at 100 degrees, your temperature rise is 35 degrees. This rise increases with cooler weather, as groundwater will also lower in temperature.
These two factors together determine your size of tankless water heater. A smaller model with a maximum 150,000 BTU heating capacity will operate at 8.4 gallons per minute flow if you only require a 35 degree temperature rise. This proportion changes as you increase the rise: This same model drops to 3.8 gallons per minute if you adjust the rise to 77 degrees.
This explanation intends to demystify the tankless water heater and help you with your future purchasing decisions. If you have further questions, a plumbing contractor in Grand Rapids, MN at Rapids Plumbing & Heating Inc will be happy to discuss these efficient technologies further. Please call, as we would love to discuss your options.