How Do Instant Hot Water Heaters Work?

Switching to an instant (tankless) water heater is a fast-growing trend in the US right now. Instant water heaters are smaller, last longer, and are more efficient than their tank counterparts. As great as all of this sounds, it is important to understand how they work before deciding if a tankless water heater is right for your home.

 

How do instant water heaters work?

One of the most important things to understand is the water heater does not have a tank to store the hot water in, so it must “instantly” heat it up. One advantage of not storing the water is instant water heaters have a much higher lifespan than tank heaters. Not having water constantly sitting inside the system prevents rust from damaging the system, increasing the life span by nearly 2-5 years. In order to heat the water, it flows through a pipe in the heater, and is heated by a heating element as it flows through the heater. There are two main ways this is achieved:

  • Electric – When using electricity, water heaters use a coil that heats up around the pipe, warming the water inside. Electrical units are more efficient in terms of lost heat, however, they require a lot of energy. Electric instant water heaters also are generally able to heat less water at a time, making them more attractive as a point-of-use heater.
  • Gas – Gas instant water heaters work by using gas burners placed around the pipe to heat up the water as it flows through the heater. Gas instant water heaters provide more heat over a period of time, making them better for whole-house heaters.

The water is then pushed to the open tap. One drawback to this is that the heater must be constantly be heating the water until the tap is turned off because the water can lose its heat as it makes its way to its desired tap.

Typically, instant water heaters require extra, special ventilation since they use high-powered burners. Gas heaters also usually require a larger gas pipe than the rest of the house has. Due to these reasons, installation costs can be high.

 

How much do they cost?

Speaking of costs, instant water heaters are expensive upfront. In fact, some models are up to 3 times more expensive than tank water heaters. Installation costs are also relatively high. Gas models especially require a lot of work to install. Due to the complexity of instant water heaters, professional installation is almost always required.

However, in the long term, instant water heaters are the way to go. Instant water heaters are way more efficient than tank heaters, namely due them not requiring stand by heat. Standby heat loss occurs when tank water heaters have to continuously heat the water in the tank. This is not a problem that instant water heaters have. Remember, instant hot water heaters only heat the water when it is needed.

Instant water heaters are complex, but the advantages that they have over tank heaters are huge. Luckily at Bird Dog Plumbing in Longview, TX, our expert team is ready to assist you with your installation! If have you have any questions about instant water heaters, or want to know if they are an option for you, please contact us right away!