That is the question!! Happy Friday everyone and welcome back. One of the hot topics as of late, are tankless water heaters, particularly since the DOE (Department of Energy) changed the efficiency regulations for water heaters earlier this year. The efficiency standards that tanked water heaters must meet were raised causing some difficult challenges. In order to meet these new efficiency ratings, the manufacturers were forced to increase the size of some heaters, and in some cases this size increase makes it almost impossible to go back with the same type of water heater that was always there without extensive remodeling. This is where our tankless discussion comes to the forefront.
There are three types of tankless water heaters; electric, propane, and natural gas. The biggest issues we face installing electric tankless heaters are due to limitations in the homes current electrical system. Often times, the cost of upgrading the electrical panels or circuits is more than the heater installation itself. The first thing to look for, if you are considering an electric tankless heater, is how many amps are coming into your home from FPL. This is very easy to find out, you simply need to go to wherever the electrical power comes into your home, and see what size the breaker is that shuts off the power to your home. In your typical single family it is going to be 100, 150, or 200 amps. If your home was built before the 1990’s you may only have a 100 amp service, which means an electrical service upgrade is in your future if you’re going to go the tankless route. Obviously, if you have natural gas or propane readily available on your property, the electrical is not a concern.
All tankless heaters work the same way in terms of GPM (gallons per minute) and temperature rise. The hotter the heater needs to heat the water to achieve the desired temperature the less GPM the heater can produce. Electrically speaking a 32 KW electrical water heater can produce 5.5 gallons per minute at a 40 degree rise, 4.3 gallons at 50 degrees, and so on. Gas or propane heaters are much more efficient in that they can typically give you 9.5 GPM at a 75 degree rise.
One of the other important things to consider is how much calcium and magnesium is in the water supply coming into your home, or in other words the hardness. Tankless heaters super heat the water as it passes through and it also superheats those two elements in the water. This can create issues with the heating ability of the system as the calcium and magnesium build up on the interior of the heater as lime scale. That once again leaves you with another choice to be made (I can hear the collective sigh). You can, A.) have a professional plumbing company take the heater apart once a year or so and clean it all up so it remains efficient, or, B.) install a whole home water softener system to remove all the calcium and magnesium from the water thus prolonging the life of not only the tankless water heater, but all the fixtures in your home.
As always, if you are considering going the tankless route for your water heating solutions give us a call today at 1-800-475-1504, or visit www.artplumbingandac.com to schedule a complimentary water heater evaluation.
House Whisperer out!!
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