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Tankless vs. Tanked Water Heater

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  • #614324
    DIYPro
    Pro

    I have two old conventional tanked water heaters that needs to be replaced. As i am doing the research, I am seeing lots of maintenance issues with the thankless water heaters. I would like to install good quality equipment so it does not require much maintenance effort in the long run. Appreciate your recommendations on best thankless and tanked brands and models.

    #614325
    DIYPro
    Pro

    I forgot to mention that I will need a natural gas unit.

    #614358
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Lots of really good units out there. With tankless you need to buy a quality unit that is rated for your area. Different climate zones need different units based on the average temp of the incoming water. Rinnai makes a good quality unit but they are not inexpensive. You will see a reduction in your gas usage that reduces your bill and helps justify the cost.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #614363
    kswiss
    Pro
    edmonton, AB

    Just make sure if you go tankless that you size it properly. They involve a bit more maintenance for sure but if you follow all of the manufacturers requirements for installation you shouldn’t have any issues. It’s also a good idea to check the gas connection sizes and btu load to make sure you have sufficient piping installed.

    #614366
    TopNotch
    Pro
    elmwood park, NJ

    You likely have to upside the gas line.
    Biggest factor is hard water is problematic.

    Working Pro since 1993

    Tom M

    #614393
    DIYPro
    Pro

    I am told that Navien -NPE-240A Premium Condensing Tankless System is the best for large capacity as it is rated for:
    -11.2 GPM, more than enough for simultaneous sinks and showers
    -199,999 BTUs
    -97% efficient
    -98°F – 140°F in terms of water temperature
    -comes with a buffer tank and re-circulation pump right in the box

    When I read the consumer reviews, people had problems with the pump itself and circuit board failure after couple of years along with leakage.

    I am seriously thinking that companies have not yet optimized the performance of this equipment in US models. Just like anything else, as they get more popular and widely used, there will be better systems coming.

    I think for now, I will stick with the tanked system. I am curious if anyone makes a unit that will last a long time without getting rust problems, if so what brand is the best for gas unit?

    #614409
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I think for now, I will stick with the tanked system. I am curious if anyone makes a unit that will last a long time without getting rust problems, if so what brand is the best for gas unit?

    You didn’t say but I assume your tanks need replaced due to leaking? I just replaced the heating elements and cleaned my electric tank rather then replacing it, The cost was just a few bucks. The tank is about 17 years old but since it wasn’t leaking I saw no reason to spend the money on a new one yet.

    Keep in mind the best way to prevent calcium build up/corrosion is to flush it once in a while, Simply open the drain valve for a few minutes

    #614423

    I think for now, I will stick with the tanked system. I am curious if anyone makes a unit that will last a long time without getting rust problems, if so what brand is the best for gas unit?

    The same two points could be said about tanked systems though:
    -For best performance, you should perform maintenance draining on them to avoid buildup
    -Tanks rust out too (typically only get 10 years) and often with catastrophic leaks

    #614429
    Doobie
    Moderator

    I had been looking into to whole tankless issue for years knowing we were gonna need to change out our tank at some point. Well, last summer we finally did along with a new furmace and A/C, and we did not go tankless and it wasn’t because of any ‘money’ issue that we based that decision on in the higher installation cost for a tankless unit.

    I had been told by a plumber who is also a good friend of mine and an excellent plumber that tankless are prone to problems and you really have to have somebody who knows what they are doing with these units for which model is right for you and how to install them properly. They’re nowhere near as simple as tanked units. This was also something I knew more or less having done my own research reading what plumbers thought of them as well. My reading up on this was done years ago, but I recall there was a lot of info on the Ridgid Plumbing forum that I read on tankless units here…

    https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum

    Tankless are common in Europe, but there’s a reason for that, they often are used in apartment/condo units for their space saving characteristics. Here, I believe that most people who are getting them are more for the idea of energy savings and a continuous supply of water and there’s a little bit of they’re kinda ‘cool’ to have one as well. We were not really concerned about the continuous water supply characteristic, and from I’ve read the energy savings that manufacturers claim is grossly overrated in some cases. The Bradford White 50 Gal unit we got to replace our 30+ yo 40 gal John Woods model with is a power vented unit which itself is an energy saver over our old one that we also received a government program discount for of about $500 IIRC. So far, we can all take one shower after another which included my 13 yo son who likes to take 45 minute showers and not run out of hot water. FWIW.

    #614445
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    I am told that Navien -NPE-240A Premium Condensing Tankless System is the best for large capacity as it is rated for:
    -11.2 GPM, more than enough for simultaneous sinks and showers
    -199,999 BTUs
    -97% efficient
    -98°F – 140°F in terms of water temperature
    -comes with a buffer tank and re-circulation pump right in the box

    When I read the consumer reviews, people had problems with the pump itself and circuit board failure after couple of years along with leakage.

    I am seriously thinking that companies have not yet optimized the performance of this equipment in US models. Just like anything else, as they get more popular and widely used, there will be better systems coming.

    I think for now, I will stick with the tanked system. I am curious if anyone makes a unit that will last a long time without getting rust problems, if so what brand is the best for gas unit?

    I have two Navien Tankless systems in my house. I have had minimal problems with them over almost 10 years. I have had to replace the flow sensors , but it is a fairly easy DIY project and I did have a heat exchanger go out on one. they quickly sent me a whole new unit. Mine do not have the re-circulation pump or buffer tank as I positioned them close to the point of use.

    If you have hard water, you will want a softener ahead of the unit to keep it from getting limed up. we have a softener and I have not had a lime problem in the 10 years they have been in use.

    I would say my biggest complaint is that they never run out of hot water and thus my daughters take extremely long showers. The newer units have control boards you can control with your cell phone. I wish I had that so I could turn the unit off after a 15 minute shower. I pitty the day when they have to take a shower from a tanked unit and run out of water half way through.

    As far as dependibility, I think it comes down to the manufacturer. I swear by ( Not At ) the Navien units I have.

    #614595
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    The tank vs. tankless thing comes up pretty often, and I think it’s because there is no clear-cut answer.

    I happen to like tankless a lot, but it’s not for every situation.

    I’ve installed several, and in almost ever case, a larger fuel line was necessary. Not always, but it’s important to have a competent plumber, who knows how to figure gas volume and pressure, (I know, seems silly that some wouldn’t know, but I actually ran into a couple. Have a funny story about one of them.)

    I install Noritz heaters, because I think they are the best. I’ve done a couple in commercial applications, and they just run and run. I am not a Factory Certified Installer, and I receive no compensation or support from them in any way, I just have good success with them. If fact, their customer support and tech support kinda sucks. Almost stopped recommending them because of that, till I chewed some ass on the phone with them.

    Tankless does require more maintenance than a tank unit. A tank unit should have about 5-10 gallons drained off the bottom every 1-6 months, depending on water conditions. A tankless unit should have a vinegar or other commercial lime remover pumped through the system with about the same frequency, and the filters removed and cleaned.

    Tankless units also have electric usage, so if power goes out, and you don’t have a generator, you won’t have hot water.

    Tankless is also not a good idea for situations where you’ll be using small amounts of water continuously. The tank begins heating when water flows through it, so there is a lag time between when you turn on the faucet, and when you get hot water.

    Any other questions, I’ll try to answer them.

    Delta

    #614613
    Doobie
    Moderator

    Tankless is also not a good idea for situations where you’ll be using small amounts of water continuously.

    Hadn’t heard of that aspect before, but it would make sense.

    #614694
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Tankless is also not a good idea for situations where you’ll be using small amounts of water continuously.

    Hadn’t heard of that aspect before, but it would make sense.

    I should have said “small amounts of water repeatedly”. I think that would have made more sense.

    Because the heater fires when water begins to flow, there is a lag time between when you turn on the tap, and when you actually receive hot water, even if the heater is close to the point of use. It is actually possible to use the water repeatedly, little bits at a time, and never have hot water.

    Delta

    #738492

    I have a rinnai tankless water heater, and you can buy a commercial controller for it, but it depends which model you have on how hot it can get. Mine is a RN75i and it can only get to 165 with the commercial controller, but a 94i can get up to 185. They sell on ebay for ~$45 (the controllers) the heaters are 700-1200 and can cost a lot to be installed.

    Here is a resource I discovered while doing a quick google search, they have tons of information that will help you: https://ioutdooryou.com/best-commercial-tankless-water-heater-reviews/

    #738493
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    the heaters are 700-1200 and can cost a lot to be installed.

    This is especially true of an electric tankless HWH. I have one, works great but needed a commercial 300 AMP separate box to make it work.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #738514
    smallerstick
    Pro
    North Bay, ON

    Mine is a Navien natural gas unit, very simple, inexpensive installation. We chose that for space saving in a small utility room and for efficiency. Natural gas is a much less expensive fuel here compared to electricity and installation is easy.

    Our unit was installed about 4 months ago and so far it has been a good experience. It takes a bit longer to get hot water compared to a tank unit but temperature is steady and more than adequate for our use. We use the max residential setting of 125► which is comfortable.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

    #738518
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    We have installed several of the Navien units and they are a good unit. If the wait for the hot water is an issue they do have a unit with a small buffer tank and a recirculation pump to keep hot water in the lines and get hot water to the point of discharge faster. You will wan to insulate you hot water lines in a system such as this.

    #738545
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    I have been happy with my tankless unit as well. Definitely saves money on the electric bill and never run out of hot water.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #738546
    smallerstick
    Pro
    North Bay, ON

    We have installed several of the Navien units and they are a good unit. If the wait for the hot water is an issue they do have a unit with a small buffer tank and a recirculation pump to keep hot water in the lines and get hot water to the point of discharge faster. You will wan to insulate you hot water lines in a system such as this.

    I didn’t know about the buffer tank and pump system, good idea. For me, the little additional wait for hot water is not a big deal, though, not enough of a concern to justify any additional expense.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

    #738660
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    I have always thought of putting one of those small 110V water heaters near the far bathrooms. That would cut way down on the wait and not cost much.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

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