Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a great alternative to traditional hot water tanks. For those looking to make their home more energy-efficient, tankless water heaters can offer energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint. However, as with any appliance, there are pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

Tankless units can be gas or electric and will heat water only as it’s needed. The water is rapidly heated on-demand using high-powered coils or burners. This is in contrast to a traditional hot water tank which continuously heats water and stores it for use.

While there are many benefits to installing a tankless unit in your home, we’ll be the first to tell you that tankless water heaters aren’t for everyone. As both professionals plumbers and homeowners, the team at ProSolutions PHAC has seen the good and the bad when it comes to tankless heaters. 

To help you decide if one is right for you, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

Tankless water heater pros
Cons of a tankless water heater
Should I get a tankless hot water heater?

Tankless Water Heater Pros

When deciding whether a tankless unit is right for your home, be sure to consider both the pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

Here are some of the most significant tankless water heater pros and reasons why you should consider installing a tankless water heater in your home.

1. Hot Water on Demand

hot water on demand ⋆ ProSolutions Inc

With the right tankless unit installed in your home, you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water again. 

Everyone knows the feeling of jumping into the shower and turning on the hot water only to find someone has drained the hot water tank. Now you have two options - stand there in the cold and wait for the water tank to refill or get out and try again later. Not ideal, either way.

Unlike a hot water tank, tankless water heaters heat water on demand. This means that as soon as you turn the hot water tap on the unit begins rapidly heating water for you to use. Never again will you be stuck in the shower with nothing but cold water.

2. Lower Utility Bills

A tankless water heater can help you save a lot on your utility bills. In fact, a tankless unit can cost up to 50% less to operate than a traditional hot water heater. 

Opting for a high-end model can help you save even more by reducing your energy consumption by up to an additional 9%.

3. More Energy-Efficient

Many people choose to install tankless water heaters because of how energy-efficient they are compared to traditional units. Tankless heaters can be 35% - 80% more energy-efficient than standard hot water tanks. As well, unlike a typical hot water tank, tankless water heaters have no standby energy loss. As a result, they are a much more eco-friendly option. 

On average, you can expect a gas tankless water heater to be 85% efficient, with some as high as 98% efficiency.

4. Government Rebates

As a result of their increased efficiency, installing a new tankless water heater in your home can help you secure government rebates

For those who live in Edmonton, the new home upgrade grant program - the Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator Program - will give you the maximum possible rebate for installing an energy-efficient tankless water heater. Under this program, homeowners who install an ENERGY STAR gas tankless water heater can receive up to $415.

5. Longer Lifetime

On average, a tankless water heater will last 2x as long as a standard hot water tank. While a hot water tank will typically last 7 to 10+ years, a tankless unit can last 20 to 30 years!

6. Space Savings

tankless pro space savings ⋆ ProSolutions Inc

Tankless water heaters are very compact and mount to the wall. As a result, you can fit a tankless unit into a smaller space. By minimizing the space required for your hot water appliance, you can free up room for more important uses.

7. Replacement Parts

When installing any new appliance in your home, it’s important to keep in mind future maintenance. Consider how easy (or difficult) it will be to get replacement parts for the product, as well as how easy it will be to find someone to service the unit.

Luckily, replacement parts for tankless water heaters are easy to come by in Edmonton. When it comes to water heater services for your tankless water heater, ProSolutions PHAC has got you covered. Our team of professional plumbers is familiar with tankless units and can handle installation and maintenance.

8. Smart Technology 

Many new tankless heaters include smart technology that monitors performance and efficiency, to ensure that your unit is running effectively at all times. This smart tech can also help with troubleshooting, potentially reducing costs for simple issues that arise.

Tankless water heaters are often WiFi-compatible. As a result, you can connect to your tankless unit via your smartphone. From there, you can monitor its performance and adjust the temperature of your water. 

Cons of a Tankless Water Heater

As you’ve seen above, there are many tankless water heater pros. But, no review would be complete without looking at both the pros and cons of tankless water heaters. So then, what are the cons of a tankless water heater?

Here’s why a tankless water heater might not be for you.

1. Upfront Costs

If you want to purchase and install a new tankless unit in your home, you’ll be looking at an initial cost that is 2 to 3 times as much as a traditional hot water tank. While a quality hot water tank will cost around $1,500 to $2,500 to buy and install, tankless water heaters can range from $2,900 to $5,000 or more.

2. Additional Installation Costs

Tankless water heaters are much more complex than traditional hot water tanks. As a result, they require professional installation. 

If you’re switching from a hot water tank to a tankless unit, you will likely need your gas lines rerouted, as well as a larger gas supply line. Both of these alterations will increase the cost of installation. Your water lines may also need to be altered and a plumber will need to determine if your water pressure will be high enough to supply the unit. This evaluation is especially important if you have several different locations in your home that require the use of hot water. This will ensure that enough hot water can be heated on demand to supply all sources but will also increase installation costs.

3. Maintenance Requirements

cons of tankless water heater maintenance 1 ⋆ ProSolutions Inc

A tankless hot water heater may require more maintenance than a traditional hot water tank. For instance, depending on your water source, your tankless unit will need to have its pipes flushed every year to prevent a build-up of sediment. 

That being said, all of your household appliances should be maintained regularly to keep them in good condition and to extend their lifetime. To help with regular maintenance, ProSolutions PHAC offers a Service Partner Plan. This plan offers proactive maintenance so that you can ensure your tankless water heater is in top working condition and that it lasts as long as possible.

4. Edmonton Winters

Tankless units don’t always do well with extremely cold water temperatures. Therefore, cold Edmonton winters can be hard on tankless water heaters.

Should I get a tankless hot water heater?

After comparing the pros and cons of tankless water heaters you should get a sense of whether a tankless unit is right for your home. To help with your decision, here are some common situations where tankless units are helpful and when they’re not.

Tankless units are ideal for homes that:

Tankless hot water heaters are not a great option for homes with:

Talk Tankless with ProSolutions PHAC

Considered the pros and cons of tankless water heaters and still unsure if one is right for your household? Contact your local tankless water heater services provider for assistance. The professional and friendly team at ProSolutions PHAC can help you make the best decision for your home. 

If you think a tankless water heater is right for you but you don’t have the funds to cover the upfront costs, ProSolutions can help. Along with Government Rebates, we can help you with home improvement financing options so you can enjoy the benefits of hot water on demand without having to worry about the bill.

Hot Water Heater Buying Guide 2021 - What to Know When Buying a Hot Water Heater

Are you looking to buy a new hot water heater? With an overwhelming number of options to choose from and factors to consider, it can be difficult to determine which water heater is right for your home.

There are traditional hot water heaters, tankless water heaters, different sizes and efficiency ratings. In Edmonton, the cold winter weather also adds an additional aspect that must be considered. Therefore, with so many options, you must be familiar with what to know when buying a hot water heater.

As a professional provider of water heater services in Edmonton, we know a thing or two about hot water heaters and which are the best on the market. So, we’ve created this hot water heater buying guide to help you determine which water heater is best for you.

Here’s what to know when buying a hot water heater.

What type of water heater is best?
Which is better hot water heater or tankless?
What should I look for when buying a hot water heater?
How big of hot water heater do I need?
Is a high-efficiency water heater worth it?
How much does it typically cost to replace a hot water heater?
What is the best hot water heater to buy?

Have more questions? We can help. Our experienced team will assist you in determining which solution is best for your home. Our technicians are familiar with local conditions and requirements and will ensure that you select the perfect water heater.

water heater on brick wall ⋆ ProSolutions Inc
A water heating buying guide for 2021 - finding the right water heater for your needs and your home is important.

Common types of water heaters

There are several different types of water heaters to choose from. Each type offers different advantages and disadvantages and will be more suitable in some households than others. 

Before you buy a new hot water heater, familiarize yourself with these different options.

When it comes to different types, here’s what to know when buying a hot water heater.

Gas Hot Water Heaters

What to know when buying a hot water heater - gas powered water heaters

Water heaters that are powered by natural gas are very common in households throughout Canada, including in Edmonton. This type of water heater is often recommended by hot water heater buying guides and heating and plumbing contractors in Edmonton because of its various advantages.

Pros

Cons

Electric Hot Water Heaters

Although less common than gas water heaters, electric water heaters can also be a suitable option for some households.

Pros

Cons

Propane Hot Water Heaters

Hot water heaters that run on propane gas are also less common but do have certain advantages. 

Pros

Cons

In addition to these three types of traditional hot water heaters, you also have the option of going tankless. 

Tankless water heaters can be electric or gas-powered. Like traditional water heaters, each type has different advantages and disadvantages, including initial and long-term costs, maintenance needs and efficiency.

For a detailed list of pros and cons, and our recommendation for the best tankless water heater, check out our article about tankless water heaters.

Tankless water heater vs water heater

Tankless hot water heaters offer many advantages over traditional hot water tanks. However, they are not for everyone. 

Here’s what to know when buying a hot water heater that’s tankless.

What is the difference between a tankless water heater and a regular water heater?

hot water heater buying guide - tankless water heater vs traditional water heater

The difference between a tankless water heater vs a traditional water heater is the tank. 

A traditional water heater stores preheated water in a tank. When water is required, the hot water from the tank is delivered. The water heater then refills the tank and heats more water to be kept on standby. 

A tankless water heater, on the other hand, does not have a large storage tank. Instead, it heats water on demand. Tankless heaters can rapidly produce hot water using high-powered elements. As a result, you will never run out of hot water.

Other hot water heater buying guides might recommend a tankless water heater from the get-go. However, we’re here to tell you that tankless heaters are not for everyone. 

For example, if your household uses a lot of hot water, a tankless heater is likely not for you. As well, if you live in a climate that is cold most of the year, a tankless water heater is not the best option. The biggest downfall of a tankless heater, however, is that it costs significantly more to purchase and install. In fact, a tankless heater can cost up to three times as much as a traditional hot water tank. As well, cold temperatures (like that during an Edmonton winter) can be hard on tankless heaters.

If a tankless heater is right for you, it can have many benefits over traditional hot water tanks, including:

What to know when buying a hot water heater and important factors to consider

To choose the perfect water heater for your home, there are a few important aspects you’ll need to consider including:

Here’s what to know when buying a hot water heater when it comes to sizing, efficiency ratings and initial and long-term costs.

Size

When purchasing a new water heater, you’ll want to ensure that it’s big enough to meet your hot water needs. Selecting the proper size will also maximize the efficiency of the unit.

Ultimately, the size will depend on the amount of hot water you use. Therefore, the number of people in a household is often used to determine size requirements. Below are size recommendations based on average household sizes and water usage. 

Keep in mind, however, each household is different. You may have a hot tub or several showers with rain heads, meaning you’ll use more hot water than the average household. Working with a professional Edmonton plumbing services provider is, therefore, the best way to determine what size of water heater your household requires. This will ensure that your water heater isn’t too small, causing you to run out of hot water, or too big, resulting in more energy consumption and higher utility bills.

The size recommendations below are for traditional hot water tanks. 

Number of People Gas Water Heater Electric Water Heater
2 20 Gal (90 L) 30 Gal (135 L)
3 - 4 40 Gal (180 L) 50 Gal (225 L)
4 - 5 40 Gal (180 L) 65 Gal (290 L)
5 - 6 50 Gal (225 L) 80 Gal (360 L)
6+ 75 Gal (340 L) 120 Gal (540 L)

While the size of a traditional hot water heater is measured in litres or gallons, the size of a tankless water heater is expressed in GPM. GPM stands for Gallons Per Minute and represents how much water your tankless heater can heat in one minute.

GPM recommendations based on family size can be found here - How big should my tankless water heater be?

Efficiency

Are you looking to reduce your carbon footprint? There are many energy-efficient hot water heaters on the market today. Unfortunately, these heaters often come with a steep price tag. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, although a more efficient water heater costs more upfront, it will save you money in the long run.

The efficiency of a gas-powered water heater (tank and tankless) is rated using the unit’s energy factor (EF).

What is the energy factor? 

EF = hot water produced / amount of gas used (in 24 hours)

That is, a water heater’s EF is calculated based on the amount of hot water produced divided by the amount of gas used within 24 hours.

The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater.

The efficiency of electrical hot water tanks, on the other hand, is measured by standby loss (in watts).

What is standby loss?

Standby loss measures the amount of heat loss from the tank. The lower the standby loss, the more efficient the hot water heater.

To determine how efficient a given appliance is, look for its EnerGuide label. This label can be found on the appliance and in its product literature. The label will show you the appliance’s EF.

energuide label 2 ⋆ ProSolutions Inc

When looking for the most energy-efficient water heaters, look for an ENERGY STAR symbol. Products that have this symbol meet or exceed energy efficiency requirements set out by the government.

To be awarded an ENERGY STAR label, the following efficiency ratings must be met:

Initial Costs vs Long-Term Costs

Before making your purchase, you’ll also want to consider the upfront and long-term costs of different types and models.

For example, some water heaters, especially highly efficient models, can be very expensive to buy and install. High-efficiency tankless heaters, in particular, can cost up to three times more than a less efficient, traditional heater. However, these models will save you money in the long run by cutting down your energy consumption. Also, their lifespan is much longer. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons offered by a more expensive model before making your decision.

Still unsure about which water heater is best for you? 

If you've read our hot water heater buying guide and familiarized yourself with what to know when buying a hot water heater and you’re still unsure about which option is the best for your home, we can help!

Our plumbing experts can help you select the right hot water tank for your home based on your location, water usage, efficiency requirements and budget. As Edmonton locals, we’ll always recommend what we use in our own homes, so that you get the best and most reliable product.

Looking to increase the energy efficiency of your home? We can help with that too! With Edmonton’s new Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator program, you can receive government rebates for upgrading to a more efficient appliance. Our expert team is familiar with the new program and can help you achieve the efficiency needed for a maximum rebate.

Best hot water heaters in 2021

Our hot water heater buying guide wouldn't be complete without a few recommendations. So, here are our top choices for water heaters in 2021.

Best Eco-Friendly Hot Water Heater

If want to make your home more energy-efficient, this water heater is for you. With one of the highest efficiency ratings on the market, this water heater will significantly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money in the long run on energy bills.

EZ111 Noritz

The Noritz EZ111 features inlet and outlet connections that are positioned on top of the unit, minimizing water line exposure and digital control. This tankless water heater is a modulating unit and therefore creates only the amount of heat that is required - as demand increases the heat supply is increased. As a result, energy consumption is reduced and all fixtures can be run at once. Unlike other top tankless brands, replacement parts for the Noritz EZ111 are easy to get in Canada.

Additional features include:

Best Value Hot Water Heater for Families 

If you have a family (2 adults, 2 children), this hot water heater is the perfect mix between value and efficiency.

Rheem 50 Gallon RHE50

The Rheem RHE50 is a power direct vent gas water heater. This non-condensing, gas-efficient model is able to provide sufficient hot water for households with 3 to 5 people.

Additional features: 

Biggest, Baddest, Best Hot Water Heater for 2021

This water heater has it all. Good value. Great output. If your hot water demands are high, this option is perfect for your household.

A.O. Smith 75 Gallon VertexTM GDHE-75

The A.O. Smith GDHE-75 Vertex™ Power Direct Vent gas water heater will provide all the hot water you’ll need and is highly efficient to boot. 

More features:

Tankless Water Heaters – How to Decide If Hot Water on Demand is Right for You

Want to live greener? Tankless water heaters are one way to get there.

Water heaters are the second-highest source of energy usage in the home. For years, homeowners have depended on 40-60 gallon hot water tanks to provide hot water. There is, however, a growing (and much more energy efficient) option in the market – the tankless water heater – powered by gas or electricity. 

At ProSolutions Inc., we stock them, we install them and we maintain them - so, we know a lot about tankless heaters! 

Our team thought it would be nice to share what we know after 12+ years of installation, maintenance and repairs on these things in one of the harshest climates they operate in (Alberta). So, read on and find answers to the following questions:

How do tankless water heaters work?

A tankless water heater uses high powered burners, or elements, to rapidly heat up the water as it runs through a heat exchanger. It then delivers it to the hot water outlets that require it. It only works when there is a demand for hot water. That is, when someone turns on a tap, a signal is sent to the heater to ignite gas flow.

Can you run out of hot water with a tankless water heater?

With a tankless water heater, you’ll never run out of hot water, unless the power goes out. 

However, it’s important to make sure that your tankless unit has a large enough capacity to handle the demand placed upon it. For example, if several things are operating at once – a shower, a dishwasher – is the unit capable of servicing them all, given the home’s water pressure and the gas flow into the tankless unit?

Do tankless water heaters work in cold climates?

In the heating, cooling & plumbing industry (HVAC), Delta (Δ) is used to express the difference between two related measurements. With a tankless water heater, ΔT is used to show the difference in temperature between water coming into the unit versus water leaving the unit. 

A more efficient or powerful unit will be able to increase the ΔT more and, therefore, is a better fit when you have colder water than average entering your home.

For example, if you live in the Edmonton area or another cold climate location, you know that your water is ICE COLD during winter months. The drop in input temperature will make your tankless work harder to reach the proper output temperature. 

What does this mean for your hot water supply? A lower input temperature usually results in lower GPM flow (Gallons per Minute) than rated on the unit. 

Do tankless water heaters restrict flow?

The smaller the difference in the temperature you require, the greater the flow. The greater the difference in temperature, the lower your water flow will be.

Let’s look at a real-world example:

California versus Alberta

In Los Angeles your water input temperature might be 60 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 16 degrees Celsius) while in Edmonton that input temperature could be 40 degrees (approximately 4 degrees Celsius). If the intended output temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius), then the same tankless heater in Edmonton will have to work significantly harder to reach the output temperature than the tankless in Los Angeles. This means that the flow from the tankless water heater in Edmonton will be lower than in LA.

Keep in mind - every degree that you go up, you drop the flow (GPM). 

What size tankless water heater do I need?

If you remember nothing else from our guide, remember this - capacity is everything with water on demand! If the heater you pick cannot meet your family’s maximum need for hot water, you’re going to be in some “HOT WATER” yourself.

The capacity (size) of a tankless water heater is expressed in Gallons Per Minute (GPM). This number represents how much water your tankless water heater can heat in a minute. 

But wait, there’s more! 

Remember ΔT? Many manufacturers rate their tankless heaters’ GPM capacity with different ΔT values. That is, they pick a water input temperature and base their rating on that temperature. The problem is - this estimate could be unrealistic for your climate. Not only that, but the heated temperature will typically be lower than what you have your homes’ standard hot water tank set at (mine is set at 150°F).

So, watch for the temperature that manufacturers rate their GPM capacity at and make sure it will suit your personal situation.

How many GPM do I need for a tankless water heater?

Here are our recommendations, depending on family size. 

2 - 3 person household: 9 GPM

4 - 5 person household: 10 GPM

5+ person household: 11.1 GPM at 70 degree heat rise (approximately 4 GPM in Edmonton with 40 degree input)

These recommendations are for average water use. If your household is heavy on the hot water, just go up in size. Or, if you want to prepare for the future, go for the largest option available.

An average shower uses 2-3GPM. If you have rain/waterfall-style showerheads expect to use much more. Don’t forget about dishwashers, washing machines, or just filing a large bathtub. These all add high demands on hot water for short periods of time so doing two or three activities at once can require a fairly high GMP capacity. 

The best thing to do is talk to a professional about the real-world performance of tankless water heaters. They should be able to give you specific units that perform well with your usage and climate taken into consideration.

Can a tankless water heater be too big?

No, honestly, they are not perfect for all situations so until they reach that point, talking about too much capacity isn’t important.

Don’t forget about the resale value of your home. Tankless does add value to the home, but only if the capacity is going to work for the family moving in.

Are tankless water heaters better for the environment?

Yes! Some units are rated as high as 98% efficiency! Compared to a traditional hot water tank heater, they are 35 - 80% more efficient. 

In fact, Natural Resources Canada’s Water Heater Guide states that gas-fired tankless heaters have energy factors (EFs) that range from 0.64 to 0.98 (average 0.85); a marked improvement in efficiency over tank units ranging from 0.53 to 0.70 (average 0.62).

Electric vs gas tankless water heater

Tankless water heaters may be electrically-powered or natural gas-powered units. Each has its own pros and cons. 

Electric tankless water heaters

Electrical water on demand tanks are easy to install and have a long service life. However, additional advantages and disadvantages also require consideration.

Pros:

Cons:

Gas tankless water heaters

Gas tankless water heaters are more complex to install. However, they also have many benefits.

Pros:

Cons:

At ProSolutions Inc., we prefer natural gas tankless water heaters, as operating costs are significantly reduced because of the difference in utility costs in Alberta. Harmful emissions from high-efficiency gas water on demand units are minimal as well. 

What is the downside of a tankless water heater?

You might be wondering - What is the downside of a tankless water heater? The biggest downside to a tankless water heater is the initial cost. 

Tankless water heater vs water heater

Before making your decision to purchase a tankless heater, it’s important to consider these factors:

At ProSolutions Inc. we recognize that several factors are involved in whether to move to a tankless water heater rather than the traditional hot water tank. While there are savings on operating costs, the initial cost outlay for the tankless units is considerably higher. For some people, knowing that you can have a continuous supply of hot water available can be a convincing argument.

Is a tankless water heater worth it?

A tankless water heater is not right for everyone - don’t let a plumber tell you otherwise.

The truth is that a tankless hot water system, while greatly improved, is best for homes where high use of water is not common. If any of the following apply to you, an on-demand hot water system probably is not right for you.

On the other hand, if a tankless system is right for you, it can have many perks and result in cost savings over time. For instance, a standard hot water tank (a tank with hot water that is heated and reheated as required) lasts 7 - 10+ years with current hard water conditions with virtually no maintenance, if you so choose, unless you have issues with the pilot light. A tankless unit, however, can last from 20 - 30 years, more than double that of a conventional unit.

In addition, if too many people have showers, or someone turns on the dishwasher, a traditional hot water tank can run out of hot water - as we all know when a hot shower suddenly turns cold. There’s then a lag time before the tank reheats and hot water is ready again. With a quality tankless heater one thing is certain - even with household members using the same shower one after the other, you will never run out of hot water.

Best tankless hot water heater for cold climates

Here is our recommendation for the best tankless hot water system.

Noritz tankless hot water heater install

EZ111 Noritz

Below are some additional options to consider if you have needs beyond the capabilities of a standard tankless system.

Domestic Water Heat Recovery Coil

This option is great for colder climates. It takes drain water and uses it to increase the input temperature of the water, allowing the heater to work less to get to the desired temperature. Cost: approximately $1,500.

Hybrid Tankless Water Heater

A hybrid system is another great option. With a hybrid system, an electric tank heater holding tank is added so that you always have hot water in any situation (excluding power failure).

Tankless hot water solutions from ProSolutions Inc.

Low-interest financing is available

Considering a tankless water heater for your home but don’t have the money up front? Most plumbing companies, including ProSolutions Inc., offer financing options to help you improve your home without needing to break the bank.

At ProSolutions Inc., we offer several home improvement financing options. With quick and easy approvals, economical interest rates, flexible payment plans and no money down, these options are a great solution for this long-term investment.

Want more information about tankless water heaters from ProSolutions Inc.? Call us. We’d love to talk to you and discuss your situation. And don’t forget - at ProSolutions Inc. we have financing options to make sure you get the home comfort you deserve. Call us today.