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Tankless Water heaters
I have had one for about 7 years and am extremely happy with it for two reasons (1) I never run out
of hot water and (2) I feel like I'm saving money and being environmentally kind because I'm only
heating water that I'm using and not heating water that just sits there until I need it. I do agree
somewhat with comments below we bought a less expensive brand, about $400 and I believe we have well recouped
our initial expense. Also, it takes some getting used to, but you can get the temp consistent. We have a gas
one, so I can shower without electricity and I think it heats up much quicker. Also, I like that it's mounted
on the wall behind a door and takes up very little space.
- So far all responses have been negative due to the time required to recoup costs and the additional
maintenance needed. Some people had difficulty finding an approved installer locally. Also
from a reliable consumer advocacy group.
- Water runs hot and cold. Manufacturers of tankless water heaters are fond of touting their
products' ability to provide an endless amount of hot water. But inconsistent water temperatures were
a common complaint among our poll respondents. When you turn on the faucet, tankless models feed in some
cold water to gauge how big a temperature rise is needed. If there's cool water lingering in your pipes,
you'll receive a momentary "cold-water sandwich" between the old and new hot water. And a tankless water
heater's burner might not ignite when you try to get just a trickle of hot water for, say, shaving. Nor
do tankless water heaters deliver hot water instantaneously. It takes time to heat the water to the
target temperature, and just like storage water heaters, any cold water in the pipes needs to be pushed
out. And tankless models' electric controls mean you'll also lose hot water during a power outage.
- Up-front costs are high the tankless water heaters we tested cost $800 to $1,150, compared with $300 to $480
for the regular storage-tank types. Tankless models need electrical outlets for their fan and electronics,
upgraded gas pipes, and a new ventilation system. That can bring average installation costs to $1,200, compared
with $300 for storage-tank models.
- Tankless units might need more care. During our long-term testing, an indicator on the tankless model warned
of scale buildup. We paid $334 for special valves and a plumber to flush out the water heater with vinegar.
Many industry pros recommend that tankless models be serviced once a year by a qualified technician. Calcium
buildup can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow, and damage tankless models. Experts suggest installing
a water softener if your water hardness is above 11 grains per gallon. Ignoring this advice can shorten your
- Efficient storage models are pricey. We also tested the $1,400 Vertex, a high-efficiency storage water heater
by A.O. Smith. The manufacturer claims its installation costs are similar to a regular storage model. But its
high cost offsets much of the roughly $70 per year the Vertex will save you. Instead, we recommend buying a
conventional storage water heater with a 9- or 12-year warranty. In previous tests, we found that those models
generally had thicker insulation, bigger burners or larger heating elements, and better corrosion-fighting
metal rods called anodes.