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Tankless water heaters have inevitably grown in popularity over the last few decades because of their convenience in supplying unlimited hot water quicker and more efficiently. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still common preconceived notions behind tankless technologies.
Customers and professional installers often associate tankless water heaters with being too expensive or not working well in colder climates, which are all common myths about tankless water heaters.
As a result, the Rinnai America Corp recently launched a Tankless Truths Campaign, focused on dispelling certain myths associated with tankless water heaters, and included a key strategic partnership with Matt Risinger, leading personality on the Build Show Network and owner of Risinger Homes in Austin, Texas, to highlight the inaccurate view of tankless not being an effective alternative to tank water heaters.
Let’s walk through the eight common misconceptions often heard and unveil the truth behind them:
Tankless Water Heaters are Slow to Respond to Higher Demand
We get it, there is nothing more frustrating than waiting in your ice-cold shower for your water to arrive, and often customers believe having a tankless water heater will heighten that problem. Certain models of tankless water heaters will come with built-in circulation pumps that recirculate based on the user’s schedule, providing piping-hot water when needed.
Truth: Tankless is quick to respond on demand.
Tankless is a New Technology that isn’t Proven
In Asia and Europe, this technology has been the go-to hot water solution for many decades. Tankless was only brought into North America in the 1990s, and since then, there has been double-digit growth. Some of the reasons for growth in popularity stem from tankless units’ key benefits, such as the product being built to last with a lifespan of up to 20 years. Additionally, tankless water heaters have an efficiency between 85-95 percent. This is far superior to common residential tanks with efficiency numbers in the low 60 percent range. And the higher the thermal efficiency, the more customers can save and can qualify for local government and energy provider rebates, which helps lower the total cost of ownership even more.
Truth: Tankless has been proven for decades.
Tankless Doesn’t Work in Cold Climates
A myth customers and professional installers often associate tankless water heaters with is that they don’t work well with cold ground temperatures. We often see that the northern half of the U.S. is often reluctant to invest in a tankless water heater because the groundwater temperatures can be quite cold. But Canada sells more than 100,000 tankless water heaters per year, handling the colder temperatures smoothly. Models are designed to heat water at or below 40 degrees, still providing up to five gallons per minute or more at colder temperatures. That can equate to as much as three showers delivering unlimited hot water simultaneously.
Truth: Tankless water heaters work well with cold groundwater.
Venting is Too Expensive for Tankless Water Heaters
Over the last five years, the cost of venting a tankless water heater has decreased significantly, once ranging from $500 to $1,000 now could be less than $100. With new technology, Rinnai condensing tankless water heaters now can leverage 2-inch [Solid Core Schedule 40] PVC, which has decreased installation expenses significantly. Trained professional installers can often install the tankless unit faster than a standard tank, further decreasing installation costs.
Truth: Venting is affordable when installing a tankless water heater.
Having a Tankless Water Heater means Upgrading the Gas Line
Advancements in technology have allowed tankless installers to forgo upsizing the gas supply in many situations, eliminating the need for gas line modifications. For example, Rinnai’s Sensei Model incorporates a zero-governor gas valve, switching venturi and turbo fan. All work together to pull in the right mixture of gas and air to produce energy-efficient combustion. This allows the tankless water heater to self-compensate for any fluctuations in gas or air supply, creating a more flexible tankless water heater that can provide endless hot water even with a marginal supply of gas pressure or volume.
Truth: Installing tankless does not always mean upgrading your gas line.
Stainless Steel Heat Exchangers are Always Better
When it comes to choosing tankless units, some manufacturers claim that stainless steel heat exchangers are always better, which in some situations it is. This is true for condensing models. It is best to use stainless steel due to the corrosive nature of the condensation produced – a byproduct of high efficiency. However, when it comes to noncondensing water heaters, copper heat exchangers provide better heat transfer.
Truth: Stainless steel heat exchangers are better in certain tankless technologies, but copper is a better option in many applications.
Tankless Water Heaters are Too Expensive to Purchase and Install
It’s no surprise that this is often a common misconception when it comes to purchasing a tankless water heater. People are aware of the rising costs of appliances, water heaters, etc., but over the years tankless water heaters have started to become comparable to standard tanks. The shift is seen in the price gap, mainly due to the cost of manufacturing materials increasing. With this, the cost of tankless units has become comparable to or even less than many traditional tanks, especially factoring in local energy rebates (due to a tankless water heater’s improved efficiency).
Truth: The purchase and installation of tankless water heaters are comparable in overall cost to a standard tank.
Tankless is More Expensive to Maintain than Tanks.
In areas where hard water is prevalent, all types of water heaters need to be maintained regularly to avoid scale build-up. Tank manufacturers have stringent hard water maintenance requirements as well. In fact, in some cases, these requirements are more stringent than many tankless products. In addition, tankless units will often have notifications that remind customers that their unit should be flushed.
Truth: Tankless is not more expensive to maintain in comparison to a tank.
Now that you have learned all eight common misconceptions of tankless water technologies, you can now help your customers when it comes to making their next tankless water heater purchase. If you would like to learn more about Tankless Truths and common misconceptions about them, visit www.rinnai.us/tanklesstruths.
Tim Greer is a technical training developer and instructor with Rinnai America. With more than 20 years in the mechanical and electronics industries, he began his journey with Rinnai over 16 years ago.