Tankless Water Heater | Edmonton Buying Guide for Homeowners

Tankless water heater

An image of a worn-out hot water tank and a new tankless water heater

If you’re like most Edmonton homeowners, you don’t pay much attention or really appreciate your water heater until a problem arises. Not saying you have to keep a picture of your water heater in your wallet to show off to family and friends but the unit is something that should be properly inspected on a regular basis. Gas leaks and bad wiring could have catastrophic implications but the more common problem that people face is simply insane utility bills. If you find that your current model is a cash drain perhaps it might be time to look into a tankless water heater but what really is the difference? Well, we’re glad you asked.

How Storage Water Heaters Work

Most of the common water heaters in homes today are of the storage type, or ‘regular’ heaters. These units feature the large tanks that you often find in the utility room or basement of a house. The tanks hold anywhere between 20 and 120 gallons of water constantly. Cold water comes in from the bottom of the tank and heats as it nears the top of the tank. The water is heated either by gas or electric means and the water at the top of the tank is constantly being warmed. When you turn on a warm shower or do the dishes with hot water you’re drawing the water from the top of the tank for instant heat.

Some Problems With Storage Water Heaters

The main problem with storage water heaters is a loss of efficiency as the heat escapes through the tank’s walls. Granted the units are insulated but with the tanks being stored often in cool, wet places the warmth is just sucked out of them. What this basically means is that your water heater is constantly working to supply warm H20 on demand which is a waste when you’re gone to work for the day and the house is empty. Another plumbing problem is that since only the water near the top of the tank is being warmed, a large family who takes multiple warm showers in the morning could deplete their warm water reserve, leaving the last person in with about 4 seconds of warm water.

The Tankless Water Heater Alternative

Tankless water heaters have been around for decades but have surged in popularity in recent years thanks to a push for a ‘greener’ and more sustainable home. The tankless water heater Edmonton aims to alleviate the problem of standby heat loss and running out of warm water by displacing the tank altogether. Tankless heaters work by running water through a burner so that it’s warmed almost as soon as it cycles meaning a person can always have hot water in an instant.

Since there is not tank people aren’t losing the energy efficiency of heat constantly escaping and don’t have the problem of running out of hot water. The units are typically run by gas and are also smaller, hung on the wall, and space saving in tiny utility rooms. The tankless water heater Edmonton dubs itself as having an endless supply of hot water and lower costs of operation over the life of a unit compared to storage heaters.

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless Water Heater

Some Downfalls of the Tankless Models

It seems that a tankless water heater Edmonton that delivers unlimited hot water any time you want while saving utility bills in the process seems like a slam dunk installation but that’s not necessarily always the case. There are a few setbacks that have held the tankless units from being the norm for every house in Canada.

  • Higher Initial Costs – Having to replace a storage water heater is one of the most unexpected costs a homeowner can face and can be strapping in tough financial times. Multiply that cost by 3 or 4 times or more for a tankless water heater Edmonton and people might be really scared off. It doesn’t matter that the energy savings will pay themselves off plus some over the life of the tankless model, some consumers just don’t put much value into that when comparing up front costs.
  • Flow Requirements – For the most part modern tankless water heaters require a minimum amount of water flow up to ½ a gallon per minute before they ‘kick-in’. This means if you wanted to draw just a little stream of hot water say for a cup of tea or to brush your teeth you’d have to still turn the faucet on max flow.
  • Endless Hot Water Not Always Good – One thing about storage water heaters is that they’ll typically supply enough warm water for multiple showers in succession…unless you have teenage girls or a passed out dad in your family. When a shower starts to run out of hot water in 20-25 minutes it serves as a warning sign for the ‘long showerer’ to wrap things up. Unfortunately since a tankless water heater supplies an endless amount of warmth you could have household members taking 45 minute to an hour long showers, which wastes water and basically negates all the energy savings for while the unit was installed in the first place. In an irresponsible household timers need to be installed which is yet another expense.
  • Not Always Easy to Integrate – Since tankless water heaters need to heat water in an instant, they typically have larger burners, which usually require a bigger gas line than is currently installed in the home. Also most of the units are gas but electric ones do exist. Therein lies another problem where the current draw needed to supply warm water to the whole house is a larger amperage than most homes supply. Plus even though the tankless water heater itself is smaller, it still requires a large air flow to operate which means you still need to install it in a decent sized space.

There are definitely some pros and cons to the installation of a tankless water heater. For a new house going full ‘green’ they are probably a necessity but to retrofit them in your house will take a one on one evaluation.

August 21st, 2016 by Bob Bies
About Bob Bies

Bob Bies is the Chief Executive Officer for Furnace Repair Edmonton, which specializes in heating, air conditioning and plumbing installation, repair and servicing. For same day 24/7 service, call 587-409-5683.