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The Basics on How Tankless Water Heaters Work


People tend to be very familiar with the concept behind tank water heaters. They contain a large amount of water, which is kept at a high temperature. When the hot water is used, the tank must refill with cold water and heat up again, and someone complains that someone else has used all the hot water and the shower is cold now.

Tankless water heaters are different, and people are not always as familiar with how they work. With no storage tank, and no water being held at a high temperature, how do tankless water heaters provide hot water? We’ll tell you all about it.

Hot Water On-Demand

If you have a tankless water heater, there’s no water that’s already hot when you turn on the tap. Instead, when demand comes (from that hot faucet being turned on) the water heater must heat the water as it is flowing to the destination. Using either gas jets or an electric heating element, the system heats just what water is currently being used. When the tap shuts off, so does the water heater.

Hot Water Capacity

Since there is no tank which takes a long time to heat, there will be no arguments about someone using up all the hot water! The system can constantly create more hot water as it’s being used. Most tankless water heaters can put out somewhere between two and five gallons of hot water per minute. This is plenty for most households.

If your household has points of extremely high hot water usage—if, for example, everyone in a large family comes home from sports practice and tries to shower at the same time while laundering all their uniforms and sweat socks—a single tank system may be insufficient. Some families prefer a tank system for this reason, while some install multiple tankless systems.

Tankless Water Heater Benefits

The biggest benefit of using a tankless system is that it is more energy-efficient. When you don’t have a large tank of water being continuously heated throughout the day, whether it’s needed or not, you won’t use as much energy. You’ll only have to pay for exactly what you need.

Other benefits include the fact that tankless water heaters tend to last longer than their storage tank counterparts, and the small size of the system which allows for space to be used for other things. Installation can also be easier simply because the small size means they’re less of a hassle to carry into your home and move into position. 

Tankless Water Heater Drawbacks

There are some potential drawbacks to choosing this type of system besides the limited flow rate of two to five gallons per minute. In some cases, modifications must be made to make the switch from tank to tankless, such as getting a wider gas line or changing the ventilation system. And these systems are more expensive, though with decreased utility bills and long lifespans, you’ll recover that investment over time. 

Choosing Between Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

If you’re deciding whether to get a storage tank or tankless water heater in Montgomery County, PA, it’s important to get a thorough professional assessment. A qualified plumber can help determine the size of system you would need and give you detailed information on what modifications would be necessary. 

Contact Platinum Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today to schedule an appointment with our pros.

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