Ask Vince #8 Tankless water heater, electric water heaters

Tankless water heater, electric water heaters

QUESTION: My husband and I bought a 20-plus-year-old condominium that is all electric. We inherited a standard electric 50-gallon hot water tank that is over 10 years old and seems to be failing. We have done some research on replacement hot water tanks and systems, with an eye toward longevity, as well as the primary goal of generous amounts of ready hot water at a reasonable cost. We are seriously thinking about putting in a tankless hot water system. We are told by the manufacturer that it will afford us instant and endless hot water at an economical price, we will gain an extra closet where the old tank was, and that this is the equipment of the future.

We are told by the naysayers that it will not heat quickly or hot enough, that we will incur a great fire danger due to the current needed to run through old electrical wires, that no one knows how to install them properly or how long they’ll last, and that they may be good for gas-powered installations but not for electric-powered installations. We talked to people at SMUD, and they were noncommittal, saying they didn’t know much about them. Can you tell me what is known about tankless hot water systems?
Mrs. Lewis Rosenberg via email

ANSWER: “Yes, tankless water heaters are becoming more common,” says Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. “I am not sure to what extent that builders are going to tankless water heaters, but certainly it is a growing trend”

“Retrofitting from a standard tank type of heater to a tankless unit does require additional work and expense. The gas models have the capacity to deliver quite a bit more GPM (gallons per minute) than the electric models. I know of no electrical hazards when it comes to a tankless electric water heater that is properly installed to current building codes,” says McDonald. “However, in the Sacramento area, electric tankless water heaters are rare and only lately have we gotten any interest in them. As a result, I have no track record with them.”

McDonald says, “After researching tankless heaters on the Internet I discovered that they require a great amount of power. Many units require more power than most people’s present electric panel is capable of providing.”“After you have selected a model you think will supply your needed GPM delivery of hot water, call a licensed electrician to size up your electric panel to make sure you have the electrical capacity for the larger demand that a tankless electric water heater requires.”

More Information on Tankless Water Heatersin Your Sacramento Home or Office

Tankless water heaters—also called instantaneous, continuous flow, inline, flash, on-demand, or instant-on water heaters—are gaining in popularity. These high-power water heaters instantly heat water as it flows through the device, and do not retain any water internally except for what is in the heat exchanger coil. Copper heat exchangers are preferred in these units because of their high thermal conductivity and ease of fabrication.

Tankless heaters may be installed throughout a household at more than one point-of-use (POU), far from a central water heater, or larger centralized models may still be used to provide all the hot water requirements for an entire house. The main advantages of tankless water heaters are a plentiful continuous flow of hot water (as compared to a limited flow of continuously heated hot water from conventional tank water heaters), and potential energy savings under some conditions.

Stand-alone appliances for quickly heating water for DHW are known in North America as tankless or on demand water heaters. In some places, they’re called multipoint heaters, geysers or ascots. In Australia and New Zealand they are called instantaneous hot water units. In Argentina they are called “calefones”. In that country “calefones” use gas instead of electricity. A similar wood-fired appliance was known as the chip heater.

A common arrangement where hot-water space heating is employed is for a boiler to also heat potable water, providing a continuous supply of DHW without extra equipment. Appliances that can supply both space-heating and DHW are called combination (or combi) boilers. Though on-demand heaters provide a continuous supply of DHW, the rate they can produce it at is limited by the thermodynamics of heating water from the available fuel supplies.

Contact McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento to Install Your Tankless Water Heater

Since 1957 McDonald Plumbing, Heating Air Conditioning has been providing plumbing and heating repairs and installations to Sacramento residents and businesses, including new, tankless water heaters. We also serve Sacramento and the surrounding communities with a full line of plumbing, heating and air conditioning repairs such as tankless and regular water heater installation and repair, air conditioning installation and repair, home energy audits, home comfort systems, sewer and drain cleaning, sewer and water line repair and repair of slab leaks.

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the seat of government of Sacramento County. It is at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California’s expansive Central Valley. With an estimated 2011 population of 477,891, it is the sixth-largest city in California and the 35th largest city in the United States. Sacramento is the core cultural and economic center of the Sacramento metropolitan area which includes seven counties with an estimated 2009 population of 2,527,123. Its metropolitan area is the fourth largest in California after the Greater Los Angeles Area, San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area, as well as the 27th largest in the United States. In 2002, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University conducted for TIME magazine named Sacramento “America’s Most Diverse City.


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