Recent advancements in technology have brought about a new type of water heater, the tankless water heater. Most Americans use the typical storage tank type to provide hot water throughout their homes. Tank type models keep a quantity of water hot twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In other words, this type of water heater uses energy even when you are not using hot water. Tankless type water heaters use energy only when hot water is being used within the home, whether by the shower, sink, or dishwasher. By operating in this manner, you can expect to use less energy heating water to the typical hot water supply temperature of approximately 120°F. Tankless water heaters, similarly to tank type water heaters can use electricity, natural gas, or propane as their energy source.
So at first glance, it is an obvious choice to install a tankless type water heater in lieu of a tank type water heater in new home construction or as a replacement installation. There are some drawbacks to using a tankless water heater, however. Most tankless water heaters are fueled by natural gas or propane, although electric tankless water heaters are available but the least popular. Let’s look at why this might be…
Electric tankless type water heaters use between 12kW and 28kW of electrical energy to heat water as required by the appliance(s). Assuming a 240V single phase circuit, this represents 50A-120A of current. This is equivalent to a large oven (50A) or an entire house (120A). Current draw in this range will likely require fairly large electrical wiring to be installed, possibly a new breaker depending on whether or not your current electrical panel has the capacity by way of a spare breaker and low demand factor. If it does not, you will need to install an electrical panel of sufficient capacity and potentially have to have the utility company increase the service size to your home. The potential costs outlined above for simply the electrical connection can range in price between $300 and $3,000 depending on the utility upgrade costs.
As a consumer you need to do your homework when making the decision to replace your water heater. Although best rated Electric Tankless Water Heaters do not require, fuel gas service or a flue, an understanding of the total costs inclusive of electric upgrades clearly demonstrates why they are the least popular amongst the next generation of water heating appliances.