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Tankless Water Heater: An advantageous option?

Do you know the tankless water heater? Also sold as an instant water heater, its main characteristic is that it does not have a tank. Consequently, in the absence of hot water storage, it heats it only when necessary, when the tap is opened.

Although the tankless water heater is not a completely new technique, it seems to be making a notable breakthrough in the Quebec residential market in recent years. More compact, less energy consuming, it arouses interest as well as discussions, because of its advantages… and its disadvantages!

So, is the tankless water heater really an advantageous option? Let’s take stock together so you can make an informed decision on the matter.

The advantages of the tankless water heater: less waste, longer!

Why do we hear about the electric tankless water heater? Because this alternative has many advantages recognized on the market:

  • By its definition, we can quickly decide on its major advantage: that of being able to provide water to the right temperature in an almost infinite way, so no situation where the last person who takes a shower has no hot water!
  • Since the water is only heated when you need it, you avoid the energy loss generated by storing preheated water. By extension, the obligation to save hot water is no longer an obligation!! As proof: the possible energy savings are estimated at 30%, compared to a conventional water heater.
  • The second big advantage of this type of installation is its compact and lightweight design. The absence of a tank represents a significant saving of space. If you live in a small home, a condo or if you need to supply a secondary source of water (sink, hand basin, bathroom, etc.), you will be delighted to benefit from its performance.
  • Still in the design chapter, the absence of a balloon removes the need for a protective device to regulate the pressure inside the water heater. Installation is extremely easy, since a simple electrical outlet is enough to turn it on.
  • Its installation must be carried out near the shower. Since the water source is close, less water is wasted than when it has to come from your basement.
  • We don’t think much about it, but stored water is ultimately stagnant water which presents the risk of bacteria developing there. With this type of storage-free arrangement, there is no threat of bacterial proliferation!!
  • In terms of maintenance, the tankless water heater is also very interesting. Apart from descaling every two to four years, it requires no additional action to maintain its performance.
  • We are also dealing with a device whose lifespan is generally double of that of a tank water heater, which sometimes needs to be replaced due to its age for insurance purposes.
  • Reduced energy consumption and water waste, durability, fewer elements to replace in the event of a change: no doubt, you here you have a solution whose environmental footprint is controlled.

Faced with such a portrait, we are entitled to wonder why – according to CAA Quebec – 90% of Quebec homes still have a tank water heater.

Pros also mean cons, and those of the tankless water heater are notable enough to rethink your purchase.

Disadvantages of instantaneous water heaters: questionable savings and reliability

The instantaneous water heater is not its first debate. In an article from La Presse, Alain Chayer, co-owner of Plomberie Roger Chayer, already outlined the main limitations of the device:

«In winter, the ground is frozen, and the drinking water comes to us very cold. It takes a lot of power to quickly heat it to 70°C.” – Alain Chayer.

And the faster the water is heated, the greater the energy required.

The article in question also highlights water consumption which, in Quebec, is not billed. In other words, with traditional water heaters, yes, there is a waste of water, but without financial consequences. With the instantaneous water heater, energy consumption can still be notable in cold weather, and therefore, impact our electricity bill.

Generally speaking, the disadvantages of the instantaneous water heater greatly affect the wallet!

  • As long as the tap is not closed, hot water flows, with the corresponding power consumption.
  • On paper, a single electrical outlet seems sufficient. That said, it may require modifications or adjustments for gas power (much less eco-friendly). 
  • Purchase and installation costs will not necessarily outweigh your potential savings. In fact, the device costs two to three times more expensive than a classic model and its installation can reach $2000, especially if you need to correct your electrical input.
  • If you install a single tankless water heater for a household of more than two people, you will probably observe temperature variations. Such an installation is actually not suitable for supplying several taps at the same time, or for meeting an intensive need for hot water.

Finally, it appears that in Quebec, the tankless water heater is not the most optimal solution. Exception made for small homes, recent homes, households of two people or less, or as a backup system. If you are looking for a device that is both economical and ecological, the water heater with tank remains valid. And to increase its performance, make sure you choose it at a capacity suitable for your home, and with an Energy Star certification. You will thus be sure to respond correctly to your hot water and financial constraints.

Advice like this, Alain Chayer and the specialists at Plomberie Roger Chayer, are able to provide you with it, whatever your installation, your budget and your needs.

Do you want to have the best investment/savings/efficiency ratio in plumbing? Questions about installation or even water heater repair? We are available to assist you courteously and quickly!

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