Three best tankless water heaters

By
tech-spanfeller
BestReviews

A "cold water sandwich" happens when shower water still warm from the previous user is followed by cold water.

There are new and different ways to do everything, including taking a hot shower. The traditional method involves heating up a huge tank of water and having it just sit there until you need it. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, have no reserve. They only warm the water you need when you need it. Because of this, a tankless water heater can save you a great deal of money on your energy bill.

But these systems aren't the solution for every water-heating situation. There are certain conditions that might make your home more or less suited for a tankless water heater. To learn about how appliances work and which might be the best for you, keep reading.

Considerations when choosing tankless water heaters

Location

In a tankless water heater, the water isn't heated until it travels through a series of coils on its way to you. There are two main factors that limit how hot the water can get: the initial temperature of the water and the rate of water flow. Each tankless water heater is rated by location and gallons per minute, so you can determine which model is best for your particular situation.

Water temperature: The farther north you live, the colder the temperature of the water. It's much harder to quickly heat water that starts at 42°F than it is to heat water that's already at 62°F.

 

Flow rate: The more slowly the water flows, the more thoroughly heated it can get. However, if the water flows too slowly, it might not be fast enough to be of use to you.

Power

A tankless water heater can be powered by electricity, propane, or natural gas. If you want a heater that will continue working if the power goes out, your options are either propane or natural gas.

Indoor vs. outdoor

The other important consideration is indoor or outdoor installation. Draining (condensation), venting, and protection from freezing are your three main concerns. The answer is the balance that works for you. For instance, an outdoor tankless water heater might be the best for easy venting and drainage, but it will be hard to keep the unit from damage if you live in an area where the temperatures drop below freezing.

Tankless water heater prices: Propane models start as low as $100, while electric tankless water heaters start around $150. A natural gas unit starts around $500.

FAQ

Q. When I turn on the tap, why isn't the water instantly hot?

A. First, a tankless water heater doesn't store hot water like a traditional water heater, so it takes a few seconds to turn on and begin heating your water. Second, all the cold water sitting in the pipes between your heater and your faucet still needs to come out before you get to that warmer water.

Q. I live in Wyoming. Is this a good purchase for me?

A. Maybe. Maybe not. Tankless water heaters function best in the lower regions of the United States where the inlet water is already somewhat warm. If you live in the upper half of the country, make sure the unit you're considering can adequately warm the colder inlet water while flowing at an acceptable rate.

Tankless water heaters we recommend

Best of the best: EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater

Our take: An electrical unit that's strong enough to warm water in the northern U.S. at up to three gallons per minute.

What we like: The digital control allows you to change the temperature in one-degree increments for precision comfort. The incredibly compact unit is only 17 by 17 inches.

What we dislike: Make sure you have the needed electrical requirements (three 40 amp double pole breakers) or you'll be disappointed with the unit's performance.

Best bang for your buck: Marey Propane Tankless Water Heater

Our take: Budget-friendly propane gas option that's best for homes in the southern U.S.

What we like: Very small carbon footprint. Since it's powered by propane gas, it will still work if you lose power. The controls allow you to make minor adjustments to the water flow and temperature.

What we dislike: This unit isn't strong enough for use in regions with colder inlet water temperatures.

Choice 3: Takagi Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater

Our take: Natural-gas-powered tankless heater that's better suited for warmer regions of the U.S.

What we like: Comes with a handy remote control. Safety features to protect from overheating, power surges, and freezing.

What we dislike: If installing it yourself, you'll need to purchase fittings separately. Although it might be costly, we recommend having the unit professionally installed.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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