Having hot water flowing abundantly and continuously from every faucet in your house is likely a priority for every homeowner. Yet for many homeowners who own a conventional water heater with a medium to even large-sized tank, you know what reality holds. While the joy of hot water can and does exist for a time, eventually it will run out, leaving you showering in the cold. And for those with large families, this can be an even bigger problem, especially if you’re the last one in getting into the bathroom in the morning or the evening. Thankfully, tankless water heating technology continues to improve, and many happy homeowners have been enjoying nearly endless hot water on demand.
Tankless water heaters not only consume power more efficiently, but they also provide the water-thirsty home with all of the hot water they could want. Tankless water heaters work by heating the water as it comes in. Unlike a tanked system, which has a limited reserve of hot water, tankless water heaters only heat the water as they need to, and when you want it. The market for tankless heaters continues to grow, but some on the market have much better features and reviews than others. We’ve taken an extensive look at different products on the market. The four tankless water heaters below are the ones we believe offer you the best value and the best features for what you’ll need to keep the hot water flowing!
Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus
If you’re in the market for a completely tankless water heater, and not a hybrid system, the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus needs to be on your list. Stiebel Eltron is a nearly 100 year old company that has been in the business of providing indoor heating for about as long. If you’re ready to put your trust in German engineering and a long, long history of successful business practices, give this tankless water heater a look.
The Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus provides you with exactly what you’re going to be looking for in a tankless water heater. On the outside, the system looks deceptively simple. An easy-to-read L.E.D. screen gives you the current high temperature setting, and a very simple dial affords you the option of changing the temperature you want for your water output. The output temperature can be set between 30°C (86°F) and 60°C (140°F). Keep in mind, of course, that the higher you set the temperature for the hot water the more power you will draw. While the temperature that you keep your hot water set to is an individual choice, for those seeking to maximize their power savings while still getting water that they can enjoy, keeping the water temperature lower may be a good idea. However, keeping the water temperature too low can result in the certain pathogens, such as Legionella, to survive and make it into your water outside of the pipes.
For tankless water heaters, heating speed and gallons per minute (GPM) are defining and important features. The Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus is designed with Stiebel’s Advanced Flow technology. Microprocessors in the design ensure that the temperature does not fluctuate despite higher demands. Even if your whole family is showering at the same time, you’ll be sure to get the same, constant temperature without the temperature drop off that you would likely find with other tankless water systems.
Stiebel Eltron’s small design makes this system easily fit into the tiny nooks that may be required for you to best utilize this system. The Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus was designed to specifically replace your electric tanked water heater. As such, this system works solely with electrical fittings, and will not work with propane or natural gas fixtures. This system will save you an average of 15-20% kWH, besting even the efficient gas and propane systems. Without the need for venting, you will also increase your savings over gas and propane systems, as well as save yourself the increased hassle that can come with the installation process of a gas system. The Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus is truly the hottest and best-liked system on the market. With an average 4.8/5 rating on Amazon and over 100 customer reviews, you can sure that this system will not only save you money, but provide you with all of the endless hot water you need.
Rinnai RL75iN Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater
The Rinnai RL75iN Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater is very comparable to the Stiebel Eltron model on our list, except for one key difference: commercial-grade settings. The Rinnai RL75iN supports commercial-grade settings which allows this system to have a high-temperature setting of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. While most buyers will not need to have their temperature set higher than the residential standard high of 140 degrees F.
While the Rinnai RL75iN is indeed mostly comparable to the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus, it also has some disadvantages. While it does provide users with 7.5 gallons per minute, that is unfortunately the limit of this model. However, that relatively high GPM should work well for a 2-3 bedroom home or condominium. You’ll be able to have three showers going simultaneously with this system and experience no drop-off in water pressure or temperature.
The Rinnai is a propane and natural gas setup. This means that if you are installing it to replace and electric water heater, you will need to contact an expert to help you install gas or propane fixtures, as well as a ventilation system for the excess heat that occurs with these types of systems. As with most tankless water heaters, this unit’s heating function only activates when the gallons per minute increase to a specific length. The system’s electronic processors determine when the gallons per minute increase to that setting, and automatically begin heating the water at that point. The Rinnai RL75iN activates at .43 gallons per minute, so it will not activate unnecessarily. This cost-saving measure is why most users realize over 10% energy savings with this system over conventional systems.
Although the temperature setting starts at 98 degrees F., (more than 10 degrees above the low setting for the Stiebel Eltron), this is more a function of the gas and propane design and not a design flaw. Despite having a smaller temperature window, users still have full control over the temperature that they desire within that setting. The Rinnai system has an L.E.D. screen and electronic push-button settings that both show you the current setting and give you control over the temperature.
This system comes in highly rated, with a 4.4/5 average rating on Amazon and over 60 customer reviews. While not as popular as the Stiebel Eltron system, for those replacing a gas or propane powered system, this may well be one of the best options on the market.
Rinnai RUR98iN Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater
Ignore the long name. With the Rinnai RUR98i, you’ll never be left waiting for your hot water! As our second entry the list, Rinnai has proven to be a market leader in tankless water heaters. This Rinnai system perfectly fits the name “ultra” and continues in Rinnai’s passion for gas and propane-powered systems. Stylistically, Rinnai’s system are sleek, gorgeous and small in relatively comparison to your average conventional tank water heater system. Likewise, they function in a super cost-efficient manner. This system even comes with an Energy Star rating, meaning you’ll save money while still getting the hot water that you want and need.
The Rinnai RUR98i offers multiple safety features that help prevent system failures as well as to help prevent tampering. If you have children, this is extremely important. The temperature lock feature allows you to lock in a temperature and avoid unwanted tampering by curious hands. As a natural gas and propane system, you can expect to get ultra-fast tankless heating as well as high temperatures within seconds of turning on your faucets. Much liek the Rinnai R75iN, this system has a residential temperature setting of 98-140 degrees. However, commercial users can be pleased to learn that this unit also comes with an option of a high temperature setting of 180 degrees. Larger buildings will benefit from these higher temperatures.
This system easily beats out the other Rinnai system on our list for capacity. With a maximum 9.8 gallons per minute, you can expect that this system will cover larger households without the temperature fall off that you would experience with cheaper systems. And there are, indeed, cheaper systems. The Rinnai 98iN is easily the most expensive system on our list, but also an extremely popular system for those that have purchased it. With an average 5 star rating on Amazon, this system has no negative complaints from the few who have coughed up the cash to purchase it. A relatively low minimum activation of .4 gallons per minute and an advanced recirculation system make this unit a highly advanced unit for you to consider.
Eccotemp FVI-12-NG High Capacity Gas Tankless Water Heater
The Eccotemp FVI-12-NG is quite easily the number one tankless water system for the masses. At under $300, you can expect that this tankless water system will provide you with what you need, but will not match the capacity of the more expensive systems on our list. Indeed, this system maxes out at a very paltry 4 gallons per minute. If you have a large family, this may not be the system for you, as you will find yourself running out of water pressure and hot water relatively fast when multiple users are draining the system. That said, this system does offer the standard, desirable uses of most tankless water heaters. If you’re in the market for a smaller system for a smaller space, and looking to have hot water on demand much more efficiently, this system is for you. This unit has a 3.7/5 average customer rating on Amazon. While it may serve you well, be sure to read through customer reviews before purchase. Many users did not expect the low gpm or the temperature drop-off that occurs when maxing out the system’s capabilities.
Tankless Water Heater Buyer’s Guide
Tankless water heaters are do not come cheaply. Buying and installing one in your home can sometimes be a costly venture that you will have to live with for many years. To that end, there are some important features of tankless water heaters you will want to consider before making your purchase, as well as very important features of your own home that you’ll want to investigate before making a purchase. Not every home is set up to work with any and every tankless water heater, and not every tankless water heater will work very well.
While the temperature that you keep your hot water set to is an individual choice, for those seeking to maximize their power savings while still getting water that they can enjoy, keeping the water temperature lower may be a good idea. However, keeping the water temperature too low can result in the certain pathogens, such as Legionella, to survive and make it into your water. Likewise, every water heater, whether tankless or conventional, has to use energy in order to heat water from an original temperature at input. Before purchasing your system, assess what the incoming temperature of your water will be, in every season. The lower the temperature, the more energy it will take to heat the water to the degree that you want.
Gas or Electric?
More conventional water heaters operate heat water through either igniting natural gas or propane, or through using fully electric systems. If you are replacing a gas or propane system, you will likely want to replace it with a gas or propane-powered tankless water heating system as well. However, it is possible to install an electric system as a replacement. If this is the case, you will likely need to expand the electrical input for the replacement system, as electric tankless water heaters require more direct electrical current to operate. If you are replacing an electric conventional water heater with a tankless gas system, you have a much more complex operation on your hands. You will not only need to have gas lines installed, but ventilation systems for the excess heat that is produced with such systems. An expert will almost certainly be needed to help you with the installation.
Gallons Per Minute
The amount of water that you new tankless water heater can produce is determined by its gallons per minute (GPM). Cheaper systems will have much lower gpm factors, typically under 5 gallons per minute. This means that once that gpm is reached, the water pressure will drop off, and the temperature of the heated water will fall. Remember that tankless water heaters are just that: tankless. They heat the water at input through a series of copper housings. If you have a large house and a large family, it is likely you will need to purchase one of the more expensive systems that max out at 9 gallons per minute or above. Avoid the disappointment that may come with buying a cheaper tankless water heating system that fails in effectively replacing your old conventional tank heater.
All tankless water heaters work by electronically measuring the flow of water, and turning on automatically based on that water flow. The higher the flow requirement, the slower you will experience the hot water that you’re looking for. Most tankless hot water heaters have an initial flow activation that is below 1 gallon per minute, with ranges between .3 and .9 gallons per minute. Understanding this number will help you understand what how quickly you can expect to experience the hot water that you want. The lower the gpm, the faster you will experience hot water. Many new tankless hot water systems have advanced microprocessors that help manage and detect the water flow.
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