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How to choose the best tankless gas water heater for your budget

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Tankless gas water heaters are gaining in popularity because they offer huge energy savings over traditional water heaters and take up far less space in your home.

Tankless or on-demand water heaters only heat water as you need to use it and shut down when you don’t. You can save money this way because you are not heating and then reheating the same tank of water as you do with traditional water heaters. Without the big water tank, a tankless gas water heater can be the size of a compact carry-on suitcase and installed on almost any wall inside or outside your house.

Suppose you have an extra-high demand for hot water in your home. In that case, you can get a large-capacity tankless water heater, or buy two or more separate tankless units and dedicate them to specific functions (point-of-use water heaters), such as for a bathroom shower or washing machine.

Not only can tankless water heaters help you save up to 40% on energy bills, you also get fresh, clean water without the buildup of rust and limescale often found in well-used traditional tank water heaters.

For homeowners looking for the best tankless water heaters, here are some factors to consider in your purchasing decision.

 

What to look for when choosing a tankless gas water heater

Size is important when choosing a tankless gas water heater. If you buy one that doesn’t have enough capacity for your household’s hot-water demand, then you’ll run out when the water is most needed. One with too great a capacity for your hot-water needs is a waste of money.

Features to look for include:

Flow rate. You have to decide how much water you need during peak use, such as when someone is taking a shower, a load of laundry is on, or the dishwasher is running. The water flow rate is measured in gallons per minute (gpm).

Some typical gpm measurements include:

  • Bathroom or kitchen faucet: 0.5 gpm
  • Dishwasher: 1 gpm
  • Clothes washer: 1.5 gpm
  • Shower: 2.5 gpm

So, a setup using the shower, kitchen sink and a high-efficiency washing machine would require a tankless water heater of about 6 gpm.

Temperature rise. Groundwater temperatures vary throughout the country. Find out what it is in your area to calculate the water-temperature rise. For example, if the groundwater is 61 degrees Fahrenheit and you want a shower temperature of 120 degrees, then the temperature rise is 59 degrees. You must determine if a tankless gas water heater has the capacity to handle the temperature rise for all the uses in your house.

Power input. How well a tankless gas water heater heats water is related to its British thermal unit (Btu) input. One Btu is the energy factor required by the heating element to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree. When purchasing a tankless gas water heater, you should check out its maximum Btu-per-hour input rating.

A family of one or two adults or teens in a one-bathroom home might need about 140,000 Btu. This need could rise to 380,000 Btu for a family of three to five with three bathrooms.

Indoors or outdoors? While heaters are installed mostly indoors, especially in areas where outdoor temperatures fall below zero, there are cases where you might opt for an outdoor unit. For example, if you want to heat a shower in a pool house, then you could use an outdoor tankless water heater. Outdoor units are built stronger than indoor units to withstand weather conditions but require more maintenance.

Condensing or non-condensing? A non-condensing model is the more typical tankless gas water heater. It has one heat exchanger and an 80% efficiency rate. A condensing model is a newer technology with a second heat exchanger that employs recirculated exhaust gases to help heat water. With a 90% efficiency rating, it’s even lighter on energy consumption. Condensing water heaters usually cost a bit more than non-condensing ones.

What brand of tankless gas water heater is the most reliable?

When looking for the best tankless gas water heater, several major brands have good value in different measures, including energy efficiency, ease of installation, good temperature control and other features. Some of the top picks for manufacturers include: 

  • Rinnai. Rinnai’s tankless hot water heaters “are built to commercial-grade standards, and each individual unit is tested for quality.” Its range of Energy Star models include both condensing and hybrid (combining storage tank and tankless technology) units.
  • Rheem. This company has a range of tank-type gas water heaters, delivering “the perfect balance of performance, features and efficiency for every family’s lifestyle and budget.” Its lineup includes condensing, mid-efficiency, hybrid and electric water heaters.
  • EcoSmart. While known for its eco-friendly electric models, EcoSmart also has a line of tankless gas water heaters. The manufacturer of green energy technology promises to “help you to save money, save space and save energy.”
  • Bosch. Bosch’s line of high-efficiency gas tankless water heaters includes the Greentherm 9000 Series, which has a Wi-Fi accessory to increase functionality. With a mobile app, you can remotely control the water temp, activate the recirculation pump, and monitor usage and sensor values from your smartphone or tablet.
  • Camplux. This company has a line of portable tankless gas water heaters that are ideal “for campsites, cabins or simply around the house. Wash your car, wash your boat, take a hot shower” and more with Camplux portable tankless water heater options.

 

How much should you expect to pay for a tankless gas water heater?

Variables such as size and fuel type dictate the cost of tankless water heaters. The price of gas-powered tankless water heaters usually falls between $1,000 and $1,500 (and sometimes higher). Electric tankless water heaters cost between $500 and $1,500. Gas and propane usually cost less than electricity, and gas units also heat water faster than electric ones. However, they are more costly to install, require a ventilation system and need more maintenance.

Condensing tankless gas water heaters will usually cost more than non-condensing ones, but they will save you more over the long run on your energy bills.

 

How much does it cost to install a tankless gas water heater

When you buy a tankless gas water heater, you must also take into account the upfront cost of professional installation by a plumber. This cost varies according to the size of the unit, the complexity of the system and the hourly rate of who you hire. That said, the average installation cost for a tankless water heater can range from $2,500 to $4,500.

Can you install a tankless gas water heater yourself?

While it is possible to install a tankless gas water heater yourself, you need some serious handy skills to navigate the complex process. There’s a wide range of sizes and styles of these units, including propane, electric and natural gas tankless water heaters, as well single-room or whole-house-size models — each with its own installation requirements.

Since tankless gas models often require more gas than large residential furnaces, you must check with your local gas company to see if your gas line can handle the load. Then you need to know how to safely shut off the gas supply to the existing water heater and disconnect the tank without dangerous gas leaks. 

Installing new lines for the water supply, a pressure release valve and an exhaust vent can also be part of the job. So, tankless water heater work isn’t for just anyone. However, a seasoned DIYer should be able to get the job done.

 

How much does it cost to repair a tankless gas water heater?

According to Fixr, it usually costs between $100 to $650 to repair a tankless water heater. You can pay $50 to tighten a loose valve or $375 to address the problem of a heater making low rumbling noises. Or you might pay as much as $1,000 to install a high-end mini tank heater to deal with a “cold water sandwich.”

Repair costs also vary according toProtect your water heater from expensive repairs with Cinch fuel type:

  • Electric: $100 to $600
  • Gas: $150 to $650
  • Propane: $150 to $650
  • Oil: $150 to $650
  • Solar: $200 to $700

As far as parts, costs can include:

  • Fuse: $50 to $75
  • Vent: $50 to $125
  • Pilot light: $75 to $150
  • Thermostat: $75 to $150
  • Pressure relief valve:$75 to $150
  • Pipe: $100 to $350

 

Protect your water heater from expensive repairs with Cinch

With the costs to repair or replace a tankless hot water heater, you’d be wise to consider getting the protection of a Cinch Home Services warranty. For a modest monthly payment, you can get coverage for your home’s built-in systems, including water heaters, heating systems (including ductwork), air conditioners, plumbing systems and more.

The warranty is backed up by a 180-day workmanship guarantee and also covers unknown pre-existing conditions.

With the protection of a Cinch warranty for your tankless gas water heater, you won’t find yourself landing in cold water. Get your instant quote today!

 

Save money and space with a new tankless gas water heater that only heats and dispenses water on demand.