Tankless water heaters are an alternative type of water heater, that like their name would suggest, don't have a large storage tank associated with them. Instead, they heat water on demand as needed throughout your house, which translates into a higher efficiency unit and lower energy bills for you. There are three main types of tankless water heaters, each of which operates in a slightly different way from the others, and thus has a different set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding what each type of tankless water heater can offer your home's plumbing can help you choose the best one for your needs.
Non-Condensing Tankless Water Heaters
Non-condensing tankless water heaters make use of a heat exchanger to heat up your home's water supply at an extremely fast rate. These types of tankless water heaters tend to be the most affordable per unit. However, their installation cost can be higher than other types of tankless water heaters, since they require specialized metal venting to be installed with the unit to remove exhaust gases. Additionally, non-condensing tankless water heaters are not very efficient at heating small amounts of water at a time, which can negate some of their energy savings if you use hot water to wash your hands, for instance.
Condensing Tankless Water Heaters
Condensing tankless water heaters essentially have two stages of heating, the initial element much like non-condensing units, but then they take the exhaust from that initial stage and use it to further heater the water, increasing overall efficiency. This also means that the exhaust from these types of water heaters is not as hot, which means that you can make use of plastic venting, which is less expensive and easier to install than metal venting as with non-condensing units. However, while tankless water heaters will give you increased energy savings over time, their initial price point is a little bit higher, which can make it hard to fit them into your budget. Further, just like non-condensing units, these water heaters can be less efficient when heating small amounts of water.
Hybrid Condensing Tankless Water Heaters
Hybrid tankless water heaters have a small holding tank installed with them, and use a two-stage heat exchanger much like condensing tankless water heaters. This makes them the most efficient variant of tankless water heaters, as water from the small storage tank is used for short draws of hot water (washing your hands), while the two heat exchangers are used for longer draws (washing dishes or taking a shower). The only downsides associated with hybrid tankless water heaters is that they take up more space, due to their storage tank, then their counterparts do, and that they have a much high initial price point when compared to either of the other types of tankless water heaters.
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