Tankless hot water technology has come a long way in a few short years. In an effort to bring greener thinking to the plumbing and water heater industry, new condensing tankless hot water heaters are really changing the game.
Older gas tankless models used Category III Stainless Steel to accommodate the escaping combustion gasses from the top of the unit. The heat produced required specific clearance around the unit, as well as venting a hot flue to the outside. The prices associated with the Category III Stainless Steel made the decision of where to locate the tankless water heater an issue, and on top of that, many technicians just weren’t that familiar working with this type of material. Bottom line: the older gas tankless models cost (including product, installation and routing of a new gas line) significantly more than conventional water heaters. The actual cost savings to the consumer of these models was an overall energy savings that took a couple of years to recover.
Condensing units recover the heat released to the flue, and use it to preheat incoming water on the way to the primary heat exchanger, increasing the unit’s efficiency by 10-15 percentage points. To the consumer, that represents a difference from the low 80’s to to around a 95% increase in efficiency over conventional tanks.
Additionally, these units now emit less heat and require zero clearance. Now that they can be located anywhere, builders love offering more space for actual living than if they were accommodating water heating units that required specific clearance.
Plumbers are also thrilled to share these newer condensing tankless heaters because instead of requiring the Category III Stainless Steel, the reduced heat expenditure allows them to use very familiar and inexpensive PVC pipe. The price difference between the steel and PVC, as well as the ease of installation now involved, means plumbers can offer the more expensive units at relatively the same cost per job. It’s a win-win all around.
If you would like to discuss tankless hot water heaters in more detail, please call and speak with me. 972-424-6479