To tankless or NOT to tankless? THAT is the question.
When it comes to tankless water heaters, homeowners are often beguiled by promises of unlimited hot water, lower energy bills and more space. However, the benefits of a tankless water heater — along with the drawbacks — depend on your circumstances, i.e:
- How much hot water you use
- The number of people in your household
- The amount of hot water you use
- Whether you live in a warm or cold climate
If your head is already spinning — FEAR NOT!
In A Rush? Get This One
Reasons to buy...
Oh sorry, didn’t realize you were about to head out the door! Come back to the rest of this article for a more in depth look, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, we ultimately recommend the Takagi T-KJr2. It’s inexpensive compared to other models, powerful and easy to install.
Top 5 Picks
9+ Best Tankless Water Heaters for 2019
Set it and forget it! Control temperatures on your Stiebel Eltron Tempra 15 simply by turning a dial between 86 and 125 degrees fahrenheit. You’ll have an unlimited supply of hot water without disruption, and enjoy an average savings of at least 15-20% on the heating portion of your electric bill.
One caveat that can come with electric tankless heaters is that they can sometimes struggle when heat demand is high (i.e., you and your brood/roommates schedule shower times back-to-back-to-back). But the Tempra Plus 24 is up for the challenge.
Kermit the Frog said that it’s not easy being green — but EcoSmart makes green energy seem effortless.
Unlike many other electric tankless heaters, the ECO 27 can provide the optimal, consistent heat in both warm and cold climates. Don’t believe it? Well, the ECO 27 challenges your doubt with a lifetime warranty.
The icing on the cake? This machine is strong enough for large homes (not always the case with many other electric tankless heaters), AND it’s super easy to clean and maintain.
Takagi’s tankless gas heaters are notoriously affordable and tough. Best for small to medium-sized households, the Takagi T-KJr2 provides unlimited heat for both warm and cold climates.
Gas heaters can be notoriously fickle in colder climates, but the T-KJr2 is able to easily handle a chilly area, easily running two showers at once. It also happens to be much more affordable than several other comparable units on the market, some that only deliver half the capacity.
It’s a bird…
It’s a plane…
It’s a — WHOA — Rheem RTGH-95DVLN 9.5 gallons per minute (GPM)!
It may be pricier than some of the other models, but this version of the Rheem is a hero amongst other tankless water heaters. No matter the size of your family, home or the type of climate you live in, the Rheem can handle it.
The Rinnai V75iN successfully straddles the line between brawn and efficiency. Ideal for the average household, the V75iN is capable of running 2-3 things at once, granted that you’re using low-flow plumbing fixtures.
The main reason that the V75iN makes the list, is that it really provides the optimal balance of features for pretty much any residence. Even if you have a household where a shower, washing machine and dishwasher is running consecutively (you busy, busy bee!), the efficiency and quality of the V75iN won’t be compromised.
Propane and the outdoors isn’t just a good combination for grilling — and Rheem’s RTG-64XLP is proof!
At less than $650, the RTG-64XLP produces strong output with a lightweight, compact design.
The compact design makes it easy to install virtually anywhere, but Rheem recommends outdoor installation for safety purposes (installing outdoors reduces the risk of breathing in harmful emission).
This little machine also boasts powerful BPM and consistent temperatures.
If you’re looking for the ultimate tankless water heater for a small home or office, look no further than the Eccotemp FVI-12-LP!
This little machine is SUPER inexpensive, so if you need a quality heater, but don’t require a ton of hot water (i.e. you live by yourself or with people that don’t use water…hopefully it’s the former), this machine is perfect.
Although this is more expensive than the other propane tankless heaters on our list, the T-K4-IN-LP from Takaji is one of the safest tankless water heaters on the market.
Despite the fact that it is a propane heater, this Takaji can safely be installed indoors without risk of harmful fumes. It also comes equipped with safety features that prevent freezing, overheating and more.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, this mighty machine can comfortably handle THREE bathrooms in warmer climates and TWO bathrooms in cooler climates, making it ideal for families.
The pick for best overall choice in this brand goes to the Rheem RTG-84DVLN.
The one caveat that comes with this machine is this: if you don’t live in a moderate climate, you may not be able to expect the full 8.4 GPM that this machine boasts.
However, you can still expect a minimum of 5 GPM, which is plenty of power for you to run a shower, do dishes and even a load of laundry ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
Our pick is the Takagi T-KJr2, which is less than $500. The T-KJr2 has made more than one appearance in this review, and it’s easy to see why!
Our pick is the Navien NPE-240A
This powerful machine boasts an IMMENSE flow rate of 11.2 GPM, so that you can basically run any and everything requiring hot water in your home SIMULTANEOUSLY! In other words, if you live in a mansion (LUCKY YOU!), this machine can handle it.
Another selling point of this machine is its friendly body design that fades well into any space, even when exposed.
Our pick for best Rinnai goes to the Rinnai RUR98iN 9.8 Max GPM. Part of Rinnai’s Ultra Series, this machine comes with a hefty price. BUT, it’s worth it.
A big selling point of this model is Rinnai’s ThermaCirca360 technology. This technology provides an endless supply of hot water INSTANTLY (no wait time!).
Our pick for best Bosch tankless water heater goes to Bosch’s 3300 PN NG
Making a second appearance in our review is the EcoSmart ECO 27
Our pick goes to the Eemax HA036240.
One thing I love, love, LOVE about this model is that it comes equipped with several smart features. A digital temperature control allows you to set temperature by 1 degree increments, with a range of 80-140 degrees fahrenheit.
It’s difficult to pick just one tankless water heater and tout it as THE BEST, being that “best” really depends on your preferences and circumstance. To break it down, let’s look at which tankless water heaters are best depending on your household and usage.
For apartments, small homes, or places where everyone uses hot water basically NEVER:
If you want a quality tankless water heater, but don’t require a huge GPM, we recommend going with the Eccotemp FVI-12-LP. It’s small, inexpensive, and can still support simultaneous showers.
For the average household:
For the average household, we recommend the Rinnai V75iN. At less than $1,000, this compact machine is powerful enough to run simultaneous showers, and it also comes with safety features like built-in leak detection. PLUS, this machine easily operates in both warm and cold temperatures.
For larger households:
A large household and family requires a powerful water heater, which is why we think the Takaji T-K4-IN-LP Indoor. This powerful machine can easily deliver heat to three bathrooms and works wonderfully in both cool and warm climates. It’s also easy to install, which cuts down on your installation costs ALONG with your energy bills.
Tankless Water Heater Review
How Does A Tankless Water Heater Work?
To understand how tankless water heaters works, let’s first take a look at how traditional tank heating systems works.
Traditional tank heaters house a large amount of water, which is consistently heated at a certain temperature to ensure that you have water ready when you need it.
When you DON’T use hot water with a traditional heating system, something called standby loss occurs.
Unlike traditional tank heaters that keep water heated 24/7, tankless heaters provide hot water only when you need them to. This means that you avoid standby heat loss, which can theoretically reduce your energy bills (more on that in a bit).
When you initiate the tankless system, water is heated either through electricity or gas heat, providing hot water INSTANTLY.
How exactly is this done?
Tankless water heaters use heat exchangers.
A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. In the case of tankless water heaters, heat exchangers transfer heat generated by electric coils or a gas-fired burner to the water that comes out of your faucet. Upon turning on your hot water tap, the incoming water will circulate through this exchanger and heat to your preset temperature.
Traditional vs. Tankless
As far as convenience goes, many home garages and basements already have tank water heaters. These are actually less expensive and more convenient to install than tankless water heaters.
A tank heater also requires less maintenance, whereas many tankless heaters need a professional to come out once a year to flush the system of calcium deposits.
That being said, despite their compact size, tankless water heaters definitely prove that powerful things can come in small packages.
That is…until your power goes out. Whereas, with a regular tank, you’ll probably have 50 gallons of hot water, so that you can at least get a couple showers out of it.
Still, there are several benefits to getting a tankless water heater, depending on your home and preferences. Let’s break it down further, shall we?
If you’re going to purchase a tankless water heater and want to further cut down on your initial costs, it may be good to install it yourself if you’re handy or KNOW someone handy.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of tankless water heater installation is $1,774, with a typical range being between $910-$2,641. Now, if you just have a huge chunk of change lying around that you won’t miss, BY ALL MEANS, get a professional to install your tankless water heater, and enjoy some caviar while you do so, my rich friend. CHEERS!
Several tankless water heaters can also be up there in the four-digit range when it comes to price.
Gas vs. Electric
Tankless gas heaters still require electricity to power the PC board, which is the brain of the heater, and the digital remote. Also, since there is no stand-by pilot light, it uses an electric direct ignition. To break it down, gas heaters:
- Typically cost less to operate
- Have a higher initial cost than most electric heaters, and they are also pricier to install
- Non-condensing units may cost less initially, but installation costs tend to be more significant
- It may take a year for you to see a return on investment energy bill-wise
If you use electric to heat your water, this is where you may see the most significant drop in your bills when going with tankless. Installation costs remain high, but many of the most popular and reliable models tout a price tag that is quite reasonable. To break it down, electric tankless heaters:
- Are 99% efficient
- Do not qualify for energy star ratings, which require a product improve energy output 14% over older models
- Both upfront and installation costs tend to be lower than gas models
Reasons to Go Tankless
As noted, when it comes to tankless water heaters, the touted savings can be defeated. Still, there are a few key benefits that tankless water heaters (both gas and electric) have over traditional tank heaters.
Luxury: With tankless heaters, you have limitless hot water. This means that you needn’t worry about being forced to take an Antarctic shower after others in your household have used up hot water.
Better for the planet: Go green! Tankless water heaters are made with technologies that are designed to reduce carbon emission in the air. And because you will only be using hot water when you need it, your carbon footprint is further reduces.
Space considerations: Tankless water heaters are extremely compact, with many fitting virtually anywhere. Plus, they can be mounted to the wall, which saves you plenty of floorspace. AND, if you live in the south, you can have your heater stored outside, so that you won’t even have to LOOK at the heater (although some are quite easy on the eyes).
Lifespan: If you properly maintain your tankless water heater, it stands to live anywhere from 20 to 25 years (WHOA). Conversely, conventional tank heaters tend to live a maximum of 10 years.
Smart water: Many tankless machines come with smart technologies, like remote controls and self-modulating devices.
Safety: Many tankless water heaters come equipped with technologies to prevent leaks or bursting
Wait, don’t leave just yet! Here’s one more consideration for you when purchasing a tankless water heater.
Did you know that you could be using more hot water than you need?
If you shower every day, then you are using TOO MUCH, according to experts. Showering every day:
- Strips your hair and skin of essential oils needed for softness and health
- Wastes water. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day!
- Strips away protective bacteria that you NEED to keep out toxins and chemicals
So how often should you shower?
About every other day is what experts recommend. And, although several of us may enjoy using shower time as meditation time (there’s just SO MUCH to think about in there), it’s best to limit your shower time to less than 30 minutes.
And, hey, less showers is just one OTHER way to save on energy bills.