Electric Tankless Water Heaters Buyer’s Guide

Do you know that enormous tank of hot water in your basement? What if we told you that you could get the same amount of water from a water heater that is the size of a suitcase and, in the process, save at least $100 annually in your utility bill? 

That is what tankless water heaters are for! Here’s what I know from research and personally using one:

Electric tankless water heaters are devices that can heat your home’s water on demand. When you turn the tap on, water from your pipes enters this water heater and passes through the heat exchanger. In here, there is an electric resistance coil that warms the water to your desired temperature as it goes through.

Potential energy savings aren’t the only thing that makes electric tankless water heaters in demand. Their ability to deliver hot water on demand also makes these devices a popular choice for most people nowadays. In addition, they help reduce energy consumption in your house because you don’t have to heat water in storage tanks that go unused.

This article will discuss whether these devices are worth it, how efficient they are, how much they cost, how to install them and give you our picks for the best electric tankless water heaters

So read on to find out more. This will most certainly be an exciting read for you!

Are Electric Tankless Water Heaters Worth It?

When presented with new technology, we always tend to wonder if it’s any good for us. In the same light, it’s understandable for you to wonder whether electric tankless water heaters are any good. Will they add any value to your life? 

The answer is a resounding yes! Electric tankless water heaters are worth it, and they might be what you need in your house. If you’re unsure whether these heaters will work to your advantage, then worry not. You are in the right place.

Electric tankless water heaters possess a lot of advantages over traditional tank-style water heaters. You’d be insane to ignore getting yourself one of these bad boys! They are definitely worth it. You’ll get the best experience for every penny you spend getting an electric tankless water heater.

Some of the advantages of electric tankless water heaters include:

  • Compact Design

Electric tankless water heaters are much smaller and less bulky than traditional tank-style heaters. This means that less space is required for them. Installation usually involves mounting them on a wall. Some units are also designed to be installed outside.

  • Longevity (Long Lifespan)

A considerable advantage of electric tankless water heaters is that they have a longer life span than tank-style heaters. With proper maintenance, these appliances can typically last an average of 20 years or longer. This is 10 more than tank-style heaters.

  • Energy Savings

Heating water in your house usually takes a chunk of your monthly energy costs. However, one advantage of electric tankless water heaters is that they promote energy savings. This is because hot water is delivered on-demand and doesn’t sit in a tank being heated and reheated until you need it. For this reason, there are no standby heat losses.

  • Replaceable Parts

Another advantage of these appliances is that they are designed to be repaired, and for this reason, their service life is extended. In contrast, when a tank-style water heater begins to leak, there’s a good chance that the whole unit will need replacement. Electric tankless water heaters are designed in such a way that you can replace nearly every part.

  • Fresh Water Supply

Hot water in on-demand water heaters is never sitting in a tank that may contain rust and mineral scale. Instead, whenever you need hot water, it gets heated on the spot and is delivered immediately. This gives you a supply of fresh water.

  • Constant Supply of Hot Water

You can now take longer hot showers! With a correctly sized electric tankless water heater, you will provide your whole house with an unlimited supply of hot water. The supply of hot water is also instant with these appliances. Therefore, they can supply you with hot water without the inconvenience of bulky storage tanks.

  • Special Financing and Tax Breaks

Electric tankless water heaters are more efficient. Because of this, they qualify for federal tax credits, which will ultimately help cut the steep installation cost. The federal government offers a 10% tax credit on the cost of buying and installing these appliances.

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  • Longer Warranties

As we have already discussed, electric tankless water heaters have a long life span. For this reason, they have more extended warranties. So if anything goes wrong, you won’t have to pay for repairs. You also won’t have to take care of the bill for a replacement. Warranties can run up to 20 years!

  • Good for small households with minimal hot water requirements

If you have a small household and a modest demand for hot water, then electric tankless water heaters are optimal for you. They will eliminate standby loss and provide enough hot water for your household.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that electric tankless water heaters do have their drawbacks. They are costlier, work best for small households, and have a lower capacity than tank-style water heaters.

However, despite these factors, they are still an amazing solution for all your home water heating needs. They are worth it! So why not try one out and see just how well it works for you.

How Efficient Are Electric Tankless Water Heaters?

How efficient are they? Well, you guessed it right!

Electric tankless water heaters are pretty efficient. They enable you to save energy in your household exponentially. So why waste energy heating water in a tank-style heater that would otherwise escape out of the tank walls and hot water pipes.

With an electric tankless water heater, you can heat water on demand and turn off the unit whenever you’re done using hot water. As simple as that. Given that any form of electric heating is usually considered energy-efficient, it follows that an electric tankless water heating unit is a good and efficient choice.

Electric tankless water heaters are usually well insulated to reduce heat loss. This means that almost no heat escapes whenever you are using hot water. The fact that the water is heated on demand also reduces heat loss.

If energy consumption is an issue for you, then you’ll be glad to know that an electric tankless water heater cuts your costs down. You can save up to 30-50% of your energy costs with these units.

Another reason why they are so efficient is that they do not store water. As a result, they are less prone to problems related to mineral and sediment build-up. The water quality that you receive is, therefore, top.

All in all, these electric tankless water heaters are efficient and, for this reason, are an excellent choice to have in your household.

What are the Requirements to Install Electric Tankless Water Heaters?

Getting the electric tankless electric heater is only the first step. The unit must also be installed correctly in your home. This job requires you to have excellent plumbing and electrical skills, that’s why it’s better done by a professional. However, if you prefer to install your unit on your own, be ready to spend a couple of hours finishing the work.

This article will give you an in-depth guide on how to install your electric tankless water heater. So read on to find out more.

Electrical Requirements

Not all homes are suited for these units. This is because the amp draw of such a system is just high. Most units require at least 300A. To put this into perspective, the average home has a total capacity of 200A.

So, in essence, you need to upgrade your electrical service panel or run a completely new one so that the unit operates optimally.

To determine the current size of your home electrical service, check the electrical breaker box. You could also check the label on your electrical panel.

Water Pressure Requirements

Most units can work at a pressure range of about 30-150 psi. If the water pressure is above this figure, you’ll need a pressure-reducing valve installed upstream of the unit.

Permit Requirements

Even if you install the unit yourself, most states will require you to pull a permit and have it inspected for safety. A plumbing inspector will also have to check the installation to make sure the work was done properly.

Where to Install

These units are mostly mounted on walls. In most cases, it will make sense to install the unit in a close place where you use most hot water. This will allow you to get hot water faster whenever you open the faucet. 

You also have to make sure that you have access to the main cold water line. You can install the unit in the bathroom or under the sinks. You can also install the unit outside, provided there are power and water supply outlets.

Keep in mind that these units should always be installed vertically with the water and power supply connections pointing downward. There must also be minimum clearance for servicing.

Avoid locations where the unit could be splashed with water or other liquids, as well as areas where temperatures can be too low. Excessive moisture and humidity should also be avoided.

Tools and Supplies

To successfully install your electric tankless water heating unit, you will require:

  • A drill and drill bits.
  • Flathead screwdriver.
  • Needle nose pliers.
  • Adjustable wrench.
  • Pipe Cutter.
  • Pencil.
  • Tape measure.
  • Pressure-reducing valve.
  • Recirculation pump and cross-over valve.
  • Double pole circuit.
  • Pipe insulation.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Teflon tape.
  • Temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P).
  • Shut-off valves.
  • Copper pipes or stainless steel flex pipes.
  • Mounting screws and anchors (should be provided with the unit)
  • Welding and soldering tools.

How to Install the Electric Tankless Water Heater

Note that the unit may come with instructions on how to install it. This guide is only an example so make sure to read the manual. Take extreme care when installing because it can be dangerous. If you are unsure about what you are doing, better hire a licensed electrician and plumber.

  1. Turn off all circuit breakers that are involved.
  2. Turn off the main water supply.
  3. Any screws that cover the front of the unit should be removed. Take off the front cover carefully.
  4. Install the anchors onto the wall and fix them with screws (these should be included in the package). Proceed to mount the unit onto the wall.
  5. Next, you need to establish the cold (usually right side) and hot (lest side) water connections. To do this, we recommend using a stainless steel flex pipe (3/4 “) in combination with a Teflon Tape. The cold water connections should be easy to remove because the unit’s filter screen at the cold water inlet requires cleaning once in a while. When soldering or welding, flush the pipes before connecting them to the water heater.
  6. Install a pressure reduction valve on the cold waterside. You can also install a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P) on the hot waterside. You should also install a shut-off valve before and after the unit.
  7. Turn on several hot water outlets for a couple of minutes to dispel any air from the pipes and the water heater. Also, consider checking all connections for leaks.
  8. Refer to the wiring diagram in the manual! Next is to make the electrical connections with the water heater on one side and the electric panel on the other. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct wire, circuit breaker number, and size.

If you have a small unit, you can connect it to a single circuit using one set 6/2 AWG wire and ground protected by a 50A double pole breaker. If you have a larger unit, you’ll require 2 or 3 separate circuits and even possibly thicker wire.

So cut each wire set to length and strip. Proceed to pass it through the unit’s bottom holes. Firmly attach it to the appropriate slots on the terminal block. A ground conductor should be connected to the unit’s grounding busbar and the circuit breaker panel for all the circuits.

  1. Check all electrical connections and make sure you didn’t mix up the wire sets.
  2. Reattach the unit’s front cover and turn on the circuit breakers.
  3. Turn on your electric tankless water heater. Proceed to configure it according to your preferences, for example, water temperature. Open a hot water outlet and wait until the temperature has stabilized, and adjusted it if you need to.

After this, you are done! Note that installing the unit isn’t as easy as it seems. It isn’t very easy and will take you hours. If you are unsure about how to go about it even after reading this guide, consider hiring a professional.

How Much Are Electric Tankless Water Heaters?

Most people nowadays have begun switching to tankless water heaters because of the convenience it brings. But these perks may not be enough for some people to offset the extra cost of purchase and installation expense of tankless water heaters. 

So, for this reason, a question arises? How much does it cost to get an electric tankless water heater?

For a whole-house unit, you can expect to pay anywhere around $1000-$1500. Also, note that not all homes are ready to support these units. You may have to upgrade your electrical system. This can add a cost of as much as $5000.

Don’t forget that you may need to incur installation costs for the unit. The average cost of installing an electric tankless water heater is around $2500-$4500.

The monthly electric cost is likely to average $400-$1000.

Single-point tankless water heaters can cost you from $200-$500. They are also easy to install and therefore inexpensive.

All in all, the whole house units are quite costly to acquire and install. But the advantages of the electric tankless water heaters shouldn’t be ignored despite this. So you should weigh your options before deciding to get one of these.

Maintenance of Electric Tankless Water Heaters

The best way to maintain your electric tankless water heater is to hire a professional to clean it. They will de-lime and descale it to get rid of any mineral build-up around the heating elements. It should be descaled at least once a year. If, however, you keep the water temperature set high and live in an area with hard water, maintenance should be done at least once every 6 months.

Most manufacturers of these units often market them as zero to low maintenance. For this reason, most people fail to maintain them properly. This usually has a major impact on the water heater’s longevity. Electric tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. But that’s with proper maintenance!

One of the reasons why these water heaters require maintenance is because of hard water. Whenever hard water passes through the system, it deposits minerals. These minerals build up inside the heat exchanger and end up clogging the water passages. 

If the water heater isn’t cleaned, damage may be caused to the unit. You may even have to replace the whole unit in some cases. Unfortunately, this type of damage often isn’t covered under warranty.

If your water heater gets clogged, the water flow speed will be affected significantly. This will force the heater to work even harder than it should deliver hot water. This may cause your energy bill to skyrocket.

So your electrical tankless water heater will require proper maintenance from time to time. Even higher-priced units require constant maintenance. You should always check your unit’s user manual for recommended frequency and maintenance needs.

If you prefer doing the maintenance routine yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power source for your water heater and remove the lid.
  2. Close off all water valves and take off the valve caps that are located on the purge valves.
  3. Attach the hose lines to each of the valves. After this, open the purge port valves.
  4. Use 2-3 gallons of white vinegar to clean out the heater and remove built-up mineral deposits around the heat exchangers.
  5. Drain and flush using the manufacturer’s instructions. After flushing it out, twist the T-shaped handles to close the purge port valves.
  6. Disconnect each hose and replace the purge port valves’ caps. Locate the filter and unscrew it to remove it. Clean the inside screen and the filter’s housing and when done, replace it.
  7. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual to safely restart the water heater.

After this, you are done! Just be sure to follow the maintenance instructions on the manual.

What is the Downside of a Tankless Water Heater?

Aside from the risk of electrical malfunctions, everything else about electric tankless water heaters is an advantage.

Storage tanks have open flame heating systems that may heat the tank itself, causing overheating. Pressure build-up is also common in storage tanks which may make them explode. Generally, tankless water heaters are safer than tank-style water heaters. 

Tankless water heaters don’t have the danger of bursting or exploding since no storage tanks are involved.

You probably already know that there are electric and gas tankless water heaters. However, the gas ones pose a health threat because they produce carbon monoxide, which is harmful to humans. In contrast, electric ones don’t have this drawback.

All in all, it’s agreeable that electric tankless water heaters are quite safe. The only thing that makes them unsafe are electrical malfunctions which are quite rare. If, however you wish to mitigate the danger, consider:

  • Getting a professional to do the installation work.
  • Keep your unit under proper regular maintenance.
  • Install the unit outdoors.

What is the Best Electric Tankless Water Heater on the Market?

Ecosmart ECO36

This is the most energy-efficient electric tankless water heater in the market. In addition, it features self-modulating temperature control mechanisms, which means it can detect temperature changes of even less than one degree Fahrenheit. Having used it, I recommend it as the best overall pick.

If your main priority is saving money and space, then the Ecosmart ECO36 is a good choice. It has 0.3 gallons per minute of activation flow. This means it can easily replace most household heating tanks at a fraction of the cost.

For us, it was a foolproof investment in the long term because it came with a lifetime warranty for residential use. It also has a recommended breaker usage of 40A. When using it, it runs on a low electric supply.

It will cost you about $542.18, which is a good deal. You can find the Ecosmart ECO36 on Amazon.

Best Electric Tankless Water Heater – Budget Pick

Bosch Tronic 300

This is a fantastic water heating solution for your household. It is affordable at $152.95. This unit delivers good performance at a favorable price. Having known many people who have tried it, I can attest to its efficiency. It produces a nearly endless supply of hot water with minimal energy consumption. It has a 97% thermal efficiency.

It has a long-lasting quality and is easy to maintain since it has a premium glass-lined material. I have seen it being installed and, I could say it was quite fast to install. It has fast recovery rates, which meant you don’t have to wait long for hot water. If space is tight, you need not worry. It can be mounted on a wall, shelf, or floor. The manufacturer has an amazing warranty policy which makes it a good choice.

It operates quietly and with low power consumption. So, all in all, if you are on a budget, this is the right pick for you.

You can find the Bosch Tronic 300 on Amazon.

To sum up, electric tankless water heaters are the way to go. They have so many advantages over traditional tank-style water heaters. So why not make the switch? It will surely be worth it!

HomeInspectionInsider.com is owned and operated by Hubert Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. HomeInspectionInsider.com also participates in affiliate programs with other affiliate sites. Hubert Miles is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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