My electric water heater was very old so I decided to replace it with a new one. I had heard about tankless water heaters before and they sounded pretty good: unlimited hot water, no tank to break, energy efficient, space saving. With the recent tax credits I figured I’d try one out.
I ended up buying the Rinnai tankless water heater. The Rinnai is made in Japan and has a good reputation so I figured it would be a good choice. Brennan Heating had the best price of the companies that I contacted and seemed like a good company so I setup an install date with them.
The old electric heater was in the garage near the center of the house. Unfortunately Brennan said that the new Rinnai couldn’t be installed there because the vent to the outside was right next to the front door. So instead they installed the water heater on the other side of the garage to vent it and then ran water pipes back to the other side.
Unfortunately this extra pipe makes it take longer to get hot water to the faucets because the water has to travel through the longer pipe. I didn’t think it would add all that much time but it added a significant amount of time.
The second problem is that if you turn the hot water on and off frequently the water does not heat up consistently. Once the water starts flowing the burners cannot fire up fast enough, so cold water gets into the pipe. So for example, if you’re washing dishes and turn the hot water on for a few seconds at a time then the water will never get really hot. So you have to learn to wash dishes in a different manner by combining all your hot water in larger batches.
For things like showers the Rinnai has no problems. Since the hot water is used consistently during a shower the heater has no problem keeping the shower nice and warm. Plus since all the heating is done on demand it is handy when you have guests staying over. People can take showers back to back all day long and nobody has to worry about running out of hot water and being force to take a cold shower.
The Rinnai is a nice hot water heater, but there are some downsides to it. I’m not sure if the benefits outweight the drawbacks. If you are really into having the latest technology and energy efficiency then go ahead and get a tankless heater. If all you really want is just hot water then it might just make sense to stick with the old tank style.