The Disadvantages of an Electric Tankless Hot Water System

Written by christie gross
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The Disadvantages of an Electric Tankless Hot Water System
Hot water does not instaneously flow from a tap set for hot water with a tankless hot water heater. (tap image by BlueMiniu from

A water heater provides hot water to a home. Advances in water heater design now give homeowners the option of a conventional hot water heater tank or an electric tankless hot water heater system that heats water on demand. According to the California Energy Commission, a tankless hot water heater, using electric, gas or propane, can reduce a homeowner's water heating bill by 10 to 20 per cent, which is due to the absence of a tank to hold warmed water for an endless amount of time until it's used. Yet despite this advantage, electric tankless hot water systems also have disadvantages.

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Varying Water Temperatures

An electric tankless water heater does not begin heating water until it's prompted when someone turns on the hot water tap. Although manufacturers have attempted to design tankless water heaters to supply water to satisfy user demands, the water heaters sometimes fall short. A poll commissioned by Consumer Reports determined that varying water temperatures was a chief complaint of homeowners with tankless water heaters. Survey respondents reported that the heater did not always turn on when the hot water faucet was set for a moderate water flow. Moreover, water sitting in the pipes fed into the water flowing from the hot water tap, which also created varying water temperatures.

Requires Added Maintenance

During tests performed by Consumer Reports on tankless water heaters, an indicator came on warning of scale build-up. Consumer Reports hired a plumber at a cost of £217 (September 2010 price) to flush the system and install a special valve to prevent future issues. Based on this issue, along with the advice of industry officials, Consumer Reports recommends homeowners service their tanks every year to avoid scale build-up, which can jeopardise the system's ability to function and can cause irreversible damage.

Draws More Electrical Power to Operate

The California Energy Commission contends that electric tankless water heaters draw more immediate electrical power compared to tank-type systems. When power companies charge more for electricity during peak demand times, operating tankless water heaters is expensive. Furthermore, because water is heated on demand by these units, the heaters tend to draw a relatively high amount of electricity in a short amount of time, which not all electrical systems can handle.

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