You might have heard about the latest batch of tankless water heaters and the benefits they offer when compared to conventional water heaters. Perhaps your own water heater is looking a bit worse for the wear and needs replacement soon. But with winter fast approaching, you might also be concerned about how your new tankless water heater will stand up to the chilly temperatures. The following information should keep you from being left out in the cold when it comes to your new purchase.
While air temperatures can play a part in a tankless water heater's overall performance, its groundwater temperatures that you'll have to worry about the most. The farther north you live, the greater chance you'll run into relatively low average groundwater temperatures. For instance, the average temperature of shallow groundwater in the mid-south region of the United States is around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the average temperature is as low as 37 degrees Fahrenheit in Canada and bordering regions of the U.S.
Low groundwater temperatures can make it tougher to warm the water in your pipes to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the usual max temperature setting for most water heaters. Combine that with equally low outdoor temperatures and various insulation issues, and you could be in for a tough time when it comes to getting hot water from your tankless water heater.
Electric vs. Natural Gas
Another issue that could influence your tankless water heater's performance is whether it relies on electric or natural gas heat. Although electric tankless water heaters are highly efficient, most models aren't able to heat hot water fast enough to satisfy instant demand, especially under conditions where cold groundwater is prevalent. In fact, Consumer Reports declined to test electric tankless water heaters in one comparison for this very reason.
On the other hand, tankless water heaters that are heated with natural gas are more capable of delivering instant hot water. For those living in colder climates, it's a crucial difference that should be considered when deciding on a tankless water heater installation. A natural gas-heated tankless water heater is also a natural fit in homes that already rely on gas for heating and cooking.
Your tankless water heater's winter-time performance can also be influenced by a variety of other factors. For starters, your home's insulation can play a crucial role in determining how well your tankless water heater works. Uninsulated or poorly insulated spaces can easily draw heat away from hot water pipes, leaving the resulting water colder than you'd normally find comfortable.
While it's possible to raise output temperatures to compensate for this heat loss, you also run the risk of scalding yourself and others with overly hot water. Instead, you may want to consider beefing up your home's current insulation and conducting a thorough inspection for cracks, gaps and other issues that could contribute to heat loss. You may also want to insulate pipes that prove vulnerable to cold temperatures. This move should also prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting under severe winter conditions.
Capacity and usage patterns can also affect how well it performs throughout the winter. For example, a large household can easily push a typical tankless water heater's ability to continuously deliver hot water to its limits, resulting in water temperature losses as the overall discharge output exceeds its ability to heat the outgoing water. This insufficient hot water output could easily cost you more energy (and, as a result, more money) than a conventional gas-fired water heater would take to operate.
In the end, it's up to you to decide whether your tankless water heater is ready to tackle the winter. As explained above, it all depends on where you live, average temperatures, usage patterns and the type of tankless water heater you intend to purchase.
For more information, contact a professional plumbing business, like those found at http://www.firstclassplumbinginc.com.