If you've recently downsized from a site-built to a mobile or manufactured home to avoid rising housing and utility costs, you may be wondering how (and when) the differences between your former and new homes will come into play. While today's manufactured homes are designed to look and function just like site-built homes, there are still some significant structural differences that can affect everything from the type of water heater you choose to your ability to install hardwood flooring. Read on to learn more about the best water heaters for mobile or manufactured homes, as well as some other factors you'll want to keep in mind when selecting a water heater.
What factors will need to be taken into account when shopping for a new water heater?
Before you begin delving into the variety of water heating options available -- gas or electric? tank or on-demand? -- you'll want to get out your tape measure and a notepad.
- Where will the heater be stored?
Your first step should be to investigate the closet or other part of your home in which your water heater will be stored and take careful measurements of the interior dimensions. If a dedicated area isn't already present, you'll need to figure out where you'll be able to unobtrusively place your water heater (laundry rooms and bathrooms are often ideal locations due to their close access to the necessary plumbing). Because mobile homes tend to be smaller and more compact than site-built homes, it's crucial to know exactly how much space you're working with to prevent you from bringing home a water heater that doesn't quite fit into its allocated area.
- Who will be using the water heater regularly?
Another key factor will be the number of people using your water heater. In general, the more household members you have, the larger your water heater should be, although some careful planning can help a large family get by with a smaller water heater. If any of your household members have special medical needs that could require additional hot water use, you'll need to take this into account as well. While purchasing a water heater with less capacity may be cheaper up front, having to replace this heater after only a few months (or years) when you discover it is incompatible with your lifestyle can be more expensive than purchasing the correct water heater in the first place.
What are the best water heating options for mobile homes?
- Direct-vent gas heater
For those who heat their homes with natural gas or propane and are planning to keep the water heater in an interior closet, a direct-vent gas heater may be the safest and most cost-effective option. Instead of venting through the roof, these heaters vent directly through the adjacent outer wall (much like clothes dryers), therefore preventing any backdraft of carbon monoxide or other harmful particles. These heaters are also highly efficient, helping ensure constant access to hot water without the corresponding increase in your utility costs.
- Tankless water heater
Another option ideal for the tight spaces (and budgets) often found in mobile homes is the tankless or on-demand water heater. Rather than maintaining a large tank of water at a constant high temperature, this type of water heater heats water only as it is demanded, conserving both energy and space. These heaters are usually small and rectangular (rather than the cylindrical-shaped tank heaters) and can be mounted on the wall inside your utility closet or even in your bathroom. Many on-demand heaters can generate several gallons of hot water or more per minute, ensuring that your shower will never run cold even if another family member happens to be doing laundry or dishes at the same time.