OAKLAND TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
When we are out and about either installing or repairing a water heater or attending a trade show or mixer, one of the things we get asked about time and time again are tankless water heaters. Most people don’t know much about them and they are curious about possibly getting one installed in their home.
In this blog post, we will be focusing on residents of Oakland and the surrounding area and what they should consider before installing a tankless water heater. We will also be discussing some of the new improvements that have been made in tankless water heaters and the manufacturers who are making them. For more generalized information about tankless water heaters, go to our main website page about tankless water heaters.
Tankless Water Heater Pros and Cons – A brief history
Though tankless water heaters have a lot of benefits, there are some negatives involved with them as well; however, some of the newer tankless water heaters being produced are attempting to remedy some of those issues. One issue that caused problems for those who wished to install a tankless water heater was the gas line size. On most existing storage tank style water heaters the gas line is only 3/4 inches, this is smaller than the gas line required for most tankless water heaters. Often a whole new gas line from the main gas meter needs to be run. This can add a significant cost to the installation pricing. In addition, the input and output water lines on regular water heater are on the top, whereas a lot of tankless models had theirs on the sides or the bottom of the unit. In this situation, the water lines often have to be re-plumbed. Finally and most importantly is the vent for the tankless water heater, it can not be connected to the same vent for the storage tank style water heater. This means that a whole entire vent needs to be replaced or the location of the installation may need to move to accommodate the new tankless water heater. Many companies are now making models that can be direct vented or power vented. Some of the new smaller models now only require a 3/4/ inch gas lines and have the hot and cold lines on top of their units to help with installation.
Another problem with tankless units was the issue of inconsistent water temperatures, also known as the “cold-water sandwich”. Many manufacturers have attempted to deal with this problem by creating new technologies or even adding re-circulation systems to their tankless water heaters to ensure that homeowners have a steady flow of hot water.
One other common problem was that tankless units required routine maintenance to deal with the scale buildup that caused tankless units to become less efficient and would add to the overall cost of owning a tankless unit. Many companies are designing models that make the required maintenance easier to deal with and also cut down on some of the scale buildup.
Tankless Water Heater Brands
Now let’s take a minute to briefly review a few of the brands out there. This is not a complete list but just a brief overview of some of the top ones out there
Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters
Let’s start this off by saying that we really like Rinnai tankless water heaters. The company began in 1920 and they know what they are doing when it comes to tankless water heaters. In the above section, we discussed some of the newer features being introduced by manufacturers of tankless water heaters and Rinnai is at the forefront of a lot of these. For example, when we discussed the problem with consistent flows of hot water, Rinnai tankless units have attempted to take care of that problem by adding a re-circulation unit to some of their water heaters. This helps make sure that your water is hot when you turn it on and that it stays hot.
Another problem that we discussed earlier was the routine maintenance due to scale buildup that was necessary to keep tankless units running at peak efficiency. To help with that problem, Rinnai has added isolation valves to some of their units, which are designed to help make the required routine maintenance and decaling of the units easier. For more information about Rinnai water heaters, you can go to their website here: https://www.rinnai.us/water-heater/products.
Rheem Tankless Water Heaters
Rheem is another brand that has been around for nearly 100 years(!) and is as established a brand as you will find out there. They feature a wide line of products that will fit most any need you may have whether it’s a small apartment or huge mansion. Rheem units have built-in condensing heat exchanger that allows the units to boast an impressive 94 percent thermal efficiency. Some of their units can produce up to 9 gallons of hot water per minute, which is a big help for those residents who have cold ground water such as residents of Oakland (see below for further information about GPM needs for Oakland). For more information about Rheem products, go to their website here: http://www.rheem.com/
Noritz Tankless Water Heaters
We will finish this review of some of the tankless products out there by discussing Noritz, another brand that we use a lot. Noritz is known as one of the top brands out there and that is because they provide units that really eliminate just about every negative aspect of tankless units. For example, we discussed above the issue with tankless units being difficult to install in areas that previously had a standard storage tank water heater. Noritz now makes a tankless water heater that has both lines on the top of the unit making for an easier (and often slightly cheaper) installation.
Noritz tankless water heaters are also very green. Many are made of recyclable parts and materials and the company has worked hard to cut the carbon footprint of the units by dramatically reducing the carbon emissions. For more information about Noritz water heaters, you can go to their website here: http://www.noritz.com/.
Oakland Tankless Water Heater Installations
For residents of Oakland, there are some specific issues to consider before installing a tankless water heater. The first is the fact that Oakland has very cold groundwater, which means that a water heater will have to work harder to get the cold water up to the proper temperature of at least 120 degrees. So, if your groundwater is roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit (as it is in Oakland), then your tankless water heater would have to produce a 70 degree temperature rise in order for you to get the hot water you expect. To find the temperature rise for the tankless water heater you are considering purchasing, just go the website of the manufacturer and look for the “Specifications” section of the tankless water heater description. Or you can always just give us a call and one of our water heater experts would be happy to go over the specifications with you.
Another number to consider when deciding on what water heater to install if you live in the Oakland area is the flow rate, which is measured in Gallons Per Minute. GPMs can range from 1.5 up to 9 depending on the unit and this is very important when you have cold ground water. Ideally, you would purchase a tankless water heater with a higher flow rate to compensate for the colder water flowing into the unit.
The need for a tankless unit to have a substantial rise and GPM flow rate means that, in at least some situations, an electric tankless unit may not be the best option. That’s because the electrical draw for the unit may be more than a normal household could support or a household may require several smaller units, which means the upfront cost of installation and the cost of running those units may become prohibitive.
Finally, one other potential problem for Oakland residents may be if their home has galvanized plumbing. We find that a lot in the area and, if your home does have galvanized plumbing, that could mean a much higher cost to install a tankless unit. That’s because that plumbing would have to be replaced since galvanized plumbing can lead to major problems for the tankless unit. One such problem stems from the flakes and bits of metal that can clog up the unit and cause it to fail or, at the very least, not work at optimum efficiency.
In conclusion, we hope this blog has been informative about Oakland tankless water heaters and hasn’t dissuaded you from considering a tankless water heater. We just want to make sure that our customers are as informed as possible before making a pretty major decision regarding their homes. Of course, we almost always end by saying that a call to one of our water heater experts is the best way to make an informed decision.
Tankless water heaters can save on energy, but mostly they save space and you do not have to wait for a water heater to re-heat. With living space at a premium in the Oakland / Bay Area installing a tankless water heater to help clear out a large utility room or a closet can be very beneficial, especially since some of the newer units can go directly outside, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of tankless water heaters prior to having a unit installed.
Call us at 1-510-839-0414 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will be happy to help you as best we can. That includes having one of our technicians come out to your home and take a look at your situation. Once we have “eyes on the ground”, so to speak, then we can give you our best recommendation as to whether tankless is best for you and your specific situation.