Tankless Water Heaters Advantages and Disadvantages
Tankless water heaters, for the supply of hot water in private homes, are extremely popular in the UK as well as in many European countries. In these regions the combi-boiler is the system that is most commonly used. These boilers are relatively small, wall mounted units, which utilize an on demand, gas-fired system, to heat the water. The water is then piped through two separate systems, one to the wall mounted radiators that provide central heating, and the other to provide hot water for use in the kitchen and bathrooms. The user is able to select both systems singly or simultaneously, and a time clock can be set to automatically control the system as desired.
The choice of most American homes
In the US tankless water heaters are still a relatively new concept, and have only achieved some popularity since the tremendous surge in energy costs made people much more aware of the cost of heating household water. The system still most popularly used in most US home is the conventional electric, storage water heater. The familiar vertical tank, standing in the utility room, is a common household sight in most of our homes, and usually doesn’t get more than a cursory glance other than when we pass it on our way to load the washing machine or dryer.
Tank sizes of storage heater vary, but even the largest reservoir will tend to run out when the teenagers take long hot showers, one after the other! Many a parent, looking forward to a soak in the tub, or an invigorating hot shower, has found to their dismay, that the supply from the faucet is only look warm!
Pros and Cons for the different systems
While tankless water heaters would seem to be an ideal solution, delivering an endless supply of hot water, as and when one needs it, there are pros and cons to both systems. The major argument delivered for tankless water heaters, is that one is not required to consume energy until the system is put into operation. On the other hand, with conventional heating systems, the insulated reservoir must continue supplying heat to the system at all times, as there is invariably heat loss due to insulation factors. Additionally, once hot water is drawn from the tank, the cold water that enters, lowers the temperature of the whole reservoir, and it must again all be heated back up to the temperature at which the thermostat is set.
The advantage of an instantaneous hot water supply
With tankless water heaters, the water is heated and delivered instantaneously, but the rate of supply that it can cope with depends on the amount required. A common complaint with older systems in UK homes is that they may be unable to supply water to more than one shower at a time without drastically reducing the pressure at the point of delivery. When installing a tankless system one has to explore the hot water requirements carefully before deciding on which unit to buy.
The Power Shower used in many British homes
Another tankless system commonly used in British homes, is the individual on-demand, shower-mounted unit. These “Power Showers” as the Brits call them, are small, wall mounted, electrically powered units that supply instantaneous piping-hot water to the shower head at the press of a button. The unit has a temperature control, and a variety of settings, so that the water supplied can be set to in an individual’s requirements. The big difference to standard US showers is that the water pressure provided by these units is nowhere as strong, with the water stream being much gentler.
While each country has it’s own preferences, there is always room for change. Ask your professional plumbing contractor as to the right system for you. We will be happy to give you all the advice you need.