How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Learn more about how tankless water heaters work to provide hot water to your home

Traditional reservoir-style water heaters have been around for some time, and they’ve generally been considered “standard” when it comes to supplying your home with hot water. However, there are now many kinds of water heaters available, including tankless water heaters, which have grown in popularity in recent years thanks to their efficiency and convenience.

At 212 Plumbing, we often get the question “How do tankless water heaters work?” After all, with no tank to speak of, it’s difficult to imagine how these water heaters supply hot water to meet your needs. So today, we’re answering this and a few other questions about tankless water heaters to keep you informed about all of your water heater options.

What is a tankless water heater?

Traditional water heaters work by heating up a large supply of hot water (held in a “tank”) that is then sent off to various parts of your home when needed. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not hold a reservoir of hot water (thus, “tankless”). These devices are instead able to heat water on demand, eliminating the need for a large reservoir tank.

How do tankless water heaters work?

Rather than heating up a reservoir of hot water, tankless water heaters work by heating water directly and as-needed. When you turn on the hot water in your sink, cold water is drawn into the unit where a heat source then rapidly warms the water. This heat source is typically either a gas burner or some form of electrical element.

Because the water is heated in this way, hot water is available on demand in a constant supply—in fact, these units are sometimes called “demand-type” water heaters. Where traditional water heaters may take 30 minutes (or potentially much longer) to heat their reserve of hot water, with a tankless water heater, hot water is available pretty much instantly.

Limitations of tankless water heaters

If the convenience of instant hot water sounds great, it should! However, tankless water heaters are not without their limitations. One major limitation is the flow rate of hot water—that is, how much hot water can be supplied at any one time. With traditional water heaters, you can call on as much hot water as you need until the supply (typically 30-40 gallons) runs out. That means you might be able to run the dishwasher and shower at the same time.

Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, can only provide as much water as they can heat on demand. Different models offer different flow rates (and you can select one based on your needs), but you may find it difficult to get reliable hot water in multiple areas of your home at once.

Tankless water heaters: Weighing the pros and cons

In addition to the convenience of instant hot water, tankless water heaters provide a number of other benefits as well. In particular, they tend to be more efficient than traditional water heaters and last for many more years. Despite this, they also carry higher upfront costs and may require additional maintenance and supplementary equipment. For a more detailed rundown, be sure to check out our post on the pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

212 Plumbing Installs Tankless Water Heaters Throughout the Front Range!

We hope this post has helped you learn more about tankless water heaters and how these devices work! If you still have questions, the friendly professionals at 212 Plumbing will be happy to tell you more.

And if you’re looking to install a new water heater in your home, 212 Plumbing can help! With decades of experience providing water heater installations and other expert plumbing services, we have the skills and knowledge to help you decide on the exact water heater to suit your needs and to complete your installation. Contact us today for a quote!

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