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Can a Tankless Water Heater Really Never Run Out of Hot Water?

tankless-water-heaterYou’re considering getting a tankless water heater in Oxnard, CA to replace the old, traditional water heater in your home. We think this is a good idea. Tankless water heaters have many advantages, and for homes looking to increase their energy efficiency and enjoy an unlimited supply of hot water, going tankless is an excellent option to consider.

But you might wonder if the tales of the advantages of a tankless water heater are too good to be true—especially that part about unlimited hot water. Is it accurate that a tankless water heater will not run out of hot water, or is this just hyperbole? Is there a catch?

Yes, Tankless Water Heaters Can Provide Unlimited Hot Water …

The nature of how tankless hot water heaters work means, by definition, they won’t run out of their hot water supply. This is because a tankless water heater has no hot water supply it can deplete.

First, imagine the standard storage water heater, a.k.a. a “tank” water heater, such as the one you probably already have in your house. This unit works by heating a supply of hot water to store in a tank, ready for use. The stored water will lose heat through the tank (standby heat loss) and the water heater will need to reheat it to keep it ready. When you turn on a hot water tap, the supply of hot water will start to deplete. If it runs out, you’ll have cold or lukewarm water until the water heater can heat up a sufficient new supply.

What a tankless water heater does is heat up water on demand. There’s no stored water and no standby heat loss. When you turn on a hot water tap, the water heater heats up the water heading to the tap and keeps doing it as long as you need hot water. There will be a small delay for the water to reach you, but once it’s going, you won’t run out of hot water because you aren’t depleting a water heater tank.

… But Tankless Water Heaters Can Be Overwhelmed

So you can’t run out of hot water, but tankless water heaters can run into a different problem, which is that multiple taps on at the same time can overwhelm their heating abilities. A tankless water heater is sized for a specific flow rate, the amount of hot water requested at a time. A professional determines how much hot water your house uses at a time and installs a tankless system that can handle that amount without losing energy efficiency. If too many taps are on simultaneously, it can overwhelm the tankless system and it will lose energy efficiency. You may not lose out on hot water, but you’ll lose out on those important energy-saving benefits of a tankless water heater.

It’s easy to avoid this trouble: work with professional water heater installers. They’ll ensure you have the right type of tankless water heater to meet your household needs. And in some cases they may even recommend staying with a storage tank water heater, since tankless systems are not perfect for all homes.

Husted Plumbing has been family-owned and operated since 1935. Call us for water heater service in the Greater Santa Barbara and the Ventura County areas.

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