Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are high-power, high-efficiency devices that have the capacity to heat flowing water as it passes through them, instead of storing the water inside a tank first to gradually raise its temperature using conventional methods. As the electromechanical engineering technology progresses, these devices get more effective in what they do, and thus gradually become more popular as a market choice.
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How do tankless water heaters work?
Tankless water heaters are basically a set of cooperating mechanical elements inside a relatively small unit that is connected at a point on the piping network. As water enters the unit through the inlet pipe, a flow sensor detects this movement and activates the device. The water gets circulated in a closed loop line that is made out of copper for maximum thermal conductivity, and gets heated by high-power electrical elements contained inside the copper tank. Alternatively, the water can be also heated by the controlled ignition and burn of natural gas or propane, in the case that these are available.
When the water reaches the designated temperature, a thermostat is activated and the closed loop opens to let the water flow to the outlet pipe and towards the tap where the hot water is required. Thanks to the power and effectiveness of the heating elements featured in such devices, and the high level of thermal conductivity of the exchangers, the hot water supply can stay interrupted as long as the inlet water supply is continuous.
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What are the benefits of the tankless water heaters?
There are numerous and multi-level benefits that derive from the use of tankless water heaters, namely:
- The cost of operation for a tankless water heater is much less compared to the cost of tank heaters. This is mainly because the tankless heaters only heat the exact amount of water that is needed, and don’t need to spend more electric energy to heat up a full tank of water. Moreover, as the copper tank that acts as the heat exchanger is much smaller than a conventional water tank, its surface area is much smaller as well, and so the heat losses on it are significantly lesser. Finally, the price of natural gas or propane which can be used to heat water in tankless heating units is lower than the price of electricity.
- The space required by a tankless water heater is much smaller compared to a fully-fledged tank heater system. This makes the devices suitable for use in tight places like small apartments where every inch counts, and also relieves from the need to dedicate storage areas to the installation of water tanks in order to avoid the decorative and aesthetic blow. In addition to this, tankless heaters are versatile, being able to seamlessly operate mounted vertically on walls, hidden inside drawers, or even placed inside a building’s structure.
- In traditional water tank heaters, users are limited by the tank capacity. With tankless water heaters however, there is no depletion of any tanks as the water comes directly from the public piping network. This essentially means that you can have an uninterrupted hot water supply, as long as there’s water flowing to your house at an adequate rate.
- As tankless heaters boast heating elements with a power at the order of kiloWatts, the materials are stretched by the large temperature changes in prompt periods of time, so manufacturers use the most durable coatings available in the market. These coatings protect the units’ mechanical elements from acidic conditions, and very high temperatures. Moreover, tankless water heaters don’t store water for extended periods of time, so there are no conditions for salt accumulation, or any other rupturing and/or inner surface decaying agent. The result is a much higher mean time before failure compared to this of a traditional water heater, and a generally more reliable operation for decades.
- Conventional water tanks are made out of cast iron which is an alloy of iron and carbon containing various other admixtures as well. As the water gets heated and remains inside of these metal tanks for significant periods of time, there are some chemical reactions that are naturally taking place because of the intrinsic dipole characteristic of water molecules. This causes trace amounts of dangerous toxic metals to dissolve in the water that we use, a case which isn’t a problem for tankless water heaters.
- Tankless heating units offer much higher levels of temperature control to the user. Modern units feature a temperature compensating bypass valve which stabilizes water pressure, so that the user may adjust the temperature with greater accuracy. This permits high and sudden flow rate changes without witnessing any temperature fluctuation whatsoever.
- Tankless water heaters can also be used in parallel to traditional systems to compensate for heat loses in the cases that the central heating unit is way too far from a particular tap, or a set of outputs. In such cases, POU (Point of Use) units can be installed in remote points to help the water retain the target temperature.
- Using less energy to achieve the same results also reflects on our individual contribution to the protection of the environment through less nitrous oxide emissions, mitigated carbon monoxide emissions, and lower rates of failed units disposed in landfills. Moreover, and contrary to the traditional tank heating units, most of what tankless heaters consists of can be recycled.