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The decision to
select an electric or gas tankless water heater should be made with the
homeowner's or business' individual circumstances in mind. The following
factors all play a role in choosing what type of tankless water heater is
best for your needs:
- The availability of a convenient source
of natural gas or propane and/or an adequate electrical supply to
support another high-output appliance.
- The relative cost of installation
- The difference in cost between an
appropriately-sized electric and gas tankless water heater
- Water usage habits and needs
- Homeowner/ user preference
- The differential between electric costs
and gas costs in your area, and your personal outlook for changes in
such costs in the future.
- Desired installation location
electricity is generated by many means, it is not a single energy
source and not as vulnerable to price fluctuations as individual
the gas units, the electric models require no venting and have no
combustion air requirements, however the tankless models must be hard
wired and have minimum amperage requirements.
The most important factor in installing an electric tankless water
heater is ensuring you can meet the amperage requirements. Please ensure
that you have adequate electrical capacity to operate electrical units.
gas tankless water heaters are certainly more efficient than their tank
cousins, their efficiency usually peaks at 80-85%. Even though natural gas
is generally a cheaper input fuel than electricity per BTU of output
power, this benefit is generally outweighed by the higher efficiency of
the electric unit, longer service life, and cheaper installation. On top
of that, electric tankless water heaters cost less than most tankless gas
models. Moreover, gas prices tend to fluctuate more dramatically then
electricity prices and most economists agree that in general, gas prices
are expected to rise significantly in coming years whereas in most areas,
electricity prices should be relatively stable.
three key aspects in the installation of a gas tankless water
of incoming gas line
heater should be installed as close as possible to a chimney or vent, and
in a place not exposed to freezing, rain or other poor weather conditions.
Check to make sure your gas line is
sized properly. Tankless
water heaters draw many more BTU’s than a conventional tank water heater, so
you will want to make sure your gas line is of the proper size and
the distance the gas line is run is not too long, so the unit will
- Combustion Air
There will be times when the
decision for gas or electric should be made on the basis of cost
vs. overall benefit to the value of the home, the versatility of
location etc. If the consumer’s home has underground electric
service to the house it will be more expensive to upgrade than
The consumer should look at all the
variables. How close can he locate the heater to the major points
of hot water use and what are the total costs one vs. the other?
In most cases the electric version is designed as a basic model to
take care of a family of two to four with a single heater.
Different models are combined in parallel to get the power and
heating rating desired. Most times two electric versions are about
the same price or less than one of the higher Btu rated gas
If natural gas costs do not increase from current
levels, the overall life cycle cost for the tankless electric
water heater should, with few exceptions, be better than
tankless gas water heaters. When initial costs are included the
tankless electric water heater will virtually always be a better
Electric and Gas Water
The standard shower will flow at
2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and the shower temperature is
typically 104º. In the winter when the incoming water temperature
is 55º F, the average shower requires 1.95 gpm of 120º F hot
water mixed with the cold water. In the warmer areas or times of
the year when the incoming water temperature is 75º, the
shower would require approximately 1.7 gallons per minute of 120ºF
hot water from your heater.
- Keep in mind that this difference is
the reason that tank heaters run out of water quicker from colder
incoming water in the winter than the rest of the year. With the
tankless you won’t run out but you may be limited to how many
hot water uses you may perform at the same time.
- A tankless gas water heater having
an efficiency rating (EF) of 82% would have to be rated at least
for 116,000 Btu per hour and an electric at 95,500 Btu’s per
hour or 28kW. This difference in Btu rating may be confusing but
gas is rated at the heat output of the burner, whereas; the
electric, for the heat that is going directly into the water.
REMEMBER, the energy (and cost) required for a family of two to
heat the water they actually use is less than the energy wasted by
a 40-gallon gas tank storage heater in just reheating the same
water. This is energy expended before the first drop of hot water
from Gas or Electric
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