The Tank › Tankless Water Heaters – What tank manufacturer's don't want › Reply To: Tankless Water Heaters – What tank manufacturer's don't want
Hello: TMS, you are well spoken and you raise many valid points. I won’t attempt to address them all, but simply give a different perspective. I’ve been doing plumbing over 35 years and exclusively hot water for just over twenty. Tankless heaters have been around the whole time. Tankless manufacturers though have come and gone, enough to leave lots of people stuck holding broken heaters with no recourse. There is no predicting the future, but I hope the manufacturers make more of a commitment this time around to real customer service. Tankless heaters historically have been oversold; much like magnetic water softening. I see only a little restraint now in the market. We don’t even have an accurate way to compare heaters. Energy Factor has drawbacks and even something as simple as gallons per minute of hot water is played with, as the old convention of a 90 degree temperature rise is not being followed by the tankless manufacturers. Some claim twice as many gallons delivered with only half the temperature rise. “Facts” like that are not in the interest of the end users. Life cycle cost has not been mentioned yet, but is an important tool for getting some clarity on what is really a good deal. “Endless hot water” is one of the main selling points of tankless, but have you heard of “takeback”? That (to use an example) is when the teenager of the house that now has a tankless heater takes hours-long showers because he can. Conservation is not on his mind. Simply, an endless supply encourages waste.
I agree that conventional, gas, tank-type heaters are inefficient. There are new heaters in the design stages now that greatly reduce standby losses. These heaters will have many of the same benefits as conventional tank type heaters and efficiency, without the learning-to-live-with and greater upkeep that have been part of going tankless.
Much of this conversation simply would not be necessary if people were aware of the things that can be done with their hot water distribution systems to reduce waste and increase comfort. The GFX shower heat exchanger comes to mind. It can capture and reuse 60% of the heat that goes down the drain. Essentially it means you could get the same shower from a 20 gallon heater as you now get from a forty. Or, “structured plumbing”. This can take various forms, but can realistically be designed to deliver hot water to any faucet, wasting only one to two cups of water. That gives savings both in terms of heating energy and water. There is a lot of energy spent in treating and pumping water and waste water. That energy is saved too. If the energy demand is halved, simpler heaters make more sense.
I’ve been in the unique position for many years to learn what goes wrong with all sorts of water heating equipment. I only raise concerns about maintenance or longevity or whatever because I’ve personally seen the problem cause trouble for someone. Every “inaccuracy” in the section on tankless comes from real world experience. I usually don’t need to do “what-iffs”.
The best equipment for getting people the hot water they want will be safe, efficient, cost effective, long lived and be not just very easy to live with, but a pleasure. However tankless heaters can fit into the mix of good equipment and good design that will meet these needs will be determined by how interested the tankless folks are in serving the needs of their clients.
ps. I’m in Northern California, but would like to visit your facility sometime.