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Tankless Water Heaters are in Demand

Key Points
  • Tankless units provide hot water on demand, avoiding the standby losses of tank models.
  • Compact tankless units save space and last longer than tank units.
  • Tankless units are ideal in restaurants, hotels and a variety of commercial facilities.

Tankless water heaterHeating water all day long, especially when there's none being used, is a waste of energy. Tankless (or demand) water heaters solve this problem by heating water only when it's needed. Used for years in Europe and Japan, tankless units are now popular in the U.S. 

In addition to saving energy, other benefits include:
  • Compact—frees up space for other equipment and operations
  • Long life—lasts up to 20 years or more, twice as long as tank units
  • Flexible—can be located almost anywhere; available in both indoor and outdoor configurations
  • Endless supply—provides an uninterrupted supply of hot water

How do they work?

Tankless units heat water directly without the use of a storage tank, avoiding the standby heat losses associated with storage water heaters. The unit is small and located along the water line close to where the hot water is needed. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit where it's heated to a set temperature. As a result, demand water heaters can deliver an endless supply of hot water. Tank units, by contrast, can deliver hot water at a preset temperature for a limited period—after which the temperature will vary depending on the rate of use.

Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of two to five gallons per minute. Although natural gas and electric models are available, gas units produce higher flow rates and are typically more cost effective to operate than electric models. In some applications, two or more demand water heaters may be required to meet demand.

Many gas-fired models have a constantly burning pilot light, which can waste energy. The cost of operating a pilot light varies from model to model. Look for units that have an intermittent ignition device, which costs less to operate. Electric models may require upgrading your electric panel and unlike gas-fired units, they also add to your peak demand charge.

How can they best be used?

Tankless water heater systems are suitable for various applications. In a restaurant, a wall-mounted unit could provide hot water for cleanup at closing time, avoiding the cost of running a large tank system all day long. Such a unit also saves space for other important operations.

Lodging facilities have long periods of low hot water use, punctuated by periods of peak demand. Tankless units would provide that hot water only when it's needed.

Other potential commercial and industrial applications include:

  • Laundry operations in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Showers in schools and campgrounds
  • Restrooms in office buildings and university dormitories
  • Heating of pure and deionized water in manufacturing plants
  • Hot water for mobile facilities, such as mining and oil fields

Tankless units do cost more to install and they have a limited flow rate. Carefully examine the hot water needs of the facility to determine where they can best be applied.

We can help

National Grid has tools and energy solutions to grow your business and foster strong client relationships. For more information, contact us at 844-280-4325 or retrofit@nationalgrid.com.  

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