When I lived in Amsterdam for 3 years, the one thing that stood out in every home I visited was the tankless water heaters (mostly gas). These are very common in Europe and for good reason, they only use fuel when used and take up very little space – a must for most people in European cities as apartments and kitchens tend to be much smaller than North America.
I liked these a lot and bought one for my house when I moved back here (we lived in the bush at the time in a small log home). When the big water tank went, the tankless was the first thing that came to mind for me. That was some 25 years ago and there were few options then so we bought a Bosch which worked fine, not super, but never failed us.
Today there is a wide variety of tankless water heaters you can buy but I would recommend the following criteria in you selection process…
- Propane or Electric? Many electric units are 240 volt and may be an issue subject to how you wire your house and connections available – but you can get 110 volt (although I am not sure what the performance is like). Personally, I like and recommend propane, it is available anywhere, and you can use it anywhere you wish, provided you have some sort of power supple for the pump in your water system. Propane allows you to park your home anywhere and have hot water no matter what power supply you use. Be sure to allow for venting when choosing a location for a propane heater.
- Size? Make sure you check the size specs (and recommended clearances) on any unit before buying it (especially online). You can mount these units almost anywhere but if it is in an area that you will use such as a kitchen counter, you don’t want it to get in your way and waste precious space.
- Fuel Usage and Capacity? Do not buy a unit that will not fit your needs and demand. There is nothing more frustrating than a lack of hot water when you want it most! Also check (if possible) the amount of fuel used at maximum flow – over the years this will add up.
- Brand? I would not jump on a brand like Bosch right away, the Rinnai Tankless Hot Water Heaters on Amazon have lots of great reviews. They are a Japanese product and over 30 million have been installed world wide. The Official Rinnai Website offers more information on their products. Personally, if I was buying one today, I would thoroughly go through the reviews on the ones that appeal to me and narrow down my choice on this basis. I would then Google the brand to see if there are any issues reported elsewhere e.g. you might enter “problems with the [insert brand here]tankless hot water heater” – this can produce good results – or not, which is ideal if you have your heart set on a particular brand and model.
The final word I have to say on tankless hot water heaters is to do your homework and really dig deep online before buying one. Check the reviews, google various terms to see if there are problems with a brand or model. Your hot water heater will get used every single day and it is one of the appliances in your home that needs to work properly and be reliable.