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How Does a Propane Tankless Heater Work?

How Does a Propane Tankless Heater Work?

A tankless water heater is so compact in size that it can easily be mounted on a wall. These units are about the size of a suitcase, which means your propane installer can put them in crawl spaces, attics, closets and other tight spaces.

But a lot of people wonder: how can something that small deliver a comparable amount of hot water than I received from old tank-type water heater?

It’s really simple. When you turn on your hot water faucets or an appliance, a flow sensor will activate a propane gas burner to heat the water. The heating will continue until you turn off the faucet, which shuts off the gas burner.

Isn’t that a better option than relying on your old tank-style water heater to heat water and store it for when you need it? This is not an ideal situation as the tank will definitely lose heat over time, especially if the hot water tank is located in an unheated space. And it costs you money!

By switching to a tankless model, your energy efficiency will improve up to 40 percent and you’ll have access to virtually unlimited amounts of hot water – because you won’t have to worry about the tank draining and having to refill and reheat.

What is the downside of a tankless water heater?

Without question, a tankless propane water heater has a higher upfront cost than a traditional storage tank water heater. But if you’re patient, you’ll see you can save a lot of money on your water heating bills over time. It’s estimated that you can save more than $150 a year in annual energy costs compared with electric tank models.

And although tankless water heaters technically cannot run out of hot water since they are designed to always heat up more water on demand, they can be overwhelmed with demand when there are multiple taps or appliances on at once. This problem can be solved by installing more than one tankless water heater in your home to compensate for heavy demand.

It’s also important that you protect your investment and keep up with your water heater maintenance from year to year. You’ll need to have your tankless water heater serviced once a year.

If you have hard water, a higher frequency of service may be in order so you can avoid mineral buildup in the unit’s heat exchanger. Sediment can block water flow and will force your heater to work harder. Check with your propane service provider to learn more about your water and what it means for your tankless water heater maintenance.

What size tankless water heater do I need?

Your local propane contractor can help you determine this. But in general, you’ll need to be able to heat at least 5.2 gallons of water. So you’ll need a tankless water heater that can produce at least a 60 degree rise in temperature at 5.2 gallons per minute. Depending on many people live in your household and how much water you use, the gallon capacity of the unit can range from 40-75 gallons.

So depending on key factors like how many tubs and showers you have, how often you’re running appliances like a washing machine or dishwasher, and how many of these would be in use at once, you can customize your tankless water heater to suit your needs.

As you consider your needs, or if you need some help figuring out what’s most important, get in touch with your propane contractor. They’ll walk you through the process. In addition, take this short questionnaire to get a clearer understanding of your household’s hot water needs.

And please check out our rebate page to see how you can save money on a tankless water heater.


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