We’ve had some serious interest in electric tankless water heaters lately. I get it..your stove, dryer and furnace are already electric; the last holdout in having one less utility bill to pay is your water heater. Or, for a lot of folks, you’re in a condo with an electric tank-type heater and closet space is at a premium.
In theory, a water heater the size of your laptop is the way to go.
In application, it may not be the best, or even a feasible, solution.
It takes an abundance of electricity to heat water- and that’s when the water is sitting in the tank letting the electricity do its job. When you’re trying to heat the water as it’s running away, it takes a whole lot more.
Here we go with my long-winded explanations and educations, and let’s pray I don’t bore you into doing the laundry.
We’ll start with the cold water. It comes into your home at x-temperature. We’re in Georgia, so in winter months, ‘X’ is about 55-60 degrees.
Your water heater needs to get the temperature up to, say, 120 degrees, or you’re shower won’t be the haven you want it to be.
(Without launching into common core math, the difference is 60-65 degrees).
To make that happen, with only ONE faucet on, you’ll need about 60 amps of electricity.
To put the amp-draw into perspective, years ago, in the days of those cute little screw-in fuses, whole houses were wired off only 60 amps.
We determine what size water heater heater you need based on the total hot water needs of your home. (Yes, I know- there’s only the two of you, but we’re bound to make sure all 3 of your bathrooms have foggy mirrors)
I can’t imagine you want to invest in a water heater just to have to schedule when it’s ok to get clean, and who/what takes priority- the kids, the laundry, or last night’s dinner dishes.
If you want to pick 2 out of 3, it’ll ONLY take 120 amps to get you there. The problem is, in our ‘electrically convenience-driven’ world, you probably only have a 150-200 amp electrical panel that already has stretch marks.
That really is the bottom line- it takes so much electric to meet the demand, that most often we find there just isn’t enough electrical capacity to begin looking into an electric tankless; and I haven’t even mentioned the scary part- the electric bill! If you dread your summer electric bill from the a/c, just wait.
All that said, there are places that are ideal for these tiny magic boxes; for instance, your office over the garage, or that guest bath addition you’re planning. Offices with only a bathroom or utility sink can totally benefit from an electric tankless heater (we also call them point-of-use heaters). As a booster to offset long wait times for hot water, they can be a total frustration-saver.
I made the word ‘planning’ bold above. Nope- not a typo. If you are considering this type of heater, it is all in the planning. Quite often, they’re just not a possible or good contender in a retro-fitted arena, but if we’re starting from scratch, plumbers and electricians really can get along.
As a matter of fact, if you’ve read this much, the electrician should be your first call- they’ll determine how much amperage we have to play with as we figure out the best way to get your water hot.
Here’s the bright side- Most times, gas is the perfect solution- but that’s how I’ll get you to read my next post, so check back soon!!