How Do Propane Tankless Water Heaters Work?

How Does a Propane Tankless Water Heater Work?

Posted: June 8, 2020

A growing number of homeowners in the Delaware Valley have decided to choose a propane tankless water heater when it’s time to replace their old tank-style water heating unit.

These customers take advantage of an option that needs less space in the home and that provides a virtually endless supply of hot water on demand. Tankless water heaters are also more energy-efficient, and generally have a longer life than tank water heaters.

A tankless propane water heater, professionally installed by a Wilson Oil and Propane technician, eliminates standby energy losses that occur in storage tank systems because this innovative unit only heats water on demand.

Understanding Tankless Water Heaters

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 allows for installation 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 my 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 that 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.

Why doesn’t everyone get a tankless water heater?

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.

What size tankless water heater do I need?

There are two key factors that need to be considered when sizing a tankless water heater:

  1. Flow Rate: This is how much hot water you will need at any given time
  2. Temperature Rise: This is the difference between the incoming cold water temperature and the desired temperature

You will need to figure out which fixtures you plan to operate simultaneously and how much hot water each will use.

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. Our tankless water heater experts can help you with these calculations so you can choose a tankless system that will always deliver all of the hot water you need.

As you consider your needs, or if you need some help figuring out what’s most important, get in touch with us. We’ll walk you through the process and help you get a clearer understanding of your household’s hot water needs.

And please check out our Specials page to see how you can save money on your purchase of a tankless water heater. Right now, industry-leading manufacturer Rinnai is offering a $100 rebate on specific models.

Please contact us to request a free estimate.