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Instant Water Heaters — Why I Vote “No”

It seems that more and more people are choosing the option of installing an instant water heater in their homes. And while everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, I am becoming more and more convinced that instant water heaters are not suitable for everyone. In this article I would like to outline briefly some of the reasons why an instant water heater may not work for you.

One of the major reasons why instant water heaters may not be a good choice for you is due to their expense. When comparing an instant water heater and a tank-type, you must look at such things as how much hot water each unit can provide. When you compare an instant water heater that can handle two bathtub fillings, or a single shower and a bathtub at one time, with an “old-time” tank water heater, there may be a purchase price difference of hundreds of dollars — perhaps more 1. If you will simply work out the mathematics, you may find that the projected energy savings from the use of an instant water heater may not allow you to recoup your initial purchase price for a long, long time.

Another issue with these systems is what I call its “support system.” What I mean by this is the power source that your instant water heater will rely on to heat your water. Because an they must heat water on a continuous basis, as it is used, it must be capable of producing a large amount of heat energy — and that means it will need to draw more electricity (if it is an electric instant hot water heater) or natural gas (if that is its power source).

Why is this an issue? Simply because your existing electrical circuitry or gas lines may not be able to provide this extra capacity. It is not at all uncommon to need to have a higher-capacity electrical circuit installed, or a larger gas line, in order to accommodate the needs of an instant hot water heater. Putting in new electrical or gas lines costs money — and you must factor these costs in to the total equation.

Another issue with an instant hot water heater system is that you may experience some temperature fluctuations — especially if you draw on hot water for an extended period of time (for example, while taking a shower). You might notice the temperature of your hot water getting cool, then swinging over to the other extreme. With a tank-type water heater you won’t have this problem.

In addition, you must also realize that some people have experienced maintenance issues with their system. For example, there can be a hard water buildup in some models, and if the weather turns cold, you must take precautions to prevent instant hot water heater systems from being damaged by frozen water during periods of prolonged lack of use.

I have not mentioned these things to discourage you from purchasing an instant hot water heater, only to stress that there are positive and negative aspects to owning and operating one — and making a wise decision requires that you have all the facts before doing so. I hope this article will in some way help you to intelligently think through these issues BEFORE you make a purchase.