Anatomy of a Tankless Water Heater

Standard water heaters are bulky and prone to corrosion, and they can run out of hot water when demand exceeds the capacity of the tank (often in the middle of your shower, giving you a chilly surprise).

An excellent alternative for many homes in the Carbon County area is a tankless water heater. These compact devices can offer a virtually unlimited supply of hot water along with significant energy savings in a much smaller package — but how do they work?

Heating Water on Demand

Tankless water heaters can be powered by natural gas, propane, or electricity. The heat source warms the water through a heat exchanger, which is a series of pipes coiled or folded and often lined with fins to provide the largest possible surface area to absorb heat from the flames or heating elements.

The process starts when a hot water faucet is turned on and follows these basic steps:

  1. A flow sensor detects that a faucet has been turned on when water starts flowing into the water heater. A flow-regulating water valve controls the amount of water that can flow through the heat exchanger.
  2. Acting on the signal from the flow sensor, the control board inside the tankless water heater turns on the heat source. In an electric water heater, the heating elements are switched on. In a gas or propane water heater, the induction fan is switched on, pulling in combustion air, then the gas valve is opened, and the burner is ignited. Large amounts of energy are used for a short time to heat the water as quickly as possible.
  3. The water passes through a mixing valve, where small amounts of cold water can be added if the water is too hot.
  4. A temperature sensor monitors the water as it exits the heat exchanger and mixing valve, allowing the control board to adjust the water flow, heat input, and amounts of cold water added at the mixing valve for the ideal hot water temperature.
  5. Once the ideal temperature is reached, the hot water exits the water heater and is sent to the faucets. In gas models, any gases left from the combustion process are expelled through the exhaust vent.
  6. When all the hot water faucets have been closed, the control board will shut down the heat source, turn off any fans, and put the water heater into a standby mode that minimizes energy use.

How a Tankless Water Heater Saves Energy

Although a tankless water heater can use large amounts of energy while actively heating water, it uses virtually no energy in standby mode. Conventional water heaters have a large tank that stores the hot water, and to keep the water at the proper temperature, the heat source is continuously cycled on and off, whether the hot water is being used or not.

By eliminating these standby losses, a tankless water heater can significantly reduce your energy costs. However, some of those savings can be lost if the virtually unlimited supply of hot water leads to greater hot water use overall.

Tankless Water Heater Installations in Carbon County, PA

Are you considering a tankless water heater for your home in Carbon County or the surrounding areas? Talk to our expert plumbers at Andreas Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. We can help you determine if a conventional or tankless water heater is the best choice for your home, and we can recommend the models that will best fit your needs.

We are a family-owned company that prides itself on honesty, integrity, and professionalism, and we offer tankless water heater installation, repairs, and more in and around Carbon County.

Call Team Andreas today at 610-377-5261 or contact us online to request a quote for a water heater installation.

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