Condensing vs Non Condensing Tankless Water Heaters: What are the Differences?

When it comes to replacing your water heater, Portsmouth homeowners often find themselves with a choice between two types: condensing and non-condensing tankless models. Both options have their own set of benefits, so it's crucial to have a good understanding of the differences before making a decision. This guide aims to provide a detailed comparison of condensing and non-condensing tankless water heaters, giving you the knowledge you need to choose the right option for your home and specific needs.

What is a tankless water heater and how does it work?

Are you tired of your old water heater constantly running out of hot water? Maybe it's time to consider a tankless water heater replacement. But what exactly is a tankless water heater and how does it work? Unlike traditional water heaters that store and heat a large amount of water in a tank, a tankless water heater heats water only when you need it. It does this by passing the cold water through a heat exchanger, which rapidly heats it to the desired temperature. One of the main advantages of a tankless water heater is its energy efficiency. Since it only heats water on demand, it eliminates the standby energy loss associated with traditional water heaters. This means you can enjoy hot water whenever you need it without wasting energy and money. Another benefit of a tankless water heater is its compact size. Without the need for a bulky storage tank, tankless water heaters can be installed in tight spaces, saving valuable storage space in your home. Tankless water heaters also provide a continuous supply of hot water. With a traditional water heater, you may run out of hot water if you use it for an extended period or if multiple people need hot water at the same time. With a tankless water heater, you can enjoy a never-ending supply of hot water, making it ideal for households with multiple bathrooms or high hot water demand.

What is a condensing tankless water heater?

A condensing tankless water heater is a type of water heater that utilizes advanced technology to provide hot water for your home or office. Unlike traditional tank water heaters, which store and heat a large amount of water, condensing tankless water heaters heat water on demand, providing hot water as needed. The key feature of a condensing tankless water heater is its ability to efficiently utilize energy. Traditional tank water heaters constantly heat and reheat water, resulting in energy wastage. However, condensing tankless water heaters have a higher energy efficiency rating, as they only heat water when it is required. This not only reduces energy consumption but also lowers utility bills. Another advantage of a condensing tankless water heater is its compact size. Without the need for a large water storage tank, these water heaters take up minimal space, making them ideal for homes with limited room. Their compact design also allows for flexibility in installation, whether you prefer wall-mounted or floor-mounted options. In addition to energy efficiency and space savings, condensing tankless water heaters offer other benefits. They have a longer lifespan compared to traditional tank water heaters, as there is no risk of rusting or sediment buildup. They also provide a continuous supply of hot water, eliminating the inconvenience of running out during peak usage times.

Condensing vs non condensing tankless water heater differences

When considering a water heater replacement, it is crucial to understand the difference between condensing and non-condensing tankless water heaters. These two types of water heaters operate differently and have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Condensing tankless water heaters are designed to maximize energy efficiency. They are equipped with a secondary heat exchanger that extracts heat from the exhaust gases before they are vented out. This captured heat is then used to preheat the incoming cold water, resulting in higher energy savings. As a result, condensing tankless water heaters have an impressive energy efficiency rating and can save homeowners a significant amount of money on their utility bills. On the other hand, non-condensing tankless water heaters do not have a secondary heat exchanger. Instead, they rely solely on the burners to heat the water directly as it flows through the unit. While non-condensing units are generally less expensive upfront, they tend to have lower energy efficiency compared to condensing models. This means that they may consume more energy to heat the same amount of water, resulting in higher energy bills. Another important difference between condensing and non-condensing tankless water heaters is their venting requirements. Condensing models produce cooler exhaust gases, which allows for more flexible venting options. They can be vented using inexpensive PVC piping, making installation easier and more cost-effective. Non-condensing tankless water heaters, on the other hand, require expensive stainless steel venting materials, which can significantly increase installation costs.

What are the benefits

of a condensing tankless water heater?

A condensing tankless water heater offers a range of benefits for those looking to replace their traditional water heater. By optimizing efficiency, these units provide advantages in terms of energy savings, cost-effectiveness, space-saving design, and longer lifespan:

  • One of the key benefits of a condensing tankless water heater is its exceptional energy efficiency. Unlike traditional tank water heaters, which continuously heat and store water, condensing tankless heaters only heat water when it is needed. This on-demand heating process reduces energy consumption, resulting in lower utility bills and minimized environmental impact.

  • Another advantage is the cost-effectiveness of condensing tankless water heaters. Although they may have a higher upfront cost compared to traditional water heaters, the long-term savings in energy bills can quickly offset the initial investment.

  • These models require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan, further reducing costs over time. In terms of design, condensing tankless water heaters are space savers. With their compact size and wall-mounted installation, they occupy significantly less space than bulky tank water heaters. This makes them a great option for smaller homes, apartments, or any space where saving square footage is a priority.

  • Condensing tankless water heaters can provide a longer lifespan compared to traditional models. The absence of a storage tank reduces the risk of leaks and corrosion, resulting in less maintenance and a longer-lasting unit. On average, these water heaters can last up to 20 years or more, surpassing the lifespan of traditional tank-style heaters.

What are the disadvantages

of a condensing tankless water heater?

Condensing tankless water heaters also have their downsides:

  • One of the main disadvantages of a condensing tankless water heater is its higher upfront cost compared to traditional tank water heaters. Condensing models require more complex technology, including a heat exchanger and additional components, which contributes to their higher price tag. This initial investment may be a barrier for some homeowners.

  • Another disadvantage is the need for proper venting. Condensing tankless water heaters produce condensate during operation, which requires a specialized venting system to safely remove the byproducts. This can add complexity to the installation process and may require additional expenses for venting modifications.

  • Maintenance can also be a potential drawback. While condensing tankless water heaters generally require less maintenance than tank heaters, they still need regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. This includes descaling the heat exchanger periodically to prevent mineral buildup and potential damage.

  • The flow rate limitations can be a disadvantage for households with high hot water demand. Although tankless water heaters provide endless hot water, their flow rate can be limited, especially when multiple hot water outlets are in use simultaneously. This may result in lower water pressure or a reduced hot water supply.

  • Power outages can be more problematic with tankless water heaters. Unlike tank heaters, condensing tankless models rely on electricity to run their electronic controls and sensors. During a power outage, there will be no hot water available until the power is restored.

Are condensing tankless water heaters energy-efficient?

Condensing tankless water heaters are known for their energy efficiency. When it comes to water heater replacement, opting for a condensing tankless model can be a smart choice. These types of water heaters use a high-efficiency heat exchanger to extract heat from the flue gases, which would otherwise be wasted in non-condensing models. This process allows condensing tankless water heaters to achieve significantly higher energy efficiency ratings. By using advanced technology, condensing tankless water heaters are able to provide hot water on demand, heating the water only when needed. This means that they do not have a constantly burning pilot light or a storage tank that continuously heats the water, resulting in energy and cost savings over time. Additionally, condensing tankless water heaters have other energy-saving features. They often have modulating burners, which can adjust the heating output based on the demand for hot water. This allows them to operate more efficiently and avoid unnecessary energy consumption.

Are non condensing tankless water heaters energy-efficient?

When it comes to energy efficiency, non-condensing tankless water heaters have their pros and cons. These types of water heaters are designed to provide hot water on demand, which means they don't have a storage tank that constantly heats and stores hot water. As a result, they can be more energy-efficient compared to traditional storage tank water heaters. Non-condensing tankless water heaters work by heating the water as it passes through the unit. However, unlike condensing tankless water heaters, they do not utilize the condensation process to extract additional heat from exhaust gases. This means that non-condensing tankless water heaters may have lower energy efficiency ratings compared to their condensing counterparts. Nonetheless, non-condensing tankless water heaters can still be more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters because they only heat water when it is needed, rather than continuously maintaining a tank of hot water. By eliminating standby energy losses, non-condensing tankless water heaters can help save energy and reduce utility bills. It's worth noting that the energy efficiency of a non-condensing tankless water heater can depend on various factors, such as the unit's size, the efficiency of the burner system, and the temperature rise required. It's important to choose a properly sized unit that can meet your specific hot water demands and consider the energy factor (EF) rating provided by manufacturers. To maximize energy efficiency with a non-condensing tankless water heater, it's recommended to have it installed by a professional plumber who can ensure proper sizing, venting, and installation.

What is the cost to buy and install a condensing tankless water heater?

If you're considering upgrading your water heater, a condensing tankless water heater could be a smart choice. Not only are these units highly efficient, but they also provide an endless supply of hot water. However, one of the main concerns when it comes to purchasing and installing a new water heater is the cost. So, how much can you expect to spend on a condensing tankless water heater? The cost of a condensing tankless water heater can vary depending on several factors. These include the brand, model, size, and features of the unit, as well as the complexity of the installation process. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $3,500 for the unit alone. When it comes to installation costs, factors such as the location of the water heater, any necessary modifications to the plumbing system, and labor fees can impact the price. It's always a good idea to get multiple quotes from licensed and experienced plumbers to ensure you're getting a fair price. In terms of labor costs, you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 to $1,500 for a professional plumber to install your new condensing tankless water heater. Keep in mind that this price can vary depending on the complexity of the installation and the region you are in.

What is the cost to buy and install a non condensing tankless water heater?

The price of a non-condensing tankless water heater can vary depending on the brand, size, and features you choose. On average, you can expect to pay between $700 and $1,500 for the unit itself. When it comes to installation, it's highly recommended to hire a professional plumber to ensure the job is done correctly and safely. The cost of installation will also depend on various factors such as the complexity of the installation, any necessary modifications to your existing plumbing system, and the local labor rates. On average, the cost of installing a non-condensing tankless water heater can range from $800 to $2,500. Keep in mind that this estimate may not include any additional costs such as permits, venting materials, or electrical work, which could increase the overall expense. It's important to note that while tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient and can save you money in the long run, the upfront costs may be higher compared to traditional tank water heaters. However, the long-term savings on energy bills and the extended lifespan of tankless water heaters make them a popular choice among homeowners.

Condensing tankless water heaters maintenance requirements?

When it comes to maintaining your condensing tankless water heater, there are a few key requirements to keep in mind. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your water heater.

  • It is important to flush your condensing tankless water heater at least once a year. This helps remove any mineral deposits or debris that may have accumulated inside the unit. Flushing the water heater not only improves performance but also prevents any potential damage caused by clogs or blockages.

  • In addition to flushing, it is recommended to check the pressure relief valve regularly. This valve is an important safety feature that releases excess pressure in the event of a problem. By inspecting it, you can ensure that it is functioning properly and replace it if necessary to avoid any potential issues.

  • Another maintenance requirement is to clean the inlet air filter. The condensing tankless water heater pulls in air for combustion, and over time, the filter may become dirty or clogged. Regularly cleaning the filter prevents any restriction in air flow, allowing the heater to operate efficiently.

  • It is crucial to consult the manufacturer's instructions for any additional maintenance requirements specific to your condensing tankless water heater model. Following these guidelines ensures that you are properly caring for your unit and maximizing its lifespan.

If you want to keep your condensing tankless water heater running smoothly, regular maintenance is key. This essential step can help you avoid costly problems like higher energy bills, decreased efficiency, or even potential damage to your unit. To maintain optimal performance and prolong the lifespan of your water heater, it's a good idea to schedule professional maintenance checks on a regular basis. By taking a proactive approach to maintenance, you can save yourself time and money in the long run, all while ensuring that your water heater continues to operate efficiently and effectively.

What are the maintenance requirements

for non condensing tankless water heaters?

When it comes to non-condensing tankless water heaters, proper maintenance is key to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are a few essential maintenance requirements for non-condensing tankless water heaters:

  • Flushing the System: Over time, mineral deposits and sediment can accumulate inside the unit, affecting its efficiency. Flushing the system at least once a year is recommended to remove any buildup. This can be done using a descaling solution or a vinegar-water mixture.

  • Checking the Water Flow: It's important to periodically check the water flow to ensure there are no restrictions or blockages. Inspect the inlet and outlet screens for debris or sediment, and clean or replace them if necessary.

  • Inspecting the Venting System: Non-condensing tankless water heaters require proper venting to remove exhaust gases safely. Inspect the venting system regularly for any obstructions or damage, and ensure that it is properly connected and sealed.

  • Checking the Pressure Relief Valve: The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that releases excess pressure from the system. Test this valve at least once a year to ensure it is functioning correctly. If it is faulty, contact a professional for a replacement.

  • Monitoring for Leaks: Regularly inspect the water heater and surrounding pipes for any signs of leakage. Leaks can indicate a problem with the unit and should be addressed immediately to prevent water damage.

  • Professional Inspection and Servicing: While you can perform basic maintenance tasks, it is advisable to have a professional inspect and service your non-condensing tankless water heater annually. They have the expertise to identify potential issues and address them before they become major problems.

Factors to consider when choosing between a

non condensing vs condensing tankless water heater

When it comes to choosing between a non-condensing and condensing tankless water heater for your home, there are several factors to consider. Both types of water heaters have their own advantages and it's important to understand these differences before making a decision.

  • Efficiency: Condensing tankless water heaters are known for their higher efficiency compared to non-condensing models. They achieve this through a secondary heat exchanger that extracts additional heat from the exhaust gases. This process allows condensing models to use more of the energy produced to heat your water, resulting in lower energy consumption and lower utility bills.

  • Venting Requirements: Non-condensing tankless water heaters typically use a metal flue vent to exhaust the combustion gases. On the other hand, condensing models require a PVC pipe for venting. This distinction is important to consider, as it may impact the installation process and the overall cost.

  • Initial Cost: Non-condensing tankless water heaters generally have a lower upfront cost compared to condensing models. However, it's worth noting that condensing units tend to provide long-term savings through increased energy efficiency, which can offset the initial investment over time.

  • Fuel Type: Consider the fuel source available in your home. Non-condensing tankless water heaters are commonly available for natural gas and propane, while condensing models are more commonly available for natural gas. Ensure that the chosen water heater aligns with the fuel source readily available to you.

  • Climate Considerations: If you live in a colder climate, a condensing tankless water heater may be more suitable due to its ability to extract heat from the exhaust gases. In contrast, a non-condensing model may struggle to achieve high efficiency in colder conditions.

Researching condensing vs non condensing tankless water heaters

When researching water heater replacement options, one important factor to consider is whether to choose a condensing or non-condensing tankless water heater. Understanding the difference between these two types can help you make an informed decision that meets your specific needs. Condensing tankless water heaters are known for their high efficiency. They work by extracting heat from the exhaust gases produced during the heating process. This heat is then used to preheat cold water entering the unit, resulting in increased energy efficiency. By harnessing this additional heat, condensing tankless water heaters can achieve efficiency ratings of up to 98%. This high level of efficiency can lead to significant energy savings over time. Non-condensing tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not utilize this heat recovery process. They heat water directly as it flows through the unit, without any preheating. While non-condensing models are generally less expensive than condensing models, their efficiency ratings tend to be lower, typically ranging from 80% to 85%. When deciding between a condensing and non-condensing tankless water heater, it's important to consider your specific hot water usage patterns, budget, and long-term energy savings goals. Condensing units may have a higher upfront cost but can provide greater energy savings over time. Non-condensing units may be more affordable initially, but their lower efficiency could lead to higher energy costs in the long run. Ultimately, the choice between a condensing and non-condensing tankless water heater depends on your individual preferences and circumstances. By researching and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each type, you can determine which option is best suited for your water heater replacement needs.

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