Do Tankless Water Heaters Run Out of Hot Water?
When it comes to installing water heaters in Clovis, NM, we are big proponents of new technology. The newest advances for storage tank water heaters have made them more energy-efficient than ever before. But we often recommend homeowners try a different type of water heater technology to take advantage of new methods for heating up water, such as a heat pump water heater, which uses heat from the air to warm up the water.
We’re especially excited about the tankless water heater. Although the tankless water heater isn’t exactly “new” – the first versions were invented in the late 1900s – the technology that has made them useful and affordable options for households is a recent development. When people hear about the benefits of these water heaters, they’re often excited about their possibilities.
We want to address one of those benefits, the one that most people focus on: a tankless water heater means you can’t run out of hot water the way you do with a storage tank system.
Is This Really True? Will I Never Run out of Hot Water?
We're often asked, "do tankless water heaters run out of hot water?"Answering this requires some explanation about how a tankless system works compared to a storage tank system. A storage tank system does exactly what it says: it stores water kept at a high temperature so it’s ready for use. But this means the supply in the tank can be depleted, and it can take a while for the natural gas burners or electric heating elements to replenish the heated water supply. People can end up with cold showers until that happens.
With a tankless system, there isn’t a supply of hot water that can be depleted. Instead, the water heater heats up water as there is a demand for it. If you turn on the shower for hot water, the tankless system will detect the movement of water in the hot water lines and start to apply heat through a heat exchanger to the water. It will keep doing this as long as there is demand – and that means you won’t run out of hot water!
But yes, there’s a downside to this. Although a tankless system can’t run out of hot water, it can still be overwhelmed with demand. A single tap won’t do this: run that single shower all you want, you’ll keep getting hot water. (But please don’t do this! Save water, save energy!) If more than one tap is on-demand hot water at the same time, however, such as other showers or a running washing machine, the water heater will struggle to keep up and drain extra power.
Because of this, we recommend making sure to work with professional water heater installers before making a choice about going tankless. Your water use pattern may be better suited for a storage tank system. Or you may wish to consider installing more than one tankless system (they’re modular and this is easy to do). You can trust that we’ll find the right option to meet your family’s hot water demands.