Hidden Cost Of Tankless Water Heater

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Not All Doom And Gloom

We installed a whole house tankless water heater ourselves, this article is not going to bash them. Here we go over the cost of a tankless water heater install you may not be aware of, moreover how to combat this. So if you stay with us to the end of this post, you will see what we did to reduce the cost.

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Q&A Tankless VS Tank, Electric Cost, Install, Our Opinion E04 || Review Atmor ThermoPro

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Install Video: https://youtu.be/MQbIawTcXoo
Budget Video: https://youtu.be/nxe0XEX6hKw
Opinion Video: https://youtu.be/h594qzTz7Mo

Our Tankless Water Heater Blogs:
Is A Tankless Water Heater Right For You

Hidden Cost Of Install

Whole-house tankless water heaters have become more affordable from when we first looked at them 5 years ago. When we originally looked into a tankless system, they were more than double the cost of a tank water heater. Today this is not true, for a tankless water heater we have seen them for less than half of a tank water heater, but there are hidden cost.

While the price of the tankless unit may be cheaper than a tank water heater, a whole house tankless is not a direct bolt-in. The amps that a tankless water heater require will need additional breakers. This could be thousands of dollars if you don’t have space or necessary amps in your current breaker box. Even if you have space and amps, hiring an electrician can be very costly on top of the plumber’s installation.

For the plumbing, you are going to maintain valves that aren’t cheap. At HomeDepot we priced them at $100 on top of the cost of the other supplies you would need. You can offset this cost and by the end of this blog, you will have the tools to do so.

Parts Needed For Install Of Our Tankless:

 

Hidden Maintenance Cost

So if we didn’t scare you off, let’s talk about maintaining you’re newly installed system. Unlike a tank water heater were you just drain the sediment of the bottom of the tank every year, tankless is more involved. Above we mentioned the special maintenance valves needed, well this adds a yearly cost of $100 or more to descale the system. Depending on how hard your water is and if you have a water filter installed, maintenance needed can be reduced.

The reason for the extra maintenance required is the way a tankless water heaters heat water. Every boil water in a pan and see the stain left on the sides, well imagine this happening in your tankless water heater every time you use it.  It’s boiling the water and unlike a pan that you can wash by hand, a tankless water heater will need to be flush for hours when maintained.

Combating Tankless Water Heater Cost

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer above, just want you to be well informed of the cost. Now let’s look at ways to lessen the blow to your wallet. The cost savings may vary depending on the home, location, and handiness.

The Calculations

First, you have to calculate your house usage versus the amps coming in. This is not simple math, you can’t just add up the number on the breakers and subtracted from the main breaker. You have to calculate your home’s power usage, we started with the large things like AC and Heater, Stove, and other large consumption devices. The rest of the breakers probably don’t pull near the amps of the breaker capacity, if they did would hate to see that electric bill.

If you don’t’ have space or capacity your cost will escalate quickly. You are going to have to replace your breaker box or/and need a high capacity circuit from the electric company. At this point, a whole house tankless water heater may not be in the cards. You can move forward if you just want it, or you may want to look at more localized on-demand tankless water heater for each device. See need More Power below were we go over this.

The Electrification

Once you’re are done with all the calculations, you know you have enough power and space, now time for the fun stuff. Wiring in a breaker box can be a scary feat, yes you can turn off the main breaker but anything before the main is the city, can’t shut that off. If you don’t feel comfortable wiring in the breaker box, by all means, call a professional. If you can do the work, well let’s do it.

The wire is going to be your most expensive cost during the install, but you can save a lot of money here as well with proper planning. You want to use as little wire as possible and shop around for the best price. In the picture below you can see that we mounted the tankless water heater close to our breaker box, CPVC is much cheaper than wire. Then we shopped around for wire only looking at indoor wire cause this is much cheaper. We required 8/2 with ground to power our system, we found 8/3 with ground for half the cost so we bought 25 feet to meet our need.

The cost of breakers and wire for us cost just over half of what the tankless water heater. Depending on how much wire you need the expense could easily exceed the price of your water heater. If you have to have an electrician do the work, expect to pay $1000+ just for this part.

The Wetification

Plumbing is fun, furthermore, if you could not save money on the wiring, here you can still shine. Your biggest concern is getting wet, so if you melt, please call a professional to plumb up your system. If you have no fear of melting, let’s continue.

While tankless plumbing will cost more than tank water heaters, it still doesn’t have to break the bank. The two extra cost here are going to be your maintenance valves and filter. If you already have a whole house filter as we did, then that just one less thing.

The tankless water heater should already be on the wall, if you did like us, it’s pretty close to your breaker box. Now you are going to need CPVC for the hot, PVC for the cold, some Brackets, and little PVC Cement “Don’t Sniff The Glue”, and maybe pipe insulation. We didn’t use pipe insulation because of our location in Florida, up north this may be required due to the cold weather. Now just turn off the water and run the pipe, your biggest concern is getting wet and we don’t melt.

The Outsourcing

If you outsource some or all the tankless water heater installation project you can still save some money, just run it like a project manager. Call electricians and plumbers, having one person do all the work may not be the cheapest option. You can also source the labor for only the parts of the project you are not comfortable with. We don’t melt, right?

Need More Power

If you want tankless but your home just doesn’t have the power capacity for a whole house tankless water heater. You can look at smaller on-demand systems that can run each hot water source. The cost maybe a little more but the on-demand water will be instant, how awesome is that.

Most of these single point of use tankless water heater will run on 110v and have enough GPM flow to handle one hot water need. The cost of these is around $100 each, so depending on how many you need cost can quickly escalate. You will still need to do some plumbing and maybe wiring, but it’s not as involved as the whole house tankless water heaters are.

Conclusion

We love our tankless water heater, and since we did the whole installation ourselves it cost us under $500, see Budget Video. If this article has helped or you have a suggestion, please feel free to add feedback in the comments below. We have not been paid by Atmor.

Our Videos:
Install Video: https://youtu.be/MQbIawTcXoo
Budget Video: https://youtu.be/nxe0XEX6hKw
Opinion Video: https://youtu.be/h594qzTz7Mo

Our Blogs:
Is A Tankless Water Heater Right For You

Parts Needed For Install Of Our Tankless:

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12 thoughts on “Hidden Cost Of Tankless Water Heater”

  1. Nice blog. It will surely help beginners update their knowledge. The efforts you have put in to create the posts are quite interesting. Looking forward to seeing you soon in a new post.

    However, you may feel that they are at a loss when confronted with a wide variety of tankless water Heater available these days. Especially in a home with kids or a large household, an endless supply of hot water is required for bathing to handwashing, dishwashing to laundry, you need hot water almost all the time.

    1. Jhon Martin, thank you for your kind words. You are correct there are a large variety of tankless water heaters to choose from and the one we installed was an electric whole-home system. Depending on the ground temp where you live, electric may not work for you, or if you are looking for instant hot water, smaller individual tankless water heaters may suit your needs. In our post on this, we tried to be more broad and high-level and included a video to show people rather than explain everything.

  2. Willie Duncan

    You didn’t touch on the volume and flow aspect. Most installation require 2 tankless heater to handle the load of a family of 4 or more.

    1. Your GPM can vary greatly depending on groundwater temperature, we go over this in another post https://chrisdoeswhat.com/electric-tankless-water-heater-right-for-you/. You should get a unit that is right for you, not two units, the power requirement for this would require 6 circuit breaker with the tankless water heater we went with. I would recommend for cold areas to either go with gas or add a tankless water heater after a tank water heater. Tank water heaters require fewer amps to operate and you could warm the groundwater up to say around 80F, then have the tankless water heater warm it to the desired home water temperature.

  3. Chris, I am Really Happy to see your Reviews for Tankless Water Heater!!
    Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. Your topic is amazing. and here I got some Tips for Water Heater which i loved. You’re doing a great job Man, Keep it up.

  4. It’s a good point that every time you boil water there will be some residue left behind, and it’s the same with the heater. My parents are buying a new home soon that will have some issues with the water heating system. They need to make sure it’s repaired properly so that it’s working before they move in.

  5. I like your idea that the tank needs extra maintenance to get rid of the stains. My sister is trying to get a new water heater soon. She wants to try a tankless system first.

    1. Thank you and hope your sister likes the tankless water heater. Going to a tankless water heater like this isn’t plug and play. Tankless water heaters require a lot more power for a short time that needs a lot more amps. The go thing is that it doesn’t heat water until you need it.

  6. That’s good to know that tankless water heaters are a lot more affordable these days. I like the idea of being able to save at least some money on a water heater. I should look into tankless heaters to see if they would fit into my budget these days.

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