In every home, there is usually one area where all the utilities come in from the outside. This is the entry point for electricity, gas, telephone, cable TV, Internet and water. If that area was designed properly, that location will also include a floor drain.
One of the items installed in this corner of the home is a hot water heater. The traditional hot water heater is a tank that heats and holds up to 50 gallons of water. When it works properly, it provides hot water for showers, baths, laundry, dishwasher and cooking. When it doesn’t work properly it:
Any of these problems can be the starting point of a flood. This explains the need for the drain.
One of the disadvantages of a hot water tank is that, once it runs out of water, there won’t be hot water again for quite a while. The heating element heats the entire reservoir up to 50 gallons of water from ground temperature to the desired temperature, and none of it is considered hot until it’s all hot. Waiting for the hot water heater to finish making hot water is a variation of the cooking adage that a watched pot never boils. It seems to take forever.
Tankless (also referred to as on-demand) water heaters do not have this problem. Whereas conventional water heaters are designed to heat and hold a full tank of hot water, tankless heaters heat the water only when it is needed. The water is heated continuously as it flows through the heater, meaning that the only way to run out of hot water is if the water gets shut off or you lose electricity.
When the topic of tankless hot water heaters is being discussed, the name EcoSmart always comes up. Their product line includes both gas and electric tankless systems in a variety of sizes to fit every need. These tankless units are the ones that will be reviewed here so that you can determine which one is right for you. They are incredibly adaptable and can be used in a wide variety of applications. Following are some examples of how an EcoSmart water heater might work for you.
It doesn’t matter whether you live in a single-family home, a duplex or a townhouse. If you have a conventional hot water heater, you know what’s going to happen someday. That someday could have been today, which is why you are reading this review.
So, has that 50-gallon beast that has been haunting your utility area finally died and flooded everything stored there? Are you really going to call the plumber again, replace the water heater again and set the stage for a repeat performance a few years down the road? Maybe it’s time to consider something different.
Or, are you tired of the tank glaring at you, reminding you that a dead water heater and a flooded home are in your future? Maybe it’s just waiting for that Friday evening at the beginning of a long holiday weekend to break the bad news.
One way to solve these problems is to purchase a tankless water heater and have your plumber install it. Suddenly, your home is going to become a much friendlier place. You won’t have that big ugly water heater taking up space and you won’t have 50 gallons of water just waiting for a chance to escape and ruin your week. Your utility area will be a little less cluttered, giving you the opportunity to clutter it again with different things.
EcoSmart offers whole house tankless models that run on both electricity and gas. If your home already has gas and there is a way to vent a gas burner to the outdoors, gas may very well be the most cost-effective solution for you. Gas water heaters heat water more quickly. This gives you a better flow rate for hot water.
Unless you are planning major renovations in your existing home, replacing a conventional hot water tank with a high-capacity tankless unit is probably your best choice. It may require some changes in the breaker box, but it should otherwise be a simple install.
However, when it comes to new construction, tankless units can steal the show. Before the plumbing and electricity are installed, you have the chance to set the stage for energy and water savings for years to come.
With conventional plumbing, the pipes for hot and cold water run side-by-side throughout the home. If you are looking for a hot shower, you will open the hot water faucet and wait until the hot water makes the long trip from the water heater to your shower head. The farther you are from the water heater, the longer you must wait and the more water that you waste. When you are finished with that shower, those long pipes full of hot water will cool down, which results in wasted energy.
Instead, imagine running a single cold water pipe to the bathrooms. In each bathroom, there would be a tankless water heater. The cold-water feed would be split, with one line going into the water heater and the other going to the cold water feed of the sinks, shower, tub and toilet. The same approach could be taken in the kitchen. The benefits of this approach are:
When it comes to the electric-powered tankless water heaters, the only difference between the models is the power of the heating elements and the electricity they consume. The same goes for the gas-fired units.
EcoSmart has a tool on their website that helps you choose which model best fits your needs. It is based on where you live and how much hot water you need. The decision process looks very simple; however, before you choose, you might want to understand how a tankless water heater works.
The process of continuously heating water starts with the temperature of the water coming into the unit and the flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM). The heater has a control that sets the desired temperature that should come out of the water heater. Assume that we have a water inlet temperature of 56 degrees, a flow rate of 8 GPM and the desired exit temperature of 110 degrees. Because of the time it takes to heat water from 56 degrees to 110 degrees, the tankless heater may need to reduce the exit flow rate to something less, like 6 GPM. Starting with these assumptions, here are a few scenarios.
These are available in a variety of wattages from 3.5 KW up to 36 KW. These could all be considered as point-of-use models, but the 8 KW model ECO 8 or the 11 KW model ECO 11 should be more than adequate for a standard bathroom.
The model POU 3.5 offers some interesting possibilities. It is the only unit that operates at 120V and is small and light enough to be considered portable. One could imagine setting it up with a conventional electric plug and garden hose connectors and put it to use at cookouts, outdoor kitchens or campgrounds that have the electricity available.
If you are replacing a conventional gas water heater, one of these are probably the unit for you. They heat water faster than the electrical units do.
When it comes to choosing point-of-use tankless units, these gas units would work fine. Just remember that each one must be vented to the outside and that you would have to run a gas line to each one. Imagine the nightmare of having a gas leak and wondering if it is somewhere in the house behind a finished wall. Also, if you know any do-it-yourself types who have accidentally drilled into a water pipe, ask them what they think of running gas lines throughout the house.
EcoSmart tankless water heaters are a fantastic way to avoid the problems that come with conventional hot water tanks. The most difficult part of this is picking the correct size for your situation. If you purchase one that is too small, you won’t be happy with the flow rate or you will have to run it at a lower exit temperature than you would prefer. You might consider buying one that is the next size up from the one you think you need.
Visit the EcoSmart website and see what hardware and plumbing stores near you are EcoSmart distributors. If they are local, they should be able to help you choose the model that best fits your needs in the area where you live.Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars