Tankless Water Heaters - Primer
What tankless water heaters are: Tankless Water heaters are compact 'on demand' water heaters that have no tank and supply hot water when it is called for. When water flows from a hot water tap in the house the tankless activates and starts heating water as it passes through the unit.  The heating method can be electric but most often they are fired by natural gas or propane. They are ideal for applications where people do not want to restrict their schedules to match available hot water supplies, or have soaker or hot tubs that need large amounts of hot water. The units measure approximately 24" tall, 17" wide and 9" deep and they hang on the wall a few feet off the ground in the basement usually. They do not use the existing chimney of any furnace or water heater and are instead vented directly out the wall with a special vent that is supplied with the unit. Most tankless water heaters are designed with a 25-year life expectancy.  Unlike a tank, a gas tankless heater never has to be completely replaced.  Even after decades of use these machines can be in excellent condition - and if a part fails it can simply be replaced - there is no need to buy a new heater.
Cost: Tankless water heater systems are the ultimate in domestic hot water heating and they are priced accordingly. Retail prices for tankless heaters can range from $1,200 to $3,200 cdn plus taxes. Installation and material costs are in addition to that. They are more expensive than conventional heaters because of their design and venting components. They also require a trained professional to install properly - with many manufacturers requiring certified installers. That said, they will definetly pay for themselves when compared to 15 years of tank rentals. Serving a family of four in Ontario, tankless water heaters typically demonstrate a 25% to 35% fuel savings over their conventional counterparts, but their biggest cost advantage is when compared to a typical 40 gal rental which will cost you $5,300 over a 15 year period!
Customer profile: There are many commercial applications from restaurants to horse training facilities, but the typical residential customer is a family of three or more people. Their primary concern is having enough hot water for bathing and clothes washing regardless of the demand. Secondary concerns include rental costs and the savings associated with higher efficiency tankless systems. Customers on a tight budget who are concerned with cost savings only, should consider replacing their conventional rental units with conventional units they own outright.
Installation: Installation of a tankless water heater by a non-licensed individual is illegal and as such is not a project that should be attempted by the homeowner. The installation requirements are dictated by the national gas and local building codes and the manufacturer and must be followed to the letter. Although many tankless water heaters are certified for outdoor installation (hanging on the outside wall of a building), outdoor installations are not recommended or warranted by any manufacturer for any region in Canada.
Who makes them? In North America the major suppliers are: Bosch, Takagi, Rinnai and Rheem. All provide the same basic functionality but come with different features and pricing. The best approach is to do a little internet research before deciding on a particular model. Most manufacturers have two sizes for residential use - small & large. The small units are suitable for a one or two person household that doesn't mind 'serializing' shower or bathing activity. The smaller units can handle only one major hot water draw at a time. The larger units can handle two major draws and a minor application like hand washing and are much more practical for busy families with three or more people.
Need more information? - gives us a call we love discussing tankless projects!
Flamborough Gas & Oil is the only qualified service agent for warranty and service work for Bosch tankless water heaters in the Hamilton, Ancaster, Flamborough and Burlington communities.