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So how about it? Does anyone here have experience with this sort of water heater? Pros? Cons? What should we look for? Will hot showers be a thing of the past? Other thoughts?
Thanks in advance,
He said as long as you don't have a lot of minerals or iron they do save money but if you do have a harder type of water the heat plates gunk up quickly and need to be replaced.
If you think about how hot the heat plates have to get in order to heat the water as it flows past you can see the problem.
I still have the old heater in right now.
There was a little tankless natural gas water heater mounted on the wall in an unheated, enclosed balcony. This heater was connected to the shower via plastic tubing which ran three or four meters through a solid concrete wall that communicated with the building's exterior.
This meant that for the coldest month or so of the winter, the wall and the pipe through which the water traveled were so cold that the water just barely retained enough heat to come out of the shower somewhere between room and body temperature. Not exactly what you'd call 'hot'...
However, assuming you can avoid the very badly planned construction I described above, I think they're great. We had no hot water troubles in warm weather :)
Be aware that...
1) Even good quality heat exchangers typically last only about five years and can leak badly when they go wrong (so consider the location).
2) You should look for an efficiency of at least 90%.
3) You need about 10KW for a decent shower (7KW absolute minimum). That's heat output into the water not heat input which may include waste.
4) Your existing shower installation will need modification. Assuming it is a gravity/pump system right now, you will need new pipework and a pressure-balancing valve (name may be different in the US). This valve allows hot and cold water to be safely mixed to achieve a safe and stable temperature even when the mains water pressure changes.
About six months ago the water wouldn't heat up, we called out our local plumber who told us that the boiler was knackered and quoted us over £2000 for a replacement. We then called another Gas Safe registered plumber who told us the same. We were almost resigned to paying out for a new one when my wife contacted the makers of the boiler and they sent their authorised repairer round; he fixed it in about twenty minutes. It was sludge in the heat exchanger. We live in a hard water area. He told us that the boiler should give us another 10 years but on his advice we had a low cost electro magnetic anti scale device fitted on the water intake. This is apparently now mandatory on combi boiler installations.
The only downside I've found is that it takes a while for the hot water to come through on our upstairs shower and upstairs washbasin, and we are probably using more water than we should because of this. However the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen get hot water in just a few seconds, and the energy saving because we don't have to keep a big tank of water hot all the time more than compensates for the extra water used.