Rinnai tankless water heater on a background of water

A water heater provides a convenient and endless hot water supply while helping you reduce your energy bill. New technology allows you to install a water heater that works on demand for as long as needed. This water heater buying guide can help you determine the best option for you.

Importance of Water Heaters and Choosing the Right Option

Water heaters supply plumbing fixtures such as showers, bathtubs, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. Choosing the best appliance for your home or business will save you time, energy and money.

What Water Heaters Are Available?

If you plan to install or replace a water heater, you can choose between a tank or tankless water heater and an electric or gas model. When comparing your options, you will learn tankless propane water heaters offer excellent efficiency and affordability.

Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

Tank and tankless water heaters differ in function. A tank water heater stores gallons of water, keeping it hot continuously until you need it. A tankless water heater is more efficient, affordable and convenient because it heats water automatically without storing it.

Tank water heater vs tankless water heater

How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

A tankless or on-demand water heater responds when you turn a tap on inside your home. The heater’s internal sensors detect water flow and ignite propane to heat the water while it passes through the system. As soon as you turn a tap off, the heater’s flame turns off, too. For example, a tankless water heater will heat the water you need to shower or do dishes, conserving energy when you’re not using hot water.

Since a tankless water heater heats on demand, you can depend on it to supply limitless hot water. You can take an extra long, relaxing bath after a stressful day or wash an entire sink of dishes without pausing.

Electric and Propane Water Heaters

Electric water heaters use electric heating elements, which can be pricier and have a more significant environmental impact than propane. A propane water heater can help you decrease utility costs and reduce your carbon footprint in the following ways.

  • Heating efficiency: A propane tankless water heater is more energy-efficient than electric models. Propane is an affordable alternative to electricity because it burns hotter, meaning your tankless system requires less of it to heat your water.
  • Less inflation from international events: Most manufacturers produce propane domestically, preventing international events from affecting prices.
  • Opportunity to save money when demand is low: Propane prices primarily depend on consumer pressure. The best way to save money on propane is to fill your tank in the summer, when needs and prices are low.
  • Energy conservation: Most electric companies generate energy from fossil fuels such as coal, so you can lower your energy consumption by switching to a propane water heater. Additionally, propane produces few emissions while it burns because it’s a clean fuel, making it safer for the environment.

Are Propane Water Heaters Safe?

While propane is a flammable gas, it has a low flammability range and is safe when you trust professional technicians to install, inspect and maintain your system. It’s a nontoxic, lead-free fuel with a low sulfur content. You can heat your water with peace of mind when you order a propane tankless water heater from a reputable company and schedule regular maintenance.

Water Heater Sizes

Choosing the right size water heater and propane tank is critical. Companies measure tank water heaters by the volume of water they can store at one time, but they measure tankless water heaters by flow rate, which is how much hot water can flow through them in gallons per minute. Here is how the following flow rates meet different needs.

  • 7 GPM: A 7 GPM tankless water heater can supply hot water to three to four water fixtures simultaneously. It is the best option if you have a large household or business that often requires multiple water fixtures to run at the same time.
  • 5 GPM: A 5 GPM water heater can simultaneously heat water for two to three water fixtures. For example, you can shower or do laundry while a household member does dishes.
  • 3.5 GPM: A 3.5 GPM water heater can simultaneously deliver hot water to one to two water fixtures. While you can access endless hot water, a 3.5 GPM model may require you to use one water fixture at a time. It is the best option if you have a smaller household.

Propane Tank Sizes

You also need a propane tank on your property to fuel your water heater. You can purchase or rent one of the following propane tank sizes to meet your needs.

  • 120-gallon: 120-gallon propane tanks are the most popular option for residential homes. A 120-gallon tank can fuel a hot water heater and one to two additional propane appliances.
  • 325 to 500-gallon: 325- and 500-gallon tanks can fuel several propane appliances within a home, and they are also good for commercial businesses.
  • 1,000-gallon: 1,000-gallon propane tanks are ideal for light to medium commercial applications. They are also excellent in residential homes if you have a propane water heater and whole-home heating or want to buy in volume and take advantage of summer fuel prices.
  • 10,000 to 30,000-gallon: 10,000- to 30,000-gallon tanks fuel commercial applications such as schools, industrial plants and health care facilities.

How Much Are Water Heaters?

Water heaters range in price. Your total price tag depends on several factors, such as the system you choose, its size and associated labor and installation costs. A tankless system is usually more expensive upfront, but the energy savings make it a worthwhile investment.

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

A water heater’s life span will vary. A tank water heater typically lasts eight to 12 years, but a tankless water heater can last up to 25 years if you schedule regular inspections and maintenance to keep it in top shape.

How Should You Drain a Water Heater?

Draining your water heater prevents mineral buildup from eroding the heating chamber’s walls. You can drain a tankless water heater with the following steps:

  • Turn off your water heater’s power source, main gas and water valves.
  • Remove the hot and cold water valves’ purge port valve caps and connect a hosing line to each valve.
  • Use undiluted white vinegar to clean the water heater and refrain from using any chemicals.
  • Follow your user’s manual’s instructions to drain the tankless heater and replace the purge port valves.

Trust Foster Fuels to Fuel Your Propane Water Heater

A propane water heater is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly option for your hot water needs. Foster Fuels offers propane tanks in various sizes, and you can depend on us to refill your supply when necessary. Our convenient autofill program monitors your propane levels for you so you always have the appropriate volume for your water heater and additional appliances. Contact us to learn more about our propane services for homes and businesses.

Trust Foster Fuels to fuel your propane water heater