Tankless Water Heater for Tiny House/RV vs Standard Water Heater

tankless water heater for tiny house

I do not know the feeling of others when they have to make a comparison between the same parts and then, they have to determine. For me, I hate it a little bit because it makes my brain get stuck to make up my mind. However, life always obligates me to have to compare…

For example, I have to decide to buy an RV or a tiny house, investing in the real estate or participating in the stock market.

And this time, I have to make my comparison between the tankless water heater for tiny house/RV vs standard water heater. Fortunately, one of my friends gives me some advice to win this game! If you were like me, then you should read my post instantly.

About the tankless water heater

Tankless water heaters are known as the on-demand water heaters which use the strong power of the burners to heat water quickly. This is because it runs through a heat exchanger and moves it to the faucets or the shower without keeping in a tank. To run a tankless water heater, you should supply electricity or gas.

tankless water heater
Source Roger Mommaerts

Kinds of the tankless water heater

There are 2 major kinds of tankless water heaters that you can see on the current market. They are small units and the multiple ones.

Small units are particularly installed at the point of use or near this point. Bigger ones can connect to the entire RV. The smaller items may diminish heat losses through piping. This also helps the standby losses from a tank.

Multiple units, on the other hand, are suitable for the whole RV. These could be helpful for providing a frequent water heater in a bathroom or other places which are far away from the main water heater.  

How does the tankless water heater work?

As I mentioned earlier, a tankless water heater will work when we add the electricity or natural gas and the hot water will be moved directly to the showers, sinks, or faucets. We do not need to hold the hot water in a storage tank.

When the hot water tap is opened, cold water enters via a pie to the unit. Hence, the tankless water heaters bring a frequent supply of hot water.

Users do not have to wait for the hot water in the storage tank to use the hot water. Nevertheless, the water output of the tankless water heater is limited in the flow rate.

In general, the tankless water heater offers hot water in a container around 5 gallons per minute. The gas-fired tankless water heater generates bigger flow rates than electric ones, but sometimes it cannot provide enough hot water for daily use or multiple uses in high households.

For instance, you take a bath and opening your dishwasher at once enable to make the amount of water in the tankless water heater reduces.

To solve this issue, you should install one or more of the tankless water heaters which connecting together to meet your real demands of hot water. Hotels and apartment owners often have to do this.

Along with diminishing losses via long runs of piping, these might save time and wasted water because you have to wait for the water to get hot.

Most of the large tankless water heaters probably offer hot water for many points-of-use in your house. These units diminish the heat losses from a container; there will still have some losses of the hot water unless it is protected from heat.

How about the standard water heater?

Natural gas storage water heater
Source: Energy.gov

The standard water heaters are also called the storage water heater. And these water heaters are one of the most popular products in most homes.

Their containers are insulated tank, keeping about 50 gallons of water, to heat and store the hot water until it is indeed. A pipe comes out from the top to move hot water to the destination area such as kitchen, bathroom, and other sinks.  

There are several standard water heaters which use natural gas or electricity in their power source. Natural gas water heaters consume 50 percent less energy and reducing the price to operate than the electric products.

Nonetheless, their prices are more expensive than electric water heaters. They also have a temperature and pressure-release valve to open when the pressure and temperature levels are higher.

Benefits of using the tankless water heater

Receive the hot water immediately

After diluting the cold water from the pipes out of the shower or the faucet, the tankless water heaters are able to offer the hot water promptly. Thus, on a standard level, these devices need to deliver heating without storing a bulky tank.

Use the products in the prolonged period

Typically, a tankless unit has a long lifespan; especially the high-quality water heater can last a decade! It means that you do not have to replace the product on a regular basis. In every 10 years, do the replacement only one time.

Cut down the maintenance costs every month

Do not buy a lower price product! Let’s me give you a clear view. You purchase a machine with the cheap cost, but have you ever thought about the maintenance process? Relax! You need to maintain a machine or a tool to enhance their lifespan. The maintenance is bigger than the first purchase of the product.

These systems are more expensive but they are more effective. Most of the prior buyers agree that the tankless water heaters could be saved 22% more than other standard items. When you pay attention to your monthly electricity bill, you probably count that hundreds of dollars in your account will be kept.

Save the space in your house

The tankless water heaters are smaller than the standard products. They should be mounted on a wall in an unobtrusive place in the basement or somewhere like that. In most of the tiny houses/RVs, the space savings is a first benefit that homeowners often look for.

Get special financing and tax breaks at once

These heaters are more effective, they are ideal for federal tax credits, which support the installation cost. The Federal government gives a 10% tax credit on the general cost of purchasing and installing a tankless hot water heater.

Remove the standby loss issue

The greatest selling point of the tankless water heaters is diminishing the standby loss problem. Conventional devices reheat water frequently and increasing energy costs each time. Even nobody is home and they are not in use, the unit is using energy as it is keeping the water temperature in the tank.

Prevent the loss of hot water

In a heavy hot water usage, storage tanks will run out of hot water. The tankless heater makes sure that everybody has enough warm water to use.

Choose the electricity or the gas items

Most of the tankless water heaters are powered either by natural gas or electricity. However, the electric models are more common on the market. Relying on your house/RV has the electrical infrastructure or not, a non-gas unit is also a good idea to treat this problem. It will reroute the gas lines.

Offer longer warranties from the manufacturer

Most of the producers give the warranties up to 20 years and this is also the average lifespan of this unit. The lifespan is longer to help the homeowners have not to settle for repairs or maintain regularly.

Take additional maintenance

To hold the warranty available, homeowners should undertake the annual maintenance and run a water softener. Moreover, they need to flush out the system every year to prevent any buildup and leakage problem in the water line and the water heater. The price of performing these tanks could support the savings generated by the low energy requirements of a tankless water.

Become a good choice for tiny houses with minimal hot water requirements

If you own a tiny house with a new demand for a hot water heater, a tankless water heater is for you. These devices will remove the standby loss and they will also offer enough hot water for one or more people to use at the same time as washing clothes, do shower or do dishes.

Some drawbacks you need to know beforehand

Erratic temperatures

This is a common downfall of a tankless water heater. However, it is not a big problem to concern about. The heater cannot send enough hot water to more outlets at the same time. And they do not usually open if the shower or the faucet is gradually open. For example, when you rinse a toothbrush or shaving.

Higher installation cost

Because of the longer lifespan, the tankless products are more expensive. The conventional items often cost about $500 and the lowest tankless water heaters are $1000. Labor fees should be higher than the overall price tag in most of the specialized models.

Rv Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Abundant hot water supply

The hot water supply in the tankless has a stable stream, but the supply is limited. For example, if a person uses the dishwasher or washing machine when others are taking a bath at the same time, the water is not enough. Thus, you should consider the number of users in your house/RV when purchasing a tankless water heater.

Head off gas lines

As I mentioned above, a tankless heater needs a non-conventional setup which makes the installation cost is higher. A contractor probably is forced to redirect a gas line or put new venting, increasing to the cost of an entire project.

Spend more time to add the initial cost when an installation

Month-to-month tankless water heater costs are lower, but it could spend many years to pay the high rate for the first time of using. A homeowner will hesitate a bit, but the energy savings will accelerate up to $75 in each year on average. And I estimate the years could be from 6 to 12 years to cover all price tags.

Extra maintenance cost is possible

Most of the brand in the tankless water heater industry has the warranty, but homeowners should dilute the system on a regular basis to prevent potential buildup in the water line and the heater as well.

Increase the flow rates

Some tankless products have a minimum flow rate of about 0.6 gallons per minute, and they will not work well at lower flow rates. Some low-flow plumbing fixtures cannot be suitable for this heater like bathroom faucets. With modern tankless water heaters, the lowest rate might be 0.4 gpm.

How to improve energy efficiency

To undertake the energy efficiency of the tankless water heater and standard, you should apply some strategies such as fix leaks, check the showerheads, placing a shower or a faucet manually, considering some machine can use the cold water instead like a washing machine.


What size electric tankless water heater do I need for my house?

The size of the electric tankless water heater you need for your house depends on the amount of hot water that you will be using. A general rule of thumb is to choose a unit with an output rating that is at least two times higher than your peak demand for hot water. For example, if you plan to shower and run the dishwasher and washing machine simultaneously, you will need a water heater with an output rating of at least 24 kilowatts. It is important to choose the correct size so that your hot water needs are met without overtaxing the system.

Are mini tankless water heaters worth it?

Mini tankless water heaters are a great option for tiny houses and other small living spaces because they take up less space than larger models. They are also more energy-efficient, as they only heat water when it is needed, not constantly. Depending on your hot-water needs, mini tankless water heaters can be a great investment for tiny houses and other small living spaces. However, before investing in one, it is important to consider the size of the unit and its output rating to make sure it meets your hot-water requirements.

Read more: How To Replace RV Water Heater With Tankless

Choosing the tankless water heater vs standard – which ones?

To help you make a final decision between the tankless water heater for tiny house/RV vs standard, I think you should take into account the individuals who will buy the tankless product or the standard one.

With the tankless product, you should have gas or electricity in your tiny house/RV and you know how to set up the tankless to reduce the additional fee. Furthermore, if you live in an area where the houses are using the tankless heaters, it would be great to do the same thing as your neighbors.

With the standard heater, your budget is not limited and you also have the time to follow this “small project”. Or your house does not allow you making a tankless system, then a storage heater could be your best options. Change your mind when your tiny house/RV runs on electricity and the tankless is a safe choice.

I almost forgot. The water heaters also have other types which are heat pump water heaters, solar water heaters, and condensing water heaters. Therefore, when you think that your RV is not available for the tankless water heater and tank water heater, move to other selections or retrofit another product.

Tankless Water Heater vs Standard

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