If you’ve been considering an electric tankless water heater for your home, you’re making a smart choice. These energy-efficient and space-saving devices are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. But, like any other appliance, there’s always more to learn to ensure that you’re installing and using it correctly. That’s where I come in!
One of the most common questions I get asked is whether or not an electric tankless water heater needs venting. It’s an important concern, as proper venting is crucial for safety and optimal performance. In this blog post, we’re going to address those venting concerns and provide clarity, so you can confidently make the right decision for your home.
So, let’s dive in and explore the world of electric tankless water heaters and their venting requirements!
Keynote: Does Electric Tankless Water Heater Need Venting?
Electric tankless water heaters do not require venting, as they do not produce combustion gases. They use electricity to heat water on-demand, making them energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Venting is unnecessary, simplifying installation and reducing costs.
What are Electric Tankless Water Heaters?
How Electric Tankless Water Heaters Work
Before we delve into venting requirements, let’s first understand how electric tankless water heaters work. These appliances are designed to heat water on demand, which means they don’t store a large volume of hot water like traditional tank heaters. Instead, they heat water instantaneously as it flows through the unit.
The key components of an electric tankless water heater include a flow sensor, heating elements, and a temperature sensor. When you turn on a hot water tap, the flow sensor detects the water flow, and the heating elements are activated. The temperature sensor monitors the water temperature and adjusts the heating elements accordingly to maintain the desired temperature.
Advantages of Electric Tankless Water Heaters
There are several benefits to installing an electric tankless water heater in your home, including:
- Energy Efficiency: Electric tankless water heaters only heat the water you need when you need it, which means they use less energy than traditional tank heaters. This can result in significant energy savings and lower utility bills.
- Space-saving Design: Electric tankless water heaters are compact and wall-mounted, freeing up valuable floor space in your home. This makes them an excellent option for smaller homes or apartments with limited storage.
- Longer Lifespan: With proper maintenance, electric tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years or more, outlasting traditional tank heaters, which typically last 10-15 years. This means you’ll enjoy the benefits of hot water on demand for longer without the need for frequent replacements.
Purpose of Venting in Water Heaters
Venting plays a crucial role in the safe and efficient operation of water heaters. Its primary purpose is to remove combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water vapor, which are generated when fuel is burned to heat water. By properly venting these potentially harmful gases outside your home, you ensure the safety of your household and maintain the efficiency of your water heater.
Types of Venting Systems
There are four main types of venting systems used in water heaters:
- Natural Draft Venting: This traditional venting method relies on the natural buoyancy of hot gases to rise through a vertical vent pipe. The heated air escapes through a chimney or a dedicated vent, drawing fresh air into the combustion chamber from the surrounding space.
- Power Venting: Power venting systems use a fan or blower to push combustion gases out of your home. These systems are more versatile than natural draft venting, as they can be vented horizontally or vertically, allowing for more flexible installation options.
- Direct Venting: Direct vent systems are sealed combustion units that draw air for combustion from outside the home and vent combustion gases directly outside as well. This design eliminates the need for a separate air intake, making it more efficient and reducing the risk of backdrafts.
- Condensing Venting: Condensing water heaters are high-efficiency units that extract heat from exhaust gases before they’re vented outside. This process cools the exhaust gases, causing them to condense into water vapor, which is then drained away. Condensing venting systems can use PVC or other non-metallic vent materials, as the exhaust gases are cooler and less corrosive.
Venting in Gas vs. Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Venting Requirements for Gas Tankless Water Heaters
Gas tankless water heaters require proper venting to ensure safety and efficiency. These venting requirements include:
a. Combustion Air Intake: Gas tankless water heaters need an adequate supply of fresh air for combustion. This can be achieved through a direct vent system that draws air from the outside or an open space within your home with sufficient airflow.
b. Exhaust Venting: To safely remove combustion byproducts, gas tankless water heaters need a proper exhaust venting system. The type of venting system required depends on the specific water heater model and your home’s layout. Some common venting setups include direct vent, power vent, and natural draft venting systems.
c. Example of Venting Setups: To better understand venting requirements for gas tankless water heaters, it’s helpful to see diagrams or images of different venting setups. You can find these in the manufacturer’s installation manual or consult with a professional installer for personalized guidance.
Venting Requirements for Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Electric tankless water heaters, unlike their gas counterparts, do not require venting. Here’s why:
No Combustion Process: Electric tankless water heaters use electric heating elements to heat water, which means there is no combustion process involved. As a result, there are no combustion byproducts, like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, that need to be vented outside.
No Exhaust Gases: Since there are no exhaust gases generated by electric tankless water heaters, there’s no need for venting systems to remove these gases from your home. This makes electric tankless water heaters simpler and more straightforward to install and maintain.
Reasons Why Electric Tankless Water Heaters Don’t Need Venting
No Combustion Byproducts:
As we’ve mentioned before, electric tankless water heaters use electric heating elements to heat water, rather than burning fuel like gas water heaters do. This means that electric tankless water heaters don’t generate any combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Since there are no harmful gases to vent, electric tankless water heaters don’t require a venting system.
Lower Heat Output:
Another reason why electric tankless water heaters don’t need venting is their lower heat output compared to gas models. While gas tankless water heaters generate a significant amount of heat during the combustion process, electric models produce less heat because they use electric resistance to heat the water. This reduced heat output minimizes the risk of overheating and eliminates the need for a venting system to dissipate excess heat.
Safety Considerations for Electric Tankless Water Heaters
While electric tankless water heaters don’t require venting, there are still some important safety considerations to keep in mind. These include:
Proper Wiring and Circuit Breakers: Electric tankless water heaters draw a significant amount of power to heat water instantly. It’s essential to ensure that your home’s electrical system can handle this load. This means having the proper wiring, circuit breakers, and a dedicated circuit installed by a licensed electrician to prevent electrical overloads and potential hazards.
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI): To enhance electrical safety, it’s a good idea to install a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for your electric tankless water heater. A GFCI can detect current imbalances and shut off power to the unit if necessary, reducing the risk of electric shock and potential damage to the water heater.
Thermostatic Mixing Valves: Electric tankless water heaters can produce very hot water in a matter of seconds, which can pose a scalding risk. To prevent scalding accidents, consider installing thermostatic mixing valves, which blend hot and cold water to deliver a consistent and safe water temperature at your taps.
Temperature Settings: Most electric tankless water heaters come with adjustable temperature settings. To minimize the risk of scalding, it’s essential to set the water heater’s temperature to a safe level. A commonly recommended setting is 120°F (49°C), which is hot enough for most household needs while reducing the risk of scalding injuries. Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and local regulations for the appropriate temperature settings for your specific model.
Installation Tips for Electric Tankless Water Heaters
A successful electric tankless water heater installation starts with selecting the right model and location. Keep these tips in mind when planning your installation:
Choosing the Right Size and Model
Sizing Based on Flow Rate and Temperature Rise: To choose the right size electric tankless water heater for your home, you’ll need to consider the flow rate (measured in gallons per minute or GPM) and the temperature rise (the difference between the incoming cold water temperature and the desired hot water temperature). Consult with a professional installer or use online sizing guides to determine the appropriate model for your specific needs.
Energy Efficiency Considerations: To maximize energy savings, look for electric tankless water heaters with a high energy factor (EF) or a low standby loss. These models are more efficient, which means they use less energy to heat the water, ultimately saving you money on your utility bills.
Proper Installation Location
Access to Electrical Supply: Ensure that the chosen installation location has easy access to the necessary electrical supply. This may involve installing a dedicated circuit, proper wiring, and circuit breakers. Always consult a licensed electrician to ensure your home’s electrical system can handle the load.
Distance to Plumbing Fixtures: To minimize heat loss and improve efficiency, install the electric tankless water heater as close as possible to the plumbing fixtures it will serve. This reduces the distance hot water has to travel through pipes, which can lead to heat loss and longer wait times for hot water.
Space and Clearance Requirements: Electric tankless water heaters are compact and wall-mounted, but they still require adequate space and clearance for proper installation and maintenance. Ensure that there is enough room to access the unit for servicing, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for clearance requirements around the water heater.
As we’ve explored in this comprehensive guide, electric tankless water heaters offer numerous advantages, including energy efficiency, space-saving design, and a longer lifespan. One often-overlooked benefit is their lack of venting requirements, which simplifies installation and eliminates concerns about combustion byproducts. This unique characteristic makes electric tankless water heaters an eco-friendly and safe option for homeowners seeking to optimize their hot water supply while minimizing their environmental impact.
So, next time you’re weighing the pros and cons of different water heating options, remember that electric tankless water heaters not only save you energy and space, but they also bring peace of mind by eliminating the need for venting. As you enjoy the convenience and comfort of on-demand hot water, you can also take pride in knowing that you’re making a smart and sustainable choice for your home and the planet.
Tankless Water Heaters Need Venting or Not (FAQs)
Can I use existing vent for tankless water heater?
Using an existing vent for a new tankless water heater may not be recommended, as venting requirements vary depending on the type of unit. For gas-fired tankless units, stainless steel or polypropylene vent piping is often required to handle hot exhaust gas and condensate. Make sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper tankless water heater venting.
What are the electrical requirements for an electric tankless water heater?
The electrical requirements for an electric tankless water heater typically include a dedicated circuit, appropriate voltage (usually 208 or 240 volts), and a sufficient amperage rating based on the unit’s power demands. Always consult the manufacturer’s specifications and consult a licensed electrician for proper installation.
How do I know if my electric tankless water heater needs venting?
Electric tankless water heaters do not require venting since they do not produce exhaust gas like gas units. Ventilation is needed only for gas-fired tankless heaters to safely vent exhaust gas and prevent leaks.
Can I install an electric tankless water heater in a small space without proper venting?
Yes, you can install an electric tankless water heater in a small space without venting, as these units do not produce exhaust gas. However, ensure there’s adequate space for installation and maintenance according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Does an electric tankless water heater require venting to the outside?
No, electric tankless water heaters do not require venting to the outside, as they do not generate exhaust gas. Venting is necessary only for gas-fired tankless water heaters.
Can an electric tankless water heater be installed in a closet without venting?
Yes, an electric tankless water heater can be installed in a closet without venting, as these units do not produce exhaust gas. Ensure proper clearance and accessibility for installation and maintenance as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Can I install an electric tankless water heater in my garage without venting?
Yes, you can install an electric tankless water heater in your garage without venting, as electric units do not produce exhaust gas. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper installation and clearance.
What are the venting requirements for commercial electric tankless water heaters?
Commercial electric tankless water heaters do not have venting requirements, as they do not produce exhaust gas. Venting is only necessary for gas-fired tankless water heaters to ensure safe operation and prevent leaks.
Mark Bittman is a public health expert and journalist who has written extensively on food, nutrition, and healthy living. He has a wealth of knowledge to share when it comes to solving problems with appliances. In addition, he can help you choose the right appliances for your needs, optimize their performance, and keep them running smoothly.