Propane Tankless Water Heater - Complete Buyer's Guide

Propane fuel no doubt is a cleaner and greener option for water heating. The senior vice president of the National Propane Gas Association, Phil Squair, states that “Propane appliances are an excellent choice from the standpoint of personal economics and environmental impact.” In this article we will examine the comparison between Propane tank and tankless water heaters.

Propane tank water heaters have been around for decades however, these operate very efficiently now thanks to the latest technological advances. The functioning of propane tank water heater involves usage of a large internal container, which holds and heats up water before you demand it.

Propane Tankless Water Heater

Propane tank type water heaters use propane gas for heating water. The unit contains a propane tank for storing gas, a burner and a pilot light. The burner is installed right below the water tank. The water gets heated by turning on the pilot light and the light later lights up the propane gas.

Propane Tankless Water Heaters

Propane tankless water heaters use propane fuel type for heating water but these doesn’t store water like the tank type and therefore, no standby energy loss occurs. These heaters are becoming increasingly popular among consumers for a number of reasons the most prominent one being their energy efficiency and longevity. This is because these heater warm up water only when we demand it and never use propane gas until a downstream water fixture opens the valve of hot water. Therefore, while being inactive, the unit doesn’t consume or waste energy and thus, don’t produce emissions.

How Propane Tankless Water Heaters Work

These heaters operate in a similar manner as an air conditioner because water enters the unit and passes through “coils”. The propane fired burner heats water according to the preset temperature. The hot water then reaches the tap and as soon as the tap is turned off the heater stops operating, as it senses that the water flow has stopped. These heaters contain self-contained heat exchangers that operate by sensing downstream water demand and therefore, automatically adjust water flow and shot down the heating process when flow stops.

Propane Tankless Type Heaters Efficiency

When you get a greener option for water heating coupled with the benefits of tankless units, then you can only expect efficiency. Propane Tankless water heaters are comparatively more energy efficient than tank ones. For instance, an ENERGY STAR® approved propane tankless water heater offers an Energy Factor of 82% and therefore, saves up to 60% on energy bills.

Cost of Propane Water Heaters

Both tank type and tankless heaters will cost more however in comparison to tankless units, the tank units’ installation is expensive. However, the energy efficiency of propane water heaters is very high even from electric units whether tank or tankless. In the long run propane water heaters will prove to be a beneficial option as these can last for up to ten years.


Summary Table of Propane Tankless Water Heaters

Heater Model

Picture

Key features

Expert Rating

Indoor Installation

9.4 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 199,000

Efficiency: 83%

4.2

Outdoor Installation

9.4 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 180,000

Efficiency: 83%

4.2

Outdoor Installation

9.4 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 180,000

Condensing heat exchanger

Efficiency: 94%

4.7

Indoor Installation

9.4 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 180,000

Condensing heat exchanger

Efficiency: 94%

4.8

Indoor Installation

8.0 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 190,000

Efficiency: 82%

4.0

Outdoor Installation

8.0 Gallons Per Minute

Maximum BTU: 190,000

Efficiency: 82%

3.9

Portable (Camping and Outdoor Use)

1.32 Gallons Per Minute

Battery ignition, liquid propane powered

4.1

Portable (Camping and Outdoor Use)

2.64 Gallons Per Minute

Battery ignition, liquid propane powered

4.0

Portable (Camping and Outdoor Use)

1.32 Gallons Per Minute

Battery ignition, liquid propane powered

4.6

Portable (Camping and Outdoor Use)

2.64 Gallons Per Minute

Battery ignition, liquid propane powered

4.8


Installing Propane Heaters

You will need plumbing connections, pipes and fitting both for propane gas and water. Tank type propane gas heaters contain a huge internal container or tank for storing hot water. The heater warms up water from the bottom of the tank and maintains the water’s temperature as per user’s setting.

The installation of this type of heater is subject to location and space limitations with certain venting necessities. The unit comes with two separate installation manuals one for the overall installation procedure and the other with venting details and necessitates.


Efficiency Level of Propane Water Heaters

Propane tank water heaters’ operational costs are higher than that of its tankless models. For instance, a 50-gallon water tank thermostat might get set to 120degree F even if you don’t use hot water for several days consecutively. Resultantly, unnecessary amount of water gets heated and this creates standby heat loss. Regular liquid propane gas tank water heaters usually heat between forty and hundred gallons of water. But, this relies upon your home’s size and water requirements.

Regardless of the operational inefficiencies, the propane tank type water heater proves to be a cost-effective heating solution in comparison to oil and electricity. According to the chief scientist at the Philadelphia-based green consulting firm GREENandSAVE, Steve Clark, propane water heaters utilize 50percent less energy and this compensates for their high buying cost as their longevity is higher and these offer long term savings.


Summary - Comparative Analysis

Energy efficiency of propane water heaters (tank and tankless both) is higher than any other fuel type that is, electricity and gas. An electric heater usually is considered highly energy efficient but it takes really long to heat water and this causes high energy bills. Whereas propane tank and tankless heaters use less energy and consume less time for heating water than electric heaters.

Moreover, propane tank and tankless heaters take minimal space for installation in comparison to other available options in the market. Their maintenance is also a lot cheaper comparatively but their installation is a bit expensive. Nonetheless, their operating cost is less and the heater heats a full water tank at a faster rate than electric tank or tank type heaters.

However, there certainly are some disadvantages of propane water heaters. The most noteworthy disadvantage being the necessary requirement of a propane tank, that is, a propane heater needs to have a propane tank in order to heat water and operate. The danger associated is that if it gets mishandled then it leads to explosive results.

Another disadvantage is that you will be required to have a proper propane gas line before you install the water heater powered with propane.

Moreover, one disadvantage associated with propane heaters is that you may need to wait for the tank to be delivered to you if you run out of propane gas. Also, propane gas tanks have to be installed at then outside and you need to create a vent to avoid propane gas tank from explosion if a leakage occurs in your propane gas tank.

Lastly, it can be said that propane water heaters are reliable option if you are thinking purely form the perspective of green environment and ecofriendly options. On the other hand, if you want a budget friendly option than propane water heaters wont suit you. If a product’s life and longevity is your priority even then you can depend upon propane units as these last longer than all other types. Propane gas is although expensive but it reduces the time duration required to heat water by performing efficiently. You will receive sufficient amount of water and won’t have to wait such as you need to in electric tankless water heaters.