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Question DetailsAsked on 3/27/2014

Do I need an electrician and a plumber to install an electric tankless water heater?

The current electric tank water heater went kaput, looking into replacing with electric tankless - anyone have experience with this? My house is built in 1952.

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6 Answers


I can't answer your specific question, but I wanted to note that it would be worth calling your electric company to notify them. If the distribution transformer feeding your house is small (which it could be if it only feeds a few houses), it may not be sized properly for a large startup load like a tankless water heater. This would result in flickering lights for you and your neighbors when your water heater starts up. That's annoying and not good for your appliances.

I'm an engineer at an electric utility that had to develop standards for facilities feeding a house with a tankless water heater after a number of customers experienced this problem.

Answered 6 years ago by 1955ranch


A electric tankless or on-demand water heater may work for you but come with their own set of problems. You will need a electrican as these units require a 30 or 40 amp circuit, depending on the flow rate and demand. If you have a high hot water demand for bathing you will need a high current unit. Clothes washing is fine with cold and most dishwashers have water pre-heaters so bathing typically has the highest demand. The only energy efficient tankless are natural gas or propane with installtion costs as well. Consider a smaller electric storage unit and low-flow shower heads/aerators.

Answered 6 years ago by hosey


Tankless is great because you don't pay to keep a tank full of hot water hot 24/7, it only comes on when you "draw' hot water as needed.

Due to no storage of hat water, it takes a larger electrical circuit as the heater is much larger , to deliver hot water "on demand". So an electrician will be needed to install a larger circuit ( breaker and wire) to the tankless.

Of course a plumber to remove the tank type and pipe the new tankless.

Though tankless will save you energy, the circuit needed could be larger then the main electrical panel can handle, increasing the size of the main electrical panel is costly. If LP or Natural gas is avaulable, they make tankless that operates on gas.


Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC


1955ranch has a good point - some service areas in my locale have been having this kind of problem, where technically the lines are big enough for the sustained household loads, but with new "energy efficient" appliances like tankless water heaters, high-power high-recovery small capacity electric water heaters, steam dish and clothes washers, and heat pumps, the surge loads are causing a lot of power flickers and tripping out of electronics devices.

Previously, due to electric rates pushing 20ยข/KWhr everything in this area that could be gas was and there is essentially no residential air conditioning load - now electric loads, especially peaking ones, are increasing as more electric high-demand appliances come into use.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


By the way, if time-of-use pricing for electricity ever becomes mandatory (currently it's optional in some areas, not available in others), hot showers on cold winter mornings will be more expensive with a tankless than with a tank- and a timer. That's probably many years out so you would probably save a bunch on avoided heat waste in the meantime. But if you would expect to be an early adopter of time-of-use pricing (which can save money, especially if you have a plug-in hybrid car), you should consider this in your decision.

Answered 6 years ago by 1955ranch


Click on the Home > Water Heaters link right under your question and you will find numerous questions and comments on tankless heaters - both pro and con.

Most common complaints about electric tankless are high energy cost, inability to keep up with demand, cost of hooking up power when it requires a service capacity upgrade, and in some models tank leakage within a couple of years. Since you have electric water heater now, that service might be adequate for tankless unit also, but they do pull more power than a torage type heater so maybe not.

Yes you will need electrician to wire, plus plumber to install and plumb.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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