Does a Tankless Water Heater Work Well in Cold Climates?

Tankless Water HeaterTankless water heaters have great selling points.

Endless hot water? Lower energy bills? Who wouldn’t want that?

But you may have heard that they don’t work well in areas with a cold climate, like Massachusetts.

Is that true?

Well, it is true that when it’s colder outside, it’s much harder for a tankless water heater to provide the hot water you need.

Does that mean you should count them out? Certainly not!

There are 2 factors that strongly affect whether the tankless water heater can keep up in a cold climate:

  • Fuel type (electric vs. gas)
  • Size

Why the tankless water heater’s fuel type matters

You have 2 fuel choices when it comes to tankless water heaters:

  • Gas
  • Electric

But electric tankless water heaters, like electric tank water heaters, struggle to heat water quickly.

So when the ground water gets colder in winter, the electric tankless water heater may not give you the “endless” hot water you’re expecting.

If you live in a cold climate like Massachusetts and are looking for a tankless water heater, go gas.

Why the tankless water heater’s size matters

Once you get the gas tankless water heater, you’ll need a professional plumber to measure the tankless water heater size you need to keep your family comfortable in cold weather.

But, just for your information, a professional will typically look at these 2 factors to find the size you need:

Flow rate

This is how many gallons per minute (gpm) of hot water the tankless water heater can provide.

The flow rate you need varies on how much hot water you use at once and the local ground water’s temperature in cold weather.

Temperature rise

Temperature rise is how much the tankless water heater needs to heat the groundwater to get it to the temperature you want it at (typically 120-140 degrees.)

As a formula, it looks like this: Desired hot water temperature – Incoming ground water temperature = Temperature rise.

The higher the temperature rise, the lower the flow rate. Makes sense, right? If the water is colder, the tankless water heater can’t provide as much hot water per minute because it takes longer to heat it. Just like it would take you longer to cook frozen food than refrigerated food.

Like we said, contact a professional to find the tankless water heater size your family needs so you don’t find yourself with a cold shower on a winter morning.

Rethinking getting a tankless water heater? Check out our comparison article: Tank vs Tankless Water Heaters.

Nicholson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning gladly serves the Framingham-area. Contact us online to learn more about our services.

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