January 1, 2004
Energy efficiency, space savings and easy installation are just some of the perks of these water heaters.
Have your customers ever complained about being the last one in the household to take a shower, and running out of hot water while shampoo is streaming in their eyes? Have they danced a little jig trying to avoid the freezing water? Or tried to take a shower or bath when the washing machine is on and ended up with lukewarm water at best? Tankless, or instantaneous, water heaters dominate the European and Asian water heater market, while the United States primarily uses tank-type water heaters. Until just a few years ago, there were only a few tankless water heater manufacturers with a presence in this country. But that's changed. “Now, all the major players from Japan, as well as many European manufacturers, are all in the United States, and they all are experiencing growth,” notes John Confrey, manager of technical operations at Noritz. The Japanese company established California-based Noritz America in 2002 to design and produce water-related products for use in the United States. Its latest product, the N-132, generates 380,000 Btus and flows 13.2 gpm. It is the largest tankless gas water heater in the world, the company claims. With about 10 million water heaters sold in this country each year, only about 100,000 of them are gas instantaneous water heaters, says Kyle Murray, vice president of marketing for Controlled Energy Corp. CEC's new product, the Bosch ProTankless 635 ES, was specifically designed for the U.S. market and made its debut at the ISH North America trade show in Las Vegas this past fall. “The acceptance of the trade in the last few years has really turned around. And that's because consumers are demanding the product.” Today's consumers are more sophisticated, educating themselves about a certain technology or product before making a purchase, especially on a big-ticket item such as a water heater. And tankless water heaters do cost more than tank-types, but the payback is the energy savings down the road. “The whole concept is really taking off here in the U.S., and this market is expected to increase 15 percent this year,” explains Tiffani Thompson, specialty product sales manager at Rheem Water Heaters. Its tankless gas water heater, the RTG-42PV Tankless Water Heater, also was shown at ISH North America. “Consumers are becoming more aware of the tankless option, and there is increasing awareness about tankless water heaters by contractors, builders, plumbers and HVAC companies.” Custom home builders are definitely taking notice of tankless as a whole-house alternative, says Ray Rasalan, Takagi's central regional manager. (Takagi's Flash T-KJr. earned recognition for industry innovation in the area of hydronic space heating as part of ISH North America's New Product Showcase.) Custom homes have a lot of fixtures using hot water, such as multihead shower systems and 80-gal. tubs. Buyers of these homes want to be assured they won't run out of hot water.