The first noticeable feature when it comes to condensing tankless water heater vs non condensing types is that the matter only affects gas tankless water heaters. There is no issue of condensation in the case of electric tankless water heaters.
When it comes to condensing vs non condensing tankless hot water heaters, there are a lot to be considered. Generally, the difference between condensing and non condensing tankless water heaters is many and we are here to address them today.
BUT BEAR IN MIND THAT… The build of your house and venting system it uses counts a lot when you need to decide between the two systems, so keep reading to find out the details.
Condensing Tankless Water Heater vs Non Condensing Tankless Water Heater
Non-Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heater
No matter if they are tankless or use storage, the conventional water heaters are non-condensing. A non-condensing system supplies reliable technology for most homes across the U.S. It’s a more recent and standard option even for the most recently built homes.
Because US standards has undergone series of changes over the years (especially in 2015), the energy efficiency standard is now higher than ever before.
Even if there are no strict recommendations for the non-condensing water heater, the energy efficiency standards in place today encourage the use of condensing or non condensing tankless water heaters.
Majority of homes today are using non-condensing water heaters (while most go for storage tank based, other love the tankless types).
Either tank or tankless, you should consider getting a condensing water heater when replacing the ole water heater.
Non-condensing tankless water heater systems carry the following features:
- Electronic ignition
- Stainless steel vent piping (it’s pricey)
- Fan induced draft
- Small diameter flue
- Venting done outside of your home
- Indoor combustion air
What’s the Mechanism Behind A Non-Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heater?
Another feature we considered while doing this condensing versus non-condensing tankless water heater is mechanism propelling it to work.
An impressive amount of heat is created once the natural gas is burned to heat the water for you. The non-condensing water heaters are made with stainless steel pipes (metal venting), managing the high heat while venting it to the outside air.
Many a time, the vented can get as hot as 300F degrees. But it’s both a problem and a good thing.
What Are The Pro’s And Con’s Of Non-Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heater?
Everything created has its ups and downs, and there is no exception to the non-condensing tankless gas water heater. So, if you still want more difference between condensing and non condensing tankless water heaters, here are the functional aspects:
- Its retrofits are straightforward
- It’s not expensive
- It requires professional maintenance
- The design is functional
Here are some cons that may pose a problem for some customers:
- They cannot vent directly
- The vent piping is expensive
- The byproducts is not friendly to the environment
- They’re pricey to operate
- They’re only 80% efficient
One major concern about non-condensing tankless water heaters is that the exhaust is hot and corrosive simultaneously. So, venting becomes challenging since it has to use materials (stainless steel is one to name) that are both heat and corrosion resistant. Aside this, the venting has to be done so that it rids you of all fire dangers or unplanned heating of the residence.
Another crucial outcome is that the gases venting outside still carry essential heat. SO, the question about how to use heat efficiently is more than evident. It’s where the condensing water heater comes into play, capturing the heat that would commonly get vented to the outside.
Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heater
Like all tankless water heaters, the condensing gas tankless water heaters can heat water while it’s running through the unit. It doesn’t need a tank for storing the water.
The flame caused by the gas in the combustion chamber is going to heat water running through the system. The mechanism in the unit heats the water, whereas the combustion exhaust remains hot.
To gain better efficiency, it’s important to use the rest of the heat. Condensing water heaters are improving the effectiveness of the tankless water heaters with another step. This step is one that lowers the temperature of the exhaust for venting.
Still haven’t decided on the battle of condensing versus non-condensing tankless water heaters? The next line of sentence will help you for sure!
Unlike the non-condensing type, the exhaust gases from combustion are cooled down and they’re also vented (mechanically) through an outer wall or the roof.
To enjoy optimum efficiency, the condensing tankless water heaters would have to come with a drain for managing the water condensed out of the combustion products.
It’s mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide. You may have to also install a small pump for evacuating the condensed water when the condensed water needs to be risen for draining.
With the exhausting gases from the condensing water heaters being cool, venting shouldn’t be complicated and only requires affordable piping (PVC may be enough).
Below are the core features of condensing tankless gas water heaters:
- Fan induced draft
- Vent piping going outside the house. It has to be small diameter, and it’s cheap too.
- It uses an Electronic ignition
- Indoor combustion air
What’s the Mechanism Behind Condensing Tankless Gas Water Heaters
The natural gas is burned for heating the water running through the tankless gas water heater. During this process, a significant amount of heat is produced in the main combustion chamber. The temperature is used thanks to its heating element for providing unlimited streams of hot water instantly. This is why people use tankless units so much.
The condensing water heaters also include a secondary process for using the heat from the hot combustion products.
They use the cold temperature of the incoming water, collecting the heat as they condense the water out of the combustion products. The whole process improves the efficiency of the tankless water heater, even if it also leads to acidic water that you need to get rid of later on.
Here’s what many people love most about the condensing tankless water heaters:
- They use less fuel
- They’re more efficient
- It’s simple to install them in a new built
- They’re at least 90% effective
- The venting for new construction is affordable
- They produce less unwanted byproducts.
The con isn’t significant, but you should be aware of them, nevertheless:
- The spending on the unit is higher
Which is better, Condensing or Non Condensing Tankless Water Heaters?
The condensing cycle cools the exhaust gases (down to 100F degrees), so it means that the venting can be done with cheap materials (PVC piping, for instance) but the non-condensing does not cool and will require more expensive materials.
Condensing tankless water heaters also pose a lower risk for unwanted heating or safety related to fire.
The condensing tankless gas water heater venting is more straightforward than the non-condensing opponent.
In the end, it still depends on the venting system if you’re going to install a condensing/non-condensing tankless system. Here are some final tips:
- Pick a condensing method if the construction is new
- Tankless gas water heaters require less space than storage tank water heaters. It’s not complicated to have a straight replacement of the centralized gas tank water heater with a centralized condensing or non-condensing gas tankless water heater.
- It’s not complicated to manage a modified venting of condensing water heater. A straightforward PVC pipe connected to the garage ceiling and exiting through the sidewall can work. The condensate draining may go through a small sump pump, pouring into the drain of the laundry sink.
- It’s not easy to move from a centralized system to a several point-of-use tankless systems. Give it a good thought before buying.
Think About This Too
If you still haven’t made up your mind, no need to fret. Maybe it isn’t just the dilemma concerning which is a better condensing or non-condensing tankless water heater that is worrying you. Perhaps you read various outdoor tankless water heater reviews or reviews like best propane tankless water heaters, and you simply feel overwhelmed.
I advise that you take a step back, sit-down and relax. Ask yourself if this new unit that you are planning on buying will help you conserve energy and make the most of its functionality. That is the most important question; you should start from there. Plus, you should be ready to make an investment; a tankless water heater will cost you two to three times more than a traditional water heater would.
Again, don’t only think about the cost of the item because in the long run it will save money on electricity bills and you’d be thankful you bought it. Moreover, you will have an endless supply of hot water, whenever you need it. Lastly, your home will become more eco-friendly.
Before you go on checking out specific models, ensure you have resolved the condensing tankless water heater vs non condensing tankless water heater dilemma. After you select a product, you should have a professional check your home and tell you about the installation in more detail. Not only will that give you a peace of mind, but it will allow you to start making financial plans.