Tankless water heaters have been around since 1929, when Stiebel-Elton invented the first electric model. The gas-powered models were more efficient and initially were the more popular choice. By the 1970s, the European market incentivized the development of space saving energy-efficient systems that has made electrically powered systems more popular.
Tankless water heaters have several downsides:
The small European houses and apartments in the early 20th century could not accommodate the large, expensive, and heavy copper tank water heaters. Plumbing and power supply was still primitive, and many houses and apartments had gas supply. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of tankless water heaters and other alternatives. (Related: Tankless Water Heaters: Advantages, Disadvantages & Costs)
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
As new energy-efficient living was accelerated by the post-World War II rebuilding, small tankless water heaters became very popular. Improvements in electrical element technology surpassed the heating efficiency of gas heated tankless heaters.
Massive growth in the popularity of tiny homes, RV living, and living off-grid has further accelerated the development and popularity of tankless water heaters. Renewable energy systems are very compatible with highly energy-efficient tankless water heaters.
Tankless water heaters are the ideal solution for small homes or off-grid living where access to the power grid is not possible or limited. When producing hot water on demand in an off-grid setting, the use of gas or electrically powered tankless water heating is the best solution.
For large properties with established links to the power grid, it is better to install a lower-cost conventional water heater and invest the savings into solar pre-heating and storage and the insulation of the hot water tank and supply lines to prevent temperature losses.