Yes, tankless water heaters are safe to install in a mobile home, but you may have to change your wiring or gas setup. You may have to install the proper wiring and run gas lines if your mobile home doesn’t have them to accommodate the tankless water heater. Having a tankless water heater in your mobile home is an added advantage; however, there are a couple of things to be aware of.
The first is that you need to understand the changes to be made to accommodate the tankless heater. With improper gas and electric lines in place, the water heater will not work properly and you will be out of a sizable investment.
In addition, when looking into tankless water heaters, ask the manufacturers if they have any HUD approved options for manufactured homes. Not all tankless water heaters are meant for mobile homes. Once you find a HUD approved model, you will need to choose an interior or exterior model.
However, if you choose an interior model, HUD has noted that they can be installed in any room. However, the room is expected to have a direct vent to the outside and it must have walls and ceiling made from 5/16” or thicker gypsum board. Also, electric models require a dedicated circuit.
Mobile homes in the United States are expected to obey the regulations outlined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since mobile homes are plumbed for particular water heaters, they can be rather complicated to replace, and this entails that the cost of mobile home specific water heaters is substantially more. In most cases, mobile home water heaters differ from regular water heaters in a couple of ways.
Another factor to have in mind is that electric tankless water heaters will have special requirements before installing. For one, they need new breakers. This is to allow for a greater amperage level. To get this done, you will need to talk to a local electrician. Costs can vary, but you can generally expect to spend about a third of the water heater cost on the electrical portion of the endeavor.
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
In this day and age, there is a shift towards space-saving and energy efficiency. Depending on the appliance you buy, there can even be tax benefits of owning a tankless water heater. Even without those tax benefits, there are more than a few reasons to consider this switch. Here are the pros and cons of tankless water heaters;
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- Zero Risk of Tank Exploding
- Long-term Energy and Cost Saving
- Lower Risk of Burns and Exposure to Toxic Metals
- Take Up Less Space
- Lower Risk of Leaks and Water Damage
- High Upfront Cost of the Unit and Installation
- Take Longer to Deliver Hot Water
- Cold Water Sandwich
- Difficult to Achieve a Lukewarm Temperature
Zero Risk of Tank Exploding
Today’s plumbing code tends to need all tank-style water heaters to have a temperature and pressure relief valve that opens to release pressure and eliminate the possibility of the tank exploding. With time, minerals and sediment from the water can clog up the valve and prevent it from functioning properly.
Note that when this happens, dangerous amounts of pressure can build up and put you at risk. If you have a tank-style water heater, experts advise testing the valve at least once a year. Although it may not always happen, explosions are a serious risk with tank-style water heaters. However, since tankless heaters do not have a tank, there is absolutely zero risks of an explosion ever occurring. One less thing to stress over!
Long-term Energy and Cost Saving
The primary benefit of tankless water heaters is that they are energy efficient and save you money over the long term. A tank-style water heater expends energy around the clock to maintain the temperature of a 40 to 50-gallon water supply so that hot water is ready when it is needed.
Tankless water heaters, as their name suggests, heat water on-demand and do not maintain a supply of water. By only heating water when it is required, tankless water heaters do not experience standby heat loss, which occurs when heat escapes the water tank and needs constant reheating.
Once a tap, shower, or appliance is turned on, cold water passes through the tankless water heater to where it is heated by either a gas-fired burner or electric coils. Immediately the water is heated (this happens in seconds), the hot water travels through the pipes and out the tap, showerhead, or any other outlet in your home.
Lower Risk of Burns and Exposure to Toxic Metals
A good number of experts argue that tankless water heaters are safer than tank-style heaters. Aside from the fact that they don’t have a tank that could explode, they also provide more accurate control over the temperature so you are less likely to be burned by hot water.
Indeed, tank-style heaters break down over time due to hard water causing the inner lining of the tank to rust and corrode. Those minerals and particles make their way into your water lines and expose your family to harmful toxins. Since tankless water heaters don’t maintain a supply of water in a corroding tank, the water they distribute throughout your home is purer and safer on your skin.
Take Up Less Space
Since the space in your mobile home is limited, tankless water heaters offer a huge benefit. They are more or less mounted to the wall and take up significantly less physical space compared to tank-style water heaters.
To give you a sketch of how tankless and tank-style water heaters compare in terms of size, the average 40 to 50-gallon tank-style heater is 54 to 60 inches tall with a 20-inch diameter and is shaped like a cylinder.
The average tankless unit is around 27 inches tall, 18 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and rectangular. Tank-style heaters take up floor space, usually in the basement, while tankless units are mounted to a wall like a circuit breaker and can fit in most closets.
Lower Risk of Leaks and Water Damage
Just like it was stated above, one of the biggest risks with tank-style heaters is, over time, minerals from hard water build-up within the tank which leads to corrosion and eventually leaks. Since tankless water heaters don’t have a tank, there is no risk of leaks or flooding.
Note that this doesn’t mean that tankless water heaters are immune to issues. They can and will run into problems that could result in leaking, but the chances of having a major leak that floods your entire basement and causes significant damage are slim.
High Upfront Cost of the Unit and Installation
The biggest disadvantage of tankless water heaters by far is the high upfront cost of the unit and installation. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a 40 to 50-gallon tank-style water heater including installation is $889. The average cost of a tankless water heater including installation is $3,000.
Tankless water heats are more costly mainly because of the higher installation costs. Most times, special wiring needs to be installed in order to handle the increased load, and/or a new vent pipe needs to be installed. Also, since tank-style heaters have been around longer and are more common, more professionals are capable of installing them and the labor costs are lower.
Also, note that hard water (water containing high levels of minerals) can cause tankless water heaters to work harder and eventually break down. Owing to this risk, some manufacturers require that you also install a water softening system, or the warranty is voided. Installing this additional component adds to the overall cost.
Take Longer to Deliver Hot Water
Another con is the tankless water heaters take longer to generate and deliver hot water compared to tank-style heaters. Remember, tankless water heaters don’t keep a supply of hot water ready to flow immediately when you need it. Once you turn on a hot water tap, the idle water in the pipes is cool or, at best, room temperature.
Immediately that cool water is flushed out, heated water comes through; however, it can take between a few seconds and a minute depending on the distance between the heater and the tap. Tank-style heaters don’t produce hot water instantly either but since they have a supply ready to go and don’t need to kick on; it reaches the outlet more quickly
Cold Water Sandwich
In researching tankless water heaters you might have come across the term “cold water sandwich”. A cold water sandwich happens when intermittent use of hot water causes you to feel an initial surge of hot water, followed by cold water, which quickly turns hot again.
When you turn the hot water off and on quickly, like you would when you are hand-washing dishes, the pipes have hot water in them from moments ago. The cold water sandwich sensation isn’t a major issue but it can throw you off if you are not used to it.
Difficult to Achieve a Lukewarm Temperature
One of the lesser-known downsides of tankless water heaters is that they have issues achieving a lukewarm water temperature. Note that since tankless water heaters require a minimum amount of water flow before activating, there is a gap between completely cold water and the coolest warm water that you can create with a hot and cold water mix.
Although it is not the end of the world since there are very few scenarios where you won’t be able to reach the temperature you need, but it is worth mentioning if you are the type of person that really enjoys cool showers.