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Tankless Water Heaters - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

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Question

What is the difference between WaiWela and Paloma tankless water heaters?
Only the name—under the cover, they are the same unit. WaiWela (pronounced Vi Vela) means “hot water” in Hawaiian. WaiWela tankless water heaters are manufactured by Paloma in Nagoya, Japan, the mecca for tankless technology.

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Question

What is a tankless water heater?
Tankless water heaters (aka, instantaneous or on-demand water heaters), heat water only as it is demanded. Traditional tank type water heaters constantly work to heat water, producing standby heat loss, which is very costly. Think of your car. You don’t keep it running all night long to use for your morning drive to work. When hot water is turned on at the source, cold water travels through a pipe into the tankless unit. In a gas-fired Paloma tankless water heater, a gas burner heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters supply a constant flow of hot water and when sized correctly they may supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in both households and commercial applications.

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Question

How does a Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heater work?
A tankless water heater (both electric and gas units) heat water only on demand, whereas, a tank type heater stores hot water and heats the water 24/7, whether or not it is demanded. When a hot water faucet is opened, gas will pass through many orifices to a stainless steel burner that mixes gas with air and distributes the flame over the copper heat exchanger. As the water flows through the heat exchanger it is heated to the desired temperature that you’ve digitally set. Big BTUs and efficient combustion yield excellent results. When the faucet is closed, the tankless water heater goes into standby mode and does not operate until hot water is demanded again. Electric tankless units operate much the same using electricity to activate the heating elements.

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Question

Can a tankless water heater be installed in the same place as my old tank water heater?
Tankless water heaters are compact and easy to install. In an indoor setting, we recommend you install a Direct Vent (DV) unit. Paloma tankless water heaters can be installed in a utility room, garage, basement, attic or, ideally, on an outside wall. Rather than taking up useful floor space, a tankless water heater is mounted on a wall. A digital temperature control can be mounted next to the unit, or in any room.

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Question

What is the Energy Factor for tankless water heaters? Do they qualify for any tax credits?
Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heaters have an Energy Factor of 0.82. They also qualify for local utility rebates, as well as the Federal Tax Credit, for up to 30% of the total cost and installation, or up to $1500.

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Question

Do tankless water heaters really have lower operation costs?
Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heaters have an Energy Factor of 0.82. Most tank type water heaters have an Energy Factor of 0.65. A higher EF is one reason why tankless water heaters cost much less to operate. Not to mention, tankless water heaters have no standing pilot light, no standby heat loss and low NOx emissions.

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Question

Why do tankless water heaters cost more than a tank water heater?
Simply put—you get what you pay for. In all, tankless water heaters are built to last more than 15-20 years and are manufactured using copper and stainless steel. Tankless water heaters cost more since CATIII stainless steel is required for venting. Remember that tax credits and utility rebates are in place to offset the initial cost of installing a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters begin saving you money (payback) from the moment you fire it up. You will experience lower operating costs and save money over the long term use of a tankless water heater. Not to mention, you’d probably have to buy 2-3 tanks over the 15-20 year lifespan of a tankless water heater.

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Question

How do I appropriately size a tankless water heater suitable for my application?
Simply contact us at 800-873-3507 or sales@lowenergysystems.com and we’ll be happy to help you choose a unit that is appropriate for your application. A few helpful questions to answer before contacting us:
  • Preferred energy source? Natural gas; Propane Gas; Electricity
  • Climate where the unit will be installed? Warm Climate; Cold Climate
  • Approximate incoming water temperature?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • Is there a shower with multiple shower heads?
  • Are any faucets more than 25 feet from the water heater?
  • Is there an exterior wall to vent a gas unit through?
  • Approximate distance from the gas meter to the water heater?
  • Inside diameter of the gas line?
  • Amps coming into the building where an electric unit will be installed?
  • Available voltage?
For example, PH2-20 units typically can supply 1 standard hot water function; PH2-25 units supply 2 standard hot water functions; PH2-28 units supply 2-3 hot water functions.

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Question

What safety features are included with a tankless water heater?
Paloma was the first tankless water heater manufacturer to enter the US market more than 30 years ago and continues to be the leader in the development of safe gas technology. Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heaters have safety features that are not found on any other tankless water heater. Such safety features include the ICAD (monitors combustion), Overheat Limit Wrap (detects overheating), Flame Failure Monitor (ensures proper firing and detects flame failure), and Anti-Scald Protection (temperature controller to prevent scalding).

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Question

Do tankless water heaters work well with hard water?
Lime scale has a tendency to build up in the water lines when the water is hard. This inhibits the maximum performance of the tankless water heater over time. We recommend that hard water is softened or filtered. A code (1L) will display on your Paloma/WaiWela’s digital remote, indicating the need to descale the tankless water heater. We sell the Un-Clog-It Kit to remedy the lime scale buildup and we strongly recommend descaling your unit as scale builds up in the water lines.

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Question

Can I install my Paloma/WaiWela by myself?
Yes. We recommend downloading and reading the installation manual first, before purchasing a unit. Please understand all gas line sizing, venting and electrical requirements before installing your unit. For support, feel free to contact us and we’ll guide you along the way. Most plumbers are capable of installing a tankless water heater, as well. Improper installation will affect the warranty.

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Question

What is typically involved in a basic tankless installation?
  • Remove your old tank type water heater
  • Mount new Paloma/WaiWela tankless
  • Install proper CATIII stainless steel venting
  • Install WaiWela Tankless Installation Valves (TIV)
  • Electric power outlets (120V power cord included)
  • Minimum 3/4" gas line upgrade
  • Hot and cold water pipe lines

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Question

Are there special venting requirements?
Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heaters require dedicated Category III stainless steel venting. You cannot common-vent with any other appliance. Because the cost of Category III stainless steel can easily add up, we recommend installing and venting your Paloma/WaiWela through an outside wall. We provide vertical and horizontal venting packages and a complete line of CatIII stainless steel venting to complete your tankless water heater installation.

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Question

Do I need to upgrade my gas line? Does a tankless water heater use more gas?
The minimum gas line size is ¾” inside diameter. To heat the water quicker and more efficiently, tankless water heaters operate with higher BTUs and require a minimum ¾” gas line. This does not mean that a tankless water heater uses more gas. Because tankless units heat water on demand they require higher BTUs (or they operate on high heat). This requires a greater ‘jolt’ of gas, and therefore, a minimum ¾” gas line. On the other hand, because tanks are constantly heating water (or they operate on low heat), they require a constant supply of gas.

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Question

If my tankless water heater operates on gas, why do I need electric power for it also?
All Paloma/WaiWela tankless water heaters include a digital temperature remote control and 120V power cord. Electricity is used to operate the remote and PC board. All newer tankless water heaters use an electric spark ignition to fire up the unit.

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Question

Can I install my heater in a mobile/manufactured home? What about a boat or RV?
Unfortunately, most tankless water heaters cannot be installed in mobile homes, RVs or boats. Installing in these applications voids any warranty.

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Question

After installing a tankless water heater, can I expect to have instant hot water at all faucets and showers in my home?
While tankless water heaters provide constant and/or simultaneous hot water, it still takes time to get the water from the unit to your faucets. As with all water heaters, it takes time for the water pipes to purge the cold water before the hot water reaches the source. To get instant hot water, one option is to install a WaiWela Mini Tank water heater.

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Question

My Paloma/WaiWela is a natural gas unit. I’d like to take my unit to my new house which uses LP gas. Can I convert the water heater from natural gas to LP gas?
No. You are better off installing a unit corresponding to the specific gas source. Never install a natural gas unit in a home that uses LP gas, and vice versa.

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Question

Is it true that a tankless water heater will last upwards of 20 years?
Yes. Built with a stainless steel burner and copper heater exchanger, tankless water heaters are built to last. Tank type heaters hold water 24/7, which causes it to corrode. Tankless water heaters’ actual performance life varies on water quality, usage, installation environment and suggested maintenance. Because tankless water heaters are serviceable, we service units that are well over 20 years old.

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Question

What maintenance is suggested for my PH2-28RDVSN?
We recommend flushing tankless water heaters with the Un-Clog-It Kit. Depending on the water quality in your area, hard water can cause scale and lime buildup, which affects the performance and lifespan of your heater. The electric remote on your tankless water heater will indicate (code 1L) when or what maintenance to perform.

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Question

I’d like to install a Paloma/Wai/Wela to heat my pool and hot tub. Which unit would you recommend?
We do not recommend that you use a Paloma/WaiWela unit, or any tankless water heater, for heating pools or hot tubs. The chemicals are damaging and will shorten the life of a tankless water heater.

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Question

Do you provide a battery backup system for my Paloma/WaiWela?
We recommend using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) that may be purchased at most local retail electronics stores, or various online retailers.

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Question

I love my PH24MDN. How do I get service for my Paloma Legacy tankless water heater?
Although Paloma no longer manufactures the older Legacy models (PH5, PH6, PH12, PH16, PH24), parts are still available. We have a full service repair facility and can repair and rebuild most units. Contact us at 800-873-3507 or sales@tanklesswaterheaters.com for more details.

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Question

How do I get service for my Paloma/WaiWela?
First, contact the original installer or plumber to service your unit. If you purchased your unit from Low Energy Systems, we offer FREE technical support on all units that we sell. Please have the model number and serial number available when you call 800-873-3507. In most cases, we can walk you through the service and repair over the phone. We also have a full service repair facility for more technical repairs.

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Question

Does Low Energy Systems offer customer support on their tankless water heaters?
Yes! After 40 years of tankless experience, we know these units like the back of our hands. Low Energy Systems offers FREE technical support on all tankless water heaters that we sell. We are available to answer your calls at 800-873-3507, M-F, 8am – 4:30pm, MST or sales@lowenergysystems.com. Don’t sit on hold for minutes on end—a live person is ready to take your call!

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