Dear RP. Congrat's, your thinking is on track. A good tankless water heater will give you endless hot water, it will lower electric bills, it will take up less space, they lower utility emissions, they use less materials to build, so, in the big scheme of things, they are very good for you AND the environment in general. BUT, BUT, BUT.
You are right to be confused, divided, and hesitant to buy, before you know the whole story, and I wish more folk did their homework the way you have.
Why should one heater cost $1,200 and another cost only $275? Very simple; 180 degree opposite marketing philosophies!
I have sold & installed tankless heaters (Gas & electric) for over 30 yrs, I know them ALL, and have worked on ALL OF THEM. Some are wonderful, some are junk (one of the junkiest, and cheapest to make, costs $1,200).
Dear RP. and everyone else reading this, please check several things. They may all be U.L. CSA, & ETL listed, but will they meet code, and especially, will they get past the "eagle-eye" of your local plumbing inspector? One single, consiencious look by Monsieur Cluseau will disqualify 90% of them because they do not have 3/4" inlet/outlets (1/2" fittings on water heaters are not allowed in most jurisdictions) Some of them have compression fittings, which are often frowned on. 80 percent have electro/mechanical flow switches which turn them on. These switches are prone to malfunction depending on water conditions, and frequency of usage.
Are you discouraged, please don't be. And don't spend $1,200 or $275, they are both bad buys, built the same way, cost the same to build, and you wouldn't be happy with either one.
One of those "E-Tankless" makers you mentioned, sold hundreds on a TV how-to show (not Bob's), and every one was returned, and replaced with a far superior brand (ours) which costs less.
Marketing opposites? Do you remember when Crown Royal & Chevas Regal scotch whiskies were cheap? Do you know how they doubled sales? They doubled their prices, snob appeal works. I have an alcoholic friend who brags that she spends $15/bottle for Chevas, go figure!
Five yrs ago, that $1,200 heater cost $430. I bought & installed some, they broke, I sent them back and replaced them with what I sell now.
My manufacturer tells me how much it costs to make them, keeps me up to date with changes, delivers on time, and hopefully, will always honour the reps in the field (like myself) who helped him get where he is now in the market. And hopefully, he will stay ethical, and he will never sell direct to my customers (I'm sending him a copy of this to keep him in line :o))
Long-winded eh! You asked :o)
Now: An electric, whole-house tankless water heater needs to be able to provide at least 85,000btu's. Because in colder climates/states, temp-rise requirements are different. Water needs to be raised in temp, to a higher degree in Illinois than it does in Florida.
Our RA-28 is capable of putting 95,564 btu's into water. That's 133F-3gpm, or 4gpm @ about 115F flow, with 70F water coming in, in Ft Lauderdale, FL. In Chicago,Il. With 50F water, it will give 3gpm @ 113F, or 2.5gpm @ 127F.
All our heaters (9, 11, 14, 18, 22 & 28kw) have 3/4" pipe fittings, and heat chambers which cannot corrode. They are made from Du-Pont and Amoco engineered thermoplastics. No teflon tape, pipe dope or solders are needed. Our "Chromalox" Elements are made from solid brass and cooper. Steel replacements can be purchased locally, until we send you a new one (very rare).
Inspections covers on the bottom (a first). Electronic beeping codes to tell you how it's doing, and to assist in troubleshooting.
Price? Whole-house RA-28 $540 incl' s&h USA/CAN.
Need to know more? I can e-mail you info, or call me at 337 598 2600 to order.
For Harold, I went to your website for the first time yesterday. I have never seen that much good quality, free information anywhere, ever! Thanks, and good luck with your business.