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Tankless water heaters perform, but at a cost

Just beware of lowball bids from installers

It seems we struck a nerve with a couple of recent columns about on-demand water heaters. Also known as tankless water heaters, on-demand heaters deliver an almost-never-ending supply of hot water if properly sized and installed. Our first column on the subject responded to a reader who wondered whether replacing a conventional water heater with a tankless model was a smart move. We said that conceptually that was a reasonable way to go. Heat only the water you use, rather than heating, storing and then reheating when needed. It makes perfect sense -- we thought. Wrong! The column produced a flurry of reader comments enumerating a plethora of problems they encountered in going tankless. Two weeks later we devoted the column to their comments under the rubric that "the devil's in the details." This generated a firestorm of e-mails in favor of tankless heaters. One reader wrote: "Your article was discouraging. In Europe, I've used many on-demand heaters, both ...

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