Eemax's tankless water heaters are adapting to market niches and code changes—and overcoming misperceptions.
Jake Johnson knows a few things about hot water systems. He works for a big-box home improvement and appliance retailer and has a family of four. When everyone took a shower in the morning, as families do, the last one in might not have the luxury of hot water.
That’s why he was willing to install an Eemax® AutoBooster in early 2017; it increases deliverable hot water by up to 45% from a traditional water tank. Johnson was handy enough to install the system himself, in part because this compact, digital user interface plumbing addition required minimal special wiring. “The electrical adaptations cost about $30,” he says.
Johnson’s primary motive was to ensure that fourth shower would be hot. But he believes the family is also lowering its electricity bills—in part because he can dial down the tank about 10 degrees, allowing the booster to bring it up to an optimal 120-degree temperature. The AutoBooster can work with both electric- and gas-powered water tanks.
Eemax® is a Waterbury, Connecticut–based company that has manufactured tankless water heater solutions for three decades for residential, light and heavy commercial, and industrial applications. The AutoBooster was introduced on the market in 2016, increasing energy efficiency while upgrading the user experience for millions of homes and businesses. But the roots of the company are in replacing inefficient water tanks altogether with tankless reconfigurations.
- Increases deliverable hot water by up to 45%
- 99% thermal energy efficiency (compared to traditional tanks' 65%)
- Up to 80% of homes in Europe have tankless systems.
- Easily accessible and easy to install.
- Rarely requires repairs, saving hourly technician costs.
- Reduced liming and calcification.
- Lasts more than 20 years.
- 90% smaller than a tank.
Why Tankless Matters
A small percentage of homes in the U.S. use tankless appliances on some level, according to Kathy Daudish, vice president of engineering and operations for the company. This lags in comparison to parts of Europe, where up to 80% of homes are built with or converted to tankless systems. “We deal with a few misconceptions here,” she says. “For example, many people think tankless heaters use a lot of amperage. That’s true when the water flows, but it’s only for a short period of time.”
Which gets to the nature of just-in-time hot water delivery. The water is heated at the point and time of use and not a second earlier. Tankless water heaters can claim 99% thermal energy efficiency, while traditional tanks have only 65% due to standby heat loss.
In the face of climate change and drought periods, tankless water heaters are about another type of resource efficiency. In places like California, which recently endured a multi-year drought with mandates to reduce water usage, the act of running hot water from a tank 40 feet from a faucet was a deeply wasteful practice. Tankless systems like the Eemax LavAdvantage and HomeAdvantage II systems are largely installed at the point of use. A small unit mounted under the sink saves 40 feet of cold water delivered before the heated water gets to the faucet. (And 40 feet of half-inch pipe is almost a half-gallon of wasted water.)
Developing Better Products
But somewhat paradoxically, the conditions of water shortages threw a wrench into the tankless world. This came in the form of low-flow faucets, which at a lower gallons-per-minute (GPM) flow rate, failed to activate older tankless systems.
David Calkins, product manager at Eemax, says this is one of the reasons why the company refreshed its point-of-use thermostatic hand-washing line in 2017. “At 0.2 GPM to activate, we now have the lowest turn-on specification across more models than any other electric tankless manufacturer,” he says. This product is ideal for environments with space restrictions or pre-existing plumbing connections because LavAdvantage has versatile mounting orientations designed to fit any location and features 3/8-inch compression fittings.
Daudish credits the company’s strong R&D capacity for developing products that adapt to changing circumstances and building codes. She also points out how regional differences in water hardness and ground temperatures (water supply temps vary between, say, Minnesota in January and Arizona in July) need to be addressed by tankless heaters. Installation and maintenance vary as well, so the company offers free training to plumbers, contractors, engineers, manufacturers’ representatives, and wholesalers at the company headquarters.
The good news in California is that even after conservation restrictions were lifted in early 2017, consumption of water remains down between 20% and 23% compared to 2013 levels. The water-saving ethos endures–and tankless, low-flow systems are adapting accordingly. And everyone in the family still gets a hot shower.
Learn more about Eemax.