Outdoor tankless heaters help home and business owners conserve water and energy. These water heaters offer a consistent supply of warm water and promptly heat water on demand.
However, did you know that outdoor water heaters need additional upkeep in winter?
Therefore, to withstand the cold weather, ensure proper insulation of the unit to avoid freezing. But the question is how to insulate outdoor tankless water heaters precisely?
Read on to know more!
A tankless water heater needs extra care during the winter season, primarily because cold weather is not too kind towards them.
During winters, there is a high chance of standing water within the unit to freeze. This, in turn, damages some internal components.
Though some models have built-in protection systems against freezing, however, there are a few caveats:
In short, if you want to install your water heater outside, you can, but with certain precautionary measures.
Do Outdoor Tankless Water Heaters Need To Be Insulated?
No matter if you’ve got an outdoor tankless heater or a traditional storage tank heater, insulating its pipes across the house can actually save energy and water.
Even though some latest models come with embedded freeze protection systems, your unit doesn’t become impervious to freezing.
For starters, the most susceptible component is plumbing pipes, as they are vulnerable to freezing up. To put it simply, cold weather indeed can damage your heating system’s internal parts if you don’t insulate them.
With insulation, not only does the water heater remain protected, but its performance improves as well! Similar to insulating your roofs and walls, insulating your heater is affordable and an easy way to become more efficient.
For example, insulating a heater, which is warm-to-the-touch, can slash standby losses by approx. 25-45%. In addition to that, it can save you about 7-16% yearly on the water bill.
How To Insulate Your Outdoor Tankless Water Heater: Step-By-Step
Here are the best ways for insulating and protecting tankless water heaters to prevent them from freezing. But first, gather your best materials to insulate a water heater.
Here’s a list of materials you’ll need:
Some power companies sell insulation blankets at a relatively low cost to encourage users if they’re doubtful whether they should wrap their water heaters. However, in case companies don’t provide them, go and buy a blanket from your nearest hardware store.
Now that you know what tools you’ll need, here’s how you can insulate your outdoor tankless water heater:
1. Set Up Your Heater In A Relatively Warm Place
It isn’t always possible, but installing your unit in a comparatively heated place will surely help protect it from frosting during winter. Utilize vent terminations incorporating air-resistant features and place them far away from cold winds.
2. Drain The Water Heater
Here’s a fact: water left behind in the heater can freeze. If this occurs, the unit’s internal plastic parts may get damaged.
You can prevent it by ensuring to drain your unit, particularly when you’re away for long. Also, be sure to cut off the water supply using the provided valves when the heater is not in use for an extended period.
3. Retain The Power Source
Ensure the unit remains connected to an outlet so that the frost protection system activates when required. Remember, the system doesn’t need the unit to be on, instead only plugged in.
And for places that often experience blackouts, either drain-down solenoids or employ an emergency power system.
4. Consider The Recirculation System
A recirculation system is typically installed to have warm water around for on-demand usage. One added advantage of this system is that during winters, all connected pipes remain protected from frost.
5. Insulate Pipes
Not only the unit but pipes are also in danger of freezing up. The problem is that the freeze protection system doesn’t safeguard the said pipes. So, how to insulate the pipes of your water heater?
Follow the steps below:
If you'd rather a professional insulate your outdoor tankless water heater, then fill in the form below for a free quote in your area!
Popular Tankless Water Heater Models With Built-In Winter Protection
Many manufacturers produce models with embedded freeze protection that allows the heater to guard itself when the temperature drops below freezing.
This system prevents ice formation that can turn off the flow, clog lines, and cause damage to pipes, fittings, and valves. That said, here are two of the most popular brands that offer built-in winter protection models:
Rheem is one of the most trusted brands among water heater manufacturers, and It’s one of the most commonly used water heaters in the US.
One possible reason is Rheem provides winter protection models that withstand even the coldest winters.
They manufacture models that offer constant protection from freezing. For example, their latest models come with exclusive features such as water leakage detection and an auto-shut-off valve, etc.
Here are some Rheem models:
More and more business owners and homeowners choose Rinnai water heaters. Want to know why? This is because Rinnai equips their heaters with double shield protection.
The first protection is they offer ceramic heaters that fire up as the temperature falls below freezing point. This way, it prevents its internal components from frosting.
Apart from that, Rinnai heaters come with a sensor that decides whether a unit is below negative temperature or not.
Here are a few models:
How To Thaw An Already Frozen Water Heater
Want to know how to properly thaw your frozen water heater without damaging it? Follow the steps below:
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How much does it cost to insulate a water heater?
Based on your water heater’s storage capacity as well as the R-value of the unit you opt for, the insulating blanket of a water heater will cost you anywhere between $25 to $80 or more.
Does insulating a water heater save you money?
Yes, insulating a water heater saves you plenty of money. Though most new models are insulated already; however if not, get it insulated because it can minimize standby losses by a substantial margin and can help you save up to 16% in heating costs.
Does a water heater blanket really work?
Yes, a water heater blanket actually works! It is primarily an added feature, which can be used on all tank-style heaters to increase their energy performance. They are also simple to install.
How long does it take for water to get hot during cold weather?
The average water heater takes about 30-40 minutes to heat the water fully in the tank. Also, compared to gas-powered heaters, electric water heaters take more time to heat water within the tank.
Although water heater manufacturers are making models with built-in freeze protection, you still have to take precautionary measures to protect your unit from freezing. Next time, use this guide to insulate your water heater.
Holly Curell is the editor extraordinaire for Plumbing Lab. Having grown up in Michigan, Holly has spent time living in New York, Virginia, & currently North Carolina, where she lives with her husband & family. Holly loves DIY & has years of experience with at-home plumbing problems that arise from having 3 kids & living in colder climates. When she’s not writing about her plumbing knowledge, Holly enjoys reading, hiking & relaxing with family.