Tankless water heaters have lots of perks and they are available in a wide range of designs and models. So, if you’re ready to make the change and switch to endless hot water, we reviewed some of the best products on the market.
While it may be a bit difficult to decide between the type of fuel (electric, propane, or natural gas), each has its pros and cons. In addition, your geographic location may be an important factor when you make the decision. For instance, propane is pricey in some countries because it correlates with oil prices. On the other hand, natural gas may be difficult to access in some areas.
Electric tankless water heaters are simply a whole different story. They are a lot more demanding in terms of money and labor and they will add to your electric bill (how much, it depends on the brand).
So, if you’re living in a country where oil is not that expensive, then a propane tankless water heater should be your best choice. Some argue that propane is more demanding since natural gas runs through pipes right to your home (propane needs to be re-supplied regularly). However, I think it’s only a matter of habit, especially if you own a car and go to the gas station regularly.
Now that we established the basics, let us look at some of the best propane tankless water heaters (in no particular order). In addition, we have a detailed buying guide that can help you follow the main features when choosing such a product.
Table of Contents
- Top 5 Best Propane Tankless Water Heaters [Plus Bonus]
- 1. Rinnai RL Series HE+ Tankless Hot Water Heater Propane
- 2. Takagi T-K4-OS-LP Propane Tankless Water Heater Review
- 3. RTGH-95DVLP-2 Propane Tankless Water Heater Review
- 4. Bosch 830 ES LP Therm Propane Tankless Water Heater Review
- 5. Eccotemp 45HI-LP Indoor Liquid Propane Tankless Water Heater Review
- 6. Marey GA10LP Power Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater Review
- Tankless Water Heater [Buying Guide]
Top 5 Best Propane Tankless Water Heaters [Plus Bonus]
The first heater on the list (the RINNAI RL94iP) is a powerful unit that can be used for both home and commercial applications. With a flow rate of 9.4GPM (gallons per minute) and 35 degrees rise, this one of the best propane on-demand water heaters! As such, it can easily cater to a large home with up to 4 bathrooms or a small apartment building.
In addition, this propane tankless water heater is available in two versions, one for indoor (RINNAI RL94iP) and one for outdoor (Rinnai RL94eP). This allows users to select the best unit for their needs, which is something to appreciate, considering the investment. Still, the information in this review is for the indoor unit.
The RL94iP is a tankless propane water heater, which means it is highly energy-efficient since it only heats the water when you need it (consumes up to 40% less energy than traditional tanks). And, since it heats the water as it goes through the pipes, you’ll never risk running out of hot water when the demand is high (usually in the morning or in the evening). Also, circ-logic technology allows setting recirculation patterns according to your needs, which means you can always provide hot water to your fixtures.
There’s also a digital controller, fitted with an error code indicator, that allows users to detect exactly what’s wrong with the heater and prevent malfunction. Furthermore, if one of the components does break, it’s easy to replace the damaged piece. This way, you don’t have to replace the whole system, which has a 20 years life expectancy (vs. 8-10 for a traditional tank).
Eventually, nothing says ‘we trust our product’ like a healthy warranty and this RINNAI is no exception. This propane tankless water heater comes with a 12 years warranty on heat exchange, 5 years on parts, and one year for residential installations (given that you hired a licensed professional to install the unit).
- Easy to install & maintain
- Endless hot water, even during high-demand times
- Long life expectancy
- Compact design
- Easy to control & set up
- Documentation could be better
- The remote control should be improved
The TAKAGI T-K4-OS-LP is an outdoor tankless water heater that can take care of a whole house, even if it’s quite large (can sustain two bathrooms and additional requirements). It also has an indoor version (the Takagi T-K4-IN-LP or the Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG), but we think the outdoor version is best suited for our best propane tankless water heater reviews.
This is a solid unit (8.5 x 13.8 x 20.3 inches and weighs 38 pounds), with a flow rate of up to 8 gallons of water per minute, at 35 degrees rise (which should be enough hot water to run a bathhouse). As such, you can see why we consider this to be one of the strongest propane tankless water heaters on our list.
When it comes to performance, this unit is top-notch! Underneath the simply-designed cover, the water heater has exhaust and water temperature safety control (prevents water temperature fluctuations). Designed to support a maximum input of 190,000 BTUs, the propane tankless water heater has built-in freeze protection and comes with inlet/outlet thermistors for constant temperature monitoring.
Lastly, it has a built-in power venting system which means you don’t have to worry about manual venting. It also comes with a 5 years warranty for the heat exchanger and 3 years for parts.
- Easy to set up & maintain
- Outdoor propane tankless water heater with built-in freeze protection
- 190,000 BTU maximum input
- 8GPM flow rate with a 35-degree rise
- A built-in power venting system
- Documentation could be better
- It needs to be regularly flushed to avoid heat exchanger damage
The RTGH-95DVLP-2 from Rheem is a high efficiency condensing indoor liquid propane tankless water heater with a flow rate of 9.5 GPM at 35 degrees rise. To make sure hot water is received in both low and high demand situations, it has a low flow activation with a minimum flow rate of .26 GPM and a minimum activation flow rate of .40 gallons per minute.
This means the unit is powerful enough to support both commercial and residential applications. Depending on the inlet temperature, the propane tankless water heater can be used with up to 5 bathrooms.
To increase energy efficiency and users’ safety, this water heater is equipped with intelligent electronic temperature controls. As such, it is fitted with an ultra-low NOx burner that keeps emissions under control while the unit comes with a Guardian Overheat Film Wrap to prevent it from reaching dangerous temperatures. Also, it has a self-diagnostic system, a built-in condensate neutralizer, digital remote control, and 10ft. of thermostat wire.
The water heater has a maximum input of 199,900 BTUs, comes with a recirculation pump ready kit, and is fitted with Exclusive Water Savings technology and Exclusive Hot Start Programming. This means it is designed to conserve up to 1,100 gallons per year and it’s always in a ready-fire state, which minimizes cold water burst.
Since it is a propane tankless water heater, you don’t have to plan your showers anymore. You’ll have access to as much hot water as you need, at the temperature you want, whenever you want it, regardless of the fact that someone else is using the other bathrooms and the dishwasher is running in the kitchen.
To ensure it is properly ventilated and easily accessible, the propane tankless water heater needs to be installed in a wall mount (it has a special bracket). Now, this is a rather solid water heater (77 pounds), which means that hanging it is a two-man job.
Lastly, this unit is fully supported by the producer, who offers a 12 years warranty for the heat exchange system and 5 years for parts (this information may change, so make sure to check with the producer).
- Solid unit & advanced technologies
- Maximum water pressure is 150 PSI
- Designed to save up to 1,100 water gallons per year
- Easy to install and set up
- Self-diagnosis system
- Decent warranty and customer support
- A minimum flow rate of .26 GPM
- The wall mount bracket looks flimsy, but it is solid
- It is rather heavy
Designed to support busy households (at least 3 bathrooms), the Bosch 830 ES LP indoor unit has a flow rate of 8.3 gallons per minute capacity at a 35 degrees F rise. In addition, it’s also designed to support Intelligent Cascading (up to 24 connected units) for much larger homes or apartment buildings, with just 175,000 BTU/Hr input.
This propane tankless water heater also encloses a fair share of technological advances which account for an electronic ignition system, a patented burner design, and sharp temperature controls. On the level of warranty, this machine will come with a 3 to 15 years warranty depending on the application. So, make sure you hire a licensed professional to install the unit for you.
All these make it a highly energy-efficient water heater (83%+ thermal efficiency) designed to maintain a constant flow of hot water, whenever you need it, at the temperature you need. It also has both vertical and horizontal vents (for easier installation) and is easy to set up using the provided items.
- Electronic ignition
- Highly reliable, with quiet functioning
- 83% thermal efficiency
- 175,000 BTUs/h input
- 8.3 GPM water flow rate
- Ideal for large houses with heavy requirements
- The installation can get a bit expensive
- It is rather heavy (73.8 pounds)
As a propane tankless water heater, it only heats water when you need it, which is why it has an 82% energy saving rate and has a maximum input of 150,000 BTU per hour. Also, the design is compact and sleek, which makes it easy to mount it on a wall, where it won’t occupy too much space.
In addition, to make it easy to install, the unit is delivered with a Temperature and Pressure Relief valve, a Gas Shut-Off valve, and is equipped with 3/4″ NPT fittings. Lastly, the water heater has a fluffy automated control system so you don’t have to worry about manual settings.
- The design is sleek and easy to integrate indoors
- It has a fully-automated control system
- Input of 150,000 BTU per hour
- It supports 6.8 GPM water flow rate
- Energy efficient
- Easy to install
- It needs a ventilation kit (purchased separately) for it to work
This is an indoor water heater with a flow rate of 3.1 gallons per minute and can support the needs of a small apartment or house with one bathroom and additional requirements.
Just like every gas water heater we already discussed, the unit can provide hot water on demand and helps you save up to 60% on electricity due to its high energy efficiency. Also, since it doesn’t require an electrical connection (activated by water pressure), it is ideal for areas where power outages are frequent. In addition, the heater works well with low levels of water pressure.
The controls are simple and easy to understand and allow users to set the desired water temperature. Also, the body has a space saving design which allows a smooth installation process.
- Compact design
- Easy to install
- Focused on energy efficiency
- Can be used with low water pressure
- 3.1 gallons per minute flow rate
- Ideal for small apartments & homes
- Not controlled via a thermostat
- Battery panel design is quite poor
Lastly, if you like travelling in an RV or have a cabin where you would like to enjoy some hot water, a portable propane tankless water heater is a great option. You just have to hook it up to a propane tank, and you’ll have the perfect shower water! Still, you need to keep in mind that a portable propane tankless water heater doesn’t have a large capacity, so it’s best to use it wisely.
Tankless Water Heater [Buying Guide]
If you’re ready for a new hot water heater, but you’re still not sure about which one to choose, our buying guide should help clear some things up. We will discuss the most common features that help users select the right model based on their hot water needs, energy saving features, fuel source, capacity, installation method, and more.
The first thing to consider when choosing your tankless water heater is the fuel that powers it. As we already mentioned, a standard water heater can be powered by three types of fuel: propane, natural gas, or electricity.
Now, in general, each water heater has one fuel source, so you can’t switch the same model between power sources.
The choice is made according to the type of costs you can afford, your geographic location, and your hot water requirements. For instance, even the best tankless water heater may add more to the monthly energy bill if propane is expensive in your area. On the other hand, if your house is hooked to the natural gas network, it makes all the sense in the world to get a tankless water heater that runs on natural gas.
Lastly, an electric tankless water heater is less messy to install but may add more to the electricity bill (if you use it constantly).
Natural Gas & Propane Tankless Water Heaters
A water heater that runs on gas or liquid propane is more powerful than an electric-powered tankless water heater. This is why this type of unit is promoted as a whole house tankless heater, for large or even commercial properties.
However, there are two things to keep in mind in order to choose the best propane tankless water heater:
- The size of the existing gas supply line
- Solid, stainless steel ventilation (both propane and gas heaters generate dangerous exhaust that needs to be managed).
To ensure your gas supply is big enough to power up a natural or propane gas tankless water heater, make sure to check the size of your supply line. Also, try to approximate your hot water needs and add this to the existing house consumers.
If your home has an undersized gas supply (whether it’s liquid propane or natural gas), you may need larger pipes or an increase in pressure. However, both these activities involve extra costs you may not want to support at the moment.
Select a model that uses electronic ignition vs. one that has a standing pilot light. This way, you avoid extra fuel consumption
When it comes to vents, regardless of the fact that you’re using a propane tank or you are hooking the heater to the gas pipeline, you must install a category III stainless steel vent pipe. Most water heaters have either a direct vent or a power vent.
Electric Tankless Hot Water Heater
An electric tankless unit needs less maintenance and the installation is easier (no exhaust gases). However, the overall increase in energy consumption in the long term may weigh a bit on your family budget. However, if there is no other option, an electric tankless heater model is still preferred to a tank water design.
Also, electric units work best in a small home with a maximum of two showers to service.
Before you can start searching for a propane tankless water heater, you need to know how much power the unit needs to have in order to achieve the desired temperature. This value differs according to the groundwater temperature in your area.
For instance, in cold weather areas, a propane powered unit will need to work harder to heat water to approximately 104 degrees F, which is the usual shower head temperature.
Once you know the temperature of the incoming water, you will know how much of a rise your tankless water heater needs to develop. The calculation is rather simple – just subtract the groundwater temperature from the desired output temperature.
For example, if you live in an area where the groundwater temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit and you need 120 degrees Fahrenheit at the tap, then your unit should be able to support a rise of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Outdoor vs. Indoor
A tankless water heater can be for indoor or for outdoor use. However, the type of unit you can use is highly dependent on your geographic location. For instance, if you’re living in a cold weather climate, one of the best options is an indoor tankless water heater. On the other hand, a temperate climate is perfect for an outdoor installation (no need to worry about venting).
An indoor installation comes with its perks (it’s easier to access for once) but it also requires a stainless steel vent and other accommodations that may be unwanted in a small home. On the other hand, an outdoor use design is more resistant in time and doesn’t need as much maintenance. In addition, an outdoor installation is cheaper and offers a space saving solution.
Of course, the best propane tankless water heater is the one to provide a means to keep hot water always available, according to the household’s hot water needs. As long as the water is heated on an on-going basis, the outdoor installation vs indoor installation is more a decision of budget and available space.
Safety Features & Energy Consumption
Whether it’s an electric water heater or a gas / propane tankless water heater, these devices come with basic safety features. In addition, modern models come fitted with a digital temperature display and controls that allow a fine-tuned control of the power output. While a digital display lets users set the exact temperature they want out of their shower head (extremely convenient), you may also want to consider a low NOx burner (for propane powered models).
However, if you’re installing an outdoor tankless water heater, a model with anti freezing protection is a great choice.
When it comes to the energy factor, most modern propane tankless units are designed to consume less energy (they are Energy Star compliant). In fact, there is a 40 to 50 percent energy efficiency compared to older tank water units. This means that, if you make the switch to an energy saving tankless model, you will save money in the long term.
Quick Tip: if you have fixtures (a shower head or a hot tub) situated far away from the central heater, you may want to add a point of use unit (POU) to keep the energy factor at optimal levels. Otherwise, the water heater will work harder to push hot water towards the distant fixture, which translates into higher energy consumption.
Maintenance Requirements & Warranty
Every electric, gas, or propane water heater will need regular inspection and maintenance to ensure optimal, long term functioning. In fact, even a portable propane water heater needs to be checked before each use.
Also, there will be situations when you’ll have to change certain pieces (even for the best propane tankless water heater), but the costs will always be lower than replacing the whole water heater.
In addition, most models come with at least one year warranty for residential installation, 3 to 5 years for parts, and around 10 years for the heat exchange system. As such, if you really want to make a great choice, don’t decide to buy anything until you see the warranty specifications!