Electric Tankless Water Heater Installation Cost Guide: Factors & Tips

Curious about the cost of installing an electric tankless water heater or a 50-gallon water heater? Wondering about water heater installation prices? In this post, we break down the installation costs for electric tankless and 50-gallon water heaters, giving you insight into what to expect when upgrading your home’s hot water system. Whether you’re planning a renovation or simply exploring more efficient options, understanding these costs can help you make informed decisions that align with your budget and needs.

Understanding Water Heater Types

Gas vs. Propane vs. Electric

Gas water heaters, fueled by gas, are popular for their efficiency and quick heating capabilities, suitable for larger households. On the other hand, propane water heaters are ideal for areas without natural gas access, offering similar performance to gas models. Electric water heaters are known for their simplicity and ease of installation.

Cost Variations

When it comes to upfront costs and gallons, gas water heaters tend to be more expensive due to the complexity of their installation process compared to electric models. Propane water heaters fall in between gas and electric in terms of initial costs and tank. However, electric water heaters have lower operating costs over time, making them a cost-effective choice on average.

Average Installation Costs

For gas water heaters, the average installation cost can range from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on factors like labor expenses and additional materials needed. Propane tank water heater installations typically fall within a similar price range as gas models due to the similarities in setup requirements. In contrast, electric water heater installations are generally more affordable, with average costs ranging from $600 to $1,200.

Factors Influencing Installation Costs

Size Impact

The size of a water heater significantly influences installation costs. Larger heat pumps units require more time and materials for tankless water heater installation. For instance, a 50-gallon water heater installation cost would be higher than that of a smaller unit due to the increased size and weight.

The type of water heater also plays a crucial role in determining the installation cost. Tankless water heaters generally cost more to install compared to traditional tank systems. The complexity of tankless systems, such as additional electrical work and venting requirements, contributes to higher installation expenses.

Complexity and Location

Factors like the complexity of the installation process and the location where the water heater is being installed can significantly impact overall costs. If extensive modifications or upgrades are needed to accommodate the new unit, such as rerouting plumbing lines or upgrading electrical systems, installation costs will naturally increase.

When considering location, factors such as accessibility and existing infrastructure play a key role in determining installation expenses. Installing a water heater in a tight or hard-to-reach space may require additional labor hours, leading to higher costs. Moreover, if the installation site lacks proper ventilation or requires structural adjustments, these aspects can further elevate the overall installation price.

Tank vs. Tankless Systems

Choosing between a traditional tank system and a tankless water heater also affects installation expenses, cost. While tankless water heater systems are energy-efficient and space-saving, they generally involve higher upfront installation costs due to their intricate setup requirements. On the other hand, traditional tank water heaters are simpler to install but may result in slightly lower long-term energy savings and cost.

  • Tank Water Heaters:
    • Pros:
    • Lower initial installation costs.
    • Easier maintenance and repair.
    • Cons:
    • Higher energy consumption.
    • Limited hot water supply.
  • Tankless Water Heaters:
    • Pros:
    • Energy-efficient operation.
    • Continuous hot water supply.
    • Cons:
    • Higher upfront installation costs.
    • Complex setup requirements.

Plumbers’ Installation Charges

Hourly Rates

Plumbers typically charge hourly rates for water heater installations, ranging from $45 to $200 per hour. The cost varies based on the plumber’s experience and location.

Factors Influencing Charges

Several factors can lead to variations in plumber charges. The complexity of the installation, type of water heater (electric or gas), and any additional plumbing work required can impact the overall cost.

Total Installation Cost

The total installation cost based on plumber fees can range from $350 to $1,500. This includes labor costs for installing water lines, electrical work, gas lines (if applicable), and piping.

Tank vs. Tankless Cost Comparison

Initial Installation Costs

Tank Water Heater: The initial installation cost for a traditional tank water heater is generally lower than that of a tankless system due to the simpler technology involved. Tankless Water Heater: On the other hand, tankless water heaters usually have higher upfront installation costs because of their advanced technology and efficient design.

Long-Term Financial Implications

Tank Water Heater: While the initial cost of a tank water heater may be lower, it’s important to consider the long-term financial implications. Over time, tank systems tend to be less energy-efficient, leading to higher utility bills and water heater costs. Tankless Water Heater: Despite the higher initial cost investment, tankless systems are more energy-efficient, resulting in lower monthly energy bills and potentially saving you money in the long run.

Maintenance and Efficiency Differences

Tank Water Heater: Traditional tank water heaters require regular maintenance such as flushing out sediment build-up to maintain efficiency. Since they store hot water constantly, there may be standby heat loss.

  • Regular maintenance required
  • Standby heat loss concerns
  • Less energy-efficient

Tankless Water Heater: Tankless units, on the other hand, do not store hot water but heat it on-demand, reducing standby heat loss. They also have longer lifespans compared to tank systems.

  • No standby heat loss
  • Longer lifespan
  • More energy-efficient

Labor Cost Insights

Installation Complexity

The installation complexity significantly influences labor costs for water heaters. Tankless water heaters usually require more intricate installations than traditional tank models. Plumbers spend more time setting up tankless systems due to their advanced technology and unique requirements.

The need for specialized skills to install tankless water heaters also contributes to higher labor costs. Since these units involve electrical work and sometimes even modifications to gas lines, plumbers with expertise in both plumbing and electrical systems are often required.

Time Efficiency

Plumbers typically take 2-4 hours to install a standard tank water heater. In contrast, the installation of a tankless water heater can range from 4-8 hours, depending on factors like the unit’s size, location, and the complexity of the setup.

The longer installation time for tankless models is mainly due to the additional steps involved in ensuring proper venting, electrical connections, and sometimes even upgrades to gas lines. This extended installation duration directly impacts labor costs, as plumbers charge by the hour for their services.

Cost Breakdown

When it comes to labor costs, installing a 50-gallon tank water heater may range from $200-$400, while installing a tankless system could cost between $500-$1,000. The variation in prices reflects the differences in installation complexity and time required for each type of water heater.

For homeowners considering a switch from a traditional tank water heater model to a tankless one, it’s essential to factor in not just the upfront cost of purchasing the unit but also the additional expenses related to labor. While tankless water heaters offer long-term energy savings, their initial installation costs can be higher due to increased labor requirements.

Additional Installation Considerations

New Piping

When replacing a traditional water heater with an electric tankless one, consider the need for new piping. The existing pipes may not be compatible, requiring modifications or replacements. This additional step can add to the overall installation cost.

Permit Requirements

Before proceeding with an electric tankless water heater installation, it is crucial to check for permit requirements in your area. Obtaining the necessary permits ensures that the installation complies with local building codes and regulations, avoiding potential fines or safety issues.

Potential Additional Costs

Apart from the basic water heater installation price, there are other potential additional costs to consider. These may include electrical upgrades, venting adjustments, or even structural modifications to accommodate the new system. Ensuring all these aspects are addressed beforehand can prevent unexpected expenses during the installation process.

Replacements and Upgrades

In some cases, replacing an existing water heater with an electric tankless model may require additional upgrades. For example, if the electrical system in your home is not equipped to handle the new unit’s power requirements, you may need to invest in electrical upgrades. Understanding these potential replacements and upgrades upfront can help you budget effectively for the entire project.

Regular Maintenance

While electric tankless water heaters are known for their efficiency and longevity, they still require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Factor in the maintenance costs associated with descaling, flushing, and inspecting the water heater unit periodically. By staying proactive with maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your water heater and avoid costly repairs down the line.

Permits and Inspection Requirements

Importance of Permits

Obtaining permits for electric tankless water heater installation is crucial to ensure compliance with local building codes. Failure to acquire the necessary permits can lead to fines or even forced removal of the unit. Contractors should always check water heater permit requirements before starting any work.

Inspection Guidelines

After installation, inspections are typically required to verify that the installation meets all structural changes and safety standards. Inspectors will look for proper materials used, correct signs of installations, adherence to spacing regulations, and water heater. It’s essential to schedule inspections promptly after completing the installation.

Smooth Permit Process

To navigate the permit process smoothly, homeowners should research their local permitting office’s requirements beforehand. Having a clear understanding of the needed permits can help avoid delays in the installation process. Hiring experienced contractors familiar with local regulations can streamline the permit application and approval process.

Meeting Safety Standards

Inspections play a vital role in ensuring that water heater installations are done correctly and safely. By following inspection guidelines, homeowners can rest assured that their unit is installed properly and poses no risks to their property or family members. Regular inspections also help identify any potential issues early on, preventing costly repairs in the future.

Timely Compliance

Ensuring timely compliance with permit and inspection requirements is crucial for avoiding any legal issues down the line. Homeowners should be proactive in obtaining permits and scheduling inspections promptly after installation completion. This proactive approach not only ensures compliance but also provides peace of mind regarding the safety of the water heater system.

Tips for Saving on Installation

Optimize Energy Efficiency

Consider energy-efficient models to reduce long-term repair costs and lower your utility bills. Look for tankless water heaters with high energy efficiency ratings to maximize savings.

DIY Preparation

Prepare the installation site yourself by clearing out the area and ensuring easy access for the plumber. This can help reduce labor costs and streamline the installation process.

Compare Multiple Quotes

Obtain quotes from multiple plumbers to compare prices and negotiate better deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for discounts or inquire about package deals that include both the unit and installation services.

Utilize Rebates and Incentives

Take advantage of rebates and incentives offered by manufacturers or local utility companies for installing energy-efficient water heaters. These can significantly offset your initial investment.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your water heater regularly can prevent costly repairs in the future. Schedule annual maintenance checks to ensure optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your unit.

Consider Long-Term Savings

While upfront costs may seem high for certain models, consider the long-term savings they offer through reduced energy consumption and lower repair expenses over time.

Closing Thoughts

You’ve now grasped the nuances of water heater installation costs, understanding the factors at play and how they impact your budget. From the type of water heater to labor charges and additional considerations, you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions. Remember to factor in permits and inspections, along with savvy cost-saving tips, as you plan your installation.

Consider reaching out to local plumbers for quotes tailored to your specific needs. By being proactive and well-informed, you can navigate the installation process smoothly and cost-effectively. Your diligence in researching and understanding these costs will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of water heaters available for installation?

Tank and tankless water heaters are common options. Tankless heaters are more energy-efficient but have higher upfront costs. Tanks are cheaper initially but cost more to operate over time.

How do installation costs vary based on influencing factors?

Factors like heater type, location, complexity of installation, and plumber’s fees impact costs. Tankless heaters may require additional electrical work, increasing overall installation expenses.

What are typical plumber’s charges for water heater installation?

Plumbers usually charge between $45 to $150 per hour for installation services. Rates can vary based on experience, location, and the complexity of the installation job.

What is the cost difference between installing a 50-gallon tank water heater and a tankless water heater?

Installing a 50-gallon tank water heater is generally cheaper upfront compared to a tankless unit. However, tankless heaters offer long-term savings through energy efficiency and durability.

How can one save money on water heater installation costs?

To save on installation, consider DIY tasks like prep work. Obtain multiple quotes from plumbers for competitive pricing. Look for rebates or incentives from manufacturers or utility companies to offset costs.


Get an in-depth guide on electric tankless water heater installation cost, factors to consider, and expert tips. Compare prices and save!