Which brand of tankless water heater is better, Takagi, Noritz, Navien, or Rinnai?
All tankless water heaters use the same technology, they all have similar efficiencies, and there aren’t really a whole lot of differences between brands. There are a few differences claimed by the manufacturers but I don’t believe they rise to the level of significant.
For instance, Noritz advertises its “Dual Burner” technology. Is that a significant advantage over the others? I don’t think so. Since all of the brands modulate the flames I don’t see any difference the number of burners makes. It’s just an additional way of modulating the heat input and the end result is identical to the other brands.
Takagi and Noritz are both made in Japan, share some components, and have similar warranties. Rinnai heaters are also made in Japan. Rinnai has a different venting system than the others. Do I think its better? Not really.
There is one thing I like about Rinnai heaters; they have a built-in condensation trap. On the other units some installers forget or don’t bother to install the condensation trap because of the additional cost. Not having a trap can significantly shorten the life of the heat exchanger and the customer will probably never know anything about it if it doesn’t get installed.
Navien is made in South Korea and fairly new to the US. It has a better presence in Canada. The Navien units have some nice features, like a built in small tank that lets you obtain low flows of hot water. That little tank acts like buffer and has a built in circulating pump for the tank.
Navien has had major recalls and plenty of service problems in Canada though.
Navien claims 98% efficiency while the other major brands have about 94%. Is the 4% difference significant? You might be able to save almost a dollar a month in energy costs over the others, and if that is significant to you then so be it.
Navien, Noritz, Rinnai and Takagi are technically very much the same. They all deliver about the same amount of hot water using the same amount of gas or electricity. The warranties are all fairly similar. It comes down to reliability and support in case something goes wrong which depends in a large part on proper installation.
I personally like Takagi because of service. They have a toll free number 24/7 I can call. I don’t get the message “We are closed now and please call us during regular business hours Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm and please leave us a message “.
I feel that the most important thing when buying a tankless water heater is to be sure that heater is installed correctly; it is not like your standard storage type water heater where you connect a couple of pipes up and you are done. It is very important to purchase it and have it installed by a plumber that is experienced with tankless water heaters and one that will be there if you experience problems down the road.