Searching for reliable, comprehensive Navien Tankless Water Heater Reviews? You’ve landed in the right place. We’ve scoured a number of tankless water heater reviews, raided our knowledge banks, conducted extensive research of the Navien brand and are happy to report our findings here to help you make the most informed choice when purchasing your next water heater. Purchasing a new water heater is a big decision and there’s a lot to cover. Let’s get started.
Not exactly a household brand for most people, Navien actually has made a reputable name for itself in the tankless water heater industry. They are among the top 10 most visible brands in the field.
So, where are Navien water heaters actually made? Well, the company got its start in South Korea as KyungDong Navien (KD Navien) in 1978. Today, with North American headquarters in Irvine, California, Navien products are still made in South Korea but the company operates three North American training centers in California, New Jersey and Ontario. A relatively new arrival to the U.S., Navien has a better presence in Canada but its U.S. business continues to grow.
Today Navien retains the largest market share for condensing gas water heaters in North America and offers a range of HVAC products and services including water heaters, combi-boilers and heating boilers.
Navien products are recognized by an array of organizations. For example, their NPE-240A model is certified by Energy Star; the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; the Canadian Standards Association and the National Sanitation Foundation.
If choosing “Green” companies is high on your list of priorities, you’ll be happy to know that Navien was chosen as an eco-leader by Green Builder Magazine in 2018.
They received the designation as a result of their choice to target other companies to partner with to develop more sustainable versions of their products. These partnerships have resulted in innovations that expand Navien’s product lifespan, reduce its energy consumption and CO2 emissions and provide cleaner water.
Navien Contact Information
Located in Irvine, California, Navien can be contacted by email or phone:
- Email through their website
- Phone: 800-519-8794
Tankless water heaters have surged in popularity in recent years. Why the new trend? Most homeowners who have made the switch to tankless agree the units tend to be more eco-friendly, compact, versatile and economical when compared to their conventional water heater counterparts.
This is mostly due to the fact that tankless water heaters eliminate the need to hold and maintain up to 50 gallons or more of water at a constant temperature.
New tankless models also offer a range of modern connectivity options that appeal to people moving toward smart homes or who want to be able to control their units remotely.
When it comes to price, Navien's model line-up is comparable to other premium brands such as Rheem and Rinnai. The lower-end models will be hovering around $1,000, and the high-end, flag-ship models with all the bells-and-whisles will be over $2,000.
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Navien’s warranties are among the best in the industry. They provide a 15-year on their heat exchanger, a 5-year on parts, and a 1-year on labor for residential water heaters.
However, please note that Navien strongly recommends you hire a licensed installer. Without one, your warranty will likely be null and void.
If all you really want to know is if Navien makes decent water heaters and accessories, the short answer is “yes.” As one of the industry’s most recognized brands, if you purchase a Navien water heater, most likely, you won’t be disappointed.
However, keep in mind, there have been some Navien tankless water heater problems (More on that below) and the brand offers a wide range of models and features that require some research before landing on the right choice for your home. Fortunately, we’ve done that for you.
Navien is a well-known, popular choice for tankless water heaters across North America, with a nice set of features and capabilities. Overall, Navien tankless water heaters provide a good balance of performance and quality and their price points are competitive with other top brands like Rinnai.
A relative newcomer to the industry, Navien’s water heaters score high in terms of consumer friendliness, controls and usability.
Navien’s warranties are among the best in the business, but you need to ensure you hire a credentialled installer when setting up your new heater – or the warranty will likely be void.
Like other brands of tankless water heaters, the maintenance requirements and life expectancy of Navien’s products varies greatly, the biggest differences are between the non-condensing and condensing product lines, which we'll cover later.
Navien ran into a bit of trouble in 2018 with two models of its condensing water heaters and one model of its combination boilers. Navien had to recall 3,400 of these units due to a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The units had been sold directly to Navien installers – not to consumer home improvement stores – between August, 2018 and October, 2018.
The recall, announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, involved the Navien NPE-180A and the NPE-180S models of condensing water heaters and the Navien NCB-180E model of condensing combination boiler.
The units were recalled due to the possibility that a kit used to convert them from running on natural gas to propane could cause excessive amounts of carbon monoxide.
Navien reminded consumers that tankless water heaters must always be professionally installed and urged users to contact Navien for a free replacement conversion kit.
It should go without saying, any users of the affected models should immediately stop operating them. There have been no other Navien recalls or warnings issued by the company at the time this article was published.
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Overall, Navien tankless water heaters provide a good balance of performance and quality and their price points are competitive with other top brands.
But no matter how much you know about your Navien tankless water heater, you’ll no doubt have questions at some point that only a manual can answer. For those times, we found this nice clearinghouse of Navien product user manuals.
The first thing to decide on when choosing a tankless water heater is, do you go with a condensing unit or a non-condensing unit? If you’re a tankless novice, you’re probably already scratching your head.
Don’t worry. There’s no need for a new degree. From a consumer perspective, the differences are important, but relatively simple to understand. Below we break down some key differences between their two main product lines.
Condensing Water Heaters
- Efficiency: Ultra-high efficiency - 98% efficient or more.
- Venting: PVC acceptable.
- Initial Cost: Typically higher than non-condensing.
- Long-Term Operating Cost: Lower than typical non-condensing tankless heaters.
- Dimensions: Slightly larger than non-condensing tankless heaters.
- Maintenance: Annual service recommended.
Navien has always offered a line of condensing tankless water heaters in its NPE-A Series (“A” for Advanced) and NPE-S Series (“S” for Standard) lines.
The "A-Series" and "S-Series" Line-up
Both offer dual stainless-steel heat exchangers that resists corrosion better than copper to provide longer life. Bonus: for high usage homes or facilities, you can cascade up to 16 units in side by side or back to back configurations.
Navien Tankless Water Heater with Recirculating Pump
Some of Navien’s best features include an internal recirculating pump and a small built-in “buffer tank” that helps to maintain consistent water temperatures throughout the day. All NPE-A Series models come with a built-in recirculation pump system - the Navien ComfortFlow Technology.
The buffer, recirculation tank has a number of benefits, including:
- Stops the “cold water sandwich” effect.
- Counters the issue of minimum flow rates that other tankless water heaters can incur.
- Reduces the amount of time it takes to get the water hot and reduces water bills.
- ComfortFlow (when switched on) will reduce energy consumption.
Non-Condensing Water Heaters
More recently, it has plunged into the non-condensing tankless water heater arena with its NPN-U Series (“U” for Universal) and NPN-E series (“E” for Exterior) lines. For more information on the differences between condensing and non-condensing units see our buying guide.
- Efficiency: High efficiency - 80% efficiency or higher.
- Venting: 3" x 5" metallic concentric required.
- Initial Cost: Usually lower than condensing tankless heaters.
- Long-Term Operating Cost: Typically higher than condensing tankless heaters.
- Dimensions: Slightly smaller than condensing tankless heaters.
- Maintenance: Minimal.
The "U-Series" and "E-Series" Line-up
According to Navien, they are the first and only non-condensing tankless water heaters that offer a durable stainless-steel heat exchanger, choice of indoor or outdoor operation in one unit and a patented stainless-steel burner design.
Their Navitech™ stainless steel burner is designed to burn gas at higher efficiency than other system on the market. Watch the video to learn more about the NPN Series.
If you want to go top-end, the A Series offers Navien’s exclusive ComfortFlow® technology for continuous hot water. The system uses an internal recirculation pump and insulated “buffer tank” that the company says prevents the “cold water sandwich” effect that can result in a burst of cold water in the middle of a shower. This is a unique feature that we haven’t seen in other brand offerings.
Navien also offers (at additional cost), what they call, NaviLink™, a Wi-Fi enabled remote control that lets you control temperatures, access usage data and receive diagnostic notifications remotely, from your smart phone or tablet.
Every model of Navien tankless water heater is Energy Star rated. Navien claims, and we’ve independently backed up using a number of other sources, that their products have the highest energy efficiency in the industry — up to 0.97 UEF / 0.99 EF.
Keep in mind, however, that most of the big names in tankless water heaters have similar ratings, and plus or minus a point or two either way may not be a significant factor in a purchase decision.
So, now that you’re nearing expert level on Navien tankless water heaters, you’re probably wondering how Navien stacks up against other brands. Good question!
As with most products on the market, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors around features and capabilities. Any real differentiators among similar brands can get lost among all the talk of trademarks, copyrights and the “next big thing.”
It’s the same with tankless water heaters. Among the top five or 10 brands in the industry (Rinnai, Rheem, Bradford White, AO Smith) we’ve found all use essentially the same technology, boast the same efficiencies and include similar features across their product lines.
To say that “they’re all the same” would be going too far, but the few real differences that exist shouldn’t be deal-breakers for most buyers.
Navien vs Rinnai
Let’s look at one of Navien’s competitors, Rinnai tankless water heaters, as a comparison. Rinnai is one of the big guys in the industry topping the list of tankless heater brands in terms of name recognition, company history and sales.
Founded in 1920, Rinnai is a Japanese multinational company based in Japan, that manufactures a whole slew of appliances besides tankless heaters including gas appliances, home heating appliances, kitchen appliances and more.
They promote themselves as “the number 1 selling brand.” Navien is a newbie by comparison.
A testament to the longer history of its company, Rinnai has a larger product line. However, the technology and features that power their products is essentially the same as Navien’s.
Similar to Navien, Rinnai uses a recirculation pump in some units to address inconsistent water temperatures found in the last generation of tankless heaters.
Although, Navien goes a step further by including a “buffer tank” on certain models that stores a ready supply of hot water to eliminate the “cold-water sandwich” mentioned earlier in this article. And similar to Navien, Rinnai had its own product recall issues back in 2007, although it was with a different product line.
When first testing the waters for a new tankless heater, rather than comparing manufacturers at the outset, our recommendation is to start by determining your needs for your particular home and family.
Your first consideration should be how much hot water you use. Tankless water heaters don’t store heated water so you’ll need to consider your usage.
You’ll want a unit that can generate enough hot water (measured in gallons per minute or GPM) for your household, not just on average, but during times of peak usage. But at the same time, you needn’t invest in a unit that produces hot water in excess of that.
As a rule of thumb, daily household hot water usage for a typical household of four is about 63 gallons. But since tankless water heaters are sized by peak hour usage, you'll need to know how much hot water you need when demand is the highest. To determine your peak hour usage you can use our Tankless Water Heater Sizing Calculator.
Navien heaters aren't available at stores such as Home Depot and Lowes, but can be purchased directly from a local distributor.
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