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    Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters Review

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Review on backdrop of water

    The world of tankless water heaters is a competitive one, and it can be tough to know who to turn to when you're trying to effectively heat the water in your home. After all, you're already dealing with hot water running out in the middle of a shower; you don't want to spend money on a heater and deal with the same problem for longer.

    Rinnai tankless water heaters are a well-known choice adopted by many who've grown tired of running out of hot water. Let's examine below where they come from, how they operate, and what kinds of heaters they can provide to heat your home's water. 
    If you want to read about more of the top brands, head over to our tankless water heater reviews page

    About Rinnai Corporation


    Though today Rinnai is a staple of the tankless water heater market, it began across the world in Japan in 1920 with the name "Rinnai and Co". Founded by Hidejiro Naito and Kanekichi Kayashi, it did not originally sell water heaters; instead, this new company both manufactured and sold pressurized oil cooking stoves.

    However, the 1930's afforded opportunities for expansion, and Naito and Kayashi saw a chance to move into first the gas industry, which led them then to space heaters and water heaters.

    Rinnai has been in the hot water industry since the '60's, and 1974 saw the company's first foothold in America. Beginning with Los Angeles, Rinnai quickly spread all across the country, though their domination of the tankless water heater market is a more recent development.

     

    Key Features in Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters

    All Rinnai tankless water heaters are built to certain standards and specifications that are shared between models. For instance, Rinnai heaters use either natural gas or propane as their fuel source. All Rinnai water heaters also have a uniform energy factor (UEF) from .79 up to .95. What is UEF?

    Basically, it's the efficiency of a water heater. Without getting too technical, higher UEF ratings are better for you since it indicates a heater is more energy-efficient and will save you money.

    Additionally, most Rinnai tankless water heaters can handle between three or four fixtures at the same time. In other words, these are great multitaskers. Many Rinnai water heaters are also Energy Star Compliant.

    Energy Star Compliance

    Appliances that are approved for Energy Star Certification are between 10-20% more energy efficient than comparable but non-certified models. Put simply, any appliance with the iconic blue seal is better for the environment and your wallet.

    What Makes Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters Worthwhile?

    Rinnai's product line has seveal advantages that competitors simply don't match.

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      Recirculating Systems: Many of their tankless water heaters feature this innovative tech. It's an advanced pump with a dedicated return line that brings hot water back to the heater. This improves energy efficiency and ensures you have hot water for your shower or bath when you need it.
    •  
      Impressive Warranties: All Rinnai tankless water heaters have great coverage in case of faulty construction or bad parts. But faulty construction is rarely an issue for any given heater, because of the third crucial advantage . . . 
    •  
      Quality Control Checks: These happen during assembly, in which the manufacturing hub for each heater double-checks the integrity of each unit before it's shipped out. Each unit is also subjected to stress testing to iron out any kinks before it reaches a consumer.
    •  
      Wi-Fi Connectivity: This functionality comes with each Rinnai tankless water heater. It's a wonderful design choice, as it allows you to remotely control or monitor the status or settings of your heater without reaching the main control panel. The app you can download even incorporates voice commands.
    •  
      Indoor or Outdoor Installation: Rinnai has a large selection of both indoor and outdoor tankless water heaters. 
    •  
      Environmentally Conscious Design: Rinnai's tankless water heaters are widely considered to be "green" since they don't consume nearly as much energy or water as competing heaters. They also last for about 20-years on average and feature replaceable or recyclable components.

    All in all, Rinnai's water heaters lines are impressive home appliances.

    Rinnai RL Series HE+ Tankless Hot Water Heater: Indoor Installation

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Costs

    You might wonder what it will cost overall to install a Rinnai product besides the price tag. Rinnai tankless water heater costs range between $600 and $2,300 upfront, so what else is there?

    You have to consider installation. Installing even basic tankless water heaters takes expert assistance. Naturally, the cost for installation will vary from place to place, but generally speaking, it costs between $600 and $1,500 for a gas water heater to be installed. Remember, all Rinnai tankless water heaters run on propane or natural gas.

    Installation costs are affected by:

    • Heater complexity
    • Presence of recirculation pump
    • Indoor or outdoor
    • Weight of unit

    Rinnai tankless water heaters do have recirculation pumps, but they're quite light and easy to install.

    Next, consider the operating costs. This, too, can vary drastically depending on how much you use the heater (or how many people are in your household) and the price of gas at the time. This is usually between $200 and $600 per year.

    So overall, the total cost to install and operate a tankless water heater for a year is between $1,400 and $4,400: That's a lot of wiggle room!

    This only emphasizes how important it is to pick the right Rinnai tankless water heater by considering its size and how well you'll use it. This will ensure that you get a heater that doesn't unnecessarily cost you extra money. You may want to consult with a professional to help you select the right model and size for your home.

     

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    Where to Buy Rinnai Water Heaters?

    Purchasing Rinnai tankless water heaters is easy because of their ubiquity. They can be found most easily through online vendors like Amazon.com and other home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

    Warranties for Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters

    One of the strengths of Rinnai's tankless water heaters is undoubtedly their warranties. Each water heater comes with a warranty for the heat exchanger for 10 or 12 years, depending on the model used. Additional warranties (5 years for parts and 1 for labor) are also included.

    Some more advanced heater models have extended labor coverage available for purchase - this is often considered a good investment for heaters installed in stable homes. This additional period of protection requires registration within 30 days.

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters Maintenance

    Any Rinnai tankless water heater will require two kinds of regular maintenance.

    Firstly, the in-line screen filter needs to be checked and/or cleaned every so often to remove dirt and debris. Second, the heater needs to be flushed to get rid of the early stages of lime and scale. Professional installers typically do this part.

    However, you may need to periodically flush your water heater yourself to reset it or clean out gunk that might have gotten inside. In this case, follow these short steps:

    • Turn the water heater power source off and close the water valves attached to the heater
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      Remove the purge port valve caps on the hot and cold-water valves and attach a hose line to each valve
    • Open the purge port valve: Twist it perpendicular to the hot and cold valves
    • Mix undiluted white vinegar with 4-gallons of water to clean the water heater
    • Your manual will have a detailed draining and flushing procedure to follow at this point
    • Close the purge port valves once flushing is complete and disconnect the hosing lines and replace the valve caps
    • Restart the water heater: Refer to your manual instructions
    • Turn on the hot water to let air go through the pipes

    Life Expectancy

    If properly maintained and cleaned regularly, Rinnai tankless water heaters can be expected to last around 20 years, give or take. This makes them a great choice for those who own their own homes or for families that will be sticking around in a single spot for awhile.

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Problems

    All in all, Rinnai's product line is superb. But their main drawback is undoubtedly the high asking price needed for each water heater. When you add together installation costs, it only becomes more distinct.

    Like other tankless water heaters, limescale buildup can play havoc on performance and service life. But with proper maintenance and regular flushing, it shouldn't be problem.

    Aside from these problems, Rinnai tankless water heaters deserve their sterling reputation.

     

    How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

    One of the reasons tankless water heaters are popular is because they circumvent the well-known disaster that ensues when someone takes a shower for too long and empties the tank of hot water.

    When you need hot water - for a shower, bath, or for doing dishes - cold water flows from the house's mainline into the tankless water heater. A flame ignites and, in SE models, it also warms twin heat exchangers for added efficiency.

    Water is warmed and any extra heat goes through the exchangers, which are made of stainless steel. This captures the excess heat before it escapes, allowing it to be used for further heating. It continues to warm the water as it runs through the exchanger itself, finally exiting from the durable outlet pipe.

    This pipe is hooked up to the main pipes in your home. Like magic, hot water materializes at your command. Crucially, the tankless water heater will continue to adjust the intensity of its flame to keep water heated just right instead of going too high and causing damage. When you stop using hot water, cold water stops flowing into the heater and the flame goes out.


     

    The Best Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters - Range of Products

    We've already gone over how different heaters have varying UEF ratings, but what about their water heating capacity?

    Generally speaking, you can determine how many gallons per minute a water heater can produce based on the model number in the name. The RUR 98iN, for instance, has a max flow rate of 9.8 gallons per minute (GPM). There are two notable exceptions, the RL94 and RLX94, which have max rates of 9.8 GPM.

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Lines

    Rinnai tankless water heaters can also be broadly categorized into four types or efficiency levels.

    High Efficiency, or HE - This first type is the most affordable of all of Rinnai's water heaters. It consists of the V line of heaters, the only one in this class. These heaters handle four fixtures and have UEF ratings between .79 and .82.

    The V line of heaters has a GPM range between 5.3 to 9.5. As you can see, arguably the most flatly efficient tankless water heater can be found in this affordable line, at least when you account for the initial price. Gas or propane models are available.

    High Efficiency Plus, or HE+ - This second tier has both RL and RLX models available for purchase. Both lines of heaters incorporate recirculation of heated water, boosting their UEF to .80 or .81. They can support four fixtures at once.

    Both of these models have GPM ratings between 7.5 and 9.8 and use either gas or propane.
    Read an indepth Rinnai RL75iN review

    Super High Efficiency or SE - This tier has two additional lines that each handle three fixtures at once: The RUCS and RUS lines. Both of these are, notably, Energy Star compliant. They have a UEF rating of .90.

    These heater lines have GPM ratings between 6.5 gpm and 7.5 gpm.
    Read an in depth RUC98iN Review

    Super High Efficiency Plus, or SE+ - This is the final tier of tankless water heaters. It has three lines, all with recirculation capabilities and Energy Star certification.

    The RU line has ratings of .91 to .93 while the RUC line has a rating of .92. Finally, the RUR best-of-the-best water heater line has a top-quality ThermaCirc 360 pump for recirculating water and a UEF rating of .92 to .95.

    GPM ratings for these models are between 9.8 gpm and 11 gpm and are available in both propane and natural gas variations.

    There are also slight differences between models based on whether they're condensing or non-condensing.

    Rinnai Condensing heaters have higher efficiency, as they use exhaust gas to heat water in addition to their primary flame. These units are often pricier due to this technology.

     

    Top Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters

    While all of Rinnai's offerings are great, these are the best models for general categories of homes or families.

     

    RL94 iN - HE+

    The RL94iN is a non-condensing tankless water heater that's one of the more compact and easy-to-install models available. It's an ideal choice for indoor locations and can support four hot water fixtures at the same time. It uses natural gas for its energy source and is a perfect choice for medium-sized homes.

    • UEF: 0.81
    • GPM: 9.8
    • BTU: 10,300 - 199,000
    • Gas Type: Natural
    • Installation: Indoor
    • Energy Star: No
     
     

    RUCS75iP - SE

    This tankless water heater is an excellent choice for smaller homes or those who use propane as their primary heating gas. It's one of the best models for heat recirculation and features an efficient UEF rating and a lower maximum BTU limit, so it's meant for a few people rather than a larger family.

    • UEF: 0.93
    • GPM: 7.5
    • BTU: 10,300 - 160,000
    • Gas Type: Propane
    • Installation: Indoor
    • Energy Star: Yes
     
     

    RU199iN - SE+

    This tankless water heater is similarly sized to the prevous offering, but it features higher power and greater energy efficiency. It can support four fixutres and is mountable on indoor locations. Its Energy Star certification and high GPM rating mark it as a great choice for larger-sized homes or those who want to lower their yearly heating budget.

    • UEF: 0.96
    • GPM: 11
    • BTU: 15,000 - 199,000
    • Gas Type: Natural
    • Installation: Indoor
    • Energy Star: Yes
     

    Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters vs. Other Brands

    Rinnai vs. Navien - Navien's tankless water heaters are characterized by their ability to link together and act as a heater for commercial-sized properties. They also often have larger water capacities to reflect this difference. But they aren't quite as innovative or suited for home use as Rinnai's product line.

    Rinnai vs Rheem - Rheem products are generally cheaper than Rinnai's line and they have built-in condenser neutralizers. But they notably lack Wi-Fi connectivity and better GPM ratings than what Rinnai can offer.

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