Tankless water heaters, also called instantaneous, continuous flow, inline, flash, on-demand or instant-on water heaters, are also available and gaining in popularity. These water heaters instantly heat water as it flows through the device, and do not retain any water internally except for what is in the heat exchanger coil.
Tankless heaters are often installed throughout a household at more than one point-of-use (POU), far from the central water heater, or larger models may still be used to provide all the hot water requirements for an entire house. The main advantages of tankless water heaters are a continuous flow of hot water and energy savings (as compared to a limited flow of continuously heating hot water from conventional tank water heaters).
When there is a demand for hot water (e.g. a hot water tap is opened for a sink, shower, tub, or washing machine) the tankless water heater's water flow turbine senses the flow and starts the heating process. The water flow turbine sends a signal to the control board which looks at multiple factors: incoming water temperature, desired water temperature as set on the temperature controller, and the calculated difference between the two temperatures. Depending on the calculated incoming and desired water temperatures, the gas or electric flow into the burner assembly is modulated and the electronic ignition sequence begins. Water is heated to the desired temperature as it circulates through the copper heat exchanger providing continuous hot water. When the hot water tap is turned off, the tankless water heater shuts down and is placed in a standby mode pending the next call for hot water