Instant Water Heater Buying Guide

When you want instant hot water at the bathroom sink, nothing beats an under-sink point-of-use water heater.

An instant, point-of-use water heater is a small electric appliance that’s designed to supply hot water to a single fixture such as a bathroom sink or, in the case of some master bathrooms, a pair of bathroom sinks. If you’re interested in a low-flow hot water dispenser and spout to be mounted next to your kitchen faucet, please see the Instant Hot Water Dispenser Buying Guide.

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Point-of-use water heater stores up to 2 1/2 gallons directly below the sink.

It usually is installed in the cabinet under the sink or very near it and connected directly to the plumbing that serves the faucet.

When hot water must travel from a conventional water heater to a sink, it can lose considerable heat in the pipes. Certainly, if you shut off the faucet and the hot water stops in the pipes, it loses most of its heat—depending upon how long it sits there. An instant, point-of-use water heater dramatically speeds up the delivery of hot water to the sink by eliminating the distance the hot water must travel between the heat source and the fixture. Thanks to the heater’s proximity, hot water arrives at the tap almost immediately when you turn on the hot water.

Two great “green” advantages are that instant, point-of-use water heaters save water-heating energy and eliminate wasted water. Because you don’t have to let the water run while you wait for it to heat up, you can save hundreds of gallons of water per month. And, with a conventional water heater setup, the hot water left sitting in the pipe between the water heater and faucet is wasted—as is the energy that heated it.

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Instant point-of-use water heaters are compact and electric. Both 120-volt and 240-volt models are available. A 120-volt model is easier to install in most situations because you can just plug it in to a conventional electrical outlet—ideally located under the sink. Before buying a point-of-use water heater, be sure a grounded electrical outlet is conveniently located to serve it.

You can shop for point-of-use water heaters online at Typical sizes are 2 1/2-, 3-, 4-, and 7-gallon models. Prices range from about $180 for the smallest models and $250 for 7-gallon models.

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