Tankless water heaters present an opportunity to dramatically reduce water heating energy use. These impacts are possible because of their dramatic reduction of environmental losses through lower heat transfer areas and not keeping the heat exchanger at operating temperature between draws. The potential for energy savings has caused a lot of interest in the scientific community. However, the scientific community has not yet gained an understanding of these devices and several questions regarding their behavior remain. The areas of uncertainty include the following: 1) how these heaters behave around the minimum flow rate, 2) how well they adapt to changes in water flow rate, 3) how they behave in situations with preheated water (i.e. when used with solar water heaters) and 4) whether or not draw characteristics impact the steady state efficiency. Tests have been performed on a Rinnai R75Lsi to determine the answers to these questions for a specific heater. Tests were performed with 1) gradually changing flow rate to identify the minimum flow rate, 2) rapidly adjusting the flow rate to observe how the heater responded to suddenly changing draws, 3) temperature-flow combinations such that the minimum heat rate exceeded the required heat rate, and 4) draws under steady state conditions with varying flow rates and set temperatures. Minimum flow rate results indicate that the heater will not fire unless the flow rate surpasses 2.8 L/min and will cease firing if the flow rate decreases below 2.15 L/min while the owners manual states that the minimum flow rate is 2.3 L/min. Rapidly changing flow rate results indicate that there can be temperature fluctuations up to 9 °C and unsteady operation for up to 1 minute depending on the magnitude of the flow rate change. Tests with preheated inlet water showed that the heater uses feedback controls to avoid unstable operation at low heat rates. Steady state efficiency tests did not identify any variables which impact efficiency. Future work should include testing additional units to determine how other heaters, particularly those not manufactured by Rinnai, behave in similar situations.

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