A propane water heater works on a very simple principle: burning fuel creates heat energy, which further heats the water in the tank.

Propane is considered to be a clean-burning heating fuel. It is basically available in gaseous form and is compressed into a liquid state so that it can be easily used in water heaters.

Propane gas used in tankless water heaters are available in different grades or different quality and contains compounds like butane and propylene.

Most of the common propane water heaters are available with a built-in igniter.

This piezoelectric igniter is made using quartz crystal, which helps in developing electrical potential especially when the right amount of pressure is applied.

This mechanism is housed within a propane water heater system and consists of a spring-loaded hammer, which strikes and generates a spark and thus igniting the propane.

A propane water heater also features an element made from porcelain, which helps in spreading the ignited flame in a specific pattern and thus helps in properly distributing the heat from the burning of propane. Another important element that most propane tankless water heaters have is the pilot light.

This is basically a small flame, which uses minimum fuel but burns continuously. The purpose of the pilot is to light the main burner as quickly as possible and this helps in saving time.

Types of Propane Water Heaters

There are mainly two types of propane heaters available in the market today: the standard model and the tankless model. Here’s an insight into each type:

Standard Model: The standard model is also known as the tank type propane water heater. This type has been in use for decades and is easily available in almost every country in the world. It requires extensive plumbing connections as well as pipe and other fittings for both propane gas and water.

As the name suggests, a tank type water heater comes with a large water container called the tank. This tank is used for holding heated water so that hot water is available for use later.

Tankless Model: The propane tankless water heater has grown in popularity and usage only in the last few decades. The primary reason for its popularity lies in the fact that it is a highly efficient water heater.

Propane water heater

Image from sugarbearplumbing.com


The high efficiency is due to the fact that it heats water as required or when required. One of the salient aspects is that these heaters do not require propane gas until the downstream water fixture in the unit opens the hot water valve.

This basically suggests that during periods of inactivity or when the heater is not in use; it will neither consume any gas nor produce any emissions. Hence, it is considered to be highly cost effective and environmentally friendly vis-à-vis the tank model.

Salient Features

The propane water heater has several salient features like:

  • A propane water heater with Energy-Star qualifications and an Energy Factor (EF) of 75-82% can help homeowners in saving as much as 60 percent of their energy bills vis-à-vis an electric water heater.
  • Propane heaters are environment friendly as their carbon emissions are almost 60 percent lower than an electric water heater.
  • Another important aspect is that The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers tax credits to those homeowners who install propane tankless water heaters.


The Top 2 Models of Propane Gas Heaters

The top two models of propane tankless water heater models are:

Noritz NC250 (N-0931M) Series
Price: $2,000

noritz nc250 water heaterThis propane water heater comes with a re-engineered and powerful heat exchanger. This is also the first in the industry to offer dual flame burner boost, which helps in increasing the power of the heater and minimize the flow requirements.

NC250 offers longevity of performance as the components of the heater has been made using commercial grade materials including the corrosion-free exterior casing.


  • Gas Consumption: Maximum (250,000 btuh) – minimum (11,000 btuh)
  • Hot water capacity: 9.3 Gallons per minute
  • Range of Capacity: 0.5 to 11.1 gallons per minute
  • Installation type: Power vented


Rheem RTG-74X
Price: $1,180

This is the outdoor model of Rheem’s propane tankless water heaters. The salient aspects of this model include energy efficiency, continuous and steady supply of hot water, and a compact design.

The RTG-74X is available with a remote control and its efficiency is certified by GAMA. It comes with a 12 year warranty on the heat exchanger and 5-years on parts.


  • Gas Consumption: Maximum (199,900 btuh) – minimum (19,000 btuh)
  • Energy Factor: .82
  • Temperature Range: 1000 – 1400F
  • Range of Capacity: 4.2 to 7.4 gallons per minute
  • Installation type: Outdoor

There are several other brands that offer state of the art propane tankless water heaters like Takagi and Paloma.

If you are planning to buy a propane water heater then identify your household’s daily water requirement first and then opt for a model that is within your budget and satisfies your requirements.

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