Tankless water heaters are taking the world by storm. Unreliable tankless water heaters are a thing of the past: modern models are fast, smart, dependable, and incredibly efficient.
In this article, we’re going to review a tankless water heater brand that’s gaining popularity. Not everyone has heard of Navien… but everyone should. We’ll briefly cover who the company is, and what sets them apart. Then we’ll review their water heaters themselves, to find out if they really are exceptional.
Who Is Navien?
Navien was founded in Asia in 1978 (back then, it was known as the Kyung Dong Machinery Co.). Ten years later, it developed and began to sell Asia’s first environmentally friendly condensing boiler. This boiler was incredibly efficient and earned Navien a top spot in the water heater market. Twelve years ago, they started expanding into the USA marketplace. Now we can benefit from their exceptional water heater designs, too.
Here’s why buyers appreciate Navien units:
- They have a commitment to producing environmentally friendly products.
- Their products are wonderfully energy efficient, generally boasting both Energy Star and LEED certifications.
- They are smart and easy to use.
- They’re heavy duty heaters that perform wonderfully in cold environments, and large households or apartment blocks.
Navien Tankless Water Heater – Our Review
Let’s take an in-depth look at the Navien tankless water heaters currently available in the USA. We’re going to analyze and compare the features of these units, and draw some conclusions about their quality and capabilities.
Navien Residential Tankless Water Heaters
Navien has designed both condensing and non-condensing heaters for installing in homes and on residential properties (condensing water heaters use exhaust fumes to “pre-heat” the water, further adding to the heater’s efficiency). They have two series for each type. There are some common features among all four of these series: capabilities that add enormously to the convenience and functionality of the heaters.
For a start, all of these heaters can be operated via an app – the “NaviLink” – that you can install on your smartphone. If you’re on holiday and realized you left your heater on, no problem; if you have internet, you can use the app to switch it off. Or, if you’re heading home after a weekend away, or a grueling day at work, you can adjust the heater’s temperature and activate the recirculation system (more on this below) to get the water system warmed up and ready for you to enjoy. You can also monitor the system’s status via the app.
To make life even simpler, there’s a remote control for all units except those in the NPE-S series. The remote lets you see and control the heater’s settings conveniently from inside the house. And all models have a slick control panel with a digital display, that shows you what’s happening inside your heater, and lets you easily adjust settings.
All units other than those in the NPE-S series also have the option for a “Hot Button” addition. This is the recirculation system I mentioned earlier. It activates the burner and a circulation pump… that can effectively reheat all the water in your pipes, so that you can open your taps and enjoy hot water straight away. You won’t need to run liters of water down the drain before your shower water becomes a temperature you can stomach being in.
As far as the actual build of the heaters go… there is something special happening here.
First of all, the heat exchangers are all stainless steel. This corrodes less easily than copper, extending the life of this crucial part. The heaters are roomy inside, providing extra space for removing old components and fitting new parts. And they’re all beautifully energy efficient. They offer an unusually high UEF, or Uniform Energy Factor – the new way to measure a heater’s energy efficiency. We’ll cover this below, where we dive into the differences between each series.
Condensing: NPE-Advanced Series
These condensing heaters go the extra mile.
There’s three models in this series, and they mostly differ in flow rate: the most heavy-duty model can offer up to a whopping 11.2 GPM (gallons per minute). To put this into perspective, a flow rate of 8GPM can service most households in average climates. You can use LPG gas, natural gas or propane, and there’s a negative pressure valve with a dual venturi system that lets you switch gas types without any headaches.
This particular series won the 2013 AHR Innovation award. Among all the handy extras common to Navien water heaters, it offers “ComfortFlow”: in the heater, there’s a small buffer tank with a recirculation pump attached, and this setup prevents your shower from sending out a nasty surprise spurt of cold water. So far, these are the only heaters around that boast this system.
As far as efficiency goes, it can offer up to 0.96 UEF. This is right up there at the top of the energy efficiency game. Because exhaust fumes are used to preheat the water before it even goes through the main heating system, these units are even more efficient than the non-condensing units below.
Since the heater is so efficient, the exhaust fumes are a low temperature compared to many other gas heaters. This means you’re more likely to be able to use your existing, heavy-duty plastic venting system for these heaters. Installing new venting is a common – and enormous – expense when you’re having a new gas water heater installed… so this is an enviable advantage.
Condensing: NPE-Standard Series
These heaters offer reliability, efficiency and easy operation: everything you need in a water heater that’s going to be seeing lots of use.
There’s four models in this series. Once again, the biggest difference between units is the flow rate: the most powerful unit tops at a generous 11.2 GPM. All models can handle various gas types. And there’s that handy capability that allows you to easily convert between types.
There’s a ton of features here that you can’t expect to see in your average water heater. This includes that exceptional efficiency: up to 0.97 UEF. Because of the incredible efficiency, you have those lower exhaust fume temperatures, and will probably be able to use your existing venting system for releasing your heater fumes.
This series doesn’t offer the remote control or the water circulating “Hot Button” feature. However, you can still operate the heaters via an app installed on your phone. Plus, there’s the option to purchase a “Ready-Link” manifold system that’s all set up for “cascading” these units, or mounting a bunch of them to use in tandem.
Non-condensing: NPN-Universal Series
These heaters are unusually energy efficient for non-condensing models… and they’re well-designed in other respects too.
There are three units in this series. Again, the difference is flow rate: the most powerful unit here tops at 9.5 GPM, which is less punchy than the condensing heaters above, but still perfectly adequate for servicing most households. All units can take natural gas, LPG gas or propane.
As far as energy goes, they’re a marvelous 0.81 UEF. This is less efficient than the condensing units above, but a lot more efficient than traditional water heaters with tanks, which tend to top at around 0.61 UEF. You can also install these heaters outside, whereas most other tankless heaters can only be mounted indoors.
Quality is excellent: not only is the heat exchanger stainless steel, but the patented burner is steel too, and boasts technology that helps to burn fuel cleanly. This means that fewer damaging greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere when you run your heater.
Non-condensing: NPN-Exterior Series
These heaters are like the non-condensing tankless heaters above – but they’re specially designed for outdoor installation.
There’s three models, and they offer the same gas variety option, exceptional energy efficiency and patented, climate-change-friendly burner. Once again, the most powerful unit tops at 9.5 GPM. However, these units can only be installed outdoors.
Non-residential Tankless Water Heaters
Navien offers the same top quality when it comes to commercial water heaters. The app allows you to operate the water heating system in a large building or a cluster of smaller ones without having to access the heater itself, or go inside to access the remote control, and the efficiency and durability of these units save business owners precious cash in the long run.
According to their website, Navien water tankless heaters are ideal for installing in:
- hotels and resorts
- educational facilities
- medical facilities
- dorms and multi-family setups
- restaurants and clubs
- industrial buildings
- municipal facilities
Navien may not be a household name yet, but it probably will be soon. They offer high quality, clever innovation, and an exceptional commitment to efficient, environmentally friendly designs: all at competitive prices.
Where to Buy Navien Tankless Water Heater Parts
A water heater’s components do eventually break or wear through… even on the very best heaters. If a part on your Navien water heater needs replacing, you can shop parts on Amazon.