Tankless water heaters are one of the best investments you can make into your home’s plumbing system. They provide unlimited hot water on demand, offer massive savings, and are very easy to manage and maintain. The tankless water heater industry is highly competitive, and Rinnai and Navien are two of the top brands. However, which one is right for you?
Both Rinnai and Navien are two of the most popular tankless water heater brands. They both offer outstanding quality, warranties, and durability, and you’ll be better off with a water heater from either company. However, Rinnai is better for people who want a gas water heater, while Navien is better for those who prefer electric.
However, as with most things, choosing your tankless water heater based on gas vs. electric alone isn’t always the best way to make your choice. While Rinnai has more gas and propane options, Navien has a few outstanding gas models. So, if you need more information before making your final decision, this article will provide you with everything you need.
Rinnai Vs. Navien: A Brief Overview
Rinnai Water Heaters
If you want a tankless water heater from a company that’s been around for more than a century, Rinnai is the way to go. They’ve been offering some of the best plumbing products and appliances since 1920, and have a longer-running reputation than Navien.
While being around for more than 100 years gives Rinnai an advantage in experience and innovation time, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best. Rinnai also deals exclusively with gas-powered tankless water heaters.
Navien Water Heaters
While Navien hasn’t been around for over a century, they have nearly 45 years, and certainly aren’t the new kids on the block. Navien offers both gas and electric tankless water heater options, and is quickly becoming one of the most popular water heater options.
Like Rinnai, Navien has won a number of awards and accolades for their tankless water heaters. Navien also deals exclusively with different types of water heaters and boilers, while Rinnai makes heating and cooling appliances and radiant heating systems.
Considerations When Making Your Decision
In many of these aspects, the brands are similar and there isn’t always a clear-cut winner.
The first thing that most people will look at when choosing a water heater is the price. Unfortunately, because of how good and efficient Rinnai and Navien tankless water heaters are, they won’t be cheap.
Both brands make a wide variety of tankless water heaters with pricing options between $600 and $2,000, not including installation costs. You can choose between high-end options with more features and higher outputs or lower-end options with less of both. Ultimately, you’ll pay a very similar price for either option.
Gallons per minute (GPM) is the standard unit of measurement for how much water a water heater can produce. The higher the GPM amount, the more output a water heater will have, which means more water where you need it when you need it there.
Once again, Rinnai and Navien both make tankless water heaters with a maximum output of between 11 and 11.2 GPM. In general, the higher the GPM, the more expensive and less efficient the water heater will be. However, both brands are very similar in this respect.
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Aside from the listed price, energy efficiency is at the front of most people’s minds when they’re choosing a tankless water heater. Because these machines offer unlimited hot water at a moment’s notice, people aren’t as likely to think about how much of it they’re using. Therefore, choosing the most efficient option is a good way to save money.
Both Rinnai and Navien tankless water heaters are Energy Star compliant and efficient. Overall, however, Navient tankless water heaters are slightly more efficient than Rinnai ones. Navien has several models with efficiency ratings of up to 96%, while most Rinnai models top out at 93%.
However, higher efficiency usually means slightly less heating capabilities. As a result, while Rinnai water heaters are a tad less efficient, they can produce hotter water than most Navien models. Ultimately, however, the efficiency and heat production of the water heaters are similar enough to offset.
Want to know the difference between Rinnai and Rheem water heaters? Check out this article to find out!
Because of how expensive tankless water heaters are, many people wonder if they can install them on their own. Installing your own water heater will save some money, but you should have basic to moderate plumbing skills before attempting it.
In terms of installation difficulty, Navien is the clear winner. Their water heaters are much more basic and easy to install than Rinnai tankless water heaters. For instance, Navien water heaters have a special mounting system for easy installation, while Rinnia water heaters don’t include this commodity.
Durability and Warranty
The last thing you want is to be repairing or replacing your tankless water heater every couple of years, which means that durability plays a significant role. While both brands produce reliable and durable water heaters, Rinnai gets the slight edge in this category.
Rinnai water heaters are known to last at least 20 years, while this is on the high end for Navien water heaters. Rinnai models are also known to have fewer problems and repair needs than Navien, which typically start experiencing issues around year 10.
In terms of warranty, however, Navien comes away with a slight advantage. Here’s how they stack up in the three major warranty categories: labor, parts, and heat exchanger.
- Labor Warranty Coverage
Navien and Rinnai both offer a one-year warranty for labor issues.
- Parts Warranty Coverage
Navien and Rinnai both offer a five-year warranty on all parts and components aside from the heat exchanger.
- Heat Exchanger Warranty Coverage
Navien offers a 15-year warranty on the heat exchanger, while Rinnai only offers a 12-year warranty on the heat exchanger.
Advantages That Rinnai Has Over Navien
Now that we have a general overview and comparison of the two brands, let’s see a summary of how Rinnai is better than Navien.
Rinnai wins on durability. Rinnai tankless water heaters tend to last up to five years longer than Navien water heaters.
- Heating Capacity
Rinnai’s exclusively gas-powered water heaters have a higher heating capacity.
- Customer Support
One of the biggest complaints against Navien is their subpar customer support. While Rinnai doesn’t necessarily go above and beyond the call of duty, they have adequate customer support.
- Operating Noise
Rinnai tankless water heaters are quieter during operation than Navien.
Advantages That Navien Has Over Rinnai
On the contrary, let’s look at the advantages that Navien has over Rinnai.
Navien tankless water heaters are slightly more efficient than Rinnai models.
- Installation Difficulty
Navien water heaters are much easier to DIY and install yourself than Rinnai models.
The labor and part warranties for either brand is identical, with the exception of the heat exchanger where Navien offers three more years of warranty than Rinnai.
Some of Navien’s electric tankless water heaters are more eco-friendly than Rinnai models.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Which tankless water heater is more reliable?
Rinnai tankless water heaters tend to last longer than Navien water heaters. However, both water heaters are made with durable, reliable components and will last for 15 to 20 years on average.
Is a Navien tankless water heater worth it in terms of efficiency?
If you’re looking for efficiency, durability, and great value, Navien water heaters are certainly worth the price you’ll pay to purchase them. They provide unlimited hot water on demand, and are much more efficient than traditional water heaters.
Which is better, Rheem or Navien?
While both tankless water heater brands are excellent, Rheem is often considered slightly better than Navien. Rheem tankless water heaters are typically more affordable than Navien and last just as long, which makes them the favorite in the eyes of many.
Whether you’re leaning towards a Navien or Rinnai tankless water heater, you’re bound to have an excellent appliance. Both brands slightly win out against the other in select categories, but they’re ultimately too similar to declare a clear-cut winner. Rinnai has the advantage when it comes to durability, heating capacity, customer support, and noise, whereas Navien wins in regards to eco-friendliness, efficiency, warranty, and ease of installation.
The best way to choose between the two brands is to look at the advantages of each and decide which ones are more important to you.
Nick Lopresti is the founder of YourH2Home and a home improvement expert. He has years of experience writing about various home improvement topics, mostly as it pertains to water systems.