labor cost to install tankless water heater

$850 – $4,000+ Installed

The cost of a professionally installed tankless water heater starts at about $850 for an electric point of use model and can rise to $4,400 for a whole-house gas tankless unit. Most homeowners pay $900-$1,400 for electric and $2,500-$3,800 for a gas-fired whole-house model installed. Retail tankless water heater prices for DIY are below.

Average Cost of Tankless Water Heater Installation

Expect plumbing contractor estimates of about $950 for each point of use electric water heater you have installed. When you have 2-4 electric units installed, the total cost is similar to having a single whole-house gas tankless water heater installed for a national-average cost of $3,400.

Prices include the unit, installation supplies including wiring and venting materials where needed and the cost of labor to do the work.

Average Do It Yourself cost

$600 – $2,400

Average Contractor Installed Cost

$850 – $4,400

Typical Cost Average

$1,200 – $3,800

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Overview of Tankless Water Heaters

Electric tankless water heaters come in whole-house sizes and smaller units for a single point of use such as a bathroom faucet or one dedicated to filling a hot tub. While operating costs for electric are much higher than for natural gas units, installation costs are significantly reduced because they don’t require exhaust venting.

Gas tankless water heaters are always sized to serve an entire home, or 2-5 locations at once based on flow rates measured in gallons per minute, or GPM.

In addition to on-demand hot water, tankless units save floor space and are energy efficient. Many last longer than traditional tank-style water heaters, because it is usually the tank that fails from corrosion or leaks.

Most gas-fired tankless heaters burn natural gas, but propane versions are available in many models.

Popular gas models have a maximum delivery of 7.0 to 12.0 gallons per minute when the incoming water is about 70 degrees. But in most of the country, underground temperatures where pipes are running are usually 45-65 degrees. As a result, a unit with a maximum GPM of 10.0 might only deliver 4.5-7.0 GPM, so ground temperatures must be considered when sizing the gas water heater for your home. This issue is avoided with electric units, most of which deliver between 0.6 and 5.0 GPM.

Gas water heaters on this page of Business Finance News include venting an indoor unit – outdoor units are available that require little-to-no venting, but they aren’t recommended in the coldest climates.

Expect an additional cost to run a gas line to the installation point or an electrical circuit and wiring. If a gas line is in place but doesn’t have a shut-off valve, you’ll probably have to install one on during this project to bring the plumbing up to code.

Cost Tip: While you will reduce energy bills in the years ahead with a tankless water heater, the lifetime cost will be higher than if you buy a traditional tank style water heater due to the higher upfront equipment cost of a tankless model.

Product and Installation Supplies Cost Details

Tankless Water Heater Cost Factors

Whether you spend less than $600 or more than $4,000 on your tankless hot water heater depends on which options you choose.

  • Gas or Electric – Gas heaters cost more for the unit and installation.
  • DIY or Pro – You can save 40-60% on the job by DIY, but there are inherent risks too. See the DIY or Not below for issues to consider and our recommendation.
  • Flow Rate – AKA size or BTU capacity, the flow rate of your tankless water heater is the gallons per minute (GPM/gpm) the water heater can put out at the desired temperature. Gas tankless water heaters range in maximum flow rates from about 5.5 GPM (120,000 BTU) to 11.0 GPM (199,000 BTU). Electric models range from about 0.6 GPM to 6.0 GPM, or about 8kW to 36kW.
  • Efficiency – Gas water heaters have efficiency ratings between about 81% and 96%. The more efficient the unit, all things being equal, the higher the cost. Units above 90% efficiency contain a secondary heat exchanger to transfer more heat from combustion gases and are known as condensing water heaters. They require stainless steel vents. The additional and upgraded materials cause the higher cost.
  • Brand Quality – A few brands like Navien and Noritz for gas-fired models and Stiebel  Eltron in electric are considered premium brands and come with higher costs than Rheem, Rinnai, A.O. Smith, Takagi, EcoSmart and others.
  • Indoor vs Outdoor – The cost of outdoor installation typically runs $350-$1,000 more than an indoor installation due to venting material and labor costs.
  • Recirculating Equipment and Supplies –The addition of a recirculating pump and water line are also not included in these costs.
  • Installation Access and Complexity – Like any installation project, some jobs are more difficult, such as attic or crawlspace installation vs basement or garage installation, so they take more time. Installers eyeball the job, have a good idea of how much time it will require and factor time into their estimate.
  • Removal and Disposal – If an old unit is being replaced, expect a charge of $80-$150 to remove it and get rid of it.
  • Where you live – The labor costs to hire a licensed plumber to install your tankless water heater varies along with the local cost of living for your region.  Midwestern states seem to be around 20%-30% cheaper than Coastal states, with the highest costs in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and, of course, Alaska and Hawaii.

Cost of Retail Supplies

If you DIY or source your own water heater for a plumber to install, here are costs for units and the most common installation supplies.

  • $400 – $900 | Electric Point of Use and Whole House Water Heater – Cost is based on output and quality.
  • $650 – $2,600 | Gas Tankless Water Heater – Tankless gas water heater cost depending on the flow rate/size, efficiency and features.
  • $40 – $100 | Vent Kit – Needed for indoor installation.
  • $20 – $35 | Gas Connector Kit – Needed to connect the unit to the gas line.
  • $15 – $40 | Fittings and Hardware
  • $10 – $14 per foot | Insulation and Piping – Materials needed to vent an indoor tankless water heater.

Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time

Permits and Inspection Cost

  • $150 – $500 | A permit is required for the installation of a tankless water heater.  Cost varies based on what installation features, such as the unit only or the water heater plus a gas line or electric circuit. Your licensed plumber will most likely pull the permit for you and include it in your overall bill for the installation process. Two inspections might be included if a new gas line is run – one to inspect the gas line and general setup, and the second to inspect and test the completed installation.

Related Costs and Installation Time

Pro installation is often handled by a plumber or mechanical contractor.  A licensed plumber or contractor will charge anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour for their labor.  The Home Depot gives $3,500 as the average total cost of a gas tankless model, which is the upper limit of the range given by HomeGuide. For electric models, Homewyse gives a per-unit cost average of $1,400 for a whole-house 5.0 GPM model.

These price estimates are consistent with our pricing, and a good chunk of that is the labor side of the equation – $800 to $1,200 per Remodeling Expense for most models, but we’ve seen higher for complex gas unit installations.

The installation process will take 3 to 6 hours to complete.  If you need to run electric lines or run a gas line your installation take longer and will be more costly.  See Costs of Related Projects to learn more.

If you need a gas line for your tankless water heater you will have to pay by the foot and hire a plumber for the job.  You can expect to pay between $20 -$26 dollars per linear foot for the new gas line for your tankless water heater.

Costs of Related Projects

Cost to have a circuit breaker installed: If your tankless water heater requires its own electrical circuit, cost will range from about $130 to $280 for the installation of the circuit breaker. Running wiring to the water heater will cost another $200 to $350 for time and materials.

How much does it cost to run a gas line? The average cost is about $24 per linear foot, though most contractors will have a minimum fee for the work of at least $100. Most jobs range from $150 to $400 based on the length of the line.

Cost to replace a water heater: Compare the cost of a standard water heater in this Costimate, or cost estimate.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

On some projects we like to say, “if you’re asking whether DIY is a good idea, then it probably isn’t.”

We recommend pro installation for anyone without experience connecting gas lines and venting combustion gases, since they contain carbon monoxide. Dangerous risks also come with installing an electrical circuit and wiring an electric tankless water heater.

In short, there is potential for problem – and most can be avoided with pro installation.

The bottom line is that hiring a professional will also help ensure that your project meets code, avoiding delays and hassles, and you won’t have to rely on the plumbing inspector to make sure your water heater will operate safely.

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