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Rinnai vs. Navien: Choosing a Tankless Water Heater

Rinnai vs. Navien: Choosing a Tankless Water Heater

by HVAC Distributors

A water heater is one of the most essential appliances in a home. Homeowners depend on them for everything from bathing, to cooking, to cleaning their clothes. Ultimately, the best brand for a specific project depends on the homeowner’s needs and the contractor’s expertise. A good contractor should be able to assess the situation and recommend the most suitable tankless water heater option, considering Rinnai, Navien, or other brands.

Before we dive into which product is best for a household, it is crucial to understand how a tankless water heater works.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

According to Rinnai (2023), with a tankless water heater, a home’s cold water is heated only when needed. It stays hot until you are done using it. This results in a limitless hot water supply and little to no wasted energy usage. Tankless water heaters can work with natural gas and propane heat sources.

Now that we have an understanding of how a tankless water heater works, let’s take a look at which product best fits the homeowner’s needs.  It’s not a secret that Rinnai and Navien are some of the best brands in industry when it comes to high quality water heaters.  Now, let’s discuss what sets them apart.

Rinnai vs. Navien: Condensing Models

First, we will look at the pros of condensing models. Rinnai provides the RSC Model Series. These compact units can provide hot water in up to six places in the home. Navien offers the NPE-A2 Advanced. This model includes EZNav™, a multi-line control with built-in intuitive software.

Pros – Rinnai SENSEI RX Model Series:

  • Rinnai Smart-Circ™ Intelligent Recirculation™ technology “learns” your hot water usage over a seven-day period, then schedules pump and tankless recirculation accordingly
  • This new condensing model has up to 0.98UEF, offering unsurpassed efficiency and energy savings.
  • Rinnai gives installing PROs faster setup with Bluetooth connect (not requiring a Wi-Fi connection).
  • This model series can be installed indoors or outdoors.
  • Self-adjusts to either natural gas or propane – no conversion kit needed!

Pros – Navien NPE-A2 Advanced:

  • Navien’s backlit EZNav™ control panel uses simple text and icons to make setup, operation status and troubleshooting faster and easier.
  • Navien’s ComfortFlow® system includes a buffer tank, recirculation pump, and fine-tuned controls into a tankless water heater, resolving the cold-water sandwich effect.
  • The built-in recirculation pump allows the NPE-A2 tankless water heaters to recirculate water through an external recirc line or existing supply lines using NaviCirc®, without needing external pumps or controls.

Rinnai vs. Navien: Non-Condensing Models

Now, let’s look at the pros of non-condensing models. Rinnai provides the RE Model Series while Navien showcases the NHW-A Model.

Pros – Rinnai RE Model Series:

  • Has an LED screen feature that allows you to set maintenance, provides error codes, and alerts for maintenance intervals.
  • Meant for small spaces. This model is the size of a suitcase and is designed to free up more space in the home.
  • Available in interior and exterior models.

Pros – Navien NHW-A Model:

  • Available in interior and exterior models.
  • This recirculation system allows for internal or external recirculation without an external line or crossover valve.

Cons with Tankless Water Heaters:

According to Apri’s Industries LTD (2024), there are a few disadvantages to note before investing in a tankless water heater.

  • They tend to be more expensive compared to tank water heaters.
  • In some cases, fuel access will need to be established before the installation. If the new water heater runs on gas or electricity, the installer may need to run new lines for the fuel access points.
  • You may find yourself needing multiple units, as tankless water heaters have a limit on the effectiveness of water they supply to a busy household.

When choosing a tankless water heater to install, it is best to know which model brings the most value to your customers.  While both Navien™ and Rinnai™ have unique selling points, Rinnai often comes out as the frontrunner, boasting higher efficiencies and forward-thinking technologies.

Here are some reasons you might prefer Rinnai tankless water heaters over Navien for your customers:

  • Higher Efficiency Offerings: Rinnai models boast an efficiency range of 82% to 98% compared to Navien’s 82% to 95%. This translates to lower energy bills for the homeowner.

  • Higher BTU Output: Rinnai offers models with a maximum BTU output of 199,000, which Navien doesn’t quite match. This could be a selling point for customers needing to supply hot water for multiple bathrooms or large households.

  • Better pairing with existing systems: Rinnai heaters might integrate well with existing hydronic heating systems, allowing for a furnace replacement without needing a high-efficiency furnace model [1].

Check out the Rinnai SENSEI® RX Models when choosing a tankless water heater. These models are the next generation of tankless water heating. It has the highest efficiency available, can be installed indoors or outdoors using natural gas or liquid propane, and with Rinnai’s Smart Connect, homeowners can connect their smart devices via Bluetooth to the the Rinnai Central app.

With over 55 different types of water heaters offered by Rinnai™ there is truly a Rinnai Tankless Water Heater solution for anyone.

Remember, installing a new tankless water heater is an investment for a homeowner. If you have questions about which tankless water heater to install or which model is right for you, reach out to your HVAC Distributors, Inc. Account Manager for more information.


Apri’s Industries LTD. (2024). The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters.
Rinnai. (2023). Tankless 101.