What Do They Have To Offer?
Noritz is a simple brand: what they do is POWER, and lots of it. Their rough baseline for power and flow is where other brands start to top out. As you might expect though, this also means that Noritz has the highest baseline price of any other brand on the market.
Given that, you definitely don’t want to pick the wrong one; that could be an expensive mistake. Luckily for you, I’ve looked through Noritz’ selection and narrowed it down to the best of the best in terms of price, power, and some nice little extra features.
This list is a bit short, but that’s mostly because these next four options are unequivocally the best Noritz has to offer, and there’s a lot I can say about each one.
OUR TOP CHOICE
- High natural efficiency, heat, and flow
- Built in recirculation pump
- Good solid powerful machine
A Quick Overview Of Terms
I use a few uncommon abbreviations and terms in this article, which I’ll quickly explain here:
British Thermal Unit (per hour), the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water one degree. The higher this number, the hotter your tankless water heater.
Gallons per minute. In this context, how many gallons per minute a tankless water heater can effectively heat without starting to output cold bursts. Bigger is better, once again.
A condensing heater keeps the propane or natural gas more highly compressed, resulting in more efficient heat output that isn’t as affected by the weather. Non-condensing units (the majority) lack this feature and may perform up to 50% less efficiently in cold weather.
Top 5 Rated Models
This is pretty much everything I look for in a tankless water heater.
Also known as the “NRCP1112-DV-NG” (boy, what a mouthful), the name is really all I have to complain about with this model and most of the other ones, actually).
It has the high-end 199k BTUh you’d expect from a top of the line propane or natural gas tankless water heater, paired with an 11.1 GPM maximum flow rate in warmer climates (it still hits an impressive ~8 GPM in colder climates), and a condensing heater.
The energy efficiency could be better (it’s only 94%; a lot better than non-condensing heaters but a fair bit worse than the 98% most condensing tankless water heaters achieve) but it doesn’t impact its ability to perform overly much.
In addition to those raw stats it also has a selection of other great utility features. These range from the simple, relatively standard ones like “ultra-low” NOx emissions and remote control to bigger draws, the main one of these being its recirculation system.
Having a recirculation pump built into your tankless water heater is a godsend and more than makes up for its lower raw efficiency. Essentially what this does is if your home has a recirculation line it runs the hot water that goes into your sink or shower drain recirculates into the main flow.
For homes that don’t have a dedicated recirculation line (which is common), you can get a conversion kit that turns your cold water line into a makeshift recirculation line whenever you please for a bit of extra money and work, so this is still a great feature, but makes it a little more cumbersome to use (the line would need to be manually toggled on when you wanted the recirculation system to actually start doing its magic).
This recirculation means less of the hot water is wasted, putting less strain on your heater and effectively increasing the GPM of your tankless water heater far beyond what the (already INCREDIBLY high in this case) listed value is, since it’s already hot and is just being shot back through your pipes.
Any notion of cold bursts goes completely out the window, and allows you to turn on an extra sink or run the dishwasher while someone (or multiple someones, since this one can already run 3-4 sinks or faucets at once) is showering or filling a bathtub without worrying about shocking them with cold.
This is controlled by one of a few methods. You can manually turn it on, you can set it to automatically turn on with a timer at certain times of day (I personally don’t have a set time of day I shower, but many do), or near as I can tell entirely unique to Noritz, have the pump learn your schedule and turn on at the right times automatically if it begins to notice a trend for when you manually turn it on, which is interesting and pretty cool, though Noritz doesn’t go into detail exactly how computerized this model is in order to do that.
All this for under $1500 is simply astounding. While it lacks some of the other fancier features of some brands with the same price (namely Rinnai, and some high-end Rheem models) and doesn’t have much commercial application (you can only link up to two of these together, unlike the commercial Rinnai models), this is hands down the best model Noritz provides, and a strong contender for the best natural gas tankless water heater on the market today.
I cannot overstate that if you need this kind of water flow, this is probably the best option out there, bar none.
If I had to pick one major REAL gripe with this machine (and all of the Noritz brand tankless water heaters on our list) it would be the size. Make sure you have enough room to install one of these suckers because they are ENORMOUS.
They’re all in the same ballpark size as this one: 27.6 inches tall, 17.3 inches wide, and 14.8 inches deep. Some of them are a couple of inches smaller on any side, but they’re all about that huge. Noritz does not do “sleek” or “compact”, and this WILL take up a lot of space in your home, arguably negating one of the lesser talked about advantages of a tankless water heater (it frees up more space to use in your garage, utility room, or wherever you would have stored a tank).
Keep that in mind when looking at any of these Noritz tankless water heaters.
2. EZ Series 9.8 GPM
Not as good as the best, but still good enough.
A solid 180k BTUh maximum heat output with a 9.8 GPM in warm climates (with a still respectable 6.3 GPM in colder climates, and a somewhat less so 5 GPM in VERY cold areas) starts us off with this bad boy. It’s significantly less powerful than our winner, but a little more efficient (it is a 96% efficient condensing tankless water heater rather than 94%).
The main claim to fame here is easy to install package. Unlike many tankless water heaters (which have their water connections on the sides), these plug in at the top, making it easy to use any existing connections to plug it into your water pipes. This means it requires no retrofitting or installation of new pipelines, which is quite a nice bonus.
My main gripe is the price, at under $1500. That puts it at a little cheaper than our winner, putting it in an awkward spot where if you already need around 10 GPM…why does not shell out the extra for 11?
Still, it’s not BAD for all that, just awkwardly priced, and not as much so as some other brands (Ecosmart in particular).
The little brother to our winner.
This shares everything our winner has in terms of features (including the excellent built in recirculation pump), it’s just its performance is a bit…less. Not by a lot, but by enough to bump it down a notch.
As the header implies, it is 10.1 GPM (6.4 GPM in the cold, 5.4 GPM in the VERY cold) and it has a maximum heat output of 180k BTUh in its 94% efficient condensing natural gas heater.
Much like the above entry, this one loses out the top slot not just because of lower effectiveness, but awkward pricing. This one will run you under $100 more than our previous entry so the slight decrease begs the question of “Why not spend the little extra to get an even better model?”.
You may not need it, and that’s a valid answer to that question, but especially in the very cold climates that extra 1.5 GPM or so can be well worth the $100 extra (especially since you’re already throwing down well over $1000 for something you’re going to be using for over a decade; all of these models have a 2-year warranty after all).
It’s interesting how often tankless water heaters fall into this trap when comparing prices for any given brand. I suppose it’s unavoidable given the manufacturing costs are probably about the same for all of these models given they sit around the same size and close to the same power.
4. EZ Series 11.1 GPM
The bigger, badder cousin of the 9.8 EZ.
This is a strong contender. I’d say this one probably beats out our winner if you don’t have a recirculation line already built into your home and don’t want to install one or get the conversion kit (which can be another couple of hundred dollars or more).
It shares just about everything in terms of performance: 11.1 GPM max (7.2 GPM in the cold, and 6.1 GPM where the groundwater is 35 degrees or so) with a 199k maximum BTUh in its 96% (2% better than our winner) condensing heater.
This is a very, very good option if you’re not interested in the recirculation line…but it’s very slightly cheaper than the winner here, and that recirculation pump is HUGE in terms of how awesome it can be for increasing the longevity and efficiency of your heater.
Given that almost nonexistent price difference I couldn’t conscience recommending this as the best, but it is a very strong runner-up for someone who’s not interested in the main extra feature of the NRCP series and IS interested in the easy install features of the EZ series.
Basically, it just comes down to your personal preference. They share the same power and general use, so pick your poison.
The Overall Winner
This is pretty much everything I look for in a tankless water heater.
The clear winner here is, of course, the NRCP1112. Between its high natural efficiency, heat, and flow combined with its built in recirculation pump. The size remains my only real gripe with this model.
None of the rest are particularly bad, and really quite good (all of them are contenders for best on the market, actually), but pale in comparison to the NRCP1112’s full package when factoring in what you get for its pricing.
The only thing it clearly loses out on is ease of installation, but all of its other downsides are really just minor gripes (like the 2% lower efficiency rating compared to its peers). Noritz has quickly become one of my favorite brands just for their sheer refreshing GOODNESS. No gimmicks, few extras, but just good solid powerful machines that do their work and can take a beating.