Among the most common brands we see on the tankless water heater market, Rinnai and Navien take a very enviable place. Rinnai vs Navien – which one is better for your needs?
These brands provide some impressive features on their items which is what attracts so many people to them.
However, there are some considerable differences to look into and the huge roster they have may make it hard to pick out a water heater that fits your needs.
Rinnai vs Navien – Intro
Due to the fact that both of these brands have a lot of quality associated with their items, it’s difficult to immediately deduce the better of the two.
However, what we can immediately distinguish is that both companies focus on providing powerful tankless water heating options. This makes perfect sense for two companies that aim to deliver quality, as tankless water heaters have some inherent advantages.
Rinnai goes the extra mile when it comes to lessening expenses while Navien gives us more options to orient our purchase around. They focus on certain strengths of the tankless water heaters that make the items a better choice overall than standard ones.
Of course, the features that make these two brands so popular run far deeper than the aforementioned benefits. Both convenience of Rinnai and Navien efficiency will get a proper look in the following article.
Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters
The Rinnai brand is one that stretches way back into the past. You may not expect it but this water heater business has been going for 100 years. They released their first tankless water heater back in 1921.
That was way before Navien even existed.
Since then Rinnai decided to make the majority of their key components in-house. This allows them to have better quality control and give longer warranty compared to other brands.
The brand aims to provide reliable and durable tankless water heaters that will allow you access to hot water at any point during the day. Rinnai water heaters are considered the number one company for tankless water heaters in North America.
Their water heaters are used by a slew of popular companies, a list of which can be seen on Rinnai’s website. [source]
This may be the best showcase of how potent their offer is but that doesn’t mean our look into their items stops there.
It’s important to note that Rinnai is big on gas water heaters. All of their heaters are fueled by either natural gas or propane, regardless of whether they have a tank or not. [Rinnai FAQ Page]
Both options can be installed inside and outside of your residential property.
The Rinnai does this due to their focus on heating up bigger amounts of water for a lower price. By using electricity they would highly increatse the costs of running the heater so they stick to gas with all of their models.
Navien Tankless Water Heaters
Navien has its own accolades to share when it comes to water heaters. While they have a far shorter legacy, only being founded in 1978, they have done well to establish themselves in the world of water heaters.
Their models have won plentiful awards in electrical and plumbing categories. The most recent one being the Navien NFC-H Combi-Boiler winning the 2021 FacilitiesNet Vision Award for HVAC. [source]
With that bit of info, we can rest assured knowing that Navien isn’t a brand past its prime. In fact it’s still managing to prominently showcase quality products.
Navien offers a choice of water heaters that goes beyond simple household ones. They also feature commercial-grade items that can be found on the same website. 
Unlike the Rinnai, Navien can offer water treatment systems for both residential and commercial use.
Rinnai vs Navien Reliability
Let’s talk about reliability. The more reliable a water heater is the less likely we are to end up having to repair it. This can be exceptionally troublesome for tankless water heaters so it’s nicer to have that extra reliability to go.
This is why we want to make sure the water heaters you purchase are fully reliable.
Common issues or short lifespan aren’t something you want when purchasing a water heater. Let’s see how the two brands fare when it comes to these.
Rinnai is an exceptionally reliable company that offers long-lasting products no matter the model you are after. Rinnai heaters are known to have a lifespan of over 20 years, if proper cleaning and maintenance is done.
This means two decades without having to worry about new water heaters. There are also no issues common to the brand itself, the problems of tankless water heaters also don’t crop up in any greater capacity on these heaters.
When it comes to Navien there are slight changes when compared to Rinnai.
While Navien heaters can last up to 20 years, just like Rinnai, their life expectancy is usually closer to 15 years. This is still a rather long period of time for a product as integral to our everyday life as a water heater is.
However, the more troublesome factor when it comes to Navien water heaters is the possibility of significant mechanical issues within the first ten years. These problems may show up in 1/5 Navien tankless water heaters and could shorten the overall lifespan of the item.
Reliability is quite important and we can see that both of the brands we are looking at offer ample reliability. Keep in mind that even Navien’s potential problems still show up deep into its lifespan meaning it’ll serve you well for quite a long time before potentially requiring repairs.
While important, reliability isn’t everything. Up next are features that make these brands so potent and their items so well-received.
Rinnai vs Navien Features Compared
After all that talk, it’s time to look at the positives and negatives of these water heater companies. Their unique approaches to design will tell us which one boasts better value for your money.
- Energy efficiency
Navien water heaters have some of the highest efficiency on the market. Their condensing technology is capable of providing up to 0.96 UEF, guaranteeing that the energy you expend on them won’t be wasted. It also saves us money by allowing us to run the heater for a shorter time for the same effects. 
Rinnai on the other hand, have slightly lower efficiency but they are still very close to Navien in terms of efficiency.
It’s a given that you won’t get as much out of them but the losses aren’t considerable. The “Ultra” series gets very close to Navien’s top models but still falls short by a slight margin, meaning Navien still takes the win here.
There are bad sides to owning a Navien water heater. The most apparent one will be the noise their water heaters produce. While it’s nothing extreme, their water heaters do operate at a higher volume than most.
Whenever it’s turned on there will be a decently loud sound of water flowing through it. It’s not a huge issue but if you are sensitive to these types of things Navien may not be a good pick for you.
On the other hand, Rinnai water heaters are mostly silent. While you may hear a sound occasionally, their operating procedure is rather quiet. Although it’s given that water heaters will make some noise Rinnai is definitely on the quieter side.
- Customer support
A bigger concern comes from the brand’s mediocre customer support. The service issues are especially noticeable in places like the UK, garnering a lot of negative feedback. This may never come into play for you but as we’ve said before, Navien does have some common malfunctions you’d prefer to have good customer support for.
Rinnai offers simple customer support that adheres to all of your needs, although there’s nothing special about it.
- Installation process
Navien offers a simple installation process for those who are more into the DIY style of household installations. They include mounting systems with the item itself so you won’t need to obtain too many additional tools to mount the item. 
The same cannot be said for Rinnai as they do have a more complicated system with no assisting items such as the mounting system. The venting system does allow them to be installed both on the inside and outside of the house so that’s the trade-off you are given.
On the other hand, Rinnai does have a wide web of pro plumbers and technicians that can provide installation services but if you want to do your own thing you’ll have some issues.
Rinnai does provide eco-efficient heating which reduces emissions, giving us a cleaner use of energy. It doesn’t stop there as Rinnai boasts cheaper heating as well, which is their key focus as a company so it makes sense.
While Navien doesn’t stray too far from this path they trade off some ecological aspects for greater power.
Overall, we always suggest Rinnai water heaters running on natural gas. They are more reliable, silent and will provide you a cheaper heating.
On the other hand, Navien can provide good efficiency, but we are not so familiar with quality of these heaters in recent years.
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