Rinnai Gas Tankless Water Heater Reviews, Installation Cost and Buying Guide 2018

Before you dive into the specific brand review, we highly recommend you to read our elaborate Tankless Water Heater Buying Guide in advance. There are several crucial steps you need to take before you even start to think about the brand.

In addition, we’ve prepared guides for other gas tankless water heaters useful for comparing brands. They include:

Introduction to Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters

Rinnai was formed in 1920 in Japan. The company began making water heaters in 1964 and opened a US office in 1974. The brand’s water heaters are made in Japan, but in 2017, Rinnai announced that it will build a manufacturing plant in the US., the first manufacturer of tankless gas water heaters to do so.  Rinnai is currently the best-selling tankless water heater brand in North America.

Rinnai’s residential water heaters are all gas-fired units with enough capacity to provide hot water for an entire household (i.e., whole-house units). Here are the current Rinnai heater models.

SeriesFuelMax BTUEF/UEFMax. GPMCirculatingCondensingIndoor/OutdoorWiFiWarrantyVentingModels in Series                
SE+ RURNG/LP199K.95/0.929.8,Built-inYesBothYes12 yearsDirect98iN, 98iP, 98eN, 98eP
SE+ RUCNG/LP199K.96/.928.0, 9.0, 9.8AvailableYesIndoorYes12 yearsDirect80iN, 80iP, 90iN, 90iP, 98iN, 98iP
SE+ RUNG/LP199K.96/.928.0, 9.0, 9.8AvailableYesOutdoorYes12 yearsN/A80eN, 80eP, 90eN, 90eP, 98eN, 98eP
SE RUCSNG/LP160K.93/.906.5, 7.5AvailableYesIndoorYes12 yearsDirect65iN, 65iP, 75iN, 75iP
SE RUSNG/LP160K.93/.906.5, 7.5NoYesOutdoorYes12 yearsN/A65eN, 65eP, 75eN, 75eP
HE+ RLNG/LP199K.82/.817.5, 9.8AvailableNoBothYes12 yearsDirect75iN,75iP,75eN,75eP,94iN,94iP,94eN,94eP
HE+ RLXNG192K.82/.819.8,AvailableNoIndoorYes12 yearsDirect94iN
HE VNG160K.82/.817.5, 9.8NoNoIndoorNo12 yearsDirect53eN,53eP,65iN,65iP,65eN,65eP,75iN,75iP,75eN,75eP,94iN,94iP,94eN,94eP,94XiN

Important Note on Max. GPM: This column represents the maximum gallons per minute flow rate the heater can produce. Maximum GPM flow is achievable only when the incoming water is quite warm. The colder the incoming water is, the longer it must be heated to reach the thermostat setting on the tankless water heater, so the lower the GPM flow rate will be. In tankless water heater specifications, you’ll see information such as “Flow rate @ 70°F temp rise is 4.3 GPM.” That’s from a unit with Max. GPM of 7.5 GPM and means that if the temperature of the incoming water must be raised by 70 degrees Fahrenheit to reach the thermostat setpoint, then only 4.3 gallons per minute of hot water can be expected. For more information on this important topic, see the related section in our Tankless Water Heater Buying Guide.

Additional notes: 

  • Series Names: Series SE+ stands for Super High Efficiency Plus; SE is Super High Efficiency; HE+ is High Efficiency Plus; HE is High Efficiency
  • EF/UEF: Water heater efficiency is listed as EF (Energy Factor) or UEF (Uniform Energy Factor). EF is an outdated measure and is typically 2-3 percent higher than the UEF, which was implemented in 2017 by the US Department of Energy to produce more consistent ratings across the industry.
  • Energy Star models: SE+ and SE Series water heaters are Energy Star compliant
  • Ultra Low-NOx: RLX models meet standards where reduced noxious emissions are required
  • Warranties: Warranties listed in the table are for the heat exchanger. Rinnai backs its units with 5-year general parts and 1-year labor warranties.
  • Model number key:
    • The number typically means maximum gallons per minute flow rate (but there are a few exceptions such as the RL94 and RLX94 models have a max. GPM of 9.8.
    • An “i” = Indoor; An “e” = Exterior/Outdoor installation
    • N = Natural gas; P = Propane
    • Example: The RUR 98iN is a unit with maximum flow rate of 9.8GPM, is designed for Indoor use and is fired by Natural Gas.

Rinnai Water Heater Features Analysis

There are several Rinnai water heater features not covered in the table that will help you decide which unit best suits your requirements.

  • Condensing vs. Non-condensing: SE+ and SE Series Rinnai water heaters use condensing technology to achieve highest possible efficiency. This means they use exhaust gases in addition to their burners to heat water. This makes them more efficient and easier to vent, but the units are costlier. Our Buying Guide section on Condensing vs. Non-condensing units gives details on the technology and covers pros and cons for each.
  • Circulating models: Circulating technology means that water in the pipe leading from the water heater to each point of use can be periodically circulated back through the heater for reheating. This eliminates having to wait for the water at the tap to get warm. The downside is that the unit will use energy to heat water that might not be used and have to be reheated. The SE+ RUR model has a built-in recirculating pipe, technology the brand calls ThermaCirc360. Many other models work with Rinnai’s Circ-Logic technology that includes an external pump, an option that can be added during installation. The RUR Series is the only series in which models designed for exterior/outside installation offer recirculation.
  • Gas line size: Models with a maximum GPM of 9.8 are not compatible with a standard ½” gas line. You will have install a ¾” gas line to feed these units if you don’t already have one, and that’s an added cost.
  • Remote monitoring and control: Rinnai WiFi enabled tankless water heaters are outfitted with the Rinnai Control-R wireless module. It allows you to monitor and adjust the temperature using the app and your smart devices. The technology also allows technicians to remotely diagnose issues.
  • Outdoor water heaters: Outdoor units are insulated to prevent freezing, but they might not be suitable for your climate if winter temperatures are very cold. Outdoor tankless water heaters are used to fill hot tubs, add warm water to heated pools and similar uses. They can also supply water indoors, and they have the advantage of not requiring the installation of an exhaust vent.

How Rinnai Compare to Other Tankless Brands

The consumer ratings for Rinnai are among the very best. The brand is considered reliable, though about 15% of Rinnai units have a serious mechanical issue in the first decade.

Rinnai makes both condensing and non-condensing models, in contrast to Navien that makes only condensing tankless water heaters. The SE+ RUR is one of a few tankless models with a built-in recirculating pump. More Rinnai models come ready for WiFi than the number of models from any other brand.

Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Prices

How much does a Rinnai water heater cost?

Here are prices for the unit only. Installation costs follow.

Rinnai Models
Unit Cost Only
SE+ RUR9.8
SE+ RUC8, 9, 9.8
SE+ RU8, 9, 9.8
SE RUCS6.5, 7.5
SE RUS6.5, 7.5
HE+ RL7.5, 9.8
HE+ RLX9.8$1,475-$1,500
HE V7.5, 9.8$650-$865

When shopping for Rinnai products online, you’ll find that some sellers don’t list the series. For example, instead of Rinnai SE+ RUR, the listing will be Rinnai RUR.

Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Installation and Cost

Your tankless water heater installation cost will depend on several factors including:

  • Outdoor (no cost for venting, higher cost to run gas line) or indoor (higher venting cost, lower cost to run gas line, if needed)
  • Any additional plumbing lines installed
  • Whether a ¾” gas line is needed (199,000 BTU models only)
  • The specific type of venting
  • Recirculating accessories ($250-$600)

Depending on the factors that apply, expect Rinnai tankless water heater installation cost estimates to be between $600 and $1,450 plus accessories. If you’d like to receive no-cost, no-obligation estimates from top installers in your area, use our Free Local Quote option. The installers are licensed and insured, and they know they’re competing for your work.

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