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Tank Water Heater or Tankless Water Heater: The Pros & Cons

Rubber duck in Bath

 

One of the worst things that can happen to a homeowner is waking in the morning, going to take your hot shower to start your day and discovering you have not hot water.

If you are in the market for a hot water heater, or you are interested in the pros and cons of a tankless water heater, we have the information you need.

Traditional Water Heater

Water heaters are large metal cylinders that heat the water and store it heated until it is ready to be used.  The tank temperature can be set to your desired temperature (typically between 120- and 180-degrees Fahrenheit).  The water is heated by a burner or element that stays on until the water reaches the set temperature.  The hot water rises to the top of the tank and the water exiting the tank for the shower tap or sink tap comes from the top of the tank.

Tankless Water Heater

Also known as “Demand Water Heater”, provides hot water only as needed.  Tankless water heaters heat the water directly without storing it. When the hot water is turned on at the tap, the cold-water travels into the unit through a pipe.  The unit, either through gas burner or an electric element, heats the water and delivers the water through the tap.

The Pros and Cons

Traditional Water Heater Pros

  • Cost. The cost of a traditional water heater is typically less expensive thank a tankless water heater and it is also less expensive to have it installed.
  • Installation. Installing a traditional water heater is usually less expensive than a tankless unit.
  • Hot Water Supply. When you want a hot shower or bath you want the hot water on demand.  With a traditional water heater, the storage tank provides a supply of ready-to-use hot water. Additionally, if there is an emergency and your home is without power or gas a tank water heater will keep a supply of hot water ready to use (until it cools.) So, you will still have hot water.

Traditional Water Heater Cons

  • Space. A tank water heater is large and heavy.  The more water stored the larger the tank.  Homes with basements have space for a large tank water heater.  Homes without basements need a large enough area to house the water heater, which can eat into floor space.
  • Maintenance. Traditional water heaters require maintenance, including descaling.  Depending on the water quality in the area, whether the water is hard or soft, mineral deposits can form and need to e removed.  In addition to regular descaling, if the water heater breaks swapping out individual parts to repair is not usually possible.
  • Life-Span. The lifespan of a traditional water heater is around 6 to 12 years if properly maintained.  (This can be around half of the lifespan of a tankless water heater.)  So, while you may save money up-front on a traditional water heater install, you may be replacing the water heater more often than a tankless unit.

Tankless Water Heater Pros

  • Long-Term Cost. Tankless water heaters heat up water as it is needed, as a result the hot water supply and the demand for hot water are equal and will save energy and cost.  Over the years this can add up to serious savings.
  • Hot Water Supply. Tankless water heaters heat up all the hot water needed.  With a traditional water heater there is a limited amount of hot water available, the amount in the tank.
  • Maintenance. Tankless water heaters still require maintenance.  Though tankless water heaters are built using modular construction, which means swapping out parts for repair can be done.  Making repair less costly and avoiding replacing the entire unit.
  • Life-Span. The average life span of a tankless water heater is 10 to 15 years.

Tankless Water Heater Cons

  • Cost. The upfront cost of purchasing a tankless water heater is higher.  The parts used to build a tankless water heater are higher quality and use more powerful burners, which drives the initial cost higher than a traditional water heater.
  • Installation. Installation of a tankless water heater may require additional expenses.  Converting from a tank to tankless may require new piping, gas line, plumbing and new venting.  Electric tankless units require a higher electricity requirement, as the amp usage is higher than what a typical house can handle.
  • Hot Water Supply. During a gas or power loss there is no hot water on reserve. If the tankless unit is unable to operate, there will be no hot water.

Get Help Deciding

IF you are unsure about the type of water heater to install in your home, contact a licensed, professional Plumber to help figure out the option that will work best for your home.

The professionals at TR Miller Now can help you figure out the type of water heater than will fit your needs and your budget best.  Be sure check out our Plumbing Specials to see any current savings for both traditional and tankless water heater options.