Jun. 15, 2020
If you’re in the market for a new water heater, you’re probably wondering whether a tank or a tankless heater is the best option for your home.
The answer is: “It depends.”
Tank and tankless water heaters have different benefits, and whether a tank or a tankless heater is best for your home totally depends on which benefits you find most important. Below, we’ll compare both tank and tankless heaters in terms of:
- Amount of hot water produced
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Tankless water heaters cost more to install than tank water heaters do. Typically, a tankless water heater will cost you around $5,300 whereas a tank water heater will cost around $1,200.
Tank vs. Tankless: Cost
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than tank water heaters for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that tankless water heaters last quite a bit longer than tankless ones do. You can get around 20 years from a tankless water heater, whereas tank water heaters usually last about 10- 15 years.
Tank water heaters usually don’t last as long as tankless ones do because tank water heaters have to keep a set amount of water heated at all times (whereas tankless water heaters simply heat water as it passes through). This constant heating puts a lot of strain on tank water heater parts and can cause them to wear out faster. In addition, a tank water heater is constantly full of water, which can lead internal parts to rust over 10-15 years (especially if your heater has not been properly maintained).
Tankless water heaters are usually more efficient than tank water heaters.
Tank vs. Tankless: Efficiency
According to Energy.gov, tankless water heaters can be 24-34% more efficient than tank water heaters for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water a day.
The main reason that tankless water heaters are more efficient is because they aren’t keeping a set amount of water constantly heated. This allows them to only expend energy to heat the water once, as opposed to keeping it heated for hours on end (until it’s used).
Want to compare your current water heater efficiency to the water heater you're shopping for? There should be a large EnergyGuide sticker on the side of your water heater that will tell you how much energy your water heater is expected to use per year.
Tank vs. Tankless: SizeTankless water heaters are much smaller than tank water heaters, which makes them preferable to some homeowners.
As we mentioned above, tankless water heaters heat water as it flows through the heater (doesn’t store any water) whereas tank water heaters actually store 30-80 gallons of heated water.
Example of how small a tankless water heater is.
Example of how much space tank water heaters can take up.
Because of this, tankless water heaters can be mounted on walls or in small spaces, whereas a tank water heater will usually live in a closet or larger space, like a garage.
Tank vs. Tankless: Amount of hot waterThis is a tricky “benefit” to compare because tank water heaters provide more hot water but tankless water heaters provide unlimited hot water. Confused? Don’t worry, we’ll explain.
Tankless water heaters can provide an endless supply of hot water. So, if you leave your kitchen faucet on for 10 hours, you will have hot water the entire time. BUT, tankless hot water heaters can’t produce a lot of hot water at one time. What we mean by that is they can’t feed your kitchen faucet hot water AND your dishwasher AND your washer at the same time.
There’s a way around this though. In addition to installing a whole-home tankless water heater, you can install one or more point-of-use water heaters that are responsible for providing hot water to one specific appliance. You will normally see these on appliances that need a lot of hot water, like a washing machine.
On the other hand, tank water heaters can provide a lot of hot water at one time, but for a shorter amount of time (until the hot water runs out). So, if you want to run your dishwasher and your kitchen faucet and your shower at the same time, a tank water heater can supply hot water to all at the same time. BUT, it will run out when the 30-80 gallons of heated water is gone.
If you have a large household, we’d suggest a tank water heater or a whole-home tankless water heater and one or more point-of-use tankless water heaters. This would supply you with enough water at one given time to support your household.
But, if you only have a few people living in your house or you don’t plan on running more than 2-3 appliances at a time, a tankless water heater is a great option.
In summary…If you’re looking for the cheapest option, a tank water heater is the best option for you.
If efficiency is important to you, then a tankless water heater is the best option for you.
If you are looking for something compact, a tankless water heater is the best option for you.
If you have a large household, a tank water heater or a whole-home tankless water heater and one or more point-of-use heaters would be the best option for you.
If you’re still on the fence, you should speak with a professional plumber. They will be able to assess your current home and hot water needs to help you determine what the best solution is for your home.
Need some professional advice? Air Experts is here to helpUnlike other plumbing companies who may try to upsell you on a solution that’s not really best for your home, we’ll always take the time to talk with you about your home and specific hot water needs, so that you are getting the best water heater possible.
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