In many ways, the water heater is the cornerstone of your home. It helps power your showers, your dishwasher, your clothes washer…basically, anything requiring hot water. And all it takes is a day without power to realize you need hot water for so many things.
Because of how important they are, many homeowners are considering getting a new water heater. Consumers also have to debate choosing between a tankless water heater versus a regular water heater. Unfortunately, many consumers don’t know much about the pros and cons of each. This makes it difficult to reach a purchasing decision.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about tankless water heaters versus regular water heaters in order to make your decision!
What is a Traditional Tank Water Heater?
The traditional tank style water heater is most likely what you grew up with. It heats and stores a certain amount of water (up to fifty gallons) in a big tank. This hot water is then ready to be used for many different things. This includes taking a shower or using appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.
When the hot water in the tank is used, cold water begins to refill the tank and this water then has to be heated. Anyone who has ever had to wait for the shower to warm back up knows all about this!
What is a Tankless Water Heater?
The tankless water heater is called “tankless” because it doesn’t actually store the water like a traditional water heater. Instead, it uses either gas or electric power in order to heat up water only when you need it. And it heats the water immediately.
This lets you effectively have hot water “on demand”. This is a very efficient way to make hot water. It definitely sounds great for those who like to take marathon showers and baths (or who simply have to deal with mountains of dishes and laundry). However, there are a few drawbacks too.
Before you make a decision between a tankless water heater versus a regular water heater, there are a few things you should know about the benefits and drawbacks of each one of them.
Traditional Water Heater Benefits
- Low installation cost. It is usually easier to install a new traditional water heater for a licensed, certified technician. Furthermore, it costs about half as much as it costs to install a tankless water heater.
- Convenience. If you are looking at buying or renting a new home, it likely already has a traditional water heater. This means one less thing you have to worry about buying and installing for the new place.
- Familiarity. Again, you most likely grew up with a traditional water heater. You already know how it works, and it’s not overwhelming to maintain and replace. Also, as mentioned, it costs less to replace than a tankless.
Traditional Water Heater Drawbacks
- Short life. A typical tank style water heater will last up to fifteen years before you are forced to replace it. Keep in mind that tankless water heaters can last twice as long, so you’ll be spending more time and money on a traditional heater.
- Too much space. Traditional water heaters take up a lot of room. This can be annoying when space is at a premium, Plus, placing these heaters outside of the house is not an option.
- Higher utilities. While a traditional water heater is cheaper to buy and install, they are designed to pre-heat a certain amount of water no matter what. This means you’ll end up heating more water than you actually need for many things, making utilities higher all year round. Plus, keeping water hot requires significantly more power during colder months, so your bill will be especially high in the winter.
- Running out of water. The most annoying thing about a traditional water heater is running out of water for things like baths and showers, forcing you to wait for everything to heat up again. You can combat this by buying a larger tank, but this will also drive up your utility bills throughout the year.
Tankless Water Heater Benefits
- Longer life. Tankless water heaters can easily last twice as long as traditional water heaters. This means that while they cost more, you are making a longer-lasting investment.
- Less space. Because there is no tank, a tankless water heater is much smaller than a traditional water heater. This gives you the versatility to install it almost anywhere, including outside of the home.
- Save Money on Utilities. The whole point of the tankless water heater is that it heats up only the water you need, when you need it, giving you “on demand” hot water. This means you could reduce your water utility bill between one quarter to one third every month, leading to significant savings over time.
- Unlimited Shower Power. A tankless water heater can provide two or three gallons of hot water per minute whenever you need it. No more waiting for the hot water to come back in the middle of a long soak in the tub!
Tankless Water Heater Drawbacks
- Higher installation cost. Depending on what brand you buy, it can cost significantly more to buy and install a tankless water heater.
- More complex. Tankless water heaters are harder for you to diagnose and fix yourself, which means you should invest in professional regular maintenance.
- Compounding cost. Most people buy a tankless water heater to replace a traditional water heater. This means some additional plumbing may be needed, which adds to the installation cost.
Which One is Best?
Water heaters are like any other consumer product. Deciding between a tankless water heater versus a regular water heater is about figuring out what is best for your own personal needs.
For those living alone, those living in small spaces, and those on a budget, the traditional water heater is likely to be best. It should be able to provide all of the hot water you need, and you will not have to float the higher installation costs of a tankless water heater.
For those with large families, large living spaces, and with a more comfortable budget, there is basically no reason to not buy a tankless water heater. The higher upfront cost is recuperated by the money that you will save on utilities every year. Plus, the tankless heater should last two to three times as long as a traditional water heater. And let’s be honest. It’s tough to put a price tag on all the hot water you could ever want, whenever you could want it!
Have you decided which type of water heater is right for your needs? Have more questions? Give us a call now at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to learn more or to schedule an appointment with one of our certified water heater installation specialists