Water heaters play an important role in the comfort and ease of your daily life. They are also a major investment. It's necessary to do your research, make careful comparisons and decide which type is the best choice for you and your family. The following article explains what tank and tankless water heaters are, the pros and cons of each, the costs and how to decide which may be the better choice for you.
Brief Overview of Tank and Tankless Water Heaters
The primary difference between a tank and tankless water heater is that a traditional tank water heater stores and preheats water in the tank. There is usually a pipe that distributes the water from the tank to other areas of the home. Water heaters with a storage tank are the type found in the majority of homes. These tanks normally use either electricity or natural gas.
A tankless water heater uses some type of heat source to warm or cool water at the time it's needed. It only produces hot water when you turn on the faucet or start the dishwasher. These types of systems are also called on-demand heaters. The source of power used to heat the water is normally gas or electricity. A standard tankless system is able to deliver two to three gallons of hot water per minute, and the largest tankless system powered by gas can produce approximately five gallons of hot water per minute.
Tank Water Heater - Pros, Cons, Costs
There are several benefits to consider when selecting a tank water heater.
- These types of water heaters are available in a wide range of sizes. You can get a tank as small as 20 gallons or one as large as 80 gallons or more, allowing you to customize your purchase to your family's needs.
- A tank water heater is usually easy and inexpensive to install. It will normally only take a few hours to install from start to finish.
- The initial costs can be significantly less than what a tankless system will cost, with purchase of the tank system and installation averaging less than $1000.
- A tank water system is easier to maintain than a tankless system. The technology is pretty basic and most types of repairs are simple.
There are some drawbacks to having a tank water heater that you'll need to consider.
- The larger the tank, the more space it will take. Even a smaller size will take up more space than a tankless water heater.
- Another drawback is that tank water heaters are located inside the home, while some tankless systems can be installed at various outside locations.
- They have the potential to waste energy through heat loss and a homeowner may end up paying slightly more for utilities. This is particularly true during the winter months since you have to heat water in a cold environment.
- Most tank water heaters can only provide hot water for three average showers. You may have to schedule water usage so that there is enough hot water for showers, laundry, etc.
Tank water heaters come in a wide range of prices from $761 to $1426. It's important to take into consideration the installation costs when figuring an overall price.
Tankless Water Heater - Pros, Cons, Costs
There are many benefits when choosing a tankless water heater.
- Tankless water heaters normally consume less energy than a tank system. This is because there isn't any stand-by heat loss with a tankless system.
- A tankless system can be 24 to 34 percent more efficient than regular tank water heaters for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water on a daily basis.
- These types of heaters are easily mounted on a wall and take up considerably less space than a tank. Some types are even installed outside the home.
- A tankless water heater will continue to supply hot water without the worry that the hot water reserves will run out.
- Water may be fresher since it isn't sitting in a tank that may have accumulated rust or other types of deposits.
- Tankless water heaters generally last longer than a tank. There is also less risk of leaking or floor damage.
Even though tankless water heaters have many benefits and are growing in popularity, there are disadvantages. The following are a few of the drawbacks of having a tankless water heater.
- Depending on the size of the system, there is a limit to the flow rate of hot water. If you purchase a smaller system, the tank may struggle to produce enough hot water fast enough. It's sometimes recommended to upgrade your shower head if this is a problem while showering.
- It will be difficult for a tankless system to provide hot water for more than one appliance or activity at a time. For example, it's unlikely a tankless system can provide hot water for a shower and the washing machine at the same time.
- If there is high water usage in the home it may be necessary to install two tankless systems to keep up with water demands.
- If the tankless system is gas fueled it will likely require venting material, which is potentially expensive.
- These types of systems are usually more expensive and often complicated to install.
Prices for a tankless water heater reach across a broad spectrum. Small tankless water heaters that run on electricity may cost as little as $500. At the high end, a tankless system might cost as much as $4000.
Comparison of the Two - Which is a Better Choice?
Water heaters are a major investment and you'll need to consider carefully which type you'll want to purchase.
What are your personal needs?
How large is your family? How often does your household do laundry or run the dish washer? Is there a budget you need to stay within on a monthly basis? These are all questions you'll need to consider when deciding which type of water heating system to purchase. If there are only one or two people in the household and you won't be running multiple appliances simultaneously, then a tankless system may be the better choice. If your family will want the option of running the dishwasher, washing clothes and taking showers all at the same time, you'll want to purchase a tank water heater system.
How often do you move?
Many people move because of a job or for personal reasons on a fairly regular basis. If you or your family moves every few years or less it will likely be more economical to purchase a tank water heater. If you know you'll be moving in less than five years purchasing a tank system is also probably the best choice. If you're building a new home or planning to stay in your current home for ten years or more, you'll likely want to consider a tankless system.
Where do you live?
If you live in the southern part of the United States, or any other place where the climate is generally warmer, the ground water is already warmer. This means a tankless system will work more efficiently in a warmer climate. If you're living in an area that is generally colder, a tankless system will produce less output. Installing a tankless system can be a good idea if you have a vacation home. This will eliminate the chore of draining a tank before closing up the home for the winter.
What type of energy source will you use?
It's important to take into consideration your source of energy when deciding between a tankless and a tank water heater. Tank water heaters fueled by natural gas are much more energy efficient than those powered by electricity, which can ultimately help save money on fuel costs.
How much are you able to spend?
One of the biggest drawbacks of installing a tankless water heater is the initial cost. A tankless system, however, will normally last much longer than a tank water heater and save on future energy costs. If financing a tankless water heater is not a problem, this may be the best choice for many individuals and families. Heating water takes up approximately 20 percent of the budget to run your household. This means that deciding what type of water heater you'll have is extremely important.