Tankless Water Heaters vs. Traditional - Which One is Right for You?
To tank…or not to tank – that is the question!
It’s no secret water heaters are an investment. And like any investment, you want to be sure you’re making the right choice. When it comes to choosing a new water heater, the first thing you want to determine is which type is best for your home: a traditional water heater or a tankless one. Here’s a quick buying guide to help you understand your options and (hopefully) guide you toward the right buying decision for your home!
Tankless Water Heater Advantages
We’ll start with the bad news: tankless water heaters can initially cost more money than traditional varieties. Don’t let this deter you, though; there are many other factors that play into the value and practicality of the water heater you choose. Consider these benefits that make the investment worth it:
- Lifespan – Because tankless heaters are an investment, it stands to reason they are known to last longer than traditional ones. In fact, tankless water heaters can last as long as 30 years – depending on the model, maintenance, etc. Regardless of the specifics, it is entirely possible that your tankless heater could last as much as twice as long as a traditional one.
- Energy Efficiency – Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient, too. In fact, you might see a noticeable difference in your utility bills (depending on how much you spend on other utilities and how much hot water you use). Simply put, if you’re looking for the most environmentally friendly option, a tankless water heater is the right choice.
- Space – If you’ve ever seen a tankless water heater, you know they’re a lot smaller than older, traditional water heaters. For some people, this isn’t a problem; for others, saving space is very important. If you’re looking to reclaim a corner of your garage, for example, a tankless water heater is worth considering.
- Speed & Capacity – It’s worth noting that, for some households, tankless water heaters can have trouble “keeping up” with the demand for hot water. Tankless heaters can produce hot water instantly; however, running multiple showers at the same time can lower the temperature of the water.
The Pros and Cons of Traditional (Storage) Water Heaters
Is a tankless water heater worth it, or are there any advantages to a conventional water heater? If you have a smaller budget to work with, tank water heaters are still a good choice. If you're not sure which type of water heater would be best for you, consider the following information:
- Price - Generally speaking, traditional (also called “storage”) water heaters come with a smaller price tag. This means you could save money in the short run by going with this option. Additionally, installation costs of a traditional water heater can be less pricey, but not always. In some cases, storage heaters are simpler to repair as well, since their internal mechanisms are simpler than tankless varieties.
- Lifespan – Like any appliance, storage water heater lifespans depend on a variety of factors – including price point, make, model, etc. It’s generally understood that, as long as you maintain your water heater, it can last between 10 and 15 years. Sometimes, we recommend replacing storage water heaters when they are 8 to 12 years old.
- Energy Efficiency – Energy efficiency is not the traditional water heater’s strong suit. Thus, you can expect higher utility bills if you choose to install this type of heater. Additionally, if your water heater is located in the garage (or any non-air conditioned space), it will have to work even harder during the winter months, further increasing energy usage.
- Space - Storage water heaters take up more space than their tankless counterparts. If you live in a small space, take this into consideration. If space isn’t a concern, then the physical size of the water heater won’t affect you.
- Speed & Capacity – A storage water heater does not guarantee that you’ll be able to run the laundry and take multiple showers at the same time. On the other hand, the output capacity for this type tends to be higher. It can also run out, though. By the third load of laundry in a row, you might be washing with room temperature or cold water.
Checklist: Choosing the Right Water Heater
Still not sure which water heater is right for you? Circle all of the items below that are high on your priority list and compare the results! If you circled more under “tankless,” a tankless water heater might be the right option, and vice versa.
Tankless Water Heater
Storage Water Heater
Cheaper utility bills
Cheaper initial price tag
Endless hot water
Instant hot water
Cheaper initial installation
Longer lifespan (20 – 30 years)
8 – 15 year lifespan