Which is better? Tank or Tankless Water Heater?

Which is better? Tank or Tankless Water Heater?

Which is better? Tank or Tankless Water Heater?

You’ve decided you need a new water heater, but should you go with the traditional tank water heater or a tankless water heater? Learn a little about each, their advantages and disadvantages, so you can make the best decision for your unique situation.


Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters: What’s the difference?

Traditional tank water heaters store and preheat anywhere from around 30-50 gallons of water at a time, all the time. With tank water heaters, hot water comes from straight from the tank, whether you’re washing dishes or taking a bath. As you use water, more water feeds into the tank where it is then heated and stored for use.

Tankless water heaters are also known as on-demand, or instantaneous, hot water heaters. They are, well, tankless. As such, they don’t store any hot water and only heat water when you need it. As you turn on the hot water, the either electric or gas unit “fires up” and heats the water, instantaneously. The unit stops heating the water when you turn the hot water off


Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters: Which is better?

Tank water heater advantages:

  1. Inexpensive preliminary costs — Tank water heaters are cheap and are easy to install, making them a great means for hot water. Expect to pay around $500 to $800 for a good storage tank water heater. It’s about $2,000 to $4,500 for a tankless water heater, including installation.
  2. Easy and economical replacement — These are cheap and easy to buy and install, so once your tank wears out, it is simple to replace.


Tank water heater disadvantages:

  1. Expensive to use — Traditional water tank heaters are cheap to install, but expensive in the long run. They constantly heat water so they constantly consume energy. Water temperatures are either maintaining or new water is heating up. During the winter, they tend to use more energy as the water tends to cool faster. This, of course, increases your utility bill.
  2. Wasteful of energy — Your water heater will burn energy keeping the water hot, even if you are not using any. This is, of course, a waste of energy.
  3. Waste of space — As these water heaters are tanks, they require lots of space. This is space you could use to store your belongings or even keep a pantry. But if you have a tank-style water heater, you get a lot less storage.
  4. Lagging hot water upon demand —If you’ve ever turned on your faucet only to find yourself waiting for hot water, it’s because you have a tank water heater. The tank is limited in how quickly it can heat water due to the large volume it must prepare. Instantaneous hot water heaters don’t have that limitation and are typically able to deliver hot water rapidly.
  5. Finite water hot water supply — With a traditional water heater, you only have as much hot water as you have in the tank. Have you taken a shower only to have it turn cold on you? That’s because your water heater ran out of hot water. Turing your long and steamy shower, to a quick and cold jump out of the tub.
  6. Short-lived — As tank water heaters are constantly working, they wear out faster than tankless water heaters. This constant use causes them to deteriorate within about 15 years–about half the life of a tankless water heater, according to energy.gov.


Tankless water heater advantages:

  1. More inexpensive over time — As tankless water heaters only heat water as needed, they use substantially less energy than their tank-style counterparts. This can save up to 27 to 50 percent. How does this work out to in dollar bills? According to energy.gov, that is savings of $100 or more per year for a typical family.
  2. More conservative use of energy — The on-demand, tankless hot water heater only uses energy when hot water is used, and not to maintain temperatures. So it has potential to be 24 to 34 percent more efficient than the traditional water heater.
  3. More conservative use of space — Tanks require space. The on-demand water heater doesn’t have a tank and therefore requires less space. So if you want more space for a closet, pantry or whatever, now you have it.
  4. Hot water whenever you need it — No more cold showers. No more pacing who gets a shower and when. If you turn on the hot water, you’ve got it. With a tankless system, you’re not limited by how much water is in the tank. You are only limited by how much you can use and how much you can pay.
  5. Hot water instantly — No more waiting for hot water after turning on the hot water tap. Tankless hot water heaters can deliver around two to five gallons of hot water per minute. So you get hot water seconds after you turn the handle.
  6. Longer lifespan — As mentioned above, tankless water heaters have an expected life of 20 years, nearly twice that of their tank counterparts. Additionally, their parts are easily replaced, further extending their lifespans.


Tankless water heater disadvantage:

  1. Expensive preliminary costs — The initial cost of an on-demand type water heater is greater than that of the traditional tank variety. It can be $2,000 to $4,500 for a tankless water heater installed versus $500 to $800 for a good storage tank water heater. However, due to their greater energy efficiency, resultant lower utility bills and their long lifespans, you can expect tankless water heaters to pay for themselves over time.
  2. More difficult to replace tank-based water heater with a tankless system — If you have a home already equipped with a conventional system, you may find it difficult to convert to a tankless system as the installation is a bit more complicated. This, in turn, may require more expense. Check your numbers though as it may be worth the hassle and extra funds.


In summary

Tankless water heaters are great if you have a little extra money to spend on the system from the outset and see yourself and those living with you needing water on a more constant basis. This system will eventually save you money while getting you the hot water you need, whenever you need it. If you need a solution now, don’t have the funds to buy and install the tankless system and don’t really see yourself ever running out of hot water, maybe the tank-based water heater is the best option for you.


Now that you have some more information on the advantages and disadvantages of tank and tankless water heaters, hopefully now you are closer to being able to make an informed decision. Do you have more questions about hot water heaters or other plumbing matters? Contact us or give us a call at Cowboys Plumbing at 405-915-9990 and we’ll be glad to help you.

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