Water Heater 101: Tank or Tankless, which is Right for You?
When making renovations to your home, you will be confronted with a lot of decisions. If the extent of your project includes replacing an old water heater, you might end up asking yourself, “Should I go with a tank or tankless water heater?” This is an important and practical decision to place near the top of your list of priorities, as you will end up living with your chosen water heater for up to a decade – or even longer.
There are distinct advantages and disadvantages of both water heater types, which we will discuss below.
Why Get a Tankless Water Heater?
Tankless water heaters are known for their improved energy efficiency over traditional water heaters. Also known as “on-demand” heaters, these tankless appliances cost more to purchase but can save homeowners anywhere between 9% and 34% in terms of energy efficiency.
Owners of smaller homes with highly limited space also tend to prefer the compact installation of tankless water heaters. In fact, a heater of this variety can even be installed on an exterior wall if your home is really that low on available square footage.
However, owners of all sizes of homes can come to appreciate possibly the biggest perk of a tankless water heater: They last for decades! Yes, for as long as 30 years, your tankless heater could deliver energy-efficient hot water right into your home.
What are the Downsides of a Tankless Water Heater?
Hands-down, the biggest deterrent preventing many homeowners from going tankless is the initial, upfront cost. These appliances cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 to purchase and have installed in your home. The installation process can become especially expensive if you have purchased the tankless heater to replace your storage tank heater. This is because the process of replacing existing piping can be time-consuming for your plumbing professional.
Additionally, homes that go through a lot of water – like those who do a lot of laundry or who frequently have more than one shower in use at once – might find that their tankless heater can’t quite keep up with the demand. This could mean a lot of chilly showers.
What About Storage Tank Water Heaters?
An insulated tank stores anywhere between 30 and 50 gallons of water that will be heated when needed. These heaters are available in both electrical and gas-powered varieties, with the gas-powered heaters offering tremendous energy savings when compared to their electrical counterparts. These water heaters are also referred to as “traditional” water heaters, as they are the most commonly found in households.
One of the biggest reasons why storage tank water heaters are considered the standard is the cost. Instead of up to $5,000 for the purchase and installation of a tankless water heater, you can buy and have installed your storage tank water heater for less than $1,000. In exchange, you might find that your utility bills are a bit higher than those of people who have a tankless heater.
Storage tank water heaters are also much easier to repair than tankless models, due to the simplistic design in which they are constructed. This means that water heater repair bills are significantly smaller when you go with a traditional tank.
What Drawbacks of Storage Tank Water Heaters Should I Consider?
These water heaters require a great deal more space than tankless ones, making them less-than-ideal for many tiny spaces and cramped homes. Unlike tankless heaters, these cannot be installed outside of the home, so there must be a designated space where the water heater can be installed.
Storage tank water heaters also have a shorter lifespan than their tankless counterparts, capping at about fifteen years before replacement is necessary.
Which One Should I Buy?
If you have the ability to pay for the steep initial cost of a tankless water heater, especially if you live in a smaller space, tankless could very well be the way to go. The money that you save over the span of its 30-year life can offset what you spent initially to buy and install the water heater.
If you’re dealing with a smaller budget, however, storage tank heaters are a great alternative to going tankless, as long as you don’t mind the higher utility bills associated with this type of water heater.
If you have any questions or concerns about replacing your current water heater, reach out to the water heater professionals at Ridgeway Mechanical today!