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Water Heaters: Storage vs. Tankless

Should I go tankless?

There are two main types of water heaters. A conventional water heater heats a large tank that can hold anywhere from 20 to over 100 gallons of water. Tankless water heaters only turn on when there is an immediate need for hot water.

Conventional Storage Water Heater
Cost: More Affordable

The Good:

- Lower initial cost
- Hot water is always available
- Varied storage capacity (20-100 gallons)
- Low maintenance

The Bad:

- Greater standby heat losses
- Once stored water is used, must wait for more to heat up
- Shorter lifespan than tankless systems
- Higher energy costs on a month-to-month basis
- Bulky; tank can take up a lot of space
- Major water issues if the tank leaks or bursts

The Bottom Line:

If you choose to install a conventional storage water heater, you will need to choose a tank that can efficiently serve the needs of your household. A 20-gallon tank simply cannot handle the needs of a large family, but a 50 or 60-gallon tank will get the job done with ease. With a conventional storage water heater, hot water is always available. However, when doing the laundry and showering simultaneously, the existing supply can become depleted and you will have to wait for a new supply to heat up. This type of water heater is always on, no matter if a new exists. This can contribute to standby heat loss and unnecessary energy consumption. However, storage water heaters are very economical and low maintenance.

Learn More: #WaterHeater on Twitter

Tankless Water Heater
Cost: More Expensive

The Good:

- Works on “demand,” only turn on there is a need
- Can last up to 20 years
- Typically have longer warranties than storage tank systems
- Lower energy bills on a month-to-month basis
- Does not require a great deal of space

The Bad:

- Requires more maintenance than storage heaters
- Higher initial cost
- May require additional ventilation
- Very costly to switch from tank storage to tankless

The Bottom Line:

Tankless water heaters work on “demand.” When there is a need for hot water, it turns on. When the shower or faucet is turned off, the water heater turns off. This type of system minimizes standby heat loss and improves energy efficiency, but, it can take years and years for these energy savings to offset the higher initial cost of a tankless system. However, if space is at a premium, a tankless system can be a great option. Most are installed centrally and distributed to the rest of the house. However, it is possible to combine several tankless systems in order to prevent the central system from becoming overwhelmed. If the power goes out, you will not be able to heat any water whereas a storage tank has a temporary reserve.

Related: Cost of Water Heater Installation or Replacement

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About the Author

ProMatcher Staff, ProMatcher
Orlando, FL 32803

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