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Tank vs Tankless Water Heater: Which Is the Best Water Heater for You?

You need hot water for everything from doing laundry and dishes to enjoying a nice bath or shower at the end of a long day. When it comes to finding the best water heater for your needs, how do you know which type to choose?

There are some key differences between a traditional tank and a tankless water heater, so read on to learn more about the two so you can decide which one will serve your household’s needs the best.

Understanding Tankless Water Heaters

In recent years, the tankless water heater has become a popular choice for many homeowners. But not everyone knows what a tankless water heater is or how it works.

Also called on-demand water heaters, a tankless version uses high-powered burners that heat water extremely fast as the water runs through a heat exchanger. The result is instant hot water that comes directly through your faucets and shower without the need for a tank.

You can find tankless water heaters that are gas or electric powered. On average, this style of water heater is much more energy-efficient than a tank-style water heater. It’s also much more compact and there is no need to worry about a tank bursting, which means there’s also no need to worry about potential flooding in your home.

The Rundown on Tank-Style Water Heaters

A storage-tank water heater is still the most common type used by most households. These units are comprised of an insulated water tank that can hold around 30 to 50 gallons of water that heats and stores it until it’s ready to be used.

A pipe comes out of the top of a tank water heater which delivers the hot water to its final destination. Just like a tankless water heater, tank water heaters can be powered by either gas or electricity. It’s important to note that units that use gas typically consume half as much energy as the electric ones.

You may pay more upfront for a gas water heater than an electric one, but the overall operating costs should be lower. Gas tank water heaters also include a temperature and pressure-release valve that keeps the temperature and pressure levels in check.

A tank water heater must be drained and refilled fairly frequently, particularly if you live in an area with hard water. Minerals and other sediments can build up in the tank and cause the water heater to take longer to heat up. It may also damage the tank if the build-up is too much.

Pros of Choosing a Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater offers plenty of benefits, and in general, it can save you quite a bit of money over time. In fact, most homes can save quite a bit of money on energy costs over the traditional storage-tank water heaters. Gas tankless water heaters will save you even more.

In terms of lifespan, a tankless water heater usually has a longer useful life than a tank water heater. They can last anywhere from 20 to up to 30 years, while a traditional water heater usually only lasts around a decade or up to about 12 years. 

If space is a concern, tankless water heaters are the way to go. They’re compact in size and can be installed almost anywhere which makes them a great option if you have a smaller home. You can install them outside if your home is extremely short on space, which is something you definitely can’t do with a tank water heater.

Because of their quick heating properties, tankless water heaters give you hot water whenever you need it without having to wait even a few seconds. This is a great choice for people who have guests over and for those for whom time is a concern in general. The faster you can get hot water, the faster you can get in and out of the shower or get chores done.

The Downsides of Tankless Water Heaters

Before you decide on the best water heater, let’s take a look at a few cons of choosing a tankless option. First, the upfront cost of these water heaters is much higher than most tank water heaters so if you’re on a budget that could be a concern.

If you are replacing your current tank water heater with a tankless version, you’ll also need to pay for installation. Changing water heater types requires some professional plumbing to alter the way everything is set up, so keep that in mind. The plumber will need to relocate existing plumbing which can cost you in terms of labor and materials.

For busy households, your tankless water heater might not be able to keep up. If you’re taking a hot shower and doing laundry at the same time, the water heater may not have the capacity to provide you with enough hot water. 

Are Tanks the Best Water Heater?

Now let’s take a closer look at a few pros of choosing a tank-style water heater. First, the initial cost of these water heaters is significantly lower than a tankless one, which means you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of pocket. These savings include installation, too.

Most storage-tank water heaters are much easier to operate which means they’re easier to maintain. This results in lower operating costs if something were to go wrong. They’re much easier to fix and much less costly to maintain than tankless water heaters.

Another perk to owning a tank water heater is that you might be able to do most upgrades and repairs yourself. This means you can save even more on repair and maintenance costs. 

Cons of Tank Water Heaters

When it comes to the downsides of owning a tank-style water heater, they take up quite a lot more space if that is a concern for you. Tank water heaters are larger and have a bigger footprint which is why they’re usually found in basements or attics so they aren’t taking up the main rooms of the home.

You can also expect to have somewhat higher utility bills. If you own a gas water heater, it will be less costly than if you choose one that’s run on electricity. These water heaters heat and reheat the water to a pre-set temperature which is why they cost more to operate.

In the colder months of the year, your utility bills will be higher particularly to heat the water if you have a tank-style water heater. The unit may struggle to keep up with the demands for hot water during the winter. In addition, tanks tend to run out of hot water rather quickly which means you don’t want to run any appliances that use water while you’re taking a shower.

A tank water heater needs to be replaced more frequently than a tankless one. So, even though the cost upfront is lower, you may end up spending almost the same amount if you need to replace it several times over the years. In order to maximize the life of your tank, you should check your sacrificial anode every year. If you’re not a fan of repetitive checks, there are long-term, maintenance-free solutions: powered anode

The Bottom Line

When deciding which option is the best water heater for you, take these facts into consideration to help you make your decision. If space is a concern, you may want to go with a tankless water heater since they take up a lot less room.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of money to purchase a new water heater, tank-style heaters might be best. You also won’t need to worry about reconfiguring your plumbing which would mean paying for plumbing services, too.

The lifespan of a tankless water heater is much longer, coming in at an impressive 20 to 30 years. This means that even though they may cost more initially, you’ll be able to use your tankless water heater for a lot longer before having to replace it.

Weigh all of the pros and cons carefully between the two water heater styles to help you decide which one will suit your needs. Between cost, utility savings, and overall operation, you can determine the perfect water heater for your home.

Keep the Hot Water Flowing 

If you’re still on the fence about the best water heater, remember that each style has its own unique set of benefits and challenges. Weigh these pros and cons carefully so you can determine which one will suit your needs and the needs of your family.

Tankless water heaters offer you efficient heating and a small footprint along with a longer lifespan. Tank water heaters are less expensive and can be easier and cheaper to maintain.

If you’re looking for a way to get more from your tank water heater, visit our website today and check out our unique line of products so you can get the most from your water heater. 

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