Buying a new water heater is more stressful than it looks. There are countless buying choices and factors to consider such as cost, energy efficiency, looks, and ease of maintenance. All these considerations come to play in deciding whether to go for a tank or tankless water heater. Here our experts give you an insight into which of these is ideal for your home particularly if you are buying a water heater for the first time or are replacing an old one. In this comparison article on tank vs tankless water heater, we’ll list out the characteristics of both tankless and tank water heaters to help make a decision.
What Is a Tankless Water Heater?
Tankless water heaters, also called on-demand water heaters or instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water whenever you need some. So, how do they work? Firstly, water flows through a heat exchanger in the water heater when you turn on your water faucet, washing machine, or dishwasher.
A high-powered gas burner or electric coil is used to heat water as it flows through the heat exchanger. Instant heating of water may take more power, but the constant heating and reheating of storage tank heaters make its energy intake less than that of traditional water heaters.
Benefits of Tankless Water Heater:
- Hot Water Instantly: Do you need instant hot water? Go tankless. As soon as the lingering freezing water is flushed out of the pipes, tankless water heaters provide an unending stream of hot water immediately. There is no need to worry about running out of hot water after an extended period of use.
- Durability: Tankless water heaters last longer than their storage tank counterparts. Tankless water heaters have a longer life expectancy and attract lower operational costs because of their durable materials and rugged construction. Furthermore, most parts can be replaced with ease.
- Energy-saving: The water in the tank of traditional water heaters gets cold when it’s not in use. The water heater then must reheat the water. The implication is that the water heater has to switch off and on to always keep the water warm. On the other hand, tankless water heaters only come on when it is needed. Statistics show that tankless water heaters are 8%-14% more efficient than boilers with storage tanks.
- Eco-friendly: Compared to traditional water heaters, tankless water heaters are generally more friendly to the environment. They reduce the general energy usage of your home and have replaceable parts.
- Operational Costs: Tankless water heaters have reduced long-term operational costs compared to their tanked counterparts.
Drawbacks of Tankless Water Heater:
No product is perfect, and tankless water heaters are not an exception. These are some of the drawbacks associated with using a tankless water heater.
- High cost: Tankless water heaters cost a lot more than traditional storage tank heaters. Added to this cost include installation costs, which usually come with a switch in technology. A water softener is often bought separately from the main heating unit and is essential in its daily usage.
- Inconsistent temperature: A survey published by Consumer Reports lists inconsistent water temperature as the biggest complaint by buyers. This drawback is caused by the heaters’ inability to supply to multiple outlets requiring hot water simultaneously. Also, tankless water heaters do not turn on when the tap is only slightly open, for example, when doing a little task like rinsing a toothbrush.
- Takes a long time to make up for the installation costs: Although the monthly usage cost of tankless water heaters is considerably less than tank heaters, it could take a while for that difference in cost to amount to the initial cost of installation and price.
What Is the Traditional Water Heater?
The traditional water heater consists of a water tank and pipe that takes heated water to a desired destination such as the kitchen or bathroom. The water tank can hold up to 60 gallons of water. Storage tank water heaters may be powered by natural gas or electricity.
Energy is wasted in traditional water heaters even when a hot water tap is not running due to standby heat losses. Such energy loss occurs because the water in the tank is heated to a specific temperature on the thermostat.
Benefits of Tank Water Heater:
- Installation cost: Storage tank water heaters are cheaper and therefore are the most common type of water heaters. There are also no additional products that need to be purchased for installation, drastically reducing the cost of installing.
- Easy to use: Storage tank water heaters are simple machines that do not require a lot of complicated measures to install or repair.
- Consistent flow rate and temperature: You can access your hot water at an equal flow rate and multiple outlets can use hot water at the same temperature. Your hot water will also be ready when you need it. Unlike tankless water heaters, you do not have to worry about lagging from a storage tank water heater.
Drawbacks of Storage Tank Water Heater:
- Higher energy bills: Tank water heaters require constant heating and reheating to get water to the pre-set temperature. These storage tank boilers frequently consume a lot of power and energy leading to higher bills. They could drive your electricity bills through the roof in winter.
- Space: Boilers with a storage tank tend to occupy more space than their counterparts. If your home is not spacious, you may experience some challenges trying to fit a traditional heater in your home. Unfortunately, you cannot easily keep them outside your home as you would with tankless water heaters.
- Short shelf life: Storage tank water heaters usually have a shorter shelf life than their tankless counterparts. Since they do not have many parts that you can take apart and replace, repairing them often means replacing them.
- Limited water: Once the hot water in the storage is finished you have no choice but to wait for the tank to refill. This makes for cold showers for whoever is the last
Which Is Better? Tank or Tankless Water Heater?
Tank water heaters edge their counterpart with storage tanks in many aspects. Despite their high purchase and installation costs, they save you in time, space, and energy consumption.
Once you can scale through the initial upfront costs, a tankless water heater will save you more on your energy bill in the long run. You should also speak with your plumber to learn about how to go through the installation process.