The search for a new water heater starts with a choice between one with a traditional storage tank and one that uses tankless technology. Both have their own pros and cons to consider, but there are a few areas where one is more suitable than the other. The following highlights four factors that could sway your buying decision towards a traditional or tankless water heater.
When it comes to traditional water heaters, there's no getting around the need to store up to 80 gallons of hot water. A classic water heater's size isn't a problem in homes with the space to accommodate them. In smaller homes or apartments where space is at a premium, however, you may be forced to choose a smaller water heater with less capacity.
In comparison, tankless water heaters are compact units that not only take up a fraction of the space but can also be installed in spaces that are impractical for traditional water heaters.
When it comes to energy savings, tankless water heaters come out on top. The lack of a storage tank means there's no need to waste energy on keeping an entire tank of water continuously hot. Without a storage tank to worry about, tankless water heaters are up to 34 percent more energy-efficient than their traditional counterparts, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The increased efficiency also translates into major savings on your annual energy bills, especially if your family uses a lot of hot water.
Tankless water heaters readily supply the average family's hot water needs, but there are limits to what most models can handle. Tankless water heaters can lag behind in scenarios where two or more people are washing dishes or showering at the same time in different parts of the home.
With anywhere from 30 to 80 gallons of hot water on hand, traditional water heaters are better suited towards tackling heavy hot water demands. If you have a large family or simply use more hot water than most, a traditional water heater is the better option.
Traditional water heaters are cheaper to buy and install, but their higher energy usage also results in steeper long-term costs. You'll also find yourself replacing traditional water heaters twice as often since these units last half as long as comparable tankless models, at 10 years versus 20 years for a tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters have higher purchase and installation costs, but lower long-term costs thanks to their impressive energy efficiency and longevity. However, you should also factor in the cost of a water softener, since most tankless models require them to avoid hard water problems. Talk to your plumber for more information and advice.