Having a consistent hot water supply in your home can provide a sense of comfort for you and your family. It would be an undesirable experience to run out of hot water in the middle of taking a shower. Similarly, unloading the dishwasher to discover poorly washed dishes because hot water ran out mid-cycle can be frustrating.
A traditional water heater functions by heating cold water and storing the heated water in an insulated tank reservoir. The hot water is distributed through pipes to faucets around your home as needed. A tankless water heater, however, functions by heating cold water on demand as it passes through the heater’s heating unit. The hot water is then instantly delivered to the faucets where it’s needed.
It’s important to consider which water heater best suits the needs of your home to ensure an uninterrupted supply of hot water. Below are some of the things to consider when deciding between a traditional vs. tankless water heater.
Capacity of Water Heater
It helps to have an estimate of how much water you use in your household to decide which water heater is the best option. Traditional water heaters heat up a large amount of cold water and store the heated water in the insulated tank, making them a great option for larger households. If you happen to be running the dishwasher while simultaneously taking a hot shower, a traditional water heater will provide enough hot water for both activities. The most common capacity of a traditional water heater tank is about 50 gallons. However, the options for residential water heater tanks range anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons.
On the other hand, tankless water heaters heat up water instantly and on-the-go. This makes them more suitable for smaller households that don’t have as much of a demand for large quantities of hot water. However, tankless water heaters can only heat up so much water instantly. They don’t have large amounts of hot water readily available like traditional water heaters. In cases where you’re running the dishwasher while taking a hot shower, the tankless water heater might not be able to keep up with this large hot water demand.
Cost of Heater
Traditional water heaters are generally cheaper to purchase than tankless water heaters. The cost of traditional water heaters also depends on the size of the tank reservoir, with larger capacity tanks being more expensive than those with smaller capacities. In the United States, traditional water heaters have also been around much longer than tankless water heaters. In fact, traditional water heaters are the more commonly used types of heaters in many homes.
Most homes were constructed with piping suited for traditional water heaters rather than tankless water heaters. Therefore, if you’re thinking of replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless one, it might require modifications during installation. These modifications might include moving around the piping to fit the new tankless water heater. The process of installing tankless water heaters then becomes more costly than that of installing traditional ones. In some cases, tankless water heater installation might even cost up to twice as much as that of traditional water heaters.
Efficiency of Heater
Tankless water heaters are usually more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters. Traditional water heaters end up using more energy because they heat up the entire tank of water, unlike tankless water heaters that heat up water on demand. Therefore, a traditional water heater with an 80-gallon tank uses more energy in a day than a tankless water heater that only heats 20 gallons a day as needed.
It also helps to think about the costs of operating the heater in the long term. While traditional water heaters are cheaper to install, they cost more in the long term because they heat up larger amounts of water. Tankless water heaters are more costly to install but use less gas or electricity in overall heating costs. The energy efficiency also depends on how often the hot water is needed in the home. A higher demand for hot water means that a tankless water heater will keep running constantly during the time the hot water is needed.
Even with the more energy-efficient tankless water heaters, it’s important to keep in mind that the electric versions of these heaters are more efficient fuel-wise than the gas ones. Since the cost of electricity is much higher than that of gas, it costs more to operate electric tankless water heaters than the gas versions of these heaters.
Size of Heater
It’s also important to consider where your water heater will live once it’s installed. Traditional water heater tanks are large (up to 5 feet high or even higher and 2 feet wide or even wider) and take up more space than tankless water heaters (sized about 2 feet high or so). In most homes, traditional water heaters are stored in basement areas, which have sufficient space to accommodate the large sizes of these water heater tanks. These heaters can also be placed in an appropriate closet, provided there’s good insulation to prevent heat loss.
If you happen to have limited space in your home, it might be challenging to find sufficient space for a traditional water heater. Unlike traditional water heaters that must be installed indoors, tankless water heaters can also be installed on the walls outside your home if it’s difficult to find space indoors. Since tankless water heaters don’t have to sit on the floor, it’s easier to find wall space inside a home for appropriate installation.
Lifespan of Heater
While the manufacturers of these water heaters will provide warranties and expectations for service life, the exact lifespan of water heaters is difficult to determine. The lifespan of your water heater could depend on factors such as frequency of use and maintenance. The quality of the water heater also matters. Tankless water heaters tend to last longer with a range of 20 to 30 years, while traditional water heaters last 10 to 15 years.
This means that if maintained adequately and per the recommended schedule, tankless water heaters should last several years (probably decades) without needing to be replaced. It also depends on how long you plan to stay in the home, and what the hot water needs for the home will be over time.
Contact Us Today for Your Heating and Plumbing Needs
Purchasing a new water heater for your home shouldn’t be a stressful process. At All Hours Plumbing SLC, we offer options for tankless and conventional water heaters to ensure you and your family can experience comfort with all your hot water needs. Our team of qualified, experienced, knowledgeable plumbers can provide you with affordable and professional services to solve even the most complex plumbing issues. We also offer a range of HVAC services that include cooling, furnace, and heating services, as well as heating and AC installation. Contact us today for more information and to schedule an appointment in Herber City and Salt Lake City, UT, and the surrounding area.