What is the difference between a water heater with a tank, and a tankless water heater?

A traditional water heater with a tank preheats many gallons of water and stores it until the water is needed. Tankless heaters do not store water, they very quickly heat it as it is being used. A model with a tank is less expensive to install, but uses more energy and raises utility costs.

While a tankless model can provide on-demand hot water, it can run into issues providing a lot of hot water to multiple fixtures at the same time. A traditional tank model however, does run out of water and takes time to re-fill and re-heat. So there are pros and cons to both types. There are also hybrid options that offer the best of both worlds.

How long does a hot water heater last?

A water heater with a tank (most common) typically lasts between 8-12 years. Tankless water heaters typically last 20-30 years. Both types of water heaters (especially tank-style) require some preventative maintenance, which can impact the unit’s lifespan if not completed.

What is the price difference between tankless and tank water heaters?

While a tankless water heater does cost more to install (about twice as much), they are more energy efficient, which can reduce utility bills. Another consideration when examining price; a tankless water heaters last longer than a traditional tanked model, 20-30 years vs. 8-15 years.

Depending on the model you select and your existing plumbing architecture, a water heater with a tank will typically cost $500-$1000 with installation. A tankless model is about $1000-$3500.

While both options are very reliable, repairs on a tank water heaters will usually be less expensive than a tankless model. Cost-wise, a tankless model is probably a better long-term investment for any new construction, or if you have the budget for the initial installation and already have adequate plumbing and energy lines to allow installation of a tankless system. While tankless models will reduce your energy bills, it may take many years to pay for the investment. Discuss you hot water usage with a plumber to determine which option is best for your home.

Which type of water heater is better?

While tank vs. tankless serve the same purpose, there are some minor differences in day to day use. Because a water heater with a tank stores many gallons of water, it can run out of hot water during high demand times. This means you may have to wait for a new supply of water to heat up if it runs out. A tankless model won’t have this problem, however, you will need to ensure the tankless model you purchase is capable of quickly heating enough water to support the number of people you have in your household who may need hot water at the same time.

What is the biggest advantage of a tankless hot water heater?

The biggest advantage of a tankless water heater vs. a traditional model is energy efficiency. Tank-style water heaters work harder, and use more energy to heat and store hot water. Tankless models heat water on demand and can reduce energy costs.

What is the biggest disadvantage of a tankless hot water heater?

Your hot water output is split through your entire home. If you don’t have the correct heating unit, you could run into issues heating water adequately for multiple fixtures at the same time. e.g. if two people wanted to shower at the same time.

How long does it take for a water heater to fill up?

A typical gas water heater (appx. 40 gallons) will take about 30 minutes to fill up and heat the water. An electric model of the same size will take about an our to fill and heat. A tankless water heater provides instant hot water, and does not need to fill up.

Do Tankless Water Heater Work if the Power Goes Out?

Tankless water heaters require electricity, even if they use gas to heat the water. If you have no power in your home, you will not have hot water if a tankless water heater is your only source.

How much space does a water heater take up?

Tankless water heaters are much smaller than traditional models, so they can be installed almost anywhere, including outside the home. A traditional model has a large tank that generally stores between 30-80 gallons of water. They are often 3-6 feet tall and take up 2-3 square feet of floor space. A tankless water heater is often wall-mount, and is about three feet tall, two foot wide, and a little more than a foot deep. Size does vary be brand and model.

Do water heaters use gas or electric energy?

Both types of water heaters can work on gas or electric energy.

Should I get a tank or tankless water heater?

We generally suggest tankless water heaters for new home construction, for homes undergoing a remodeling project, or for homeowners who do not intend to move for some time. If you have the budget for a tankless water heater, and your plumbing architecture will allow for its installation without major reconfiguration, then a tankless model will pay for itself quickly enough that the investment makes sense.

If you don’t have the cash upfront, or if your plumbing is setup in a way that installing a tankless model would be difficult, we typically suggest a traditional water heater with a tank. Older homes sometimes have plumbing configurations that make it difficult to install a tankless water heater. Having a plumber inspect you current setup and provide an estimate is the best way to determine which model will be most cost effect in both the short and long term.

The size of your family and demand for hot water is also a factor. If you frequently need hot water in multiple rooms, the cost of a tankless model may be more, in order to meet the demand. However, if there are few people in your home using hot water at the same time, a tankless model may provide convenience and savings on energy bills.

Water Heater Tank