Whether your existing water heater has stopped working or you’re simply looking to upgrade an older water heater, you have two main options: install a traditional water tank or upgrade to a tankless water heater. Both options come with some inherent pros and cons, so you’ll want to educate yourself on both before making a decision.
Traditional Water Heaters
More than likely, the current water heater in your home is a “traditional” water heater with a tank that stores hot water for use. Most of these hot water heaters are between 30 and 50 gallons in size, though this can vary depending on your home’s hot water needs.
A traditional water heater relies on energy from gas or electricity to heat water; from there, the water is stored inside the tank. When the hot water is needed, it is carried from a pipe that runs from the water heater tank to plumbing fixtures throughout the home. This may include the dishwasher, washing machine, sinks, faucets, and other fixtures. Until the water is needed, it is stored inside the tank and kept warm.
Traditional hot water tanks have some inherent advantages and disadvantages. Many homeowners opt for these water heaters because they’re relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to tankless options. Traditional hot water heaters don’t require any major retrofitting to install, and they typically provide enough hot water for the average household’s needs.
On the other hand, these water heaters have tanks that take up large amounts of space in utility closets, laundry rooms, basements, and other areas of the home. Furthermore, traditional water heaters aren’t as energy efficient as tankless heaters since they require water to be heated and then kept warm for use. As a result, they may be cheaper to install initially when compared to a tankless heater, but the higher energy costs can add up over time.
A traditional water heater may also have a shorter lifespan than a tankless water heater, as most traditional water heaters will need to be replaced within 10-15 years.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater (also known as an on-demand water heater), on the other hand, operates much differently than a traditional water heater. Rather than heating large amounts of water and storing it in a 30-50 gallon tank, a tankless option actually heats water on-demand and sends it directly to the necessary plumbing fixture.
Tankless water heaters operate using high-powered burners. These burners heat water as it runs through the system and delivers it immediately to the faucet, sink, or plumbing fixture needed. As a result, there is no need to store the water in a tank. Like a traditional water heater, tankless heaters can be gas- or electric-powered.
There are many benefits to installing an on-demand water heater in your home. The main draw for many homeowners is the idea of never running out of hot water. Rather than having a limited supply of hot water, tankless heaters provide hot water on-demand. In other words, you can run the dishwasher, wash a load of laundry, and take a hot shower all at once without having to worry about running out of warm water.
Tankless water heaters also tend to be much more energy efficient than traditional water heaters since there is no need to store water and maintain its temperature for an extended period of time. As a result, you may find that your energy bills are lower with a tankless water heater than with a traditional one.
On the other hand, tankless water heaters can be costly to install, as most homes will require some significant retrofitting to accommodate one. Still, the up-front costs may be worth it when you consider the added energy savings and the fact that a tankless water heater can last for decades before needing to be replaced. Since there is no large storage tank needed and most tankless water heaters are wall-mounted, you will also free up valuable square footage in your utility room, basement, or other area of your home.
Both tankless and traditional water heaters come with inherent advantages and potential drawbacks. Be sure to keep these in mind as you think about replacing your home’s water heater. And for all your water heater installation and service needs, turn to Roto-Rooter Plumbers. They’re available 24/7 for all your residential plumbing needs!