06 Feb. 19

What are the differences: Tankless Water Heater Vs. Tank Water Heater 

Water heaters have become a highly integral part of our domestic lives. The truth is that you may not realize how much of an impact it truly has on your life until it is gone. Have you ever been in the shower when the water suddenly turns cold? It’s not a good feeling. That’s how much you have gotten used to hot water.

If you are living with others, over time, you will have to schedule your time in the shower to coincide with the hot water supply. This goes to show you that the presence of hot water can affect your regular daily daytime.

When you want to buy a new house or change your current water heater, there are a number of factors that you should always consider. Chief among them include the cost, type, longevity, and capacity of the water heater that you want to buy.

Water heaters are very expensive investments. The good news is that once you buy one, you are going to use it for more than a decade.

When purchasing a water heater, there is one decision that you have to make. That decision is based on the question “Do I buy a tankless water heater or a tank water heater?”. There is no definite answer to this question. It all depends on your personal needs and the heating requirements of your home.

In this post, we will be exploring these two types of water heaters to help you make that vital decision.

Description and Working Principles

Tank Water Heaters

They are also referred to as storage water heaters. The main characteristic of tank water heaters is the presence of a storage tank. These storage tanks have different capacities ranging from 30-60 gallons.

The number of gallons you should buy is a function of the size of your household. Your daily consumption of hot water also determines the capacity of the storage tank you need.

Tank water heaters work by using an energy source to keep the full tank of water continuously heated. This energy source may be electricity, gas or fuel oil. This means that with a tank water heater, energy is being spent boiling water whether you are in need of it or not.

Tank water heaters take up a lot of space since they have to accommodate substantial storage tanks. Ideally, they can reach heights of up to 5 feet and have widths of more than 2 feet. The best bet is for you to stash your tank water heater in the basement or attic.

Tankless Water Heaters

As the name implies, tankless water heaters are devoid of any external storage tanks. They don’t have the capacity to store already heated water. Also known as on-demand water heaters, tankless water heaters heat water as it runs through the whole unit. A heat exchanger is utilized to rapidly increase the temperature of water passing through it.

Tankless water heaters also need an energy source that may be electricity, propane or natural gas. However, since water is only being heated when you need it, they eliminate energy losses.

On-demand water heaters are not big. They can be mounted on a wall or installed in a corner. Of course, there are different sizes, but they average about 2 feet in height and a foot when it comes to width.

Price and Installation

Tank Water Heaters

Tank water heaters are a less expensive option. Storage water heaters with a capacity of 50 gallons range from $570 – $800. Depending on the brand, model, energy ratings and size, that figure can go up.

If you are replacing an old tank water heater with a new one, installation is pretty easy. There are some homeowners that carry out this primary plumbing job by themselves. Despite this, it is recommended that you use a certified plumber. Depending on the price of your contractor, installation can range from $300 – $800. If your plumber has to create a whole new hookup for your water heater, that price will go up.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Their prices start at about $500 and can reach over $1500.

The installation of a tankless water heater is no joke. Sometimes, the cost of installing a tankless water heater can rival the cost of buying one. The energy requirements of tankless water heaters can contribute to the increased price of installation.

For instance, gas tankless water heaters have special gas-supply requirements. Sometimes, this may mean that you have to adjust the diameter of the pipes delivering gas to the water heater.

Similarly, electric tankless water heaters use so much power that you may have to increase the electrical service your home is getting to about 200 amps. It is recommended that you search out certified electricians and plumbers to help you with installing a tankless water heater. If possible, you should use factory-trained professionals to remain under warranty.

Related article: How Much Does a Water Heater Cost?


Tank Water Heaters

Tank water heaters perform at an optimum level. Depending on the fuel source you are using, their speeds and efficiency may vary. The bottom line is that they can satisfy you with a steady supply of warm water based on your preferred temperature needs.

Tankless Water Heaters

There are a few variations in performance when it comes to electric and gas models. Gas tankless models are usually more efficient than electric models. They efficiently deliver you with your preferred output temperature without expending a lot of energy.

Electric tankless models are also very much energy efficient. The only difference is that it may take longer for these models to heat your water. This means that they are better used in places with warm groundwater.

Pros and Cons of The Two Types

Advantages Of A Tankless Water Heater

1. Extended Lifespan: Tankless water heaters can last for up to three decades. This is easily double the lifespan of your average tank water heater.

2. Needs Less Space: Tankless water heaters can be described as highly portable. You can install them even in the tightest of spaces and corners.

3. Hot Water Whenever You Need It: Since they don’t make use of storage tanks, you don’t have to be worried about hot water finishing. They can deliver as much as 3 gallons of warm water every sixty seconds whenever you need it.

4. Saves You Money: With tankless water heaters, your energy costs can reduce by as much as 30 %. This can save you thousands in utility bills over a period of extended use.

Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater

1. Cost: Tankless water heaters are more expensive than the average storage tank heater. Their prices along with installation costs can reach over $2,000.

2. Output Challenge: Tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through their heating systems. This means that if you need hot water at multiple points at the same time, it may fail to keep up with your hot water demands. For instance, if you need hot water in two showers at once, the water from one shower may prove to be warmer than water from the other.

Pros of a Tank Water Heater

1. Costs: Tank water heaters are less expensive than their tankless counterparts. Even with installation, only the pricey ones cost above $1,500.

2. Simple Operation: With tank water heaters, you don’t have to wait for a few minutes for the water to get hot. Since the water in the tank is kept in a state of constant heat, all you have to do is open your taps, and you are good to go.

3. Easy To Maintain: Since tank water heaters are less complicated, they are relatively easy to maintain. Even if they break down, repair costs are less than that of tankless water heaters.

Cons of a Storage Tank Water Heater

1. Takes Up A Lot Of Space: If you have spatial challenges in your home, then you should probably avoid buying a tank water heater. They take up a lot of space as you have to accommodate the tank as well as the heater itself. Also, they cannot be installed outside of your home, unlike their tankless counterparts.

2. Short Life Span: Tank water heaters have a short lifespan when compared with on-demand water heaters. On average, they only stay in good working condition for about 10-15 years.

3. High Energy Costs: Tank water heaters are designed to keep water in a state of constant heat. This means that even when you don’t need hot water, they are continually reheating water to keep it at a pre-set temperature. Similarly, during winter, your storage water heater will have to expend more energy in heating water. This automatically translates to higher utility bills.

Deciding Which Is Best For You

Deciding to opt for a tankless or tank water heater can be tough. Most importantly, it all depends on your budget. You need to decide if your budget can handle the initial cost of purchasing and installing a tankless unit. Keep in mind that a tankless unit will save you more money over time.

On the other hand, a storage tank heater might be a more attractive option for your budget. Storage tank heaters are also recommended if it is likely that you will need hot water at multiple points.

Still unsure? You can contact our licensed professional plumbers. They are always on hand to help and guide you through the whole process.