Traditional Water Heaters vs Tankless

Traditional water heaters have long been the preferred option in American homes and continue to be. They are inexpensive and reliable and their simplicity makes them the ideal option when wanting to avoid hassle or repairs. Tankless water heaters, however, have started to become more popular in the US over the recent years and many homeowners are tasked with the difficult decision of which to choose.

If you have found yourself debating whether you should stick to the traditional water heater with a tank or whether you should switch to a tankless water heater, we’ve outlined some comparisons between the two to help you make an informed decision. There are pros and cons to each and it’s importation to weigh your options and determine which would better suit your home based on these comparisons.

Price Comparison

There are two ways that price can be factored into the comparison between a standard tank water heater and a tankless. First, there is the initial cost of purchase and installation, then, second, there is cost of use.

Cost of Unit

  • A central tankless water heater providing hot water for an entire house can cost $800-$3,000 or more, depending on gpm (Gallons Per Minute) capacity and whether it’s gas or electric, plus features like a safety temperature lock or a remote control.
  • Traditional water heaters can range in unit price between $500 and $1500 depending on capacity and model.

Cost of Installation

  • Because tankless water heaters require a 220V/240V electrical outlet or larger gas pipes than found in an average home plus a stainless steel ventilation system, installation can add $1,000-$3,000or more, bringing total costs to $1,800-$4,500.
  • Since most houses are already retrofitted for a traditional water heater, the installation costs are usually quite low and typically average below $1,000.

Energy Savings

  • According to gov: For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand/tankless water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water — around 86 gallons per day.

When you consider the energy savings as cost savings, eventually you would recoup the extra costs from unit purchase and installation of a tankless water heater. That, however, could take several years before it starts saving you money. For many people who use tankless water heaters, cost isn’t a primary factor as there isn’t a large difference in total cost when you factor in energy savings versus initial costs.

Energy Efficiency

As discussed in the previous section under cost comparison, a tankless water heater could reduce energy use by 8% to 35% depending on the amount of water used. While the cost saving of the more energy efficient option barely make up for the initial cost difference, many environmentally-conscious individuals prefer tankless water heaters just for the sole fact that it is more eco-friendly.

Maintenance & Repairs

Tankless heaters are more complex and may require more, or more frequent, repairs. The cost of repairs can be higher as well. Traditional water heaters do have the benefit of being very simple and can usually be easily repaired.

This may seem like a win for standard water heaters however, while they don’t need as much maintenance or repairs, they usually do not last as long as a tankless water heater. On average, a standard water heater will last about 10 to 13 years whereas a tankless water heater is estimated to last up to 20 years.

Other Considerations

For many homeowners the main thought process when choosing between a traditional water heater and a tankless is as simple as determining which will cost less or save the most money. There are, however, a few other things to consider:

  • Available space – While storage tank water heaters can take up a considerable amount of space, tankless heaters can be stored in small/tight spaces, giving you more storage space.
  • Tankless water heaters may take longer for the water to get hot – Since a traditional water heater has pre-heated water, it is already hot and ready to go when you need it, whereas a tankless heater may take a couple minutes to heat up when first turned on (there are, however, tankless water heaters that provide instantaneous hot water).
  • Traditional heaters can cause serious water damage with a leak – Depending on the size of the tank, a standard water heater could hold between 50 to 100 gallons of water. If it were to start leaking, it could cause serious water damage with that amount of water. If your water heater is on the second floor, the damage could spread to the floor below costing you thousands in water damage repairs.
  • Tankless can provide an “endless” supply of hot water – Unlike a traditional water heater, the tankless water heater can continue to heat water as you need it and, therefore, provides and “endless” supply of hot water. If you have several people who use the hot water at the same time, you may run into instances where, after a couple showers, you run out of hot water and are forced to take a cold shower. With a tankless water heater, you can avoid this problem.

So, when determining which option is right for you, there are certainly many things to consider. There are many pros and cons to each and there isn’t a best option for everyone, it just depends on your needs and preferences.

For repairs or installation of traditional or tankless water heaters in Phoenix, Arizona, contact Peace of Mind Plumbing for certified plumbing service.

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