Tankless vs. Traditional Hot Water Heaters

Tankless vs. Traditional Hot Water Heaters

If you like to take a long shower at home, then a tankless water heater sounds like technology from heaven. You can theoretically stay in there forever without having the temperature decline slowly until you become a shivering mess.

Tankless systems only produce hot water when you turn on a faucet. This technology is gaining market share because of its benefits, but it isn’t the best option for every family. If you already have a tank-based water heater can involve significant changes to your home. The cost may not be worth the benefits.

If you’re thinking about making the big switch, then here are the comparison points to consider in the tankless vs. traditional hot water heater debate.

Capacity Considerations for Hot Water

The traditional insulated hot water heater provides 30 to 50 gallons of hot water that stays stored until it is needed. Then the plumbing system distributes it to the rest of the home. If you use more than 80 gallons of hot water each day, then the energy efficiency savings and capacity benefits are about 10% when making the switch to a tankless system.

Gallons per Minute Distribution

Tankless water heaters operate on a gallons-per-minute measurement. That means the on-demand system can provide your home with a specific quantity of hot water at the desired temperature. If you have multiple draws on the installation, then the result won’t have as much heat. A traditional system distributes a specific amount of water at the temperature you specify, no matter how many faucets are on.

Equipment Lifespan

The typical tank-based hot water system works for 10 to 15 years before requiring a replacement. Tankless systems can keep going for up to 30 years. If you have hard water in your community, then both systems require regular maintenance to prevent the scale from building up on the equipment. You can see a significant decrease in usability over the years without proper attention.

Hot Water Availability

If you get tired of waiting for 30 seconds or more to receive hot water at a faucet, then a tankless system is an investment worth considering. You receive instant support when you need it. Although you might not get to do the laundry and take a shower simultaneously, most families can shift their habits to accommodate the system. A traditional installation might take some time to give you what you want, but it can handle the output up to the point of what is contained in the tank.

Spacing Requirements

Small homes struggle to accommodate the size of a traditional hot water heater. It is not unusual to see the tanks in a garage, which means the equipment needs to work harder to maintain the correct temperature. Tankless models require a fraction of the space, even if they sometimes require a change to how the plumbing network. 

Depending on your current plumbing setup, a new tankless hot water system could cost up to $4,500 to buy and install. If you go with the traditional tank-based approach, then most homeowners can get a 50-gallon system for less than $1,000.

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