Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters: Navigating the Pros & Cons | Bill Howe

Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters: Navigating the Pros & Cons

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Dealing with a water heater burst is not only inconvenient but also poses potential electrical hazards, and flood problems due to the substantial water spill. When it’s time to replace your water heater, the choice between a tankless or tank water heater has a lot of people scratching their heads. Bill Howe is ready to assist you in the replacement and installation process. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each type, taking into account factors like installation costs, location, water usage, and functionality.

What is a Tank Water Heater?

A tank water heater, also known as a storage or conventional water heater, is a water heating system that stores and heats a designated quantity of water within a tank. The fundamental concept revolves around maintaining a reservoir of water at a predetermined temperature, ensuring it is readily accessible for use whenever required.

How Does a Tank Water Heater Work?

A tank water heater operates by storing and heating water in a tank. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Storage Tank: The water heater has a tank, usually made of steel, storing 20 to 80 gallons of water or more for high-capacity units.
  • Heating Element: Inside the tank, a heating element (gas or electric) warms the water.
  • Temperature Control: A thermostat lets you set and control the water temperature.
  • Dip Tube: Cold water enters at the bottom through a dip tube, preventing immediate mixing with the hot water at the top.
  • Hot Water Outlet: When you need hot water, it’s drawn from the top through a pipe connected to the outlet.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: For safety, there’s a valve to release excess pressure in the tank that builds up while the water is heated and expands.

In a nutshell, it ensures hot water is always available for your needs – but only up to a certain capacity.

Upsides of Tank Water Heater vs Tankless

The following are the upsides to a tank vs. tankless water heaters for your home or business:

  • Cost Efficiency: Tank water heaters have a lower upfront cost, making them an economical choice.
  • Inexpensive Repairs: Maintenance and repairs are generally more affordable due to the simpler design.
  • Improved Efficiency: Newer models offer increased insulation, enhancing overall efficiency.
  • Ease of Operation: Simple operation and the ability to heat a significant amount of water.

What Are the Downsides of a Tank Water Heater

However, drawbacks include:

  • Higher Utility Bills: Less energy-efficient, leading to potentially higher energy bills.
  • Space Requirements: Occupies more space than tankless heaters, which is challenging for homes with limited indoor space.
  • Wait Time for Hot Water: Delay in hot water replenishment, especially during simultaneous usage.
  • Shorter Lifespan: Typically lasts around 12 years, necessitating more frequent replacements. With routine maintenance, you can extend the life of your tank water heater to up to 15 years. Homeowners with a tank water heater should consider scheduling regular maintenance. Bill Howe’s hot water experts can flush the tank regularly and perform an inspection. Parts such as the anode rod tend to rust, so having a professional inspection can prevent corrosion to this essential part of the tank heater.
  • Leak Risks: Over time, tank water heaters may develop leaks, causing potential home damage.
    Traditional tank water heaters are still a great choice if you want a more budget-friendly installation and maintenance. How often do you use hot water? This is a great way to determine if a tank water heater is the right fit for your home.

What Are Tankless Water Heaters?

While tank water heaters are still common in homes across America, tankless water heaters are gaining popularity. In fact, they’re already wildly popular globally.

So, what are tankless water heaters? A tankless water heater, also known as an on-demand water heater, delivers hot water as you need it. This design eliminates the need for a bulky storage tank, providing hot water instantly and continuously when you turn on a hot water faucet or appliance. Do you like long showers? Do you want to save money on your energy bills. With a tankless system you can have the best of both worlds.

How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

  • Water Flow Initiation: When you turn on a hot water tap or appliance, cold water starts to flow through the pipe into the tankless water heater.
  • Flow Sensor Activation: As water flows through the unit, a flow sensor detects the movement and signals the heating elements or burners to activate.
  • Heating Process:
    • In electric tankless water heaters, electric heating elements are activated to heat the water as it passes through the unit.
    • In gas tankless water heaters, a gas burner is ignited to heat a heat exchanger. The cold water passes through this heat exchanger, absorbing the heat from the burner flames.
  • Temperature Regulation: A temperature sensor monitors the outgoing water temperature and adjusts the heating elements or burner accordingly to maintain the desired hot water temperature.
  • Continuous Supply: The hot water is delivered instantly to the faucet or appliance. As long as there is a demand for hot water, the tankless water heater continues to heat and supply it.
  • Shutdown: When you turn off the hot water tap or appliance, the flow sensor detects the reduction in water flow and signals the heating elements or burner to shut down.

Upsides of a Tankless Water Heater vs Tank

Why are so many homeowners converting to tankless water heaters? Is it true that tankless water heaters outperform tank water heaters? Let’s check out the upsides of having a tankless water heater in your home.

The following are the pros of a tankless water heater:

  • Lower Energy Costs: Greater energy efficiency leading to potential savings of up to 70% on energy bills.
  • On-Demand Heating: Continuous hot water supply without running out.
  • Space Efficiency: Compact size, suitable for both indoor and outdoor installation.
  • Extended Lifespan: Lasts approximately 20 to 30 years, reducing the frequency of replacements.
  • Less Prone to Leaks: Lower risk of developing leaks and flooding your home.

What Are the Downsides of a Tankless Water Heater?

The following are the downsides to opting for tankless water heaters vs tanks:

  • Higher Upfront Costs: Initial cost and installation are generally higher than conventional tank water heaters.
  • Retrofitting Required: Transitioning from a tank to a tankless system may require additional effort.
  • Complex Maintenance: Maintenance is more involved, including annual descaling for optimal performance.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Better than a Tank?

Ultimately, the choice between a tankless and tank water heater depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. If energy efficiency, space savings, and continuous hot water are crucial to you, a tankless water heater might be a better option. If upfront cost, simplicity, and the ability to handle simultaneous hot water demands are more important, a traditional tank water heater may be the better choice.

Can I Replace My Tank Water Heater with a Tankless?

Absolutely. Our certified technicians can easily install a tankless unit in your home where a conventional water heater exists or relocate it for space saving and convenience. The long-term advantages of energy efficiency and the uninterrupted supply of hot water, along with more repairability make tankless water heaters a great choice for many homeowners.

If you’ve read this article on tankless water heaters vs tanks and are still unsure, we can help. Consulting with a certified Bill Howe plumber before deciding on a conventional and tankless unit will help inform your decision while providing a clear idea about the overall water heater costs associated with each option. Call 1-800-BILL-HOWE to schedule an appointment for a free estimate. Book Now!

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