Traditional Water Heater vs. Tankless Water Heater

December 14, 2020

If it is time for you to replace your water heater or install one into a new home, you may be wondering if you should choose a tankless or traditional water heater. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Here, we will discuss the differences between the two types and the pros and cons of each.

Traditional Water Heaters

Traditional water heaters are the most common type of water heater found in residential homes. They are commonly referred to as “storage tank water heaters” because they require an insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it’s needed. Most traditional water heaters use electricity or natural gas to heat the water and have a holding capacity of between 30 and 50 gallons.

Since this type of water heater stores and maintains the temperature of heated water until you are ready to use it, they are less efficient than tankless water heaters. Traditional electric water heaters are cheaper than their natural gas counterpart. However, they are less efficient, and since electricity costs more than natural gas, they are also more expensive to operate.

Compared to tankless water heaters, storage tank water heaters are cheaper to purchase and install. They are also simpler in design, which makes maintenance and repairs a lot simpler and cheaper. However, traditional water heaters are not as efficient, meaning that you will have a slightly higher energy bill. They also require more space than a tankless option.

If you are using a lot of hot water on a particular day, a storage-tank water heater may run out, and you will have to wait until it fills up and heats the water. You may also run out of hot water in the middle of a shower. Traditional water heaters also have about half the lifespan of tankless options. They will typically last anywhere from 10-15 years depending on how well they are maintained.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are also called “on-demand water heaters.” As the name suggests, this type heats water as you need it and does not have a storage tank. They are a lot more complex in nature, and the installation process can be just as complex depending on your home.

While tankless water heaters are quite a bit more expensive to purchase and install, they can save you a significant amount on your energy bill. On-demand water heaters are also typically fueled by electricity or natural gas, with the natural gas option being much more efficient.

Since tankless water heaters do not have a storage tank, they do not require as much space as a traditional one. In fact, if you are limited on space, you may want to opt for a tankless water heater. They are typically mounted on the wall. Some types can even be mounted on the outside of your home.

With a tankless water heater, you will never have to worry about running out of hot water. If your household uses 41 gallons or less of hot water a day, an on-demand water heater can be 24% to 34% more energy-efficient than a storage tank option, according to

While tankless water heaters are more expensive than the traditional option, they can last anywhere from 20-30 years. So even though a traditional water heater may cost less to purchase and install, you will have to replace it twice as often as a tankless option. So, in the long run, it is more cost-effective to go with a tankless water heater.

The main drawback of a tankless water heater is that if multiple people are taking showers at one time or if you are doing laundry at the same time as taking a shower, it may have a hard time keeping up with the demand. You can get around this issue by installing more than one tankless water heater if you have a large home and if your demand for hot water is high.

The Bottom Line

If you have the budget for it, a tankless water heater is a better investment. It will save money on your energy bills and will last twice as long as a traditional water heater. If you are still unsure about which option is best for your situation, the experts at Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in South Charleston, WV, can help guide you and answer any of your questions.

Our highly knowledgeable team can also assist you with heating and cooling installation, repair, and maintenance. You can also rely on our extensive range of plumbing services, indoor air quality solutions, and ductwork installation, repair, and maintenance. Give us a call today!

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