The time has come for you to replace your water heater. Maybe your current water heater is old or not doing the job as well as it once did. Whatever the case, before you hire a professional team and get to work swapping the old out for the new, you may want to research different types and styles of water heaters. One type of water heater that is gaining popularity is the tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, have many benefits over the traditional tank-style water heaters. It is easy to see why they are gaining in popularity. However, there are some limitations and drawbacks to tankless water heaters as well. Before you decide to go tankless (or, before you stick with the traditional style) you may want to do a little research to decide which option is best for your home.
How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?
Tankless water heaters have gained popularity in recent years due to compact designs and their energy efficiency. Instead of storing hot water in a tank and using energy to keep the water heated, like a traditional style water heater, tankless water heaters can deliver hot water on demand by heating water when its needed.
The idea behind tankless water heaters is quite simple. When you turn on a shower or tap in your home wanting hot water, cold water runs into the tankless unit and an electrical heating element or gas burner heats the water as it runs through. When the water leaves the tankless water heater system, it is hot and ready to be used. So while tankless water heaters can deliver a continued, constant supply of hot water (meaning your shower never goes cold!) the unit’s flow rate is limited.
Tankless vs Tank-Style Water Heaters
Take a closer look at both tankless and traditional tank-style water heaters. Just because you like the sound of one does not necessarily mean that setup will fit your home, family, budget or lifestyle. Here is additional information about each water heater style.
Tankless Water Heaters:
- Heats water on-demand as-needed
- Usually costs more to install, meaning a larger up-front investment
- More eco-friendly as heating systems and electricity do not need to be in use at all times to keep water warm
- More compact design, as these do not need a full tank
- Need to choose the proper size for you home and family to ensure a proper flow rate
- Design is generally more easily repairable and can last longer than tanked water heater systems
Tanked Water Heaters
- Water is heated and stored in the tank for later use
- The life of a water heater is typically about 8-12 years
- Tank-style systems can accommodate a variety of family sizes and use, as they come in storage sizes from 20 to 80 gallons
- More floor space is required to store tank
- Usually more economical for purchase price and installation costs
Pros and Cons of Tankless Systems
While we have looked at tankless water heater systems at a glance, let’s dive a little deeper into both pros and cons for the tankless system. This section will help you as the homeowner narrow down if a tankless system is for you and your family.
Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters:
Tankless water heaters provide many benefits over traditional methods, here are just a few that you can look forward to.
- Savings on energy and operating costs – because water is heated as there is a demand for it, the system does not need to work to keep water hot, saving energy and lowering operating costs.
- Longevity – tankless water heaters have a longer service life than a tank-style system. With proper maintenance, these systems can last for up to 15 years or longer.
- Space saving – because they do not need a tank, tankless systems are more compact and save space in your home.
- Easily repairable – tankless systems are built to be repaired, with most parts being replaceable. With a tank system, most of the time, if there is a problem, the whole system must be replaced.
- Endless supply of hot water – love a long hot shower? Perfect! Because water is heated on demand, a tankless hot water heater will never run out of water. Additionally, you will always have fresh water when you turn on the tap, since water is not sitting in a tank.
- Less leakage – because there is no tank, the likelihood of major leaks or even water heater bursting related to age drastically decreases.
Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters:
- Installation cost – the initial installation and setup of a tankless water heater is more than replacing a traditional tank system.
- Flow Rates – since the system is heating on demand, there is a max flow rate of hot water, which may be a problem for larger families or homes. However, there are several solutions to rectify these issues, so if this is a concern for your household, talk with your plumbing specialist.