The Pros and Cons of Storage Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

The Pros and Cons of Storage Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

17% of the average New York family’s energy costs go towards heating water, according to data gathered by the Environmental Information Administration. Since it is inevitably going to be a large part of your utility bill, you’ll want to understand what you are paying with your system. We’ll explain the pros and cons of the conventional tank water heater and the tankless alternative.

Tank Water Heater Overview

The typical storage-tank water heater stores between 20 and 80 gallons of hot water. When you turn on hot water for a faucet, shower, or washing machine, water is pulled from the tank and mixed with a bit of cold water to create the right temperature and taken to the appliance which needs it.

Especially with the larger tanks, this allows comfortable access to hot water for multiple fixtures at once.

When you need hot water, it’s ready. If you don’t need hot water, you’re still using energy to keep that water hot for when you need it.

Tank Water Heater Pros

Tank water heaters have been the dominant form of water heater for decades. They’re fairly reliable. They provide enough supply for most families. They cost less to install than almost every alternative. While your tank water heater may be limited to say 60 gallons, you can access that at any flow rate. Tankless systems work best at a specific rate of flow, preventing you from accessing your hot water at very low and very high flow rates. Lastly, your hot water will be ready when you need it. You don’t need to worry about the system lagging like you might with tankless.

Tank Water Heater Cons

Tank systems are less efficient than almost every alternative. Tankless, solar, and heat pump water heaters all function with a small carbon footprint and for less month-to-month costs. In the long run, these systems typically outpace the initial installation savings that a storage tank offers.

Additionally, for those who enjoy long showers, or who worry about losing their hot water during periods of high use, a tankless system may be more comfortable.

Tankless Water Heater Overview

A tankless water heater heats water as it’s used. This eliminates the most significant efficiency of a tank system—standby heat loss. When no one is home, your tankless system will not use any energy keeping your water hot and ready as a storage-tank would.

How does it work? Cold water flows into the unit and is rapidly warmed by heating elements in a matter of seconds before it flows out of your faucet. The unit can do this indefinitely within a given flow rate.

There are two main types of tankless systems. A point-of-use system works on one appliance, like your shower, and can work in concert with a traditional tank system. Point-of-use is great for appliances that particularly tax your water heater system, so you have the rest of your tank for the other parts of your home.

The other option is a whole-home system, which can provide hot water to all of your appliances. The installation cost is higher, and these typically require natural gas to cope with the increased demand. Point-of-use can use electricity, which is more efficient.

Tankless Water Heater Pros

The main benefit is unlimited hot water! Your tankless system heats water as you use it, so you don’t have to worry about how much is left in your storage tank. You’ll also spend less on your month-to-month bills and repairs since there are less moving parts where things can go wrong.

EnergyStar estimates that the typical family of four can save as much as $2,000 on water heating over the lifetime of the tankless unit when compared to the typical tank system.

Tankless Water Heater Cons

You probably want to know, “Do tankless water heaters need maintenance?” While tankless water heaters are a great way to save space and energy, they require a little more maintenance than traditional water heaters.

One important task is to flush the unit once a year to remove any sediment that has built up. If this sediment is not removed, it can eventually cause the water heater to fail. Flushing also helps to improve the water flow, which increases the efficiency of the heater. The good news is that flushing the unit is a fairly simple process, and most homeowners can do it themselves.

The installation cost is also higher than a storage tank system. While this can be overcome after using the system for a few years, you may not want to install a tankless system if you plan on moving sometime soon. Tankless is an investment in your home and a way to shrink your carbon footprint, but it won’t be the best for certain families.

Want to install a new water heater? Please give us at Einstein’s Plumbing & Heating, Inc. a call at (718) 215-9664 or fill out an online contact form.


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