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Tank vs. Tankless Water Heater

As you decide the best route for your home, one of the fundamental questions you may ask yourself is whether you would prefer a tankless or a tank water heater. As you debate whether you value hot water, price-friendly options, or cheaper utility options, we here at NexLvl Services will help to point out why both have their pros and cons, as well as which one may be better for your home.

What is a water heater? 

A water heater is basically, as the name suggests, designed for the purpose of heating your home’s water — whether this is for showering, laundry, sinks or the variety of needs that you utilize hot water for.

Water heaters can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 — depending on the type you get and the cost of installation services.

It’s important to determine the type of water heater you’re looking for, because replacing a water heater isn’t cheap. Furthermore, depending on the functionality you’re hoping for, you may end up disappointed if you end up buying a tankless water heater when in reality, you probably would have preferred a tank water heater; it all just depends on what your questions are.

What are the differences between a tankless water heater and a tank water heater?

The first tank water heater was invented in 1889 and is considered a very standard choice for homebuyers. Most tank water heaters can carry anywhere from 30 gallons to 50 gallons of water. Using a burner or other heating methods, like electric rods, a tank water heater heats up cold water and, once at a hot enough temperature, stores the water in the tank, waiting to be used. When you turn a faucet to the sink, shower, or anything else, the tank water heater will send the water, along with a mixture of cold water depending on what temperature you’re needing. Whether you’re needing hot water or cold water, the results are pretty instant, as the water is already heated to a certain temperature, and can be easily cooled down as it moves through the pipes and integrates with colder water before reaching you.

The first tankless water heater was created several decades after the first tank water heater in 1929. Unlike a tank water heater, a tankless water heater doesn’t store hot water in advance, but rather instantly heats up the water — sending it wherever you need while the water heats up to the desired temperature. There are two kinds of tankless water heaters: electric and gas. An electric heater requires a home to have a minimum wattage of 200 amps. Tankless water heaters that are gas powered tend to produce noxious steam that, depending on whether the water heater is condensing or non-condensing, may require stainless steel venting, which can be pricey.

Pros and Cons

Both have their perks, but here were the general pros and cons we were able to find for both of these products:

Tank 

Pros

The tank water heater comes at a more reasonable price than the tankless water heater, averaging around $1,000 for the product and installation services. Furthermore, repair and maintenance services are going to be a more reasonable price than a tankless water heater, because the design of a tank water heater is relatively simplistic. 

Cons

Tank water heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan than tankless water heaters, having a range of around 10 to 20 years in life expectancy. Furthermore, since tank water heaters are constantly heating and then heating your water, this can lead to somewhat higher utility bills. Furthermore, when they run out of water in the storage tank, it takes around 30 minutes to an hour to heat up.

Tankless 

Pros

The tankless water is theoretically ideal for those who want to be energy efficient — at least, the gas tankless water heater is. According to The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand (or tankless) water heaters can be 24% to 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters.” Furthermore, the supposed theory of a tankless water heater is that you can have a limitless supply of hot water for however long you need it. Unlike a tank water heater, which after its 30 to 50 gallons are depleted, needs 30 minutes to an hour to refill and reheat, a tankless water heater is instantly heating the water so reheating isn’t a concern. A tankless water heater’s lifespan also tends to range between 20 to 30 years — almost double the lifespan of the tank water heater. They also take up significantly less space than a tank water heater.

Cons

Tankless water heaters in general tend to be more expensive than  tank water heaters, tending to cost around $3,000 to buy and have a professional install the product (and this isn’t even including the removal cost of your old water heater). They also take longer to deliver hot water than a tank water heater — since, as mentioned before, the tank water heater already has the heated water waiting to be used. Furthermore, depending on how many people live in your home, the ‘limitless supply of water’ isn’t so limitless after all. If, hypothetically, there are multiple water appliances being used (perhaps there are two showers being used) the water heater has a harder time heating the water and dispersing it, so the water becomes chillier as more people use water appliances throughout the home. Tankless water heaters also can’t provide hot water during a power outage.

There’s also a number of issues that are presented when dealing with an electric tankless water heater specifically.  While gas tankless water heaters may lower utility bills, electric tankless water heaters actually raise utility costs. Furthermore, it’s estimated that tankless electric water heaters run out of hot water quickly. In fact, many electric water heaters are considered “point-of-use,” meaning that they can only supply hot water to virtually one line, not an entire home  As such, if you’re going to choose a tankless water heater, it would make more sense to compare the gas tankless water heater to a tank water heater, as opposed to the electric.

Conclusion

Both tankless water heaters and tank water heaters have their pros and cons. What you’ll need for your home depends on how many residents you have, how much water you plan on using on a daily basis and the overall long-term costs you’re most worried about — whether that be higher utility bills from a tank water heater, or the overall expense of simply purchasing and installing a tankless water heater that costs almost three times as much as a tank water heater.. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy offers a great resource to anyone who may be curious about whether or not their water consumption habits would be better with a tankless or a tank water heater. 

If you’re still unsure of what’s best for your home, NexLvl Services, fortunately, provides both tankless and tank water heaters, and is happy to consult with you if you have further questions regarding what model and what type of water heater would be ideal for your home.

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