Tank Vs. Tankless Water Heater: What You Need to Know

Are you remodeling a home? Or just replacing one of your home’s most relied-upon appliances? It pays to know the difference between a tank vs. tankless water heater before you buy.

There are some pretty significant differences. The differences range from how long they last to their energy efficiency, costs over the lifetime of the heater, installation, and the number of people each will serve.

After reading this, you’ll probably still have questions about the best heater for you. That’s okay; feel free to reach out to us after. But first, education time.

Energy Efficiency of Tank Vs. Tankless

Tankless water heaters are hands down, more efficient than the tank version. That’s because they only heat water on demand. On the other hand, tank water heaters keep a steady supply of hot water in large metal containers. That means it’s always available.

However, it also means considerably more waste. The predominant source of energy waste is what’s known as “standby loss.” This is the amount of energy that dissipates, due to water sitting in the tank unused. With a tankless heater, you avoid that.

According to the United States Department of Energy, the efficiency of a tankless heater depends on the number of gallons you use in your home. For those who use less than 41 gallons per day, the energy savings are high: between 24 and 34 percent.

If you use more than 80 gallons per day, your energy savings will drop down to between 8 and 14 percent. The savings? More than $100 per year, on average.

Longevity of Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters usually last around 20 years. Tank water heaters are not nearly as durable. The inside of the tank can rust and pit. They can crack or break over time. Most water heaters have a life expectancy of about 10-12 years. However, if you’re looking for a replacement after only 8 years, that’s not uncommon.

Upfront Costs and Operating Costs

Tankless vs. tank water heater installation will vary depending on a variety of factors. These include:
  • The brand you choose
  • Your home’s setup
  • Whether you need to make additional changes to your home to accommodate the new water heater
With important code changes, upgrades, and appropriate City permits, the average tank type water heater replacement costs approximately $1500. For a tankless upgrade, that number can be closer to $3500. That might make a tank water heater seem more appealing.

However, you can expect to replace a tank type water heater twice during the life of ONE tankless unit. A tankless unit qualifies for rebates from the gas company. Also, keep in mind the energy savings you will get from installing a more energy-efficient tankless water heater. Homes equipped with a tankless unit can also expect significant energy savings per month.

At a hundred-dollar savings per year, and the need to replace about half as often, the tankless version will definitely make up for those upfront costs. Plus, depending on energy costs in your area, you may save even more than $100 per year.

Installation of Water Heater Types

Water heaters vary in their installation requirements. Because a tank is freestanding, installation usually only takes three to six hours.

Installation typically takes longer with the tankless version. You can install it inside or outside on a wall, reducing the need for serious remodeling. However, its energy requirements make it more difficult.

A note of caution: Most people know to call a professional to have their water heater installed. But occasionally a DIY type will try to install one themselves. If that’s you, know that a tankless water heater may be even more difficult to install than a standard tank water heater.

It’s really much better to get professional help.

Number of People in the Home

The primary limiting factor of a tankless water heater is how fast it can heat water. Water flows through the heat exchanger to heat in real time, rather than heating in the background and waiting like you would with a tank water heater. Some tankless water heaters, for instance, can supply 5 gallons of hot water a minute. If a shower uses 3 gallons per minute (a rough estimate) and two people want to shower at the same time, the water heater won’t produce enough. You have a few options: You can get a larger tankless water heater, or install more than one. Or, if you still don’t think that will be enough, you can get a tank, which is pretty much guaranteed to have a higher capacity than the tankless option. As a general rule of thumb, a tankless water heater will normally serve a family just fine. If you are a landlord installing the heater in a large house meant for multiple renters, however, it’s probably best to go the tank route.

Tank Vs. Tankless? Get a Professional Opinion

At the end of the day, you can save a lot of money and hassle by choosing correctly between tank vs. tankless water heater types.

If you would like to learn more about your water heater choices, please call us at (918) 258-1818.

We would be happy to walk you through your options and the process of installing a new water heater. We’ll also help you calculate which one will work best for your family and your wallet, now and in the future. Get in touch.