A hot debate in the plumbing world is which is better: a tankless water heater or a traditional water heater? There isn’t a clear winner overall, but instead, the best choice depends on what each home needs from a water heater. You should understand how each water heater works and their advantages and disadvantages. Once you understand both options, you can make the best choice for your home and family. If you have further questions, contact Estes Services and speak with one of our knowledgeable plumbing professionals!
Tankless Water Heater
Tankless water heaters heat water as it moves through the system. This means the tankless water heater will only heat the necessary amount of water you need and not waste energy storing unused hot water. Tankless water heaters are also known as “on demand” water heaters because they heat water only when it’s needed.
A tankless water heater uses a powerful heat exchanger to transfer heat from one source to another, increasing the water temperature. This heat exchanger is only activated by the flow of incoming water. The incoming water is heated to your preset temperature while it circulates through the heat exchanger. You have the option of installing a tankless system powered by electricity, propane or natural gas.
A tankless system can last up to 20 years depending on how well it’s maintained. As the name states, the unit has no bulky tank and takes up less space than a traditional water heater. A tankless unit avoids any standby heat loss because it’s not wasting energy trying to keep a constant temperature.
Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater
- Last 5 to 10 years longer than traditional water heaters
- More efficient with zero standby heat loss
- Never run out of hot water
- Flexible installation, such as on walls, outdoors, under cabinets or in closets
- Increased efficiency, resulting in lower water heating bills
- Remote controls are available for some models with up to four separate settings
- No flooding possibility
Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater
- Hot water output split between all fixtures
- Costs considerably more than a traditional water heater
- Expensive stainless-steel tubing for venting gas and propane
- Additional circuit for electric models
- Additional natural gas line might be necessary
- Additional expense to service gas units
- Increased lag time to heat the water
- Minimum flow rate of .5 GPM to activate heat exchanger
Traditional Water Heater
A traditional water heater has been the most popular option for decades. A traditional water heater has a large tank that holds water and heats it continuously throughout the day and night. Heating the water constantly allows the water heater to maintain an even temperature at all times. The energy used to keep the water hot while it’s not in use is referred to as standby heat loss.
A traditional water heater allows you to use hot water in several different places of your home at the same time without running out of hot water. Modern water heaters are more efficient compared to older models and you can add insulation to your tank to boost its efficiency further. The life expectancy of a traditional water heater is between 10 and 15 years.
Advantages of a Traditional Water Heater
- Less expensive than tankless water heaters
- Fewer installation complications
- Easy maintenance twice a year
- Easily adapted to other applications, such as re-circulation and solar pre-heat
- Less expensive to replace
Disadvantages of a Traditional Water Heater
- Larger tank requires more space for installation
- Limited hot water supply
- Additional storage tanks might be necessary larger or busy households
- Increased energy and higher standby heat loss
The debate about tankless and traditional water heaters may be undecided, but only you know what’s best for you and your family. Contact Estes Services for help weighing the pros and cons to determine which water heater is best for your home. Our plumbing professionals will install your new system quickly and answer any questions about your new equipment.