Purchasing a new water heater can be a significant financial investment. However, a good water heater can last more than ten years with proper maintenance. This decision can be complicated because of the cost involved and the unit’s long-term impact on how comfortable you feel at home.

When it’s time to replace your old water heater or install one in a new house, you want to think about your new hot water system’s lifecycle, efficiency, and cost. Many homeowners make comparisons between storage water heaters and tankless water heaters. The following are some of the pros and cons of each, which can help you to make an informed decision.

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

Also referred to as on-demand water heaters, tankless water heaters use a gas burner or an electric element to heat water quickly as it travels through the heat exchanger. This process delivers near-instantaneous hot water to your shower, faucets, and appliances without the water needing to be stored in a tank.

Most tankless water heaters are powered by gas or electricity. Regarding energy efficiency, a tankless water heater can be up to 22% more efficient than in the traditional gas-fired storage tank models.

What Is a Traditional Water Heater?

Storage tank water heaters are the most common type found in Michigan. They typically hold between 30 and 50 gallons of water in an insulated tank.

A pipe comes out of the top of the water heater, delivering water to its destination in your home, be it the kitchen, bathroom, or appliance. Most storage tank water heaters use natural gas or electricity as their fuel. A natural gas storage water heater will use about 50% less energy than the electric option. However, the upfront cost for a natural gas unit is typically higher.

A traditional water heater has a temperature pressure release valve that opens if the temperature exceeds the preset levels. This safety device prevents scolding when the water arrives at its final destination.

How Efficient Are Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters are the most advantageous for smaller households using 40 gallons of hot water or less daily and are between 24% and 34% more efficient than a storage-tank water heater. If you have a household that uses more than that, your system will still be eight to 14% more efficient than a traditional model.

The immediate out-of-pocket expense for a tankless water heater will be more than that of a traditional tank unit. However, a tankless unit will last up to two times longer than a conventional water heater. Proper maintenance means a tankless water heater can last 25 years or more. Alternatively, even a well-maintained traditional water heater will only last 10 to 15 years before needing to be replaced.

Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater

The most significant advantage of on-demand systems is that since they do not waste energy by needing to heat stored water constantly, they can save you money over time. The US Department of Energy suggests that homeowners can reduce energy bills by $100 yearly with a gas-fired tankless model or $44 per year with the electrical variety.

A major plus, especially if you live in a house where space is a challenge, is that a tankless unit does not take up as much room as a traditional water heater because it does not have a tank. These water heaters are so compact that an HVAC professional can install one in a tight space. Some homeowners even have them mounted on outside walls.

You will also have hot water whenever you need it. Usually, the water becomes hot within 10 to 15 seconds of turning on the faucet, and the system can deliver up to three gallons of hot water per minute. Most storage tank water heaters take longer than that to heat the water because they’re trying to heat a lot at once.

The Downsides of a Tankless Water Heater

For all of their benefits, there are some drawbacks to tankless water heaters. First, they are more expensive. Additionally, installing a tankless unit can be costly if you want to replace a traditional water heater. The retrofitting process is time-consuming, increasing labor costs.

Another consideration is that tankless water heaters are limited when it comes to the amount of water they can output. For instance, if you have a large family who all shower during their morning routines, the system may not be able to keep up with the hot water demand.

The Benefits of a Traditional Water Heater

One benefit is its lower upfront cost. If your existing water heater breaks down and you’re on a budget, a storage-tank water heater may be the way to go. Another advantage is that storage tank water heaters have a simple design. Maintenance and repair costs for a traditional system will cost less than the same services for an on-demand system.

The Downside of a Traditional Water Heater

With a traditional water heater, your utility bills might be slightly higher. The extra expense is because you will pay to heat water whether you are using it or not. This cost can be higher during winter if your water heater is not in a heated space, like an unfinished basement.

Another downside is their size. They occupy a lot more space than an on-demand water heater. If your home is space-restricted, finding enough area to locate large storage tank water heaters can be challenging. And, unlike a tankless unit, you cannot house it outdoors.

Finally, scale build-up impacts traditional water heaters more than on-demand systems because water sits in its tank. While tankless systems are not immune to hard water, they will not be affected until later in their lifecycles. You can speak to a professional about installing a water softener to remove the minerals from your water before it goes into your home’s plumbing. A softer will extend the lifetime of your hot water system no matter which option you decide on and also protect your appliances.

Making Your Final Decision

If you have moderate hot water needs and your bank account can handle the initial cost of a tankless water heater, it will cost you less in utility bills and last longer. However, a traditional system with a tank may be better for large households that use a lot of hot water at once and are more budget-friendly.

Contact the Professionals

At AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we are a family-owned business that has been serving the Farmington Hills, MI community and surrounding areas since 1925.

Our services include heating and cooling system installation, maintenance, and repair. In addition, we are experts in kitchen and bathroom plumbing, traditional and tankless water heaters, water line repair, and water treatment.

Our electrical services include whole-house rewiring, electrical panel replacement, generators, lighting, ceiling fans, and whole-house surge protection. Contact AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert team members.

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