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Tank vs. Tankless Water Heater, Which is best for my home?

March 25, 2021

Looking to install a new water heater? You might be wondering whether to go with a tank or tankless option.

The truth is that both are great options, it just depends on your needs.

Some factors that will impact your choice include:

  1. Your budget

  2. How many hot water appliances you use at once

  3. Your hot water preferences

  4. The space you have available

To help you make the best decision for your home, below we’ll take a look at each factor.

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Factor #1: Your budget

Tankless water heaters are more expensive to install.

On average, a tankless heater will cost about $4,500+, whereas a tank heater can start around $2,500+.

That’s a pretty big difference in cost, so if you’re wondering why you should consider tankless, know that they last a long time. Compared to tank heaters, which have an average lifespan of 8-12 years, tankless units can last up to 20.

In addition to lower maintenance costs, tankless water heaters don’t use as much energy. Because they only heat water on-demand (rather than keeping a tank of water constantly heated), you’ll see a noticeable difference in your monthly utility costs. Considering that water heating accounts for almost 20% of the average household’s utility costs, these savings can add up.

Granted, your budget now may not allow for a bigger purchase up-front, so getting a tank water heater may be your best bet. They do need annual flushings for sediment buildup, but are much less expensive to fix if anything breaks.

Factor #2: How many hot water appliances you use at once

If you need to run several hot water appliances at once, you’re better off with a tank water heater.

Tank heaters work by filling the tank, and then keeping the water consistently hot. So if you decide to take a shower while someone else is doing laundry and washing dishes, you’ll have enough hot water flowing to all three at the same time.

While tankless heaters are often advertised as a “never-ending supply of hot water,” they’re limited to how many appliances they can funnel water to at one time.

Typically, tankless heaters have a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute. If you’re taking a shower (which flows about 1-3 gallons per minute), that’s no problem. But if members of your household start to use other appliances at the same time (washing machine: 2 gallons per minute, dishwasher: another 2 gallons per minute) the tankless heater may struggle to keep up.

To fix this, you can install multiple point-of-use units for appliances that use a lot of hot water, such as the washing machine. However, installing a whole-home tankless water heater and multiple point-of-use units can add up, and may not work for your budget.

Generally speaking, if you know you’re going to be running 2 or more hot water appliances at once, a tank heater is best.

Factor #3: Your hot water preferences

If you don’t like waiting for water to heat up, or if your family takes long showers back-to-back, a tankless heater is the better choice.

Because tankless water heaters work on-demand, they can supply hot water within 15 seconds. This not only saves you from wasting water, but is pretty convenient too.

Provided that you’re not using several hot water appliances at once, tankless water heaters can essentially provide “endless” hot water for you and your family to enjoy. If you have a large household where multiple people are showering in the morning, gone are the days of fighting over “who used up all the hot water.”

It all comes down to your usage and preference, but to sum it up:

  • Tankless heaters are best if you want endless hot water immediately, for one to two appliances at a time.

  • Tank heaters are best if you need reliable hot water for multiple appliances at once.

Factor #4: The space you have available

If space is an issue in your home, a tankless heater might work best.

Being much lighter in weight, tankless heaters can actually be mounted on a wall, or fit easily in a small closet or cabinet.

In comparison, a tank heater will house anywhere from 30-80 gallons of water at one time, so you’ll need a larger space to accommodate it.

Depending on the size and layout of your home, this could be a deciding factor in your choice.

Still need advice on which water heater to get? Jon Wayne is here to help.

When you speak with one of our skilled technicians, they’ll give you honest advice and a free, up-front estimate. Offering same-day service, in-house financing and a 10-year parts and labor warranty, we make installation of your new water heater simple and easy.

Learn more about what to expect when you hire us by visiting our tank water heater and tankless water heater installation pages.

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