Tank or Tankless Hot Water Heater: Which is Right for Your Home?

Kate Webb

May 3, 2021

As with anything, both tank and tankless units have pros and cons. When it comes to efficiency, the tankless hot water heater wins every time. If you like to shower while doing a load of laundry, a tank heater is your best bet. Determining the most cost effective option for your home depends on factors like how many people you live with, if you like long showers, or if the dishwasher is running on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at both units:


Storage Tank Hot Water Heaters


What is a storage tank hot water heater?

Storage tank water heaters can hold anywhere from 20 to 120 gallons of hot water and can be heated with either electricity or gas. These tanks continuously heat water to keep a full store at the ready and typically last 15 years. 

How does a storage tank water heater work?

The unit heats and reheats the water stored within an insulated tank, which is anywhere from 20-80 gallons. When a tap or appliance calls for hot water, heated water exits the tank from the top, while cold water enters from the bottom to refill the tank.

How much is a storage tank water heater?

The cost of a storage tank heater is lower cost than other types of hot water heaters. Gas water heaters are slightly more expensive than electric water heaters. They are simple and inexpensive to install.

Efficiency

Traditional units heat a tank of water around the clock, whether you’re using it or not. If your home frequently calls on hot water, there’s very little wasted energy. However, if you go long periods of time without using hot water, you’re paying to store unused hot water. These units also tend to lose heat through the tank’s walls. This is easily fixed by properly insulating your tank. Annual energy costs are, on average, $100 more than tankless units. 

Performance

Homeowners like tank heaters because they provide a steady stream of hot water, even when demand is high. They rarely have temperature or pressure issues, but if everyone in your home likes long showers you may temporarily run out of hot water.

Installation

Replacing a tank water heater is relatively simple, especially if the new unit is similar to the old one. We highly recommend having a professional handle your installation. 

Tankless Hot Water Heaters


What is a tankless hot water heater?

Tankless units heat water on demand, directly from the water main, using high-powered burners. These hot water heaters are compact, typically mounted on a wall, and do not have a water storage tank. You can choose an electric tankless water heater or a gas water heater. Tankless units generally last about 20 years. 

How does a tankless water heater work?

Tankless hot water heaters are connected directly to your home’s water main. When you turn on the hot water tap, cold water travels through a pipe into the water heater. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water and delivers it directly to your faucet. This means you’ll have a constant supply of hot water because you’re not reliant on the amount of hot water in a storage tank.

How much is a tankless water heater?

The cost of a tankless water heater (including installation) can range anywhere from $3,000-$5,500. These heaters are pricier to install than traditional tank water heaters. If you’re set on a tankless heater, Massachusetts offers incentives to install energy-efficient appliances in your home. 

Efficiency

Tankless units are highly efficient because they only heat water when you need it. Tankless hot water heaters can be up to 34% more efficient than tank heaters, depending on how much water you use. These units lower your annual energy costs by an average of $100.

Performance

Tankless units provide limitless hot water, but they may not be able to keep up with multiple demands for water—like having multiple showers on while the dishwasher is running. 

How to install a tankless water heater

Installing a tankless hot water heater is a complicated process relative to a standard tank system. We highly recommend having a professional handle the task.


Now that you know the difference, you can make an informed decision. Get an instant quote for your hot water heater and installation today.