If your water heater is on the fritz and you’re looking for a replacement, you’re probably trying to choose between a traditional tanked water heater and a tankless system. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so determining the right option can be difficult. First, let’s outline the difference between a tank and a tankless water heater.
What Is the Difference Between a Tank and Tankless Water Heater?
The primary difference between a tank and a tankless water heater is how the water is stored. A traditional water heater stores hot water in a large cylindrical tank. With a tankless water heater, water is heated on demand. Both a tank and tankless water heater can use geothermal heat, electricity, gas, or solar heating.
The Basic Functioning of a Storage Tank Water Heater
A traditional water heater has a tank that stores hot water and works on the principle of heat rising. On the inside of the storage tank, several components work to heat the cold water that is delivered from the main line.
The tank is connected to the water supply and a heat source, be it gas or electric. Cold water gets fed into the storage tank, and the heater activates. The hot water rises to the top of the tank and flows out of the tank into your shower, dishwasher, bathtub, or wherever it is needed.
The Basic Functioning of a Tankless Water Heater
A tankless water heater does not have a storage tank. Instead, water is heated on demand. Most tankless water heaters use gas or electricity and have a powerful heat exchanger that quickly raises the temperature of the incoming water almost instantaneously. When you open the hot water faucet or turn on the hot water in your shower, the tankless heater starts to heat the water immediately. The water then travels from the tankless unit through the faucet, showerhead, or appliance at the preset temperature.
Pros and Cons of Tank Water Heaters
Most people have tank water heaters in their homes, and there are a lot of benefits to making this choice. Newer tank water heaters have some advantages, including a less expensive upfront purchase cost. If you have a large enough tank for your family’s needs, a modern tank has a higher tolerance if multiple people are using hot water simultaneously. Large tanks with 60 or 80 gallons of water can heat a lot of water at one time. These traditional units are easier to operate and easier to repair.
That being said, there are some disadvantages to traditional tank water heaters. You will have to wait for the heated water to refill. That could be a problem if you have multiple people and showers in your home.
Traditional tank water heaters have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. They do require a considerable amount of energy not only to heat the water but to keep the water heated, so this can increase your energy bill. With time, tank water heaters can develop a leak, which can cause considerable damage to your home. Another factor to consider is the size of a tank model. Tank models require a greater amount of space in your home.
What Is the Right Size Water Heater For Your Home?
The right size tank water heater for your home will exceed the needs of everyone in your household. The best way to choose the tank size is to evaluate your peak-hour demand. This means the amount of hot water your family is going to use during the busiest day of the week during the busiest hour of the day.
You can get this number by adding up all of the fixtures and appliances in your house that rely on hot water. Then, multiply each one by their gallons per minute flow rate. When you add this up, you get your peak hour demand.
On a traditional water heater, you will see a number indicating the first-hour rating (FHR). This is how much water the heater can supply in one hour. You want this FHR number to exceed the amount of water hot water your home needs on the busiest day.
The Pros and Cons of a Tankless Water Heater
Two varieties of tankless water heaters exist. The point-of-use water heater is designed to heat a specific area, such as the kitchen sink or shower, while a whole-house tankless water heater supplies water to multiple showers, sinks, and appliances.
A tankless water heater operates more efficiently as it only activates when hot water is needed. It is significantly smaller than a traditional tank and boasts a longer lifespan. Without a storage tank, the risk of leaking is minimal. These tankless units can be very cost-effective.
However, there are some downsides to tankless water heaters. They have a higher upfront cost compared to traditional heaters. Changes to your home’s plumbing and gas line installation may be necessary. Tankless models are not as widely available as traditional tank models, which remain more popular. Additionally, there is a lag time for hot water, requiring a brief wait after turning on the hot water faucet.
Finding the Right Size Tankless Water Heater For Your Home
Several factors determine the size of the tankless water heater you need, including gallons per minute and the required temperature rise. Calculate the maximum amount of water you’ll use simultaneously and the desired water temperature. For example, if you plan to run the dishwasher, shower, faucet, and washing machine simultaneously, and the incoming water temperature is 50°F with a desired temperature of 212°F, you would need a tankless water heater with a flow rate of around seven or eight gallons per minute. Consult with your plumbing professional to accurately determine the unit size you need.
With proper maintenance, a tankless water heater can last for two decades or longer. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent mineral and hard water buildup, which can damage the heating elements and shorten the unit’s lifespan.
Tank or Tankless, Which Is Right For You?
If you’re looking for a quick installation with little to no maintenance, a traditional tank water heater is your best bet. However, if you want to save money on your energy bill, have a water heater that’s going to last longer, and want constant access to hot water, then a tankless heater might be right for you.
Experience the Delightful Side of Plumbing and Electrical in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
At Carbone Plumbing, we understand how plumbing issues can be stressful and the impact they can have on your daily routine. That is why our team is committed to providing you with service that proves that we truly care. Plumbing problems are never fun, but we work hard to make plumbing delightful. We value honesty so you can count on our team to say what we mean and do what we say.
Our services include plumbing repairs and water heater installation, including tank heaters and tankless water heaters. We fix faucets and fixtures, offer kitchen plumbing and do pipe repair, sump pump installation, water filtration, and leak detection. Contact Carbone Plumbing today and experience what it feels like to work with someone willing to go the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction.
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