We all enjoy a hot shower after a long day at work. But you may not be able to do that if your water heater isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. When that happens you might be looking at a replacement, and you’ll be faced with a choice. The option is this: either you get a conventional heater or a tankless unit. Tankless heaters are relatively new to the market and unfamiliar to many people, so to make your choice a little easier we’ve listed some of the biggest benefits and drawbacks for both styles
Conventional Water Heaters
A conventional water heater stores and heats water in a tank. It dispenses the hot water as it’s used, then refills slowly and reheats the new water, hopefully at a pace that meets your demand. The tank usually holds between 30 to 50 gallons of water in residential units, but 75 gallon units are available for people with the highest demand.
The Pro's include:
- Lower upfront costs – Almost all homes currently available were built with conventional heaters in mind, so the plumbing is all set up and there’s usually a specific location within the home that’s specially designed to accommodate the water heater.
- Familiar technology – The conventional water heater is based on a design over two thousand years old! Almost all plumbers and technicians are familiar with traditional water heaters since they’re one of the most frequent issues encountered in the industry.
- Easy repair and replacement – Since most homes were built with traditional units in mind it is relatively easy to replace them because you simply have to disconnect the old unit and connect the new one to get it working. It is also easier to repair because they are much simpler technology and have very few distinct parts that can break.
The Con's include:
- Higher utility bill – Because conventional heaters are always on, they use more energy. They constantly heat and re-heat water, regardless of whether hot water is needed, because it usually takes them several hours to heat up a full tank from room temperature.
- Limited water capacity – Traditional water heaters usually hold between 30-50 gallons of water, with some larger units available at 75 gallons. If you take long showers, wash dishes by hand, or otherwise require a large amount of hot water over a short while, you may find that a traditional unit runs out and you need to wait several hours for it to heat up enough hot water to be of use again.
- Large – Traditional heaters require a platform to stand on and significant space wherever they’re installed.
- Shorter life span – The average conventional water heater lasts 8-12 years with proper maintenance and good water quality. You will replace a traditional heater much more frequently than a tankless unit.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater uses either electricity or gas to heat water on demand. It doesn’t store the water in a tank so it only turns on when you need it to. Many new units use sensors near your faucets to determine when you are in need of hot water, and have a pump to ensure you get it immediately.