Choosing the right water heater can be a tricky decision. Tankless water heaters have gained popularity in recent years, but traditional hot water heaters still offer many benefits.
What Is a Traditional Water Heater?
A traditional water heater is a household appliance that heats water and supplies it to the home. These heaters are typically large, cylindrical tanks. The tank stores and heats water using a gas burner or electric heating elements. At the top, the tank is insulated to keep the water warm until you need it.
When someone turns on the hot water tap, the water flows out of the tank and into the plumbing system.
The Benefits of Traditional Heaters
Traditional water heaters cost significantly less to install. This installation process is simpler and requires fewer parts. Additionally, traditional water heaters don't require a complex venting system, which further reduces installation costs.
They are also much easier to install. Unlike newer models, traditional water heaters do not require complicated connections. Plumbers can install traditional heaters quickly and without much hassle. Moreover, traditional water heaters are still the most common option, so they are easier to find and purchase.
Traditional water heaters do not have complicated wiring, and they don’t rely on advanced technological features. This fact may sound like a drawback, but their simplicity makes a traditional heater more reliable. The heating element is simply powered by gas or electricity. A traditional heater’s mechanical functions are basic, so there is less chance of them suddenly shutting down.
The Drawbacks of a Traditional Water Heater
They are not as energy-efficient as their counterparts. Water is constantly heated, whether you use it or not. Older models can waste a significant amount of energy and money, resulting in a higher utility bill.
Traditional water heaters consume a considerable amount of space in a house. These bulky units require plenty of storage, limiting space you could use for other purposes.
They also require more maintenance compared to their tankless counterparts. Traditional water heaters rely on a large tank to store and heat water, and that tank must be drained periodically to remove sediment buildup. These tanks also have an anode rod that needs replacing every few years to prevent corrosion. If you don’t perform regular maintenance, your traditional heater can experience decreased efficiency, early breakdowns, and costly repairs.
What Is a Tankless Water Heater?
A tankless water heater, also called an “on-demand” water heater, heats water only when you need it. Instead of constantly keeping a reserve of hot water, tankless water heaters heat the water as it passes through the system.
The Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater
With a tankless water heater, you can enjoy a constant supply of hot water without worrying about running out.
Tankless heaters are more energy efficient. They heat the water only when you need it, resulting in significant energy savings over time. Additionally, tankless water heaters tend to have a longer lifespan than their traditional counterparts. With proper maintenance, they can last up to 20 years or longer.
Tankless water heaters take up less space in your home. You can install a tankless water heater almost anywhere, leaving you ample room for other household essentials.
Tankless heaters generally require less maintenance than traditional water heaters. Without a storage tank that can accumulate sediment, there's no need for periodic flushing or cleaning. Additionally, tankless water heaters are less prone to leaks, and they often last longer than traditional models.
The Drawbacks of a Tankless Water Heater
They require a higher upfront cost for installation. They are more complex, and it takes a trained specialist to install them.
When using a tankless heater, hot water can take a bit longer to reach your faucet or showerhead. This is especially true for larger homes with multiple floors or bathrooms. Tankless water heaters don't keep a large supply of hot water ready to go. Instead, they heat water as it flows through the system. The process can take a few seconds to get going. The water needs time to heat properly. Then, it must travel to its destination.
A single tankless water heater might not meet your household's needs. If you have a large family or frequent guests, you may need access to more hot water than the tankless heater can supply. Depending on your needs, you may need multiple heaters.
Evaluating Your Current Plumbing System
When deciding whether you should use a traditional water heater or a tankless water heater, you must consider your current plumbing system.
First, factor in the size of your household and your hot water needs. A tankless water heater may be a good option for smaller households that don't use as much hot water.
Your current system also matters. The size and shape of your pipes may be more appropriate for one option or another.
Additionally, think about the energy efficiency of each option. While a traditional water heater may be cheaper up front, a tankless water heater could save you money in the long run by being more energy-efficient.
Examining Your Hot Water Usage Habits
Taking a closer look at your hot water usage habits can determine which heating unit best fits your household. If your family consistently runs multiple hot water appliances or uses a lot of hot water throughout the day, a traditional water heater may be the better choice.
However, if you have a smaller household or use hot water sparingly, a tankless water heater could be more cost-efficient.
Consider the initial cost, maintenance, and energy efficiency of each option to make an informed decision. Evaluating your hot water usage habits will help you make smarter choices for your home.
Getting Help From the Professionals
Let’s face it. Even after reviewing the information in this article, you may still be at a loss. Unless you have plumbing experience, you might not be able to choose between a traditional or a tankless water heater.
This is where a professional plumber comes in. They can evaluate your space and your plumbing. Using the information they gather, they help you navigate the options.
Make sure you work with a reputable plumber who will be honest with their evaluations. Smith's Plumbing Services is committed to providing client-based service, first and foremost. We will never try to upsell you or convince you to pay for something you don’t need. We use our experience to give you honest answers about your options.
To schedule time with our top-notch plumbing team, you can call our office at (901) 290-1110, or you can reach us online.