Hot Water Tank vs Tankless Heater

April 01, 2015 - Benjamin Dowson

Whether you’re choosing a hot water heater for the first time, or you’re replacing an old model, you’ll likely need to make a choice. Should you go the traditional, tank route, or is it time to go green and buy a tankless water heater? Both choices have their pros and cons, so it pays to absorb as much data as possible before making a decision.

Cutting Energy Costs

For most people, the decision to go tankless comes down to money. The prevailing belief is that a tankless heater can bring down your energy bill. While this is usually true, the cost of tankless water heater installation may offset any yearly energy savings. A recent Consumer Reports survey found tankless households saved around $75 a year. Unfortunately, these savings, while attractive, aren’t enough to make up for the original investment.

Life Span

One benefit to going tankless is the greater life span inherent in these models. While the average tank heater lasts only 10 years or so, their tankless counterparts boast a life span of twice that. Again, however, the greater costs involved in going tankless may be too much to overcome through a longer life. From a convenience standpoint, however, it may be worth it to some homeowners.

Inconsistent Operation

Tankless manufacturers tout the greater availability of hot water as a major selling point. In practice, however, this doesn’t always hold true. Many tankless customers report inconsistent results because of cold water being trapped in the pipes. While it’s true that a well-functioning tankless system isn’t going to go cold in the middle of a long shower, it is also going to take much longer to get hot in the first place.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Tankless heaters need more maintenance and often result in more expensive repair fees. Scale buildup is a particular concern for many homeowners, especially those with hard water in the pipes. Many experts recommend pairing a tankless system with a water softener, but this will increase your investment costs.

If you’re able to recoup much of your tankless investment with government rebates, and your primary concern is contributing to the environment, going the greener, tankless route can make sense. If you’re purely concerned with convenience and monetary savings, however, you may be better off going the traditional route.