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Traditional Water Heater vs. A Tankless Water Heater

A definitive guide to the pros & cons of a traditional water heater and a tankless water heater.

tankless water heater

Water heaters are an appliance most home and building owners don’t often think about. These forgettable but important appliances are “out of sight, out of mind” – that is, until they aren’t doing their job. One day you either have no hot water because the water heater has reached the end of its life or has an unexpected issue. A traditional tank water heater needs to be replaced about every 8 to 10 years. This lifespan can be reduced by a number a factors, ranging from quality of water to lack of maintenance. When it comes time to replace a non-functional or poorly operating storage tank model, it could be time.

Two Types of Tankless Water Heaters

Gas-Powered Tankless Water Heaters

For natural gas or propane-powered tankless water heater, plan to pay between $1,000 to $1,500 to install. If your home is situated near a natural gas line, it’ll be rather simple for you to tap into existing lines (and you may even be required to do this). But you’ll need to purchase propane on your own if you don’t have natural gas in your area.

Electric-Powered Tankless Water Heaters

An electric tankless water heater is slightly less expensive than a gas model. On average, an electric water heater costs between $800 to $1,500 to install. The lower price reflects the fact that the installation is much simpler. Despite this, common complaints about electric-powered heaters are slow heating time and higher utility bills.

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Features Tankless Water Heater Traditional Water Heater
SIZE

Small

  • Up to 30″ tall & 50 lbs.
  • Suitcase-sized & hung on a wall.

Big

  • Up to 60″ tall & 300 lbs.
  • Require closet-sized space.
COST

$$$

  • More expensive to install, and may require extra vent & gas lines.
  • Over the life of the unit, they can save up to 25% in energy costs.

$$

  • Less expensive & easy to install.
  • Require Use more energy every month to keep water heated 24/7.
CAPACITY

Unlimited

  • For higher use homes, multiple tankless heaters may be necessary to keep up with multiple sources.
  • Units will only heat water when needed.

40-50 Gallons

  • This can increase with a large capacity tank but will use more energy and cost more to run as it heats that additional water constantly.
FLOOD RISK

None

  • Tankless water heaters hold no water, so water damage risk or leaks is nil.

Some

  • Traditional Tank water heaters hold large amounts of water, which can cause damage if leaking or flood.
LIFESPAN

20+ Years

  • With proper maintenance, tankless models will last 2-3x longer than traditional water heaters.

8-10 Years

  • Replaced more often than tankless water heaters.