Your water heater is an appliance you rarely think about until something goes wrong. An unexpected cold shower may mean that it's time for a replacement. If you’re in the market for a new water heater, there are two primary choices: conventional or tankless.
The Advantages of a Conventional Water Heater
Conventional water heaters have been around for decades. This system holds anywhere from 30 to 80 gallons of hot water. Most homes are set up for a traditional system that allows for same-day removal and installation. This type of heater is less expensive to purchase and maintain, giving homeowners upfront cost savings.
The Disadvantages of a Conventional Heater
Because these units are designed for hot water storage, they keep many gallons of water at a constant temperature even when no one is home. In colder weather, they have to work even harder to maintain that temperature, which means a higher utility bill. Although the initial purchase cost is low, the total cost of operation is often higher in the long run than more efficient units.
Water volume is another concern with a traditional water heater tank. When you have guests for the weekend, and your hot water use increases, the last person to the morning shower may have an unpleasant surprise. If the tank is not large enough to meet your needs, a conventional unit can lead to frustration.
Other issues with conventional heaters include:
Large tank takes up space
Greater negative environmental impact
The Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater
Tankless heaters are wall-mounted units that heat water on demand. They have several advantages over conventional water heaters. The most important benefit is its high-efficiency operation. Because they are only active when there is a demand, they use significantly less energy than other models. You will not be spending money on heating water for an empty home. The limited amount of operation also means that these units last longer than their conventional counterparts.
Other benefits of a tankless heater are:
The smaller size means it takes up less space
Potential state and federal rebates for energy-efficient appliances
Reliable hot water supply
The Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater
The main disadvantages of a tankless heater revolve around its cost. These units are more expensive than conventional heaters. Although there can be some rebates around energy-efficiency, homeowners should still expect to pay at least twice as much as a conventional unit. Also, if you have been using a traditional hot water tank, there are often additional costs at the time of installation. The plumber may have to move the hot water lines to place the system properly.