The Difference Between Tankless and Traditional Water Heaters
Water heaters are essential for normal day-to-day tasks such as washing dishes, doing laundry, or taking a shower. When a water heater malfunctions, it can be headache-inducing. The most common type of water heater found in modern American homes is the storage water heater. Conventional storage water heaters are either gas or electric, but function similarly despite the difference in the power source. Storage water heaters heat a tank full of water to the homeowner’s desired temperature and store it at that temperature. When someone in the home turns on the hot water tap, hot water comes out and cold water comes in to be warmed for later use.
Gas Water Heaters
Cold water enters gas water heaters through a dip tube. Then, the water is heated with a gas burner. The gas burner releases extremely hot air through a chimney in the middle of the tank. The hot air is toxic, and the chimney moves it outside while the heated metal chimney warms the water in the tank. When someone turns the hot water tap on, cold water comes in through the dip tube and displaces the hot water so that it comes out through the heat-out pipe.
Electric Water Heaters
Electric water heaters function in much of the same way that gas water heaters do, except the water is heated by electric coils in the tank. The main difference between a gas water heater and an electric water heater is the toxic air that gas water heaters produce. Additionally, electric water heaters need to be connected to a power source while gas water heaters connect to the home’s gas hookups.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters heat water without a storage tank. On-demand water heaters are increasing in popularity due to their eco-friendliness and cost-effectiveness. When someone in the house turns on the hot water, cold water travels through a pipe into the tankless water heater’s unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water as it flows through the unit, eliminating the need to keep a large tank of water constantly heated.
The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are certainly a bit easier on the wallet and on the environment than their more conventional counterparts. However, there are also drawbacks to tankless water heaters, and they aren’t a good fit for every home.
Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters
The most obvious advantage of a tankless water heater is the financial savings associated with less energy and less water use. Additionally, tankless water heaters are eco-friendly and conserve water. Tankless water heaters heat water quickly without having to wait for a tank to fill, and they take up less space than traditional water heaters. Additionally, tankless water heaters have a lower risk of leaking and last significantly longer than traditional water heaters.
Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters
The biggest disadvantage of tankless water heaters is their upfront cost. The amount of money it takes to buy the unit and install it is prohibitive for some households. Typically, tankless water heater installations cost three times more than traditional water heater installations.
A tankless water heater may not be a good choice for a home in which significant water usage happens simultaneously. For example, if it’s common for multiple household members to take showers, do laundry, and wash dishes at the same time, a tankless water heater may not be able to keep up with that demand unless multiple units are installed throughout the home. Additionally, the water temperature can be inconsistent if multiple hot water taps are turned on at the same time.
Signs It’s Time to Switch to a Tankless Water Heater
Accessing hot water on a regular basis is a necessity. If any of these are recurring problems in the household, it may be worth it to consider switching to a tankless water heater.
Thermal stacking happens with the use of traditional water heaters. When the water heater pulls cold water through the dip in repetitive bursts, the rapid activity causes the heater to flush cold water to the bottom of the tank. When the water heater senses that cold water, it activates the heating element to warm it. However, there’s no way to ensure that the hot water at the top of the tank doesn’t get heated any further. In these instances, the temperature of the water in the water heater can reach scalding temperatures. Tankless water heaters don’t have tanks and thermal stacking is not an issue. If thermal stacking is a frequent occurrence in the home, it may be time to switch to a tankless water heater.
No Hot Water
If the home’s traditional water heater is constantly running out of hot water, a tankless water heater might be the best solution. Tankless water heaters heat water on demand; there’s no need to wait for a tank to refill with warm water.
High Energy Bills
While tankless water heaters cost much more upfront than traditional water heaters, the savings on utility bills are much higher. Tankless water heaters cost less to operate and maintain than traditional water heaters. Concenveitnoal water heaters are always heating water, and, as a result, constantly using energy.
No More Space
Traditional water heaters take up far more space than tankless water heaters. Tankless water heaters are great choices for tiny homes or for other homes that simply don’t have space for a large water tank. Consider contacting a professional plumber to come up with the best schema for the home.
How Can We Help?
John’s Plumbing & Pumps, Inc. is a family-owned business serving the Tacoma area. With over sixty years of plumbing experience in both residential and commercial plumbing, John’s Plumbing only employs highly skilled and certified technical plumbers. In addition to repairing plumbing problems, John’s Plumbing and Pumps can install new plumbing fixtures and pipes into homes and businesses. If a tankless water heater needs installation, the professionals at John’s Plumbing can provide high-quality service and installation. Call today for an appointment!