Hybrid Water Heater vs Tankless: What You Need to Know

In the market for a new water heater? There are four main types of water heaters available on the market – a heat pump water heater, a conventional storage heater, a hybrid water heater, and a tankless water heater.

Because the latter two are more cost-effective and energy-efficient, they tend to be the more popular choice. In this article, we’ve outlined the differences between a hybrid water heater vs tankless one plus explain how they work. Let’s dig in!

What is a Hybrid Water Heater?

Unlike conventional electric water heaters that generate heat, a hybrid water heater uses electricity as a medium to move heat from the pipes to the faucet.

Think of it like a reverse air conditioner or refrigerator. The heating coils take the air surrounding the room, raise its temperature and then use it to heat water in the tank.

This way they not only manage to cut down on energy and be energy-efficient but also significantly reduce the time it takes to warm up an average shower’s worth of water.

When you’re done with the shower, the remaining hot water is stored in a tank for future use — like a traditional geyser.

Hybrid water heaters are fairly easy to install but you’ll need a professional to make sure everything’s correctly in place.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

shower bath and water heater

A tankless water heater, in simple terms, heats up water ‘on-demand’ using gas or electricity. As the name suggests, this water heater doesn’t have a tank so water isn’t stored.

Instead, whenever needed, the heating pump raises the temperature of cold water and then runs it through the pipes out of the hot water faucet for easy use.

This way tankless water heaters produce more hot water per minute than any traditional water heaters – 2 gallons of water per minute. Since there’s no water storage, there’s less risk of leaks and bacterial infestation.

Installation of a tankless unit requires a degree of professionalism because even a hint of moisture near the water pipes can damage the system. So, a professional does need to come in.

Don’t forget to factor in the hot water demand of the house. A tankless water heater can only provide so much hot water supply in a single day. So, you might need to get more than one to run an entire household.

Hybrid Water Heater vs Tankless: Pros and Cons

How Much Do They Cost?

A tankless water heater can cost anywhere between $500 to $1000, whereas the cheapest hybrid water heater costs almost $1500 running up to $3000. The installation costs for each unit add another $500 to $1000.

Would You Need an Electrician for Installation?

For a hybrid water heater, you don’t necessarily need a professional to come in unless it is a commercial model. It generally uses standard electrical panels and connections to run smoothly. However, installing a tankless water heater is a complicated process and is better left to the professionals.

Do They Make a Lot of Noise?

A tankless water heater does not generate a lot of noise if any. A hybrid water heater makes as much noise as a window AC (typically around 50 decibels).

How Much Space Does the System Need?

You’ll need at least 1000 cubic feet of floor space to correctly install a hybrid water heater. If you’re short on space, a tankless water heater is a much better solution. It takes up far less space and can even be installed on a wall outdoors.

Do They Need Extra Maintenance Checks?

Most hybrid water heaters need yearly maintenance checks like replacing the air filters or clearing the condensate drain but they usually come with a 10-year warranty. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not need any treatments. Since heated water runs directly into the system and out, there’s no need for extra maintenance unless it’s exposed to moisture.

Is the System Worth the Investment?

A hybrid water heater has the best return on investment. Since it’s energy-efficient, it helps cut down the average operation cost from $900 to less than $200 – so you’d see your money’s worth in as early as five years. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not save much between initial costs and the 15-year operating costs, unfortunately.

Hybrid Water Heater vs. Tankless Heater: Pros and Cons Summarised

Hybrid Water Heater:

  • Easier to install
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Saves more than $700 every season it operates
  • Comes with a 10-year warranty, maintenance checks are insured
  • Expensive, costs more than $2000 to buy, ship and install
  • Emits sound up to 50db, may disrupt a quiet night at home
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Heavyweight

Tankless Water Heater:

  • Costs less comparatively
  • Silent functioning
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to transport
  • Complicated installation process
  • Limited flow rate, can provide heated water to one location at a time only

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hybrid water heaters worth it?

It depends on your priorities, hybrid water heaters are worth the purchase if energy efficiency is your main goal. They can save a family of four more than $3000 in energy costs within their lifetime.

How much electricity does a hybrid water heater use?

Generally, a hybrid water heater uses around 550W of energy. That is almost eight times less than the total energy used by standard heating elements.

A hybrid water heater would take around two hours to heat the water needed for an average shower. In that time, it’ll consume approximately 1-kilowatt hour of electricity.

Can bacteria grow in a tankless water heater?

No, bacteria cannot grow in a tankless water heater. This is because there’s essentially no tank for the water to sit still in. Hence, bacteria cannot be produced nor can there be any calcification.

Where should a tankless water heater not be installed?

A tankless water heater should not be installed in a dusty, moist, or humid area. Keep it away from sprinklers and areas where it may be splashed with any liquids. Make sure not to install it under air conditioning lines or water pipes as they might condense moisture onto the heating element and destroy it.

Final Thoughts

A hybrid water heater vs tankless water heater – which one do you think fits your lifestyle? Factor in the energy efficiency of the model, budget, and usage and you’ll have your new water heater narrowed down within minutes!

With years of experience under his belt, Adam decided to put his water heater knowledge to work. By providing high-quality content and expert guides, Adam hopes to help anyone looking for expert water heater advice.