Tankless vs Tank Water Heater Comparison – Which One to Choose

Whether you want to take a shower, do the dishes, or pop the clothes in the washer, the need for hot water is always there. Buying a water tank that gives an endless supply of hot water is the only smart solution. However, the real head-scratcher is which one to go for, between a tankless vs tank water heater.

If you are aware of the difference between a tankless water heater and a tank water heater, then the final decision will be a piece of cake for you. For those, who do not know what the difference is between the two types, I have shared the differences in great detail in this article. Knowing the major differences will help you make the right choice.

Tankless vs. Tank Water Heater | Comparison 

The main difference between a tankless vs tank water heater is of water heating time and quantity. With tankless water, you can get an unlimited & continuous supply of hot water throughout the house and that too without much waiting. But with the conventional tank water heater, you have to wait for the water to heat up and then you can use it.

To know the differences in detail, Let’s read this article.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

Everyone who loves and enjoys streams of hot water is familiar with tankless water heaters. Ever since tankless water heaters have been introduced into the market, they have created quite a stir. A tankless water heater is basically a small piece of machine that comes with a tank for storing water, as the name indicates.

Tankless water heaters are also known as on-demand water heaters as they heat up water when the user opens up the faucet. Instead of keeping hot water stored or warming up all the water in the tank, a tankless water heater only warms up the water that runs through the heating element of the machine.

Types Of Tankless Water Heater

The shapes and sizes of tankless water heaters vary; multiple different designs of tankless water heaters are available in the market in different shapes and sizes. However, tankless water heaters come in two different types based on the power type.

Gas-Powered

The first type of tankless water heaters that are present in the market is gas-powered tankless water heaters. As the name indicates, these tankless water heaters need a steady supply of gas to work efficiently and give users an unlimited supply of hot water.

Gas-powered tankless water heaters run on propane gas and they consume propane gas as per their size, so you can either connect the heater to the gas lines or get a propane tank to power the heater. The installation process of gas-powered tankless water heaters is a bit tedious. In addition to that, gas-powered tankless water heaters also cost more than other types of tankless water heaters.

Electricity-Powered

The second type of tankless water heaters that are the rage these days are electricity-powered tankless water heaters. As it says in the name, these water heaters work on electricity. Therefore, all you need to get an endless supply of hot water is a power outlet to switch the heater in it.

Electricity-powered tankless water heaters cost less than gas-powered, which is why many users prefer this type. In addition to that, another perk of these water heaters is that they have a very simple and effortless installation process as opposed to gas-powered tankless water heaters.

 

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What is a Tank Water Heater?

Another type of water heater that has been around and serving its purpose for quite a long time is a tank water heater. Tank water heaters are larger in size as compared to tankless water heaters. The reason is quite obvious; tank water heaters come with a large tank for storing gallons of water.

Tank water heaters also come in two different types, gas-powered tank water heaters that are powered by natural gas or propane and electricity-powered tank water heaters that are powered by electricity. These models are available in different sizes, depending upon the size of the tank that they come with. You can find a 20-gallon tank water heater, as well as an 80-gallon tank water heater in the market, and both will work amazingly.

Difference Between Tankless Water Heater vs. Tank Water Heater

If there is one thing common between tank water heaters vs. tankless water heaters, it is that they both warm-up water and provide the users with a steady stream of hot water. Apart from this single mutual attribute, there is nothing common between these two types of water heaters. The major differences between tank water heaters and tankless water heaters are listed below.

Size

The first major and unmistakable difference between a tank water heater and a tankless water heater is the difference in the size of both. Tankless water heaters come in quite a compact and small size. The size of one of the best and the smallest tankless water heater is 11.5 inches in height x 8 inches in width.

On the other hand, tank water heaters are larger in size as they come with a storage tank. The size of a tank water heater depends upon the size and the storage capacity of the tank. If the size of the tank is 20 gallons, then the size of the tank water heater will be reasonable. However, if the capacity of the tank is 80 gallons, then that model will naturally be quite large.

Energy Efficiency

The second difference between a tank water heater and a tankless water heater is energy consumption and energy efficiency. As a tankless water heater only heats up the water on demand when the faucet has been opened, therefore, the energy consumption of a tankless water heater is quite reasonable. Whether you get an electricity-powered tankless water heater or a gas-powered tankless water heater, their annual energy consumption is quite low as compared to tank water heaters.

Tank water heaters warm up an entire tank full of water, which is why their energy consumption is quite high. Both gas-powered tank water heaters and electricity-powered tank water heaters have high energy consumption and are not as energy efficient as tankless water heaters. Tankless water heaters are up to 8% to 34% more energy-efficient than tank water heaters, according to research teams at the US Department of Energy.

Space Occupied

Tank water heaters are large in size, as they come with a large storage tank, naturally, they occupy a larger space. Tankless water heaters are mostly installed on the outer side of the house rather than inside, as they occupy a large space. On the other hand, tankless water heaters have a small and compact design; therefore, they do not occupy a large area. Tankless water heaters can easily be installed inside the house, either in the kitchen or bathroom, wherever the users need them.

Price Range

There is quite a staggering difference between a model of tank water heater and a tankless water heater, and I am not talking about a difference of a couple of hundred bucks. Tankless water heaters come at quite a hefty price tag which is from $200 and going as high as $3000, and this is just the price up front and not the installation cost.

On the contrary, tank water heaters do not cost as much as tankless models. The price range for a tank water heater starts from $200 and goes up to $1500. The price of a tank water heater depends upon the size of the tank, as well as the manufacturing company. If you get a model that comes with 2.5 to 3 gallons of storage capacity, then it will cost less than a model that has 50 gallons of storage capacity.

Installation Process

The installation process of different models of water heaters is also different from one another. The installation process depends upon the number of connections and the size of the water heater. For instance, if you get a tankless water heater only for a single bathroom, then it will be quite simple to install, as compared to one that will be for multiple bathrooms. However, not every model of tankless water heater is easy to install. Electric-powered tankless water heaters are much simpler to install as compared to gas-powered tankless water heaters.

The installation process of a tank water heater also depends upon the number of connections. If a 2.5-gallon tank water heater is being added to a single bathroom, then it will be installed easily. However, if you pick out a model of an 80-gallon tank water heater for the whole house, then it will be difficult to install. In addition to that, the installation process of electric-powered tank water heaters is comparatively less annoying and difficult than a gas-powered model.

Installation Cost

When we talk about the installation cost of tankless vs. tank water heaters, then tank water heaters take the crown. As heavy as the price tag of a tankless water heater is, the installation price of these models is also skyrocketing. The installation price of a tankless water heater may cost you up to $1500.

However, the installation cost is highly dependent on the number of connections, so if you get a single-point tankless water heater, then the installation cost will come down considerably. On the other hand, the installation cost of a tank water heater will cost you a maximum of $800. If you get a small tank water heater and want a single-point connection, then the cost will range between $300 to $500.

Payback

The installation cost, as well as the purchasing cost of tankless water heaters, is really high and skyrocketing. However, if we take a closer look at the payback of these models, then they are beneficial in the long run. Tankless water heaters are much more energy-efficient than tank water heaters; therefore, in the long run, they help in saving money.

On the other hand, the installation cost and the purchasing cost of a model of tank water heater is quite low as compared to tank water heaters, but these models consume a high amount of energy, whether you get a gas-powered model or an electric-powered one. Therefore, in the long run, these models are not as beneficial as tankless water heaters, as you pay a lower price up front, but the annual bill hikes.

Connections

As old school as tank water heaters are considered to be, there is one major benefit of these water heaters, and that is multiple connections. Tank water heaters can be connected to the entire house and will provide an endless supply of hot water to the whole house. You can also find small models of tank water heaters that have 2.5 or 3 gallon capacity for a single-point installation, but there is always the option of a whole house connection.

On the other hand, as tankless water heaters are small and compact as compared to tank water heaters, they are mostly suitable for single-point connections. Most models of tankless water heaters can only connect to a single faucet. However, there are a couple of models that can be connected to 2 or 3 faucets. There are only a few models of tankless water heaters that provide whole house connection, and the purchasing cost and the installation cost of those models are skyrocketing.

Performance

The performance of a single-point tankless water heater is just as amazing as a tank water heater. If installed properly, a tankless water heater, whether gas-powered or electric-powered, will give users a steady flow of hot water whenever they turn the tap on. Similarly, a tank water heater also provides users with a smooth stream of hot water if it has been installed properly.

However, a tank water heater takes the crown of better performance, as it can provide a steady stream of hot water to the entire house at once, but if you use more than one tap at the same time with a tankless water heater, then you may get a surprise of cold or lukewarm water at one side.

Lifespan

The lifespan of a water heater, whether tankless or tank water heater, is dependent upon many factors. A few major factors that contribute to either prolonging the life of a water heater or shortening it are the construction of the water heater and its maintenance.

From a general perspective, tankless water heaters last far longer than tank water heaters. As tank water heaters store water in them, they often tend to become a victim of rust or corrosion. If constructed from high quality and durable materials and given proper maintenance, a model tankless water heater can last more than 20 years. On the other hand, if proper maintenance is given, the maximum lifespan of a model tank water heater is 15 years.

Maintenance

This is another major difference between a tankless vs. a tank water heater. As a tank water heater comes at a low cost, the repair parts also have a low price tag. Therefore, the maintenance cost of a tank water heater is quite low. On the other hand, as expensive as a model of tankless water heater is, the repair parts also come at a hefty price, which increases the maintenance cost of these models.

Benefits of Tankless Water Heater

Now that you are aware of the major differences between tankless vs. tank water heaters, it is time for you to know the major benefits of both. The major benefit of a tankless water heater is that it has a very small, compact, and space-saving design. You can easily install a tankless water heater inside the house, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom very easily as this type of water heater does not occupy much space. In addition to that, a model of tankless water heater also has a longer lifespan which makes them worth the hefty cost.

Another benefit of tankless water heaters is that they are much more energy-efficient than tank water heaters. Whether you get a gas-powered tankless water heater or an electric-powered tankless water heater, the annual energy consumption of both types will be much lower than a tank water heater. In addition to that, another perk of a tankless water heater is that it does not take any time to heat up water. When you turn the tap on, the water heater will activate, and hot water will come out of the faucet immediately.

Benefits of Tank Water Heater

Despite common opinion, tank water heaters have multiple perks and benefits that make them worth the money. The first major benefit of a model of tank water heater is that it comes at a lower price tag. In addition to that, the installation cost of a tank water heater is also considerably low, which makes them the best option for the people who are on a budget. Furthermore, the maintenance cost of tank water heaters is also low, as the repair parts do not come at a hefty price.

Another major benefit of a tank water heater that makes them worth the purchase is that they come with a storage tank which means they are able to heat up a large amount of water. Tank water heaters come in different sizes, so if you get a model with a 50-gallon capacity, it will give you an endless supply of hot water without any sudden bursts of cold water.

My favourite perk of tank water heaters is that they support the whole house connection. This is a major benefit if you have a large family like mine, then instead of adding a small heater to every bathroom, you can just connect a large tank water heater to the entire house to enjoy long and hot showers.

Which one to Choose Between Tankless vs. Tank Water Heater?

If you want to pick a model of water heater for your house, then the obvious options are a tank water heater and a tankless water heater. However, the real head-scratcher is deciding which one to go for between a tankless water heater and a tank water heater. If you have a small space and need a water heater for a single-point connection, then the best choice for you will be a tankless water heater. It will fit into your bathroom without occupying a larger space.

On the other hand, if you are someone who is on a budget and needs a water heater for the entire house, then buying a tankless water heater will not be a smart decision. In such a case, you need to get a tank water heater that has a capacity of 40 gallons or 50 gallons. Tank water heaters are also suitable for people who live in a big house and have large families.

FAQs

What is the downside of a tankless water heater?

The major downside of a model tankless water heater is that these models come at a really expensive price tag. In addition to that, the installation price, as well as the maintenance price of a tankless water heater, is also quite high. Moreover, most of these models only offer single-point installation.

Is it worth switching to a tankless water heater?

If you do not have a problem with paying a large sum of money upfront, then switching to a tankless water heater is worth it. The reason behind this is that tankless water heaters are much more energy-efficient than tank water heaters. Moreover, they deliver an instant flow of hot water to the users.

Which lasts longer, tankless or tank water heater?

Comparatively, a model of a tankless water heater has a longer lifespan than a model of a tank water heater. As tank water heaters store gallons of water inside, they often become victims of corrosion or rust, which shortens their lifespan. A model tankless water heater lasts more than 20 years, while the maximum lifespan of a tank water heater is 15 years.

Conclusion

Whether it is freezing cold outside or not, hot water is always needed. A water heater is the best solution to that problem, but you need to know which type of water heater best suits your needs. I have shared all the information that I possess regarding tankless vs. tank water heaters in this article to help you understand what sets the two apart.

Adam