The process of buying a new appliance (or upgrading an existing one) can be confusing because of the many types, brands, prices, options, and features available. Buying a hot water heater is no different. Water heaters are one of the most important (and often overlooked) appliances in a residential or commercial property as hot water is crucial to many daily activities. For homeowners, this includes cooking, bathing, and cleaning clothes and dishes. For business/property owners, it includes providing hot water to employees and customers when needed.
There are several different types of hot water heaters to choose from based on physical size, holding capacity, amount of hot water produced, cost, energy efficiency, ease of installation, repair costs, maintenance needs and costs, and the type of energy needed to power the hot water heater unit. The most common types of water heaters in the U.S. are conventional tank-holding hot water heaters and tankless hot water heaters.
Conventional (Traditional/Tank-Holding) Water Heater
The conventional water heater (also known as a “traditional” or “tank holding” water heater) has an insulated storage tank that can hold from 40 to 80 gallons of heated water depending on the capacity of the tank, although the average holding capacity for a conventional hot water heater is 50 gallons. In a traditional hot water heater unit, hot water is stored in the tank, so it is available when needed. As hot water is drawn from the tank when used in a home or commercial setting, water to the tank is refilled and heated continuously.
The limiting factor with tank-holding water heater units is the capacity of hot water available at any given time. Once the hot water is all used up, it is gone. Once the amount of available hot water is used up on a conventional water heater, it takes time for the tank to be filled back up with water, and even more time to heat up that water to be used again.
The tank-type water heater has two different valves – the temperature control valve and the pressure control valve. While both are safety features, the temperature control valve moderates the temperature to be equal to or less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pressure control valve ensures the pressure inside the tank is no greater than 150 psi.
How Much Does a Conventional Water Heater Cost?
One of the main advantages of a conventional water heater is its cost. Traditional hot water heater units are more affordable than other hot water heater options. This technology is the most affordable option when analyzing the up-front costs of installing a new hot water heater unit.
What are the Installation & Maintenance Requirements of a Conventional Water Heater?
Based on the simplicity of its design, traditional water heaters do not need regular maintenance beyond a water heater service call every year or two to clean the sediments and mineral deposits that collect in the tank to prevent corrosion and maximize holding capacity. Maintenance calls should also identify any leaks that need to be addressed to keep the unit in good working condition and reduce/minimize any property damage caused by water. Conventional hot water heaters contain very few parts that need to be replaced during the life of the unit, so overall, maintenance costs for conventional water heaters are also low compared to other hot water heating options.
How Long do Conventional Water Heaters Last?
Current models of conventional hot water heaters on the market should last between 7-12 years. Once a unit reaches this age, they might still function but at a much-reduced rate than when it was new.
Energy Efficiency of a Conventional Water Heater
Conventional, or “Tank-holding” water heaters use either electricity or natural gas to power them. If energy efficiency is a consideration, natural gas traditional water heaters use approximately 50% less energy than electric-powered units. Since tank-holding water heaters are constantly at work, the loss of heat/energy is higher though than in tankless water heaters.
Tankless (On-Demand) Water Heaters
Tankless (or “On-Demand”) Water Heaters utilize a completely different heating technology than conventional water heaters. Tankless water heaters use heated coils to heat water as it needed; tankless water heaters do not store hot water in a holding tank, but instead, produce it using the heated coils in the unit at the same time as it’s needed. The value to this technology is that hot water never runs out. With a tankless hot water heater unit, houses and businesses enjoy an uninterrupted flow of hot water.
How Much Does a Tankless Water Heater Cost?
Since tankless water heaters deliver on a promise of a never-ending supply of hot water, this value comes at a premium when evaluating the up-front costs of installing a tankless water heater at your home or place of business. The cost of buying and installing a new tankless water heater unit is usually double the cost of a conventional unit.
Installation & Maintenance of a Tankless Water Heater
Along with higher installation costs, the cost of maintenance and repair is also higher for tankless water heaters. This is primarily because due to its compact design, many specialized parts, and the function these parts serve within the heating unit. Tankless water heaters should also be maintained more often than traditional water heaters. A maintenance call for a tankless water heater is recommended annually to test, inspect, and adjust the unit as needed.
How Long do Tankless Water Heaters Last?
The estimated lifespan of a tankless water heater is 12-15 years, although many units can function reliably for up to 20 years. Regular maintenance and addressing repairs when needed will help to increase the number of years a tankless water heater will last.
Energy Efficiency of a Tankless Water Heater
Since tankless water heaters only use energy as needed and do not require constant heating due to heat loss in a holding tank, they are considered the most energy efficient hot water heating option on the market. Natural gas-powered tankless water heaters, however, are more efficient than electric-powered versions, so keep this in mind when evaluating options.
Conventional vs. Tankless Hot Water Heater Comparison Chart
Here is a basic comparison chart to help you differentiate between the different hot water heater options available when deciding on what hot water heater will be best for your property’s hot water needs:
|Feature||Conventional/Traditional Water Heater||Tankless Water Heater|
|Initial Setup Cost||Low||High|
|Energy Efficient||Higher loss of energy||24-34% more energy efficient|
|Lifespan||7 – 12 years||12-15 years|
|Installation & Maintenance||Easy installation: regular maintenance recommended||Expensive installation: regular maintenance is required|
If you need help deciding on the best water heater that is most suited for your residential or commercial needs, visit our website or call us at 512.267.1188. Lantz’s Lakeside Plumbing & AC has a team of expert, licensed Plumbing technicians available 7 days a week who provide water heater service, water heater repairs, water heater installations and water heater replacements to homes & businesses in Lago Vista, Cedar Park, Leander, and Jonestown.
For over 50 years, we have been serving the Plumbing & HVAC needs of the communities we serve, so when you have water heaters issues or need advice, no worries – we have you covered! At Lantz’s Lakeside Plumbing & AC, we also offer membership plans, flexible payment options, and service specials to save you money!