A water heater is considered a necessity in nearly every home. When it’s time to install a water heater in your new home or replace your current water heater, you have two main types to choose from—storage tank water heaters and tankless water heaters. While storage tank water heaters and tankless units serve the same purpose, they have different modes of operation.
In this article, we will explore the differences between storage tank water heaters and tankless water heaters to help you choose the right unit for your hot water needs.
Tank water heaters have been the standard used in most homes for decades. A storage tank water heater, as the name suggests, heats water and stores it in an insulated tank, which usually ranges from 30 to 50 gallons. Storage tanks continuously heat water using natural gas, electricity, propane, or fuel oil, so it’s ready when you need it. That means these tanks use energy around the clock to heat water whether you need it or not. When you turn on a hot water tap, hot water is released from the top of the tank. To replace that hot water, cold water goes into the bottom of the tank through the dip tube where it is heated. After the water is heated to the preset temperature, it moves to the holding tank where it’s stored.
Storage tank water heaters are equipped with a built-in thermostat that controls the temperature of the water inside the tank. They also feature a temperature and pressure-release valve that opens to release water when the temperature and pressure gets too high. Storage tank water heaters come with a lower installation cost when compared to tankless units. Besides, they are relatively easy to maintain. However, these water heaters are not as energy efficient as tankless units because of standby heat loss. Besides, they are bulky and may not be ideal for smaller spaces.
Also known as demand-type water heaters, tankless water heaters heat water only when it’s needed. Unlike storage tank water heaters, which continuously heat water even when it’s not needed, tankless units provide hot water on demand. In other words, tankless water heaters do not store hot water in a storage tank.
Although tankless water heaters come with a higher installation cost, they are considerably more energy efficient when compared to tank water heaters. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless units are between 24% and 34% more efficient for households that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily. Apart from being more energy efficient, tankless water heaters provide an unlimited supply of hot water, save space, and have a longer lifespan compared to storage tank water heaters.
When choosing the best type of water heater for your home or business, you’ll need to consider a wide range of factors, including energy efficiency, initial installation costs, household size, and more. However, a tankless water heater will save you money in the long run in terms of energy efficiency.
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