When you get up in the morning to a cold floor and cold air around you, what is the first thing you can look forward to having? Well, for many of us, that’s a hot shower. It’s a great way to wake up and relax in the early morning. Unfortunately, if your water heater malfunctions, you could be in for a bit of a shock when icy water meets the top of your head. In some cases, this may simply indicate that minor repairs need to be made, but there is also a chance you will be out looking for a replacement water heater.
Over the years there have been many advances and improvements to standard water heaters, as well as new systems, such as the tankless water heater. Both the improved storage and the tankless water heaters have their advantages and disadvantages, many of which are outlined below.
Tank/Storage Water Heaters
These are the most commonly used water heaters. They are large storage units that contain and heat water for your whole house. Depending on the size, they can hold anywhere from 20 to 120 gallons. These heat the water with either gas burners or electric elements. Cold water enters at the bottom of the tank and hot water is drawn off the top. The water heater should have what’s called the “first hour rating,” a system that reveals how many gallons of hot water can flow through in an hour.
Because all that water is just sitting in the tank, it will lose much of its heat through the walls. Even though well insulated, the temperature difference across the wall is very large and results in standby heat loss. To deal with this heat loss, the water heater is designed to cycle the heater periodically to keep the water hot. The criticism with this is that it means the water heater is less energy efficient.
Lower installation cost, between $400 - 500
Lower energy requirements
Regular energy use throughout the day (even when hot water is not required)
It takes up a great deal of space
Limited hot water supply
Tankless Water Heaters
As the name implies, this water heater does not have a tank for water storage. Instead it heats water, as it is needed. The unit is a relatively small wall mounted box that contains the heating element or burner and internal piping. The water runs through the heater and as it goes through, a water flow sensor activates the heater. This means there is no unnecessary usage of energy, but it does require larger heating elements that require more energy to quickly heat the liquid. These water heaters are often used for specific sections of the house. For example, you might have one mounted in your bathroom to service the shower and sink as needed.
Energy is only used upon demand
Has a very small physical footprint
You avoid the risk of a tank rupturing and flooding your home
Unlimited hot water for as long as there is fuel
High installation cost, $1000 - $1200
Large gas or energy requirements, which is part of why the installation cost is so high
Limited water flow, depending on the size of the unit
In many cases it comes down to what you needs are and how much space and money you are willing to sacrifice. Both types of water heaters will ensure that you and your family will have the necessary hot water for a shower.
Featured by Apollo Plumbing.