Hot water heater: tank or tankless?

November 25 2021

Whether you’re looking to replace your current water heater or need one for a new building, you want to make the right choice. A good water heater will stay in your life for about a decade. Picking the best water heater for you can seem difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind to help decide whether a traditional tank or a newer tankless design is a better fit.

Hot water heater: tank or tankless

Tank designs take in water, heat it up, store it, and then release it as the hot water faucets are turned on. Tankless designs use a system of precision burners to rapidly heat up water as it passes through on its way to a faucet. There are pros and cons to both.

The PROs and CONs of a Tank System

Storage tank water heaters are the more affordable option. If money is tight, that is going to be the most persuasive argument for getting a large tank in your home. Despite the buzz about a tankless system saving you money each month, it is unlikely to save you enough to be noticeable on an average month.

The most common complaint about the tank design is that there is a limited supply of hot water, but if your household is small this may never prove to be an issue. Another myth you may come across is the idea that tank systems are slower in providing the hot water from when you turn the tap on, but as covered in the section below, this isn’t necessarily true.

PROs CONs
  • Relatively affordable
  • Easier to maintain
  • Takes up a lot of space, can be noisy
  • More limited hot water supply

The PROs and CONs of a Tankless System

Tankless models tend to cost more initially, but are more energy efficient. They last as long as their storage tank counterparts, but it isn’t guaranteed you’ll save enough on a monthly basis to offset the difference in price between the tankless and tank water heater. They do require maintenance some times, but not more than a tank option.

The best part about the tankless option for most people is the luxury of never having to worry about running out of water. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll have instant hot water when turning on the tap. Tankless water heaters take as long as traditional storage types to clear the cold water from the pipes. If you are interested in having instant hot water, consider installing a recirculating pump.

PROs CONs
  • More efficient energy usage
  • Unlimited hot water supply
  • Takes up less space
  • Relatively expensive
  • More complicated to repair
  • Occasionally irregular temperature

Now that you know more about hot water heaters, be sure to reach out to Emergency Plumbing & Solar at 808-691-9309 for any additional questions, help with installation, or around the clock service anywhere on Oahu.