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Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters: Weighing the Pros and Cons

water heater being adjusted

Your home’s water heater is critical for important tasks such as bathing and showering, washing clothes and dishes, cleaning surfaces, and more. As such, you need a water heater that’s fit for your needs and which will last for years.

If you’re in the market for a new water heater because your current one needs replacement or you’re moving into a new home, you have a decision to make: tankless water heater vs. tank water heater. They’re the two main types of water heaters available today.

Like anything else you have to choose between, both of these water heater types have their pros and cons. The purpose of this article is to equip you with the knowledge you’ll need when considering if a tank water heater or a tankless water heater is best for you and your home.

If you’re still not sure by the end, that’s okay; Four Seasons Plumbing can help you make the decision that’s best for you!

Tank Water Heaters

Tank water heaters are still by far the most common water heaters in American homes. In fact, around 90% of homes have them.

Even if you currently have a tankless water heater, you’ve undoubtedly seen a tank water heater before. Because of their size, they’re pretty hard to miss. As the name suggests, the system uses a large storage tank that holds somewhere between 40 and 120 gallons of water.

Tank water heaters can be powered by gas or electricity. Either way, the components work to heat water up and keep the water hot, though as anyone who’s ever lingered too long in the shower on a cold morning knows, the hot water can run out, meaning it will take some time for it to reheat.

Atop the water heater, there is a pipe that connects to the home’s faucets, which is how the hot water gets from the tank and out to you for use. Newer hot water tanks have expansion tanks as well; these are smaller tanks that store excess water when the water pressure gets too high, and they help prevent a burst from occurring.

Pros and Cons of Tank Water Heaters

The benefits of tank water heaters are as follows:

Inexpensive initial costs – Tank water heaters are less expensive to both buy and install than tankless water heaters are. Parts and labor for the purchase and installation of a tank water heater run around $1,500 total on average.

Large volume – Hot water tanks can store large quantities of hot water. Although overuse can make the hot water run out, there’s typically plenty of hot water for, say, everyone in a 4-person family to take a morning shower as long as they aren’t dawdling.

Inexpensive repairs – When repairs are needed for a tank water heater, they’re typically less expensive than repairs for tankless heaters are. They’re also simpler to perform, and maintenance is easier and less expensive as well.

Now let’s look at the disadvantages of tank water heaters:

Take up space – The tank has to go somewhere, and because it’s large, it takes up a lot of space. In homes with basements or large closets, that may not be a big deal, but in smaller homes, that space they take up could be precious. You may not even be able to close the doors when they’re in small closets.

Less efficient – Because tank water heaters are always operating to keep hot water available, they use more energy than tankless water heaters do. As a result, utility bills will be higher.

Shorter lifespan– Tank water heaters usually last 10-15 years when properly maintained. By comparison, tankless water heaters last 20 years on average.

Tankless Water Heaters

Also known as on-demand water heaters, tankless water heaters do not store water. Instead, they quickly heat water only when it’s needed. High-powered burners heat water up within minutes as it’s passed through heat exchangers by the system and then sent to the faucet(s) where hot water is needed.

Tankless water heaters are much smaller than tank water heaters and take up much less space. Often, they’re installed on a wall and aren’t very conspicuous. Like tank water heaters, tankless water heaters can receive their power from either energy or gas.

Visit our site or call us to learn about the tankless water heater options Four Seasons Plumbing offers!

Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

Here are the advantages of tankless water heaters:

Little space required – Since they heat water on demand rather than storing hot water, tankless water heaters are small. They can easily be installed somewhere that isn’t distracting or taking up important space.

Water heats up quickly – Although tankless water heaters don’t hold hot water, they heat up water quickly. It takes no more than a few minutes at most.

Energy efficient – Whereas hot water tanks are always running in order to keep water hot, tankless heaters aren’t. They only run when you need them, so you use less energy and save on bills.

Last longer – As mentioned before, tankless water heaters can last 5-10 years longer than tanks do, which helps offset one of the biggest disadvantages.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to tankless water heaters as well. Let’s look at them:

More expensive upfront – Hot water tanks run around $1,500 to buy and install. Tankless water heaters are often twice that.

More complex maintenance and repairs – Maintenance and repairs are more complicated. This means they’ll be more expensive.

Which One Is Better?

There’s really no definitive answer to this question. Really, the answer is that it’s up to you based on factors such as your needs, available space, and budget, just a few examples.

If you don’t use much hot water and have plenty of available space, a tank heater might suit you better because of the lower installation costs and easier maintenance. On the other hand, if space is limited and there’s a high demand for hot water, a tankless water heater might be the way to go.

Those are just a few examples. Every situation is unique. If you’re uncertain and need help determining which type of hot water heater is right for you, the friendly team of experts at Four Seasons is here for you. Whether you need your water heater repaired, replaced, or installed, we at Four Seasons will help you find the perfect fit!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.