Tankless Water Heater vs Traditional Water Heater

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Tankless Water Heater vs Traditional Water Heater

Do you live in the Raleigh Triangle area including Holly Springs, Fuquy Varina, Apex or Cary area and have you been considering going from a traditional water heater to a tankless water heater? Here are a few things to consider with choosing the right water heater.

Other than the instant “limitless” hot water, the biggest proponent in the argument for the tankless is the amount of money that it saves you over the long haul.  These are the two factors that weigh the heaviest on making the decision to go with a tankless system. But it is important that you consider how they impact you and your situation because it is definitely not the same across the board.

The first thing to look at is the instant “limitless” hot water factor. When taking this into account it is important to consider the following:

  • How many people are in your household? This is important because it looks at the potential amount of draws on the system at one time. A tank system can supply many different draws at the same time with everyone able to have hot water while a tankless system is limited by the rating of gallons per minute. So, if there are several potential pulls at the same time a tankless system may not be able to supply everyone with hot water.
  • How many bathrooms and large appliances that use hot water are in the home? This addresses a similar concern as above and would impact the amount of water drawn on either a tankless or a tank system. This would affect the necessary size needed for a tank and would impact what size of a tankless system purchased to potential purchasing two systems to adequately supply the whole home. Generally, a tankless ranges form five to up to twelve gallons per minute in some of the higher end models.
  • How old are the plumbing fixtures in the home? Most older, less efficient shower heads and faucets can use as much as five gallons per minute by themselves. Also, some of the older pipes do not have the ability to handle the flow from a tankless system and may need to be replaced. (also sometimes a well is unable to pump the necessary gallons of water per minute to supply the requirements of a tankless system)
  • How hard is your water? While having hard water impacts the use of a tank system and increases the need to flush it out more regularly, the effect that the buildup has on a tankless system is much worse and could cause ongoing issues and early failure, and the hardness of the water impacts what otherwise is a very good warranty for a tankless system, up to making them completely invalid.

Basically, if you expect a large draw at one time (everyone rushing to get ready at the same time every morning or washing clothes and dishes and showering all at the same time every evening) you will either want to choose a higher gallon per minute tankless or stick with a tank water heater. It is more about the needing the hot water now vs. the needing it for an extended period factor.

Also, if you are facing less efficient fixtures it might be an idea to focus on those first (We can help you with that too!). And the bottom line with hard well water on either system that it is going to impact the efficiency and lifespan of both, so it might be your best bet to look at a whole house filter.

The next factor that makes the greatest impact on the decision of tankless vs. tank system is the economics of the decision. Most people will tell you that the tankless is clearly the best decision overall for this, but again that depends on your personal situation.

  • A tankless can be anywhere from a 20% to 70% increase in efficiency – lending to greater savings. However, that increase is impacted by where you started and how you use your hot water. If you are moving from an older (not energy efficient) electric tank model to a gas tank model and your need for hot water is limited to confined time frames you will see the biggest increase to efficiency. If you are instead moving from a new well insulated gas tank model and tend to use hot water at different times thru out the day your increase in efficiency could actually be even lower than the 20%.
  • How much hot water do you use regularly? For most people your hot water portion of your energy bill is about 15%, it increases to around 20% for larger families and is about 10% for a couple. Depending on what you spend for energy each month that averages to about a $200 dollar savings yearly if you are somewhere in the middle of the increase to efficiency.
  • A tankless water heater will cost more upfront. But it will last longer. This may be a factor that impacts your decision as well. A tank heater averages a lifespan of about 10 years if taken care of and regularly flushed. A tankless will last 20+ years but must be maintained with yearly maintenance, which generally needs to be done by a professional as it is much more involved than just flushing your tank.

There is a lot to consider when making the decision of tankless vs. tank water heater and most of it depends on your situation. There isn’t only one right answer for everyone.

If you are considering one or the other, give Alexander Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing a call for a free consultation and estimate at (919) 886-4822
Serving the Greater Raleigh Triangle area including Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Durham, Fuquay Varina and other cities near by.

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About Author

Frank Alexander is an experienced engineering professional who holds a Master of Engineering degree from North Carolina State University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. Frank holds licenses in both residential and commercial HVAC, and holds a limited electrical license. Frank is also NATE certified.

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