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Tankless Water Heaters Vs. Traditional Water Heaters

Posted on: October 4th, 2013 by admin

When looking at replacing their water heater, many homeowners are confused between the different types of water heater which are available and which one would best suit their needs. Water heating systems usually fall into one of several categories:

  • Storage Tank Heaters: These have steel cylinders which are fed by an inlet pipe which supplies cold water. The water is heated within the tank and once it is hot it exits the unit through another pipe. This is considered to be older technology but they are significantly cheaper to buy and have a great rate of reliability.
  • Tank-less Heaters: These are suitcase sized water heaters which provide instantaneous hot water which is only produced when required. They are more expensive to purchase and install. However, they eliminate the potential for tank failure and are more energy efficient as they don’t constantly reheat the water.
  • Hybrid Heaters: These pair a conventional style of electric water heater with a heat pump. The pump extracts ambient heat from the surrounding atmosphere and assists the heating of the water. However, since the pump is usually mounted on top of the heater, they usually require up to seven feet of space from the ground. They tend to be nosier than other types of water heater and require up to a thousand cubic feet of uncooled air to function effectively.
  • Solar Powered Water Heaters: These use a roof mounted solar collector to supplement an electric water heater. These are more ecologically friendly but can be a little inconsistent, performing well during warm summer months but suffer performance issues during colder or cloudy days.

The decision therefore is usually to choose between traditional or tank-less water heaters. There are several key differences which can affect which type of model is best suited to the needs of your home.

Traditional Heaters

These can be powered by propane, gas or electricity. They are available in a variety of capacities from as small as six gallons through to one hundred and twenty gallons. The most commonly seen size is approximately forty gallons. You can control the heat setting with a thermostat and as hot water is used, it is replaced with additional cold water which is reheated. They have a number of benefits and drawbacks. The benefits include that they use a straight forward water heating system which makes installation quick and simple. The technology has improved over the years, so that some models are now more energy efficient and have an energy factor of up to 0.62. They are still the cheapest type of water heater with basic thirty gallon tanks costing less than a few hundred dollars.  The drawbacks include that they do waste energy. By the very nature of their operation, they are constantly reheating water whether it is required or not. They can require a lot of space and if the capacity is insufficient they can struggle to meet a higher demand. Traditional heaters also have a limited lifespan of between eleven and fifteen years.

Tank-less Heaters

These can also be powered by propane, gas or electricity, but instead of storing hot water, the heat exchanger provides hot water on demand. Since they only heat the water on demand, they can reduce the energy cost for hot water by almost twenty five percent per year. They are more expensive to purchase and install but they have a longer lifespan expectancy of twenty years. They are significantly smaller than traditional heaters and most units are the size of a suitcase, which can be hung on interior or exterior walls. The drawbacks of tank-less models are usually centered on the fact that the unit is more complex. Installation can be more complex, retrofitting a home can be expensive and complicated. They also require special care to ensure they maintain optimum performance. If you are unsure which type of heater would be best suited to your home, you should consult a professional specialist, who will be able to provide advice and guidance. If you are interested in learning more about Orange County Plumber and surrounding area residents should contact us. We have a great deal of experience and expertise in all aspects of plumbing and would be happy to help.

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