Things to Consider When Comparing Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters

If you are building a new home, or expanding your current home’s footprint substantially, you’ll need to decide between a traditional or tankless water heater. While both products have advantages, here are a few considerations to think about when selecting between these two types of water heaters.

What kind of fuel source will you use?

Is your home gas or electric? You’ll have to consider the fuel source before choosing a unit, whether you go with a tankless or tank type water heater. Gas tankless often require a new vent system, sometimes specific vent components you can only get from the manufacturer. Also, you may need a larger gas line to handle a higher BTU input.

If your home is all electric, you’ll need to know the voltage and phase required by the unit. You’ll also need to know the voltage and phase available from your home’s electrical system. Electric tankless water heaters have a noticeably larger amp draw than a tank type water heater. A professional will be able to tell you if the amp demand can be supported by the existing electric panel.

The fuel type also affects the clearances you’ll need. When you’re looking at a gas unit, you’ll need room for vent terminations. With an electric unit, you only need to account for the physical tank.

Things to consider for a tankless unit

For a tankless water heater, you’ll need to determine the flow rate and temperature rise needed.

  • How much water, in gallons per minute, will you need?
  • How fast will you need it to heat up?
  • What is the maximum temperature you’ll need?

These are the most important questions to ask when selecting a tankless water heater. If you don’t have any idea, that’s not a problem. We can walk through your home and conduct a flow test at each fixture to find out your current flow rate.

If you’re sold on the fact that a tankless water heater can produce 10 gallons per minute, you’ll need to also factor in temperature rise. If your incoming cold water is 40 or 50 degrees, and the unit produces a 25 degree rise, how much water will you waste to get that shower up to a normal shower temp?

Of course, tankless water heaters have a smaller footprint than traditional units. They work great in situations with minimal fixtures but high demand. Cabins or vacation homes are a perfect example. It may only have one bathroom, but with 10-12 people staying there, demand could be continuous.

Things to consider for a tank type unit

For a traditional water heater, you’ll need to consider the demand and temperature requirements as well, and how fast the water heater will need to recover.

  • How many people are in the house?
  • How many fixtures do you have?
  • What kind of fixtures do you have?
  • How often will you be drawing hot water?

These questions will help us figure out what size and tank type water heater is best for your application. Tank type water heaters have their own advantages. They’re not restricted by flow rates when sized properly. Custom master bathrooms often have high flow rate shower heads and large soaking tubs – a poor fit for a tankless water heater. And not all tank type gas water heaters require electricity, while most tankless gas water heaters have an electronic ignition. If you’re often subject to power outages, a tank type may be the better choice.

You may need to look into your local building codes to make sure they allow the installation of the type of water heater you’ve selected. It’s also smart to consider all the aspects of the installation when determining the upfront and maintenance costs of different types of units.

Of course, when you hire a licensed plumbing company like Dauenhauer, we take care of that for you. We’ll ask all the right questions, help you find the right answers, and lead you to the best possible unit for your needs.