3 Advantages And 2 Disadvantages Of Tankless Water Heaters

Posted on: 8 April 2019

Are you considering an upgrade to your water heater? Or, maybe your old hot water heater has failed, and you are weighing your replacement options. Whatever your reason for looking into the purchase of a new heater, it is likely that you have come across tankless hot water heaters as an alternative to traditional tanks. These heaters, sometimes known as instant-on or inline heaters, heat the water as it passes through the unit rather than heating water stored in a tank. This alternate method of operation offers a number of advantages worth considering.

Advantage #1: You Won't Run Out of Hot Water

Everyone who lives in a shared home knows what it's like to be the last one in the morning to get to use the bathroom. By the time you're ready for a nice, warm shower, it turns out everyone else has already used up all of the hot water. This can also be frustrating if the hot water is being used in multiple places throughout the house at once and suddenly everyone has to deal with an empty heater tank. Since inline heaters warm water on demand, there is a continuous and endless supply of hot water. That means everyone in the house can enjoy their shower for as long as they want.

Advantage #2: You Might Save Energy

Depending on how you use water, continuous water heaters offer the potential to save energy over the long-term. The problem with traditional heaters is that they are designed to heat an entire tank full of water, no matter how much you will actually use throughout the day. If that hot water goes unused, it will eventually cool and have to be reheated. This means your tank is wasting energy (and money!), heating water for nothing. You may potentially save 20% or more on the monthly cost of running your water heater just by switching away from a traditional tank heater.

Advantage #3: Smaller Footprint

Let's face it: traditional water heaters are huge. The tank occupies a huge amount of space and depending on your home's layout, this may make your utility room particularly cramped and uncomfortable to work in. Tankless heaters are generally very small, often small enough that they can even be installed close to points of use. Footprint isn't usually a high priority for homeowners, but it is worth considering as one more reason that tankless heaters might be right for your situation.

Of course, nothing is perfect. While tankless designs offer many advantages, there are a few reasons that you may want to stick to something more traditional. Keep the following two disadvantages in mind as you decide what's right for you.

Disadvantage #1: Extra Cost

A tankless design may save you more in the long run, but the initial investment will be higher. The cost of the unit and installation for a tankless heater may be as much as $3,000 at the high-end. This is about three times the cost of purchasing and installing a traditional heater, which is not insignificant. The upshot is that the average energy savings of a tankless unit may save between $1500-$2000 over the life of the heater.

Disadvantage #2: Limited Flow Rates

Although you risk running out of hot water with a traditional tank, the ability to provide sufficient water flow to everywhere that needs it is rarely a concern. With tankless designs, the flow through any single unit is a limiting factor. This means that if your home has many bathrooms or other hot water demands, then a single tankless unit may be insufficient. In these cases, you may require either a larger unit or multiple, smaller units. This has the potential to add to your initial purchasing and installation costs as well.

When choosing how to deal with a water heater replacement, it is important to keep your specific needs in mind. While tankless designs offer many advantages, they will not be right for every situation. If in doubt, schedule a consultation with a professional hot water heater installer to determine what will work best for you.