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How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work? Is It Worth It?

plumber installing new water heater in the bathroom

When your water heater breaks down, it is never fun. And not just because a broken water heater often announces itself with an icy cold shower experience!

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and if you are planning to live in your current home for years to come, it is likely that you will have to replace your water heater eventually. The good news is that you are living in an age where you have many different options when it comes to your water heater.

Traditional water heaters have certainly been tried and tested over the years, but these days there is a new model on the market that is taking the world of water heaters by storm! We’re talking about tankless water heaters.

That’s right. Tankless! Got questions? We can guess some of them.

  • How does a tankless water heater work?
  • Are they energy efficient?
  • How much will I have to pay?

We’ll be answering all that and more!

electric tankless water heater on grey tile wall bathroom

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

Let’s get right down to it. What exactly is a tankless water heater?

Like all water heaters, a tankless model does exactly what it says in the name: provides your home with hot water! However, unlike traditional water heaters, which are filled with water that is slowly heated inside a tank, tankless units don’t store water at all!

Instead, this wall-mounted unit contains a heating element that rapidly heats water as it passes through it. The hot water then rushes through your pipes and out through your hot water tap.

Tankless water heaters make it so that you have an endless supply of hot water for your home.

Tankless vs. Tank: Pros and Cons

If tankless water heaters are so great, why doesn’t everyone have one? It’s a fair question with a complicated answer. While we personally love the benefits that come with tankless water heaters, there are some great reasons to opt for a storage tank heater instead!

Storage Tank Water Heaters

Storage tank water heaters are by far the most common form of water heater in the U.S. They’ve been in use since the late 1800s and come in a variety of different forms, including gas, electric, and oil heater styles.

This type of conventional water heater is filled with water that is slowly heated as the water sits in the tank. When you switch on your hot water tap, the heated water travels through your plumbing.

With a design that has lasted this long, you can bet there are some clear benefits. However, there are some cons that come along with them, as well.

✅ Pros:

  • Affordable – Typically, traditional storage water heaters will be more affordable than their tankless counterparts.
  • Easy Repairs – Because most plumbers and home service professionals will have experience with a tank water heater, you can count on them to have expert advice and solutions for any troubles you might
  • Good for Busy Homes – There’s nothing worse than the fight for hot water dominance when two areas of your home require it at the same time. If you want to be able to shower while your dishwasher is running, or if you have a large home, you might be better off sticking with a storage tank.

❌ Cons:

  • Energy Efficiency – While storage tank heaters have come a long way in the past few years, they simply aren’t as efficientas most tankless water heaters.
  • Space – One of the biggest downsides of a traditional water heater is the amount of space that they take up in a room. If you live in a smaller home and want to maximize your space, you may want to consider switching to a smaller, tankless unit.

Tankless Water Heaters

in contemporary living room wall white water boiler

Considering making the switch to a tankless heater but aren’t convinced? Here are some of the pros and cons.

✅ Pros:

  • Energy Efficiency – Because tankless units only heat the water that you actually use, they are significantly more energy efficient than traditional models.
  • Endless Hot Water – Unlike a storage tank heater, which can only provide as much hot water as it can be filled with, a tankless water heater can provide you with hot water for as long as you need it.
  • Space Saver – Tankless water heaters are small and mounted on your wall. This means that they can help to free up a significant amount of floor space for you.

❌ Cons:

  • Price – Tankless water heaters tend to have a significantly higher upfront cost than a storage water heater. However, due to their high energy efficiency, you may save on energy costs in the long run.

How Much Does a Tankless Water Heater Cost?

young married couple planning budget for their house water heater

Ah yes. That “cost” thing we mentioned. How much are we actually talking here?

Tankless water heaters for a whole home generally cost between $800-$3,000 dollars. Those prices do not include labor costs, which can easily add an extra $500 or so to the final cost of your projects.

By contrast, you can purchase a new storage tank heater for $500-$1500. Keep in mind that while this may seem like a better bargain, storage tanks typically only last for around 15 years, whereas tankless units can last up to thirty!

Discuss Your Options With a Professional!

Making the switch to a tankless water heater can be exciting but might leave you with a lot of questions. Don’t worry! Black Tie Plumbing is here to help!

As your local plumbing experts, we can help assess your home and recommend a system based on your budget and personal needs. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

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