Tankless or Traditional? Which Water Heater is Right For You?

September 15, 2016

When it’s time to replace your water heater you’ll need to make a decision - replace it with another traditional style water heater or switch to a tankless system.

So which one is the better choice?

Like any major purchase decision, you’ll need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both choices to see what works best for you. There is no simple answer.

The traditional hot water heater...

...is essentially a large tank designed to hold, heat and store hot water.


  • Price - traditional water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase and because they are easy to install, labor costs are also very reasonable.
  • Easy install - aside from keeping the installation cost low, it also means your new water heater can be installed the same day… quite helpful if yours just failed.
  • No hassle
  • No planning, researching, etc. - Simply tell us the size of your current unit and you’re set.
  • Hot water is still available the power goes out - The water is heated ahead of time and delivered hot. No power, no problem. You’ll still have hot water, unless the power is out for an extended period of time.


  • Takes up a lot of space or requires a smaller unit to fit the space available.
  • Always heating - The tank is designed to maintain the right temperature. This can add to your utility costs.
  • Warranty is 6-12 years
  • Not many parts can be replaced – generally the whole thing has to go when it fails.
  • If it fails due to a leak in the tank, up to the entire 50 gallons it holds can end up on your floor.
  • You have to wait for the hot water. Unless the heater is very close to your faucet or shower, you’ll have to run the water for a few moments BEFORE you get hot water - meaning increased water consumption.
  • Running out of hot water is not fun if you’re the one in the shower when it happens
  • Rust and sediment can build up in the tank and that goes into your potable water.

The tankless water heater...

...is essential an on demand system. When the hot water is turned on, cold water flows into the unit and is heated.

full body shower choosing between tankless and traditional water heaters

Source: www.vola.com


  • Unlimited hot water
  • Can install fancier, full body showers now if you would like (but see related con below).
  • Life span is up to 25 years.
  • Saves space as it is much smaller than a tank-type water heater.
  • Saves up to 25% on your gas bill – if you continue to use hot water as you currently do since water is only heated when needed.
    • Note: Most people don’t save a lot, if any, money, because once they have unlimited hot water, they generally do use more
  • Most parts are easily replaceable.


  • Price – they are generally at least 2 to 3 times the price of a tank-type water heater.
  • The installation to convert to a tankless water heater can be more of a construction project than most people think, due to moving water lines, gas lines, exhaust pipes, etc.  This can include work inside and outside the structure.
    • Installation could mean a day or two depending on your situation.
  • You can spend a lot of money upsizing gas piping throughout the house to get the right amount of gas to your new heater and still adequately supply your gas range / stove, gas dryer, etc. – especially problematic if those things are not located near each other.
    • Many older homes are not equipped to handle the demands of a tankless system.
    • If you have an old, undersized gas meter, you may have to work with your gas company to get a new upsized gas meter installed.
  • You need 120V power and gas to the tankless water heater possibly requiring electrical upgrades as well.
  • No power, no hot water.  Period.
  • Limitation of gallons available per minute – remember your fancy full body shower?  It may take 2 tankless heaters to fully supply those fixtures.
  • If you don’t have gas, tankless is generally not a good fit for you.

Ultimately which system you choose comes down to your specific circumstances (your home and your budget) and your lifestyle (your water demand or lack of it).

If you have an immediate need or are considering a change, we’re here to help you make an educated decision for YOUR situation and professionally install that new water heater.


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