If you’re considering installing a new water heater, you’re probably trying to determine whether a tank or a tankless water heater is the better option for your Pittsburgh home.
Both tank and tankless water heaters are great options, so which choice is “better” for your home really depends on a variety of factors.
The main factors that will affect which type of water heater is best for your home include:
- How much hot water you use at a time
- Your budget
- The space you have available
Below, we’ll walk through each of these factors and how they affect whether a tank or a tankless water heater is the best option for your home. But first, let’s look at the main difference between tank and tankless water heaters.
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Tank vs. Tankless: The difference
The biggest difference between tank and tankless water heaters is (you guessed it), the tank.
Tank water heaters work by heating 30–80 gallons of water and keeping that water warm in a tank. When you need hot water, your heater can release those gallons of already-heated water.
Tankless water heaters don’t hold any water. Instead, tankless water heaters work by heating water as needed. So if you turn on the hot water at your kitchen sink, a tankless water will heat water instantly as it supplies the hot water to your sink.
Essentially, tankless water heaters provide a “never-ending” supply of hot water whereas tank water heaters can provide 30–80 gallons of hot water before they run out.
However, although tankless water heaters can provide “never-ending” hot water, it’s not unlimited. We’ll talk more about that next.
Factor #1: How many hot water appliances you use at a time
Here’s the bottom line: If you usually use 2 or more hot water appliance at a time, a tank water heater is probably the best option for your home.
As we mentioned above, tankless hot water heaters can provide a “never-ending” supply of hot water but it’s not unlimited. It’s limited by something called flow rate.
Flow rate measures how many gallons of hot water a tankless water heater can produce per minute (gpm).
On average, tankless hot waters have a flow rate of 5 gpm.
Your hot water appliances have average flow rates of:
- Bathroom faucet: 0.5–2.5 gpm
- Showerhead: 1–3 gpm
- Washing machine: 1.5–2 gpm
- Dishwasher: 1–2.5 gpm
So if you want to run your shower at the same time you want to run your washer, you need a tankless water heater will a flow rate of 5. Based on the average flow rate of a tankless water heater, you couldn’t run more than 2 appliances at once or you would notice a drop in the temperature of the water.
Tankless water heaters are a great option if you want a never-ending supply of hot water for 1–2 appliances. However, if your household normally uses more than 2 hot water appliances at a time, a tank water heater is the better option for your home.
Factor #2: Your budget
Tank water heaters are generally less expensive than tankless water heaters.
On average, tank water heaters cost anywhere from $1,200–$2,500, whereas tankless water heaters cost from $3,000–$5,500.
That being said, tankless water heaters are more efficient than tank water heaters, and use 24–34% less energy to operate, according to energy.gov. Because they’re more efficient, you’ll likely see smaller energy bills with a tankless water heater than you will with a tank water heater.
The bottom line: Tank water heaters cost less up front but more to operate on a monthly basis, whereas tankless water heaters cost more upfront but cost less on a monthly basis.
Factor #3: The space you have available
Because tank water heaters hold 30–80 gallons of water, they are fairly large and require more space. On the other hand, tankless water heaters are fairly small and can be placed in closets, cabinets or even on an outside wall.
If you have very limited space in your home, a tankless water heater may be the better option for you. If space is not a factor, either option will work for your home.
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Whether you still need more information about which type of water heater is best for your home or you’re ready to have a water heater installed, we’re happy to help. Each of our plumbers is trained with 10,000 hours of on-the-job experience, so you can rest assured that whether we are providing recommendations or completing your install, we are doing it the right way.