For decades, residents of Indianapolis, IN had limited options for water heaters. Standard, storage-based water heaters were long the norm. When well-made and properly installed, traditional water heaters offer excellent performance and impressive levels of efficiency. Now, however, tankless and point-of-use water heaters are increasing in popularity. These appliances have virtually no limitations on how much hot water they can produce, and they also create far less energy waste. If you’re at the point where you need to install a new water heater in your home, keep reading to find out which option is the most suitable for your needs.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Storage Tank Water Heaters

Traditional storage tank water heaters are limited by their capacity. Some options are designed to hold 40, 50, or 55 gallons of water at one time. At their biggest, these water heaters can have an 80-gallon capacity in residential applications. Although this seems like a lot, in some households, it really isn’t. When there are lots of people washing their hands, running the dishwasher and washing machine, and taking hot baths or long showers, there might not be enough hot water to go around. For anyone who’s ever had to stand beneath a lukewarm shower due to an insufficient water heater capacity, tankless water heating is nothing short of life-changing.

Unfortunately, an insufficient hot water supply isn’t the only drawback of storage-based water heating. Water heaters that hold heated water in tanks work non-stop to keep this water warm. They use energy to heat water, and they use additional energy to restore the heat that gets lost over time. Comparatively, tankless water heaters use energy to heat water just once.

Notwithstanding these things, there are still factors that make traditional water heaters appealing. To start, they tend to have far lower upfront costs than the latest tankless water heater designs. They’re cheaper to purchase and cheaper to install. They’re also available in a diverse range of sizes. In addition to 80-gallon models, you can find traditional water heaters with 20-gallon capacities for smaller homes and non-traditional living spaces

The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heating

As far as drawbacks go, one of the biggest for tankless water heaters is their price. This includes both the upfront cost of these water heaters and the building modifications that must often be made to accommodate them. In some cases, the move to tankless water heating requires a plumbing retrofit and an upgrade to either gas lines or the electrical supply for increased capacity. Moreover, approximately 90% of all water heater replacements are the result of water heater emergencies. Whether water heaters have ruptured or are simply failing to produce hot water, these emergencies leave many consumers scrambling to find the fastest and most cost-effective solutions they can. In general, tankless water heaters don’t fit the bill.

However, if you’ve diligently maintained your current water heater and are planning for replacement in advance of a dire need for it, choosing a tankless option could benefit you both now and later. In addition to providing immediate energy savings, these upgrades add value and marketability to homes. They modernize older properties and put them on par with current market standards. This is especially true when homeowners choose electric water heaters rather than gas-fired models. As an increasing number of consumers take an eco-friendly approach to selecting home appliances, listing a home that has highly efficient, tankless water heaters is virtually guaranteed to garner buyer attention.

Rather than heating water, storing it until it’s needed, and heating and reheating stored water until it is finally disbursed, tankless water heaters offer hot water service on demand. They also last a lot longer than traditional water heaters. The average lifespan of a storage-based water heater is between eight and 12 years. Comparatively, tankless water heaters can provide up to two decades of service. However, it’s important to note that whether you choose a tank-based or tankless water heater, having untreated hard water in your home will significantly diminish the lifespan of this equipment.

Although tankless water heaters effectively eliminate the standby energy losses of tank-based water heating, they do have a few shortcomings in terms of performance. Some options take a bit longer to actually deliver hot water, and others may struggle to provide adequate hot water at all when multiple fixtures are on at once. Another important drawback to note is that traditional, gas-fired water heaters will continue functioning when your power is off. An electric tankless water heater will not.

Surprising Tankless Water Heater Benefits You Never Knew You Needed

There are several benefits of tankless water heaters that aren’t related to either efficiency or hot water supply. To start, tankless water heaters take up a lot less space. These units have slim profiles and depending upon which options you choose, some are even installed directly under sinks and by other high-use fixtures. As a result, you could have more usable storage areas in your home. Rather than housing a large water tank, your basement or closet can be used to hold your knick-knacks, holiday decorations, board games, sporting gear, or craft supplies.

If you’ve ever had a traditional water heater rupture in your home, then you’ll love the fact that tankless water heaters will never dump up to 80 gallons of water on your floors. When you have these units installed, you won’t have to worry about aging, corrosion, or other wear-related issues leaving you with damaged flooring, sub-floors, baseboards, drywall, and more. Even if you haven’t dealt with a water heater rupture before, this is an advantage that you don’t want to consider in hindsight.

Another notable benefit of tankless water heaters is that they don’t require much maintenance. More importantly, when they do need care, it’s possible to resolve problems that are all but unfixable in traditional water heaters. For instance, excessive build-ups of hard water minerals in traditional water heaters could spell their demise. When tankless water heaters develop build-ups, they automatically shut themselves off until the problem is resolved. Plumbers can usually flush these accumulations out with simple flush kits. In comparison, traditional water heaters need regular flushes as part of their ongoing maintenance to prevent larger accumulations from ever forming.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Insights on This Topic

In the tankless vs. storage-based water heating argument, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) is often considered the final authority. While aggressive efficiency-related regulations have created a push for electrically powered home appliances and efficient water heaters, the DOE takes a fairly balanced approach when making recommendations.

According to the DOE, tankless water heaters are a good choice for households that use 41 gallons of hot water or less each day. In these settings, tankless water heaters can be up to 34% more efficient than their alternatives. However, for larger households with lots of hot water use, the best results are often achieved with traditional storage-based water heating systems.

Hope Plumbing HVAC Services

We’re committed to helping residents of Indianapolis make informed decisions about their home plumbing and water heating systems. We offer water heaters, water softeners, sump pumps, and gas lines. We also provide leak detection, drain cleaning, and sewer line services. To get help choosing your next water heater, contact Hope Plumbing today.

Caleb Shepherd

company icon