Call Us: (206) 281-8855

Hot Water Heater Types Comparison

 

Most of us should stick with storage type water heaters if we want the best economy and the most reliability.

While it may be true that tankless hot water heaters are more fuel efficient while they run, the maintenance costs are high, repair costs are high and availability of parts is sadly lacking. The manufacturers are marketing these units in the same way as they sell toasters. If a toaster fails you just throw it away and buy a new one. If a tankless unit fails you will go without hot water for days or weeks due to lack of local factory support, lack of local parts availability and lack of factory skilled technicians. The life expectancy can be as little as 5-6 years with some models. Only an electro-mechanical expert can effectively diagnose and repair these units.

 

Type of heater Saves energy Unlimited  hot water?  Easy to convert  Water pressure  Particulate in water  Life Expectancy Can be integrated
with solar, geothermal, heat-pump or other energy source
 Temperature adjustment
Whole house tankless electric
tankless-electric
No savings

Can cost more.

 Hard for electricity to heat water as water rushes past in pipe. See image #1 below
-Yes- When unit not undersized with optimal conditions

-Not consistent with saving energy or water

- No hot water in power outage
No, 
- Requires 90-120 Amps

- Typical home electric service is 150-200 Amps (check main breaker to see amps of  your service)
- Upgrade service panel to convert to tankless electric.

-Pro install required - electrically trained
1/2-3/4 gal per minute water flow before heater turns on

Low pressure causes tankless to shut off elements
High tech sensors will clog and fail without softener

  Susceptible to lime build-up.
De-lime each year
Claims of longer life not backed by warranty.

No warranty without plumber trained by specific manufacturer.

Require surge protector
No
-Cannot store heat from other source

Cannot heat and store water during off peak

-Always demand
fossil fuel
-Temperature adjustment with dip switches.


Adjusting temperature can shut down elements if water cannot heat fast enough.
 
Whole house tankless gas
core tankless
Saves $1-$8  per month
See hidden costs
-Yes- When unit not undersized with optimal conditions

-Not consistent with saving energy or water

- No hot water in power outage
No,
Requires larger gas pipe
Requires air intake pipe
Requires stainless-steel flue
Requires 110V electric line 
Requires professional installation - most are poorly installed by unskilled
1/2-3/4 gal per minute water flow before heater turns on

Low pressure causes tankless to shut off burner
High tech sensors typically will clog and fail without softener

Susceptible to lime build-up.
De-lime each year

Claims of longer life not backed by warranty.

No warranty without plumber trained by specific manufacturer.

Parts are a problem when needed

No
-Cannot store heat from other source

-Always demand
fossil fuel
-Temperature adjustment with dip switches.


Adjusting temperature can shut down burner if air, fuel and vent don't match.
 
Regular electric water heater
electric-water-heater-100
  
You can save 4-9% operating cost by insulating tank

 
Can heat and store water during off-peak

-Heats 21 Gal per hour

- Stored hot water available any time.

Regular electric water heater can be installed by any plumber

 

Hot water available with any flow or pressure

Allows water conservation
Regular flushing maintains tank

'Self-cleaning' tanks available

Corrosion-fighting anode rod inside each unit
6-12+ years
-No extended warranty without professional installation.

-Can diagnose and repair same day using locally-available parts
Yes

-With minor pipe changes, storage water heaters store heat gathered from other sources
-Simple to adjust temperature.
 
Regular gas water heater
gas-water-heater-100
You can save 3-5% operating cost by lowering thermostat 10º
 
-Heats 41 Gal per hour

- Stored hot water available any time
Regular gas water heater can  be installed by any plumber Hot water available with any flow or pressure

Allows water conservation
Regular flushing and clean burner maintains tank

'Self-cleaning' tanks available

Corrosion-fighting anode rod inside each unit
6-12+ years
No extended warranty without professional installation.

Can usually diagnose and repair using locally available parts

Protected by FVIR
Yes

-With minor pipe changes, storage water heaters store heat gathered from other sources
-Simple to adjust temperature.

tankless-electricImage #1

 Evan's Opinion: The only place we have found these to be the best option in on a boat.

 

compare-water-heater-parts

Maintenace and repair service will probably average $400 per year for a whole house tankless water heater. (If you can even find a skilled plumber to do it!)

Compare the complexity of the water heater types. If you need a part - chances are the factory will have to ship it while you bath with cold water for a few days.

 

I saw this elsewhere. I thought the message was going in the right direction:

 

yo-mama-idiot-300a 

Evan's comment: There are situations where the tankless option is the right decision BUT you need to do your homework!

  • The tankless option will not save most of us any money. In fact, it can double the real annual cost of the hot water.
  • Give us a call - we will help you to figure it out.
  • We are one of the few plumbing companies in Seattle that really do repair these tankless water heater units - we do know what we are talking about.