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Tankless vs. Traditional Water Heaters: Which is Right for Me?

The colder weather often brings the catalyst for long-needed water heater replacements. So which type of water heater is right for you? The professional Bonney plumbers are here to help you navigate the decision between two of the most common water heaters: tankless and traditional. 

What are Tankless (On-Demand) Water Heaters?

As the name suggests, tankless,-also called “on-demand”—water heaters instantaneously heat water as you need it, rather than heating and holding water in a storage tank. Water runs through small pipes that are superheated to quickly warm the required water. Keep in mind “on-demand” does not equate to no wait time for hot water. The water is heated quickly, but still has to travel to the fixtures. 

Pros and Cons of Tankless (On-Demand) Water Heaters

There are a variety of different factors that homeowners need to consider before installing a tankless water heater. Here are a few of the pros and cons, curated by the Bonney plumbers:

  • Tankless water heaters can give you endless hot water.
  • Tankless water heaters have volume restrictions. Too many fixtures running = lukewarm water.
  • Cold winter water temperatures reduce the amount of hot water a Tankless can produce per minute. A reduction as much as 9gpm to 4.5gpm.
  • Tankless water heaters can save you fuel costs.
  • Tankless fuel costs can massively increase if you have people in your home who like to take long showers. The truth is… when the hot water NEVER runs out, some people don’t get out.
  • Tankless water heaters cannot operate without continuous electricity.
  • Tankless water heaters operate on 130,000-199,000 BTU’s of gas per hour.
  • Tankless water heater installs require electricity and a larger gas line runs from the meter (if replacing a standard tank heater).
  • Tankless water heaters can be installed on an exterior wall and save valuable real estate.
  • Tankless water heaters require flushing with chemicals to maintain the heat exchanger, flow sensors, and other components,
  • Tankless water heater heat exchangers can last 20 years IF maintained properly and have good water quality.
  • Tankless water heaters have sensors, switches, fans, motors, controls for water, gas, and exhaust that could fail.
  • Tankless water heaters require a permit to install for the unit and a line item on the permit for the new upgraded gas line and the electrical outlet.
  • Tankless water heater installs can double, triple, or quadruple a standard tank water heater installation cost.

What is a Traditional (Storage Tank) Water Heater?

When you think “water heater,” what image comes to mind? Many think of a large storage tank of hot water—which is a traditional water heater. These units are characterized by their large metal tanks holding a reservoir of ready-to-go hot water. The capacity of a traditional water heater ranges anywhere between 20-80 gallons. 

Pros and Cons of a Storage Tank Water Heater:

Much like tankless water heaters, storage tank water heaters come with a full suite of potential considerations. Here is a list of some of the primary pros and cons of “standard” water heaters, brought to you by the plumbers at Bonney:

  • Tank water heaters run out after 2-4 back-to-back showers, then you have to wait for the tank to refill and reheat the water.
  • Tank water heaters can send 120-degree water to all fixtures at the same time…for a limited time.
  • Cold winter water temperatures slightly slow tank water heater recovery times.
  • Tank water heaters will cost $300-$600 per year to operate under normal usage. 
  • “Standard” tank water heaters can continue to operate if you lose electricity.
  • Tank water heaters(50gl) operate on 40,000 BTU’s of gas per hour.
  • Tank water heaters have to be indoors or in a structure to protect them.
  • Tank water heaters need to be flushed annually.
  • Tank water heaters are mostly reliable for 8-12 years, though they can last even longer depending on your maintenance, brand, usage, and luck.
  • Tank water heaters have some safety features and controls that could fail.
  • Tank water heaters require a permit at the time of installation or replacement.
  • Storage tank water heaters can be more costly to operate.
  • Tank water heater replacements can be installed without major retrofit.

Which Type of Water Heater is Right for Me?

What does all this mean? Ultimately, the decision between a tankless or tank water heater is not meant to be a quick discussion, nor does it offer a simple answer. As you can see, there are plenty of potential considerations to make the most of your investment. A Bonney plumber will talk with you one-on-one—taking into account your family, your home, your budget, and your willingness to provide your unit with the care it needs—before providing water heater recommendations. 

Bonney Plumbing: Water Heaters in Sacramento

If you need help deciding which kind of water heater is right for you and your home, the experts at Bonney are here for you. Our plumbers offer both tankless and storage tank water heaters to homes in and around Sacramento, including Carmichael, Roseville, Folsom, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Rancho Cordova, Gold River, La Riviera, Rosemont, and beyond. To make new water heaters affordable for our customers, Bonney offers water heater coupons, deals, and discounts here online. Contact our local plumbers to get started today!