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Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters

tank-water-heaterWhen people think about residential water heaters, they have a distinct image in mind. It’s a simple image: a tall metal cylinder containing a supply of water. This is a storage water heater, also called a tank water heater. (Or, if you want to be extremely specific, a storage tank water heater.) The reason this is what people think of when they hear the term water heater is that tank water heaters are the most common way to heat water in homes and they have been for many decades.

This doesn’t mean they are the only choice. There are alternatives to the conventional electric or gas-powered storage water heater on the market. The most popular of these alternatives is the tankless water heater. More homes each year are adopting these models and finding out they love their multiple advantages.

The Difference between the Two

The main difference is right there in the name: the tank water heater stores water in a tank, and the tankless system has no tank at all. But this doesn’t fully explain the difference in how they work. People are often confused about how a tankless system can even operate.

A storage tank water heater maintains a supply of water at high temperature, while a tankless system heats up water that moves through it as it is needed. With a tankless water heater, a heat exchanger applies thermal energy directly to the water as it travels through the system on the way to the taps. The water is heated “on demand” rather than stored and kept hot for whenever anyone needs it.

The Advantages of a Tankless System

There are two major benefits of a tankless water heater:

  • The system consumes less energy than a storage tank system. A tankless water heater only uses natural gas or electricity to heat the water when there’s a demand for it. A storage tank system maintains the water temperature all day and night, heating up the water supply whenever standby heat loss lowers the temperature—and that means a larger energy expenditure.
  • Tankless systems don’t run out of hot water. They can always heat up more! This is advantageous for homes where people often find themselves going without hot showers in the morning if they aren’t quick enough. (A tankless system can be overwhelmed, however, leading to a drop in energy efficiency, if too many taps are on at the same time.)

The Advantages of Staying with a Tank System

Going with a tankless water heater sounds like it’s the obvious choice. But it isn’t always. Standard tank water heaters are still effective if they’re properly sized for a home. They also cost less to install than tankless water heaters, and this may be a crucial factor for some household budgets. The best way to find out if a tankless system is your best option is to consult with water heater professionals.

If you have any further questions about tank and tankless water heaters, or you would like to schedule service for a water heater installation in Plattsburgh, NY, our team is happy to help!

Red Rock Mechanical LLC has served Burlington, VT and the Plattsburgh, NY area for more than 23 years.

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