Quick Q&A: Comparing Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters

August 7, 2013 | 6:55 pm

Quick Q:

A Traditional Water Heater: Is it right for you?
Say I’m considering a new water heater system for my home or office.  Should I go traditional or tankless? Is one better than the other?  What are the pros and cons of each?  When would I use a tankless versus a traditional?

Quick A:

You have several basic options when considering a water heater for your home.  You can go traditional (like a BoilerMate (TM) water heater or a solar water heater) or you can go tankless (powered by either natural gas or electric).  Traditional water heaters store hot water in large tanks; the major issue with a traditional system is standby heat loss.  That is, traditional systems “leak” heat (and waste energy) while the heater is simply storing water that is not being used 24 hours a day.  On the other hand, traditional water heaters are tried-and-true; they are capable of delivering large amounts of hot water at a moment’s notice during times of peak demand.

We generally recommend against most electric-powered tankless systems, as they simply consume too much electricity during operation.  Instead, explore gas-powered tankless systems.  A gas-fired tankless water heater is much more efficient than a conventional water heater in that it heats only the water that is being used at that time. It does not maintain the temperature in an entire tank of water as does the conventional type. However, it is recommended by most manufacturers of the tankless type water heaters that a water softener be in place to condition water before entering the heater. This helps to extend the life of the tankless heater. Additionally, the major issue with tankless systems is the limited water supply rate.  During the period of peak demand, a tankless system may not be able to deliver enough hot water for the home.

Quick Pros & Cons:

  • PRO for Traditional: Generally very reliable, stable systems – capable of delivering sufficient hot water even during peak demand.
  • CON for Traditional: Less energy-efficient due to standby heat loss and the need to heat an entire tank even when not in use.
  • PRO for Tankless: More energy-efficient! (But be sure to steer clear of most electric tankless systems – stick with gas-powered!)
  • CON for Tankless: May not delivery sufficient hot water during times of peak demand.  Additionally, may require a softener when a traditional unit would not.

A final note: In this post, we’ve address “standard” traditional and tankless systems.  Any water heater aficionados who might be reading this post will be quick to point out that we have not addressed other types of systems, like heat pump-electric water heater systems.  These systems have pro’s and con’s of their own – but we’re trying to keep this quick Q&A short!  If you’re interested in a more detailed, no-obligation discussion regarding which type of system is right for your home, your next step is to call the experts at Tuckey Mechanical Services!

So which system is right for you?  That’s a great decision to make with the help of a trained Tuckey Mechanical Services technician.  Give us a call today to learn more and to receive a no-obligation proposal for a system that will meet your needs.


(Picture By Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)

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