Pros and Cons of Tankless Hot Water Heaters

One day, you wake up to shower and discover that you have no hot water. The repairman comes and says that your hot water heater needs to be replaced. You now have a decision to make: do you want to continue using a tank system or do you want to go tankless?

“A tankless hot water heater does have a surprising number of benefits, and almost the same number of drawbacks,” says Steve Lewis, president and CEO of Plumbing By Jake.

Take a look below and decide if a tankless hot water heater might be right for you.

Pro #1

A tankless water heater uses 30-50% less energy than their tank counterparts, leading to a savings of up to $100 per year.

Con #1

Because of their small design, many tankless hot water heaters require special installation and also cost a bit more initially to purchase. If you factor in the installation costs as well as purchasing the unit, a tank water heater is much cheaper and easier to install.

Pro #2

Instant hot water. No waiting for the tap at the bathroom sink to warm to shave or wash your face. No waiting for the water to get warm in the shower. A tankless water heater provides hot water almost instantly.

Con #2

The hot water provided by a tankless hot water heater may be “limitless,” but only to one faucet or appliance at a time. If you want to take a shower while washing clothes or dishes, you might get inconsistent temperatures or need to wait until one is finished.

Pro #3

A tankless water heater also tends to have a longer lifespan than your typical tank water heater. Warranties typically cover 12 to 15 years, versus an average of 6 years for their tank counterparts.

Pro #4

Tankless water heaters are mounted on the wall, freeing up space in your garage or basement for other things. If you’re concerned with space issues, a tankless water heater may be the way to go.

Con #4

A tankless hot water heater may require additional equipment, like a water softener if you have hard water. A water softener plus the necessary bags of salt may negate any space savings of the wall mounted water heater.

Pro #5

Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient, and the federal government likes energy efficiency. A household can qualify for a 10% tax credit on the purchase and installation costs of a tankless water heater.

Con #5

It can take a long time to make up for the up-front costs of purchase and installation. At an average savings of $75 per month according to Consumer Reports, it could take 6-12 years before the savings add up to more than the initial costs.

While the benefits to a tankless water heater may be appealing, there are important considerations to be made. It could be that your individual household would do better just sticking with an energy efficient tank water heater. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding.