Our main purpose with Prime Heaters is to help the decision making process of those planning to buy a new water heater. We know how great a hassle it can be due to numerous factors: many different brands, models, specs – the bottom line is that it is hard for a non-professional to find the ideal water heater for their home. Our mission is to serve you with all the information you may possibly need to make the right decision. Let’s jump in!

Regardless of whether you buy a tank or tankless water heater, it is going to be a big investment. Apart from the upfront costs of buying the heater and having it installed by an expert, the cost of heating water is also going to be pretty significant and continuous expense. The latter may consume 20% of your household budget. As such, you should be a 100% sure that you make the right choice and you buy the heater that fits your needs and budget in the long term.

When looking for a water heater, probably the very first (or at least one of the first) thing(s) to consider is whether you should buy a storage tank or a tankless water heater. It is not a simple question as both have their pros and cons. Before going through the factors to consider, let’s see what the main differences are between the two kinds.


Storage Tank Water Heaters

Rheem storage tank water heater

These are the most common type of water heaters. However, their popularity seems to be decreasing for numerous factors we are going to discuss later on this page. As their name suggest, these water heaters consist of an insulated tank (which can be of many different sizes).

The size of the tank varies between 20 and 80 gallons but there are models with a capacity of over 100 gallons, too. Water constantly heated up to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit is stored in this tank.

There are both electric and gas versions of it, the natural-gas (or propane) water heaters generally being more economic. Another selling point of them is that they will still work during a power outage.

Brands to Consider

As tank water heaters are getting less and less popular you find them in the product range of fewer and fewer manufacturers. Nevertheless, there are still some well-known brands selling such heaters: Bosch, Stiebel Eltron or e.g. Ariston. The list goes on, but these are probably the ones worth mentioning.

Price

When talking about price we need to specify what exactly we are talking about:

  • the price of only the given product or
  • the price including installation or
  • the lifetime costs.

Don’t worry, we are going to look at all of them.

  • Product prices
    • As mentioned earlier in this article, most storage tank water heaters are less expensive than their tankless siblings.

Installation

Tank water heaters are definitely the easier-to-install option. It doesn’t mean you can do it yourself, you will still need a professional to do it. However, the process is much quicker and simpler because usually no change in the electric or gas system of the house is necessary (unlike in the case of tankless heaters). Simpler installation equals cheaper installation. Which means that tank water heaters do not only cost less than tankless ones, they are also cheaper to install. So far so good. However, let’s not make the decision yet, as there are other factors to consider. Let’s see them!

Lifespan

We have already partly covered this in the “PRICE” section. The lifespan of tank water heaters is somewhere between 10-15 years. It has an impact on the warranty, too which is normally shorter than for tankless models.

Pros

  • Lower upfront costs.
  • Pretty simple installation process with considerably low installation costs.
  • As they constantly keep the water in the tank hot, hot water is pretty much instantly accessible whenever needed.
  • In case of a large enough tank the hot water is sufficient for several showers, washes etc.

Cons

  • Despite the relatively low upfront costs, in the longer term we think, the less tank water heaters are worth it. They are generally less efficient than tankless ones which is a result of their working mechanism: they have to keep the water in the tank hot at all times. It is called standby loss.
  • They take up a lot of place. Logically, the bigger the tank they consist of the more space they need. Almost in all cases tankless models need less place, simply because of not having a storage tank.
  • Their lifespan is not the greatest. Simply put there are many things that can go wrong and eventually will go wrong.

Should You Buy It?

               We recommend you storage tank water heaters in case

  • you have enough space in your home for one with a big enough tank,
  • you tend to use hot water at the same time in several locations,
  • you are looking for the solution which is cheaper to buy and install.

Tankless Water Heaters

Rinnai RL94iP Propane Tankless Water Heater

After discussing pretty much all the important details of tank water heaters, it is time to discuss tankless water heaters.

Not surprisingly tankless water heaters come without a storage tank. They are also called “on-demand” because they heat water up only when it is needed.

Tankless water heaters use heating coils to heat water as it flows through the system. It also means that unlike tank versions they don’t keep any water continuously hot, which makes them more energy-efficient.

As you may think, the situation is not all roses, meaning tankless systems come with their disadvantages, too. Without going into details (as we are going to do that later on), one of their biggest cons is that because of the very way they work there is a limitation on how much water they are able to heat up per minute: this number is called the gallon per minute (GPM). As a result they are usually not recommended in households where hot water is needed on different locations at the same time.

By the way GPM is going to be one of the more important specs of any tankless water heater. But more about that in this tankless water heater buying guide.

Brands to Consider

There are quite a lot of tankless water heater manufacturers. For example EcoSmart. Although they do have some storage tank models their main focus is on tankless versions. They make some of the best value for money products. Some other big brands worth considering: Takagi, Rinnai, Rheem or e.g. Stiebel Eltron. We made dedicated pages for each brand where you can learn more about them.

Price

When talking about price we need to specify what exactly we are talking about:

  • the price of only the given product or
  • the price including installation or
  • the lifetime costs.

Don’t worry, we are going to look at all of them.

  • Product prices
    • One of the greatest drawbacks of tankless water heaters is their price. They are generally not as affordable as storage tank models. There are 3 main factors determining their price: brand, GPM (or we could say water heating capacity) and the energy source (there exist electric and gas versions, the latter being the more popular)

Installation

You know from the previous segment that tankless water heaters are more complicated, thus more expensive to install than tank ones. The main reason for that is that certain upgrades to your home may have to be predone.

  • The electrical system of your house (in case you’ve bought an electric tankless water heater) may need to be upgraded. If you want a gas powered heater to be installed a dedicated gas line may need to be added. Any of these two upgrades are pretty labor-intensive, thus expensive.
  • When it comes to certain types of tankless water heaters, even new exhaust vents or new pipes may need to be installed which may further increase the instalment costs.

Keep also in mind that there exist tankless models that can be installed outdoor. So, if you are looking for an outdoor solution, tankless water heater is the way to go.

Lifespan

As already mentioned, tankless water heaters have a pretty good lifespan, normally over 20 years. This is one of the reasons why despite the bigger upfront costs in long term tankless solutions may be financially worth it (they need to be replaced less frequently).

Pros

  • It is the more energy efficient solution (no standby loss)
  • Longer lifespan and warranty
  • They require little space

Cons

  • Larger upfront costs
  • Instalment may be difficult, your home may need to be upgraded
  • Limited hot water output (GPM)

Should You Buy It?

We recommend you a tankless model in case

  • you are ready to pay more upfront and have the budget for it,
  • you want to have lower energy bills,
  • you don’t want your water heater to take up a lot of space,
  • you want the solution with the longer lifespan and warranty,
  • you want the more popular solution (it may be important when e.g. wanting to sell your house).