The Difference Between Traditional Water Heaters and Tankless Water Heaters
Trying to decide on making the switch to a tankless water heater from your traditional tank-based water heater? It’s helpful to understand how a traditional water heater works before explaining how a tankless water heater can be a more energy efficient choice for you and your family.
How Does a Traditional Water Heater Work?
Standard tank-based water heaters come in a variety of sizes. Generally for standard homes you can expect to find a 40 - 50 gallon water heater installed. In some cases, with larger homes or business' a standard water heater can be 100 gallons. Regardless of the tank size, typical tank-based water heaters pull water from the home or business' main line. The water is then held in a tank within the water heater. Depending on the heating means, in this case either electric or natural gas, the water heater’s tank is set to heat this water continually. So, when the hot water is required, the water heater delivers the tank’s stored hot water.
Often times a 40 or 50 gallon water heater unit can deliver enough water for a family, assuming the hot water draw is not higher than the time it takes to heat the hot water. However, in cases where lots of people are requiring hot water, or if multiple appliances are running such as a dishwasher, and washing machine at the same time someone is bathing – you can wind up running out of hot water!
The problems that standard water heaters have is three fold: they are limited to the size of the tank, they are limited by the time the water heater can heat up the size of the tank, and they often times are heating up water on standby, thus wasting energy and driving up your utility bills!
How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
Tankless water heaters are different by design. Tankless water heater systems are typically smaller and fit neatly into a box which is installed in place of your traditional hot water heater. On average tankless water heaters are more compact than traditional tank-based water heaters. This feature is excellent if you’re looking for a better use of space in your basement or utility room. Depending on your home’s utility configuration, you can install a gas fueled tankless water heater, an electric tankless water heater, or in some cases a propane fueled tankless water heater. If you’re looking for an electric tankless water heater, some rewiring may be required to ensure the unit has sufficient power to perform as expected.
A tankless water heater has an internal system of layered, serpentine water pipes which are tightly coiled. When hot water is required, the unit powers on and heats the water on demand. Once the unit has begun its heating process, the water passing through is heated to the temperature set by the homeowner.
By only heating the water that is being used you mitigate the problem of standby heating. Standby heating is the process that traditional water heaters heat the entire tank to ensure that there is hot water available. While this may deliver hot water instantly, often times when hot water is not being used. In other words, the traditional water heater is heating an entire tank of water just to ensure hot water is available. So, when no one is at home during a workday or when the kids are at school a traditional water heater is stuck heating that same tank of water! Not the best idea if you’re seeking to lower your utility costs.
Tankless water heaters heat the water as the flow of water passes through the tankless system. This means is that you’re not stuck having to heat an entire tank of water – you only heat what you’re using! The same tankless water heating systems have been popular in Europe and Japan for decades – especially in homes or apartments where installation space is at a premium.
The prime benefit of tankless water heaters, beyond a more compact design, is the ability to have endless hot water. Because the tankless system only heats the water you’re using at the time, you can enjoy endless hot showers or baths without having to worry about draining of your hot water storage. With a tankless hot water heater you won’t have to wait for the water heater to heat water before drawing from it again – the hot water stream is endless.
Thinking that a tankless water heater may be the right choice for your home or business? Call us at: (724) 789-9100 and one of our water heater specialists will be happy to review your current system and recommend the best water heater for your specific needs!