The Difference Between Tankless & Standard Water Heaters

Your water heater plays an important role in your home, but you likely haven’t given it much thought. As the name suggests, your water heater is responsible for making sure that you have access to warm or hot water to do the laundry, wash dishes, wash your hands and take comfortable showers. If you’re considering replacing your water heater, you may be wondering whether or not you should opt for a standard water heater or a tankless version. We’re here to break down some of the most common questions when it comes to water heater types and which one is best for the needs of your home. 


Unless you’re someone brave enough to take cold showers in the morning, the chances are high that you want your water heater to work properly without any interruptions. However, if your water heater needs replacing and hasn’t been replaced recently, you may be faced with a decision between a standard water heater and a tankless water heater. Both types of water heaters have their pros and cons, so let’s dive in to learn more about what sets these two types of water heaters apart.


How are standard water heaters and tankless water heaters similar?


The main way that standard or traditional water heaters are similar to their tankless (on-demand) counterparts comes down to the function of a water heater. As stated earlier, a water heater is responsible for ensuring that your home has access to heated water. Water heaters accomplish this by heating up your water before it gets distributed through the pipes and plumbing in your home. Both tankless and standard water heaters are worth considering, since they essentially serve the same purpose. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types which you can learn more about below.


What are the differences between standard and tankless water heaters?


There are a few major differences that set tankless water heaters apart from traditional water heaters. For starters, one main difference is size. A standard water heater is generally bulkier and takes up more space and on average stores between 40 and 50 gallons of water. As a result, it’s possible to run out of hot water with a standard water heater but unlikely if you manage hot water usage in your home. Considering the volume of water you use daily to run your household is one way of determining which water heater is right for you. 


On the other hand, a tankless water heater heats your water on demand. This means that it supplies a steady stream of hot water, but the supply is not unlimited. The water in a tankless water heater is constantly being replenished rather than being limited to the capacity of its reservoir like a standard water heater. That being said, there is a cost to pay with using a tankless water heater, as they may take longer to heat your water than a traditional water heater.


Pros and Cons of Tankless and Standard Water Heaters


tankless water heater


Tankless Water Heater Pros


  1. Instant Hot Water
  2. Longer Lifespan (20-30 years on average)
  3. More economical and efficient (according to, “For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand (or tankless) water heaters can be 24% to 34% more energy-efficient than conventional storage-tank water heaters.” )
  4. Space Saving (compact)
  5. Unlikely to run out of hot water
  6. Available in both electric and gas models
  7. Longer warranties
  8. Ideal for smaller homes


standard water heaters


Tankless Water Heater Cons


  1. Inconsistent temperatures
  2. Higher upfront costs
  3. Limited hot water supply
  4. Additional equipment often necessary (water softener)
  5. Often require retrofitting (rerouting of gas lines and added ventilation)
  6. Additional maintenance is often required to keep the warranty valid


Standard Water Heater Pros


  1. Lower upfront costs
  2. Lower part costs for maintenance
  3. Many are Energy Star certified
  4. Natural gas options save money year-over-year


Standard Water Heater Cons


  1. Size – most standard water heaters and big and bulky
  2. They are always on and using energy, even when you’re not home
  3. Shorter life expectancy
  4. Can run out of hot water depending on the demands of your household

Which water heater is right for me?


When it comes to figuring out which type of water heater is right for you, it’s important to examine what you want out of your water heater and what your budget is. For example, if price is your biggest concern, a standard water heater is probably the route you should take, given that in most scenarios a standard tank and installation are more budget friendly. If, on the other hand, longevity and economical factors are your biggest concern, a tankless water heater may be your best route. Tankless water heaters are also better for the environment as they expend energy less frequently in order to keep your water heated.

If you need some additional help picking the right water heater for you and your home’s needs, a professional company such as Fast Water Heater Co. can help you out. With service areas across the west coast, you’ll be able to get excellent service and recommendations whether you live in California, Washington or Oregon. For service, installation, or repairs, simply reach out to our team of professionals for a consultation today.

Leave a Reply