Which Type Of Water Heater Is Right For You?

Posted on: 7 January 2015

It's finally time to replace the old water heater. As it's -- hopefully-- been awhile since you've last had to consider a replacement, there may be some new, appealing options available. So, which type of water heater should you buy for your home?

Traditional water heater

Traditional water heaters come with a large tank that stores hot water. When hot water is needed throughout the house, it's pumped out of the tank, which then re-fills and re-heats. Tank sizes vary, and you'll need to take into consideration your family's hot water needs when deciding how large of a tank to purchase.

Traditional water heaters use electricity, natural gas, or propane as fuel. They are generally cheaper than some of their more modern counterparts to install, but will cost more to operate. If the initial costs are the most important factor for you, a traditional water heater is a great option.

Tankless water heater

Tankless water heaters don't rely on a reservoir of pre-heated water. Instead, a gas or electricity-powered coil heats water only when it's needed. The coil is so hot that the water becomes warm instantly, so there's no delay as you wait for water to heat up.

Tankless water heaters are ideal for smaller families that don't have a need for large amounts of hot water. When large quantities of hot water are needed, a tankless water heater may not be able to keep up with demand. However, for families using less than 41 gallons of hot water per day, tankless water heaters are up to 34% more efficient than traditional versions. They do cost more to install, so these units are ideal for families with low to moderate hot water needs that don't mind spending a little more upfront to save money down the line.

Heat pump water heater

Much like the name implies, heat pump water heaters rely on heat pumps to supply hot water to the house. These units draw in heat from the surrounding air, and use that to heat water. If your home uses a heat pump for its heating and cooling needs, an attachment called a desuperheater can be used to integrate a water heater into the system. These water heaters are also available with independent heat pumps that don't need to be tied to the home's heating and cooling system.

Heat pump water heaters have a high cost to install, due to the nature of the unit. They must be located in areas that are between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with ample space and proper ventilation. However, because heat pump water heaters aren't creating heat -- they're merely transferring existing heat in the air to the water -- they can be much more efficient than traditional counterparts. If you're able to afford the upfront costs and have the space available, heat pump water heaters can keep up with your family's hot water needs like a traditional tank model while still saving you money on utilities.

Ultimately, your decision will come down to your budget and your family's hot water needs. Contact a trusted HVAC technician like Dennis Priebe Plumbing to discuss your options.