Tank Vs Tankless Water Heaters

Tank Vs Tankless Water Heaters

After years of working as a plumber and installing water heaters of all kinds, there is one question I get asked frequently. Whats better: tank or tankless? While I wish the answer was as easy as picking one of the two, I’ve found that the real question is “What kind of water heater is best for my family’s needs and my plumbing system”

In this article I’d like to lay out an honest comparison of the two types and their pros and cons, as well as costs.

Tankless Water Heaters: Hello high efficiency and unlimited hot water

Here in the Denver Metro we are seeing more and more customers making the switch to tankless every year.

Pros of Tankless:

  • Unlimited hot water
  • High efficiency
  • Space saving
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Longer warranty

Unlimited hot water

Because these water heaters heat water “on-demand”, you can use as much as you need for as long as you need.

High Efficiency

There is no wasted gas. The unit only heats water when you need it. No wasted energy keeping a large tank of water at temp while you’re not using it! This leads to savings of 8%-34% depending on your homes water use (energy.gov)

Space Saving

Wall hung units free up floor space and make cleaning your mechanical room a breeze


Using condensing technology means your tankless is getting a much better amount of every bit of gas used, lowering emissions

Longer warranty

Premium units have an industry leading 1 year parts and labor, 5 year parts and 15 year heat exchanger warranty


Cons of Tankless:

  • Higher upfront costs
  • Maintenance frequency
  • More complex design


Higher Upfront Costs

Costs can range from 1.5x to 3x the cost of tank water heaters depending on installation factors

Maintenance Frequency

To keep your tankless water heater running correctly and efficently yearly maintenance is required. This includes a pumped flush, cleaning and operation check. It is also important due to warranty requirements from the manufacturer. As of writing this article, we charge $160 for this servic

More Complex Design

Because these units have computers boards, electronic valves and heat exchangers, they generally are harder for homeowners to repair themselves. This could be a factor if you are a “do it yourself” kind of homeowner

Tank Water Heaters: Tried and true

Tank water heaters are appliances with a simple design, the same basic design for over 100 years now


Pros of tanks include:

  • Lower upfront costs
  • Easy maintenance
  • Simple design
  • Range of warranty options (6, 9, 12 year tank only warranty)


Low upfront costs

Tanks tend to cost less to install when compared to tankless

Easy Maintenance

Drain valve is opened at bottom of the tank, no pumped flush required

Simple Design

The same basic design your parents and grandparents had, and not likely to change

Warranty Options

Most manufacturers will sell a 6, 9 or 12 year tank warranty model. This gives you flexibility to choose some of your upfront costs


Cons of tanks:

  • Less efficient
  • Larger footprint
  • Shorter warranty period
  • Limited amount of hot water


Less efficient

According to energy.gov, tanks can be 8%-34% less efficient than tankless depending on water usage!

Larger Footprint

Tanks are bulky, sit on the ground and take up floor space

Shorter Warranty

The maximum warranty most manufactures have available is a 12 year tank warranty

Limited amount of hot water

Nobody likes a cold shower. After your tank is empty you need to wait for around an hour for it to heat up again. Not everyone’s favorite on a cold Colorado morning

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