If you’re on the hunt for a new water heater, then you’ve probably noticed two primary styles on the market. There are traditional water heaters and the newer option, tankless water heaters. If you’re feeling confused about which one is better, you’re not alone. As you try to decide whether to buy a traditional water heater or a tankless one, it’s worth learning the pros and cons of each style.

About Traditional Water Heaters

Traditional water heaters have tanks that hold heated water. For this reason, they’re also known as storage tank water heaters. Some units have small tanks that hold about 20 gallons of hot water. Others have much larger tanks and may hold up to 80 gallons of water. Those are the high and low ends of the spectrum, though. Most hot water tanks hold around 50 gallons.

With this style of water heater, the water is heated in advance of when it’s needed. It remains in the water heater until you call for hot water. When you turn on a hot-water tap, the unit releases heated water from the top. New cold water flows into the bottom of the tank and starts coming up to temperature.

About Tankless Water Heaters

You may hear a tankless water heater referred to as an on-demand water heater. That’s because this type of device doesn’t hold preheated water in a tank. Rather, it heats water as it’s needed.

There’s a heat exchanger inside the unit that can produce hot water quite quickly. Just how quickly it can heat the water depends on the model you buy. In general, most water heaters of this type can deliver 2 to 5 gallons of hot water every minute.

Comparing Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters

Knowing the basic differences between storage tank water heaters and tankless ones may not be enough to help you decide which to buy. For that, you may need more details about these two appliance styles. Consider the following factors as you determine which kind is best for your needs.


A water heater with a tank can take up a decent amount of space. These appliances are about 5 feet tall and a couple of feet in diameter. An insulated tank is a good thing because it prevents energy loss, but it can also result in a wider appliance. If you’re short on space, particularly if your water heater is tucked away in a small closet, that could be a problem.

Tankless water heaters are space-saving. These units are often about 1 foot by 2 feet. Unlike traditional water heaters, they don’t stand in the middle of your floor. Rather, they mount on the wall. Particularly in small homes, you may appreciate how easy it is to keep a tankless water heater out of the way.

Power Source

You have options when it comes to powering your water heater. In most cases, it makes sense to choose a new water heater that’s compatible with the type of power that’s running your current unit.

Traditional water heaters may use electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil. Tankless units might run on electricity, natural gas or propane. In other words, if you currently have an oil-powered unit, you may want to stick with a traditional model. If you use another power source, you might have more flexibility.


A storage tank water heater can provide hot water to multiple places in your home at the same time. Because the water has been preheated, your tank may contain plenty of water to handle both a shower and a load of laundry simultaneously. To accomplish that, you’ll just need to make sure that you have a unit that’s properly sized. Your professional plumber can help you pick the best model.

A tankless water heater, though, can produce only a certain amount of hot water per minute. It may not be enough to supply multiple appliances at the same time. If your household often requires a lot of hot water at once, one tankless water heater may not suffice. Some homeowners opt to install two of them.


If you currently have a water heater with a tank, putting in a new storage tank water heater may be a straightforward job. Since the necessary hookups are already in place, it might be a fairly direct swap. It’s still a job for a professional plumber so that you can make sure everything is done as safely and accurately as possible. However, the labor costs may stay on the lower end. Replacing one tankless water heater with another may not be especially expensive either.

However, going from a water heater to a tankless one is often a much bigger job. Since the two styles are so different, you may need to have new gas or venting pipes installed. This type of unit may require an upgrade to your electrical panel as well. You’ll certainly want to hire a professional plumber to install your tankless water heater. Not only is that a good idea for any water heater project, but it may also be a stipulation of your warranty.

Because switching from one style to the other presents some challenges, the project requires some forethought. If you’re in an emergency replacement situation, it will probably work best to stick with the type of water heater you currently have. Make the change when you’re ready for an upgrade and can take your time with the process — not when you’re anxious to have a functional new water heater in place as soon as possible.


The installation fee isn’t the only pricing consideration for water heaters. You will want to think about the cost of the equipment as well. Traditional water heaters are almost always cheaper than tankless ones. For a unit that’s sized to serve a similarly sized house, you may pay several hundred dollars more for a tankless model than one with a storage tank.


One of the biggest drawbacks of a storage tank water heater is the heat loss it experiences. The water in the tank can’t stay hot on its own indefinitely. Continually warming it takes energy, and that reduces the appliance’s efficiency. However, the more insulation a tank has, the more efficient the water heater may be.

Because a tankless water heater doesn’t have to hold water at a specific temperature, it runs more efficiently. Increased energy efficiency is one of the biggest selling points for a tankless water heater. Even though the unit might cost you more upfront, you may save over time on your power bills.

When you need help deciding between a traditional or tankless water heater, call Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air. Our plumbers are also experts in water softeners, sump pumps, drains and gas lines. We handle a variety of heating and cooling projects, too, including installations, repairs and maintenance services. We can even help you achieve better indoor air quality. Our company has won an Idaho’s Best award, and we look forward to becoming your favorite team for home-care services.

Call the Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air office today to set up your appointment for plumbing, heating or cooling in Garden City.

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