Many of you have heard about or even experienced tankless or on demand water heater. And one of the most frequently asked questions for me, as a plumber, is  – Should I Switch My Tank Water Heater To A Tankless? Let’s try to get a little deeper into the subject and decide!

What Is Tankless Or On Demand Water Heater?

First, let’s just start by identifying what a tankless water heater is and how in the world it delivers hot water  straight to your plumbing fixtures without storage tank. A cold water supply line goes into a tankless water heater unit. Every time you turn on the hot water, it travels through the lines straight to the unit. Then it gets in contact with a high powered burner (usually gas or electric) – and voila- you get hot water coming out of your faucet in just seconds. Sounds fantastic, isn’t it?

Main Advantages Of A Tankless Unit

So let’s name some of the main reasons why you SHOULD switch to a tankless water heater:

  1. They are more energy efficient.  It’s proven that tankless water heaters are on average 22% more efficient than regular storage tank water heaters. 
  2. They last longer. While a tank water heaters  are considered old after 10 years, lasting on average between 10 to 15 years – on demand water heaters will serve you at least 20 years.  The average life of a tankless unit is between 20-30 years.
  3. It saves you money. You can save up to $100 per year on your utility bills. Heating water is the second most expensive utility cost, so it’s pretty nice to cut a bit on those expenses.
  4. Size matters!  Chicago, like many big cities in America, has a large amount of small condos and townhouses. And so, in most condos, water heater is located in the closet, next to the furnace. In 90% of cases the space is so limited, that it’s extremely hard to service tank water heaters or to replace them. Tankless units are much smaller in size which makes it perfect for homes with limited spacing.
  5. It cannot flood your home. Unfortunately all water heaters break or die eventually – tank or tankless. And it can be pretty frustrating, because then you end up with no hot water for uncertain period of time. The scary part about tank water heaters is that they can crack and flood your home and even your neighbors (if you live in a condo for example). It won’t happen with tankless water heater  – simply because it doesn’t store any water.

What Are The Main Disadvantages?

While it all sounds good, let’s not forget about some of the disadvantages of tankless units.

First – it’s cost. While a regular tank water heater prices including installation vary somewhere from $1000-2500, depending on it’s capacity, tankless water heater can cost you twice more expensive on average between $2500-5000. 

Another thing, is that it’s nearly impossible to use more than one fixture simultaneously if your unit is not powerful enough. That means, for example, you cannot do your laundry while taking a shower. And it’s a big discomfort and one of the main reasons why some people are going back from tankless to  tank water heaters. Of course, there are models that can produce about 9 GPM (gallons per minute), but those can be very pricey. 

Is It Worth It?

To sum it up, do I think tankless water heaters are good? Yes. I think it is a good investment, which can save you money overtime. I do recommend it for smaller households, rather than big families. But do I think they are much more better, that the usual storage tank water heater? Frankly speaking, not really. If you get a good quality water heater and service it regularly, it will last you a long time and you won’t have any issues with it. Plus, now there are more efficient models on the storage tank units, that can help you cut on your utility bills as well.

If you are thinking to switch from tank to tankless water heater – feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your home.