Think you need a tankless water heater? Let’s weigh the advantages and disadvantages before deciding.

And since we offer and install BOTH tankless and tank water heaters, we have no reason to convince you either way. We want you to have the kind that best fits YOUR specific needs.

Tankless water heaters: how to decide if better than tank water heater

Basic Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater

Let’s look at the basic advantages usually touted for going tankless. Then we’ll explore those in detail to see if they stand up in YOUR specific circumstances.

  • Energy efficient
  • Continuous, endless hot water water on demand
  • Small, compact size
  • Longer life span

Basic Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater

We’ll briefly touch on the primary disadvantages of a tankless heater over conventional tankless. But keep in mind, we can resolve most of the disadvantages with a few workarounds.

  • Initial cost is twice that of conventional tank water heater
  • Installation might require upgrading electrical and/or plumbing in older homes – increasing costs
  • Simultaneous hot showers and/or other simultaneous hot water demands not always possible because of flow rate challenges
  • During power outage, tankless water heaters cannot turn on (unless you have a battery backup system to power the unit’s electronics)
  • Second person showering immediately after first person often experiences a cold-water blast a minute or two into the shower.

Misconceptions About Tankless Water Heater:

“Instant” Hot Water? – Not Really

Yes, tankless water heaters instantly start whenever hot water is demanded anywhere in the home. However, water still must travel through water pipes to reach the destination demanding hot water. Depending on the location in the home, that can take time. That’s because the standing water in the pipes must be pushed through before hot water reaches its destination. You’ll be wasting water while waiting for the hot water to reach you.

Solution: Add a recirculation pump system that will supply instant hot water wherever needed in the home. Or we can install small point-of-service tankless water heaters near your shower or under the kitchen sink for instant hot water.

Tankless Still Needs Periodic Descaling

Some folks believe tankless does not require maintenance and that’s a misconception — especially since we live in an area with very hard tap water. You can read more about our area’s hard tap water and water treatment solutions here.

Mineral deposits build up quickly with our hard water tap water. A water heater is an investment so its wise to do whatever you can to maximize this investment, making it last as long as possible.

Whole-House Water Softener Treatment System Reduces Need to Flush Water Heaters and Extends its Life

We strongly recommend customers install a whole house water treatment system that reduces minerals before they can reach any water appliance. Find out more about water treatment system for the Fallbrook and surrounding area here.

Water heaters — both tank and tankless — are especially vulnerable to mineral deposits. These deposits will corrode water heaters and shorten their lives.

Tankless Water Heaters Need Flushing at Least Yearly

Even with a whole-house water treatment system, tankless water heaters still need to be flushed at least once a year. If you don’t have a water softener system that reduces minerals, you’ll need to flush it more often, at least twice yearly. We offer that service too.

Find out more about flushing a tankless water heater here.

This is a heat exchanger in a tankless water heater. The turquoise color is corrosion from mineral deposits. It had never been flushed so mineral scales built up and eventually corroded the heat exchanger so severely it began leaking.

Are Tankless Water Heaters Always Energy Efficient?

Since tankless water heaters only start up and heat water on demand, they typically use less energy. We say “typically” because it depends on how often your household requires hot water. If, for example, it’s just you and your spouse and you both work outside the home away most of the day, a tankless will most definitely use less energy. That’s because it literally doesn’t use energy until a hot water faucet is turned on. Conventional tank-style, by comparison, needs to keep hot water in its tank at the temperature you’ve set so it turns on and off throughout the day and night.

According to the department of energy:

For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water — around 86 gallons per day. 

U.S. Department of Energy

Disadvantage of Electric Whole-House Tankless Water Heater

On the other hand, if you have several folks at home demanding hot water throughout the day, a tankless water heater will lose some of its efficiency. That’s because a tankless requires a large amount of energy to just to start up each time hot water is demanded.

And if you were to install an electric tank water heater, energy efficiency will most likely be lost completely. In fact, according to a study of tankless water heaters published by the government’s energy department:

” electric tankless water heaters can potentially increase energy costs …”

Electric Tankless Energy Assessment – Energy Star.gov

Is Your Home’s Electrical Adequate for Whole-House Tankless?

Depending on the size and type of the tankless heater, your home could need an electrical retrofit. Most homes have electrical service between 100 and 150 amps. And that’s adequate for most natural gas or propane tankless water heaters. (Many older homes have less than 100 amps.) So check your current electrical system.

However, many whole-house electric tankless heaters require between 200 and 300 amps.

Bottom line: we don’t recommend whole-house electric tankless water heaters. (Unless, of course you have no other choice because of space and no ability to connect to natural gas or propane).

Do Tankless Heaters Always Supply Continuous, Endless Hot Water?

In theory, a tankless will continue to provide hot water for as long as it is demanded. However, there are a few caveats to that statement. So the short REAL answer to that is “it depends” on a few factors.

Depending on your specific needs and environment, these might be potential disadvantages of a tankless water heater.

Potential Disadvantages When a Tankless Water Heater May NOT Be Able to Continuously Supply Hot Water on Demand

These may not be disadvantages in your specific household. And if they are, we can offer solutions. We just want you to be aware of potential issues BEFORE you buy.

We’re here to help you choose the best hot water and plumbing solution for your specific needs and budget.

Here are the issues that may impact a tankless water heater’s ability to supply continuous, endless hot water on demand:

  • flow rate – if you need hot water simultaneously throughout your home, the flow rate may not be adequate to power up some tankless heaters. Think of showers, a dishwasher, a clothes washer demanding hot water at the same time. If you often need hot water simultaneously in your home, it might make sense to install two tankless units. Another option: install individual small point-of-use units where needed in the home.
  • second person taking a shower immediately after first person may suddenly experience cold water in the midst of taking a hot shower. That happens when the shower is located at a distance from the bathroom. Hot water remains in the water pipes initially for the second person but then it takes a few minutes for the hot water being heated in the tankless to get through the pipes for the second person. Find out more about the “cold water sandwich” issue — or why a tankless suddenly shuts off — in this article. One way around this is to install a hot water recirculation system. Recirculation pumps actually work better with tank-style water heaters, but they will also work with tankless.
  • electrical outage – in a power outage you will not have hot water, even if your tankless water heater is natural gas or propane. That’s because it contains electrical circuits. Here in Fallbrook, Vista, Oceanside and Temecula, we don’t often experience power outages. However, with utilities implementing rolling power outages during fire danger and excessive high temperatures, we may be experiencing them more often. If power outage is a concern, you can install battery backup system adequate to power the electrical circuits in a gas tankless water heater.

Potential Disadvantage of Endless Hot Water: Increased Water Usage

Yes, like most things that appear to be an advantage, in some circumstances “endless” hot water might become a disadvantage. If you have teenagers in your home who won’t get out of the shower until the hot water starts running out, you might find your water bill going up with a tankless water heater. And we live in a drought prone area where we’re constantly reminded to conserve water.

Find out More About Tankless vs Tank-Style Water Heaters

We share plumbing tips about a number of plumbing issues. And we especially like to educate customers about water heaters.

Here is another extensive article about the pros and cons of tank vs tankless water heaters.

And as our name implies, we’re the leading water heater experts. We sell and install both tank and tankless water heaters so we have no vested interested in one over the other.

Your satisfaction is in our best interest. We’ve maintained an all five star customer satisfaction rating and we intend to keep it that way.

So call us when you’re trying to decide whether tank or tankless makes more sense in your specific situation. We’ll ask you a few questions about your home, lifestyle, budget and give you our unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of one over the other.

Key Reasons to Call us:

  • Lowest price – we even beat big box companies
  • Highest quality – 10 year warranty on workmanship (products carry their own warranty)
  • Guarantee your satisfaction
  • Highest customer satisfaction rating – all five stars
  • Locally owned and operated – grew up in Fallbrook helping in dad’s plumbing business
  • Over 30 years plumbing experience
  • Never contract out work to unknown plumbers
  • Most affordable overall – read why we’re most affordable

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