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Water Heater Replacement: Traditional or Tankless

By Todd Levinson Published 09/10/2009 | Home Improvement

One household appliance that can really change how your living dynamic works in a home is your water heater. An inadequate supply of hot water in your home can change a comfortable existence to a frustrating challenge of scheduling, especially if you have teen aged children living at home.

There are two basic options if you are either looking to put a water heater into a brand new home or replace an existing water heating system; there is the traditional storage water heater is the type that we're all most familiar with in North America, while the tank less heater is more prevalent in other places.

The traditional water heater is the type that most of us have in our homes; it is the large tank-style monstrosity sitting in our storage rooms, laundry rooms, garage, or basements. It is cheaper initially to install a storage water heater because they are more readily available and plumbers, electricians, or gas installation technicians are more familiar with the installation of the traditional water heater. The traditional type of water heater can run on electricity, natural gas, or propane.

The downside to a storage water heater is, unfortunately, that in the long run it is more expensive to heat your water this way; the cold water fills the tank, is heated, and then sits in the tank waiting to be used. These tanks are a lot more energy efficient now that the standards are higher and they are much more insulated than they were in years gone by.

In contrast to the storage water heater is the on-demand or tank less water heater; this heater runs on electricity, natural gas, or propane, though the electric versions are less common. The tank less water heater can be installed in new homes or renovations. Whereas a storage water heater is almost exclusively found as a single unit in a home, tank less heaters can be used in a variety of configurations; while some families use them as a stand-alone unit (just like a storage water heater), they can also be used in conjunction with a point-of-use tank less heater in the bathroom for showering as well, particularly if the bathroom is far from where the main unit is located.

The main benefits of a tank less water heater is that it delivers hot water almost instantly, it doesn't run out of hot water because it makes it as you need it, and it is cheaper to operate than a storage water heater is.

The drawback to a tank less heater is mostly just the cost; the cost increases, of course, if you're installing more than one unit. However, if you're looking for savings in the long run, this is definitely an option you should look into, particularly if you have teenagers!

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