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The second highest utility cost in homes is heating water, so it’s no surprise that tankless water heater installations are becoming more popular than traditional storage tank heaters due to their energy efficiency. Homeowners interested in having hot water on demand, while saving energy and space with their investment, should consider upgrading their old storage tank unit to a tankless one.

All Aloha Plumbing, your go-to O’ahu plumbers, want to help you make an informed decision about which type of water heater is right for you and your household. Keep reading to learn about the basics, benefits and drawbacks of each type of water heating system.

How Does A Tankless Water Heater Work?

On-demand water heaters, commonly referred to as tankless heaters, do not store water in a large tank, as their more common alternative does. They are wall-mounted units that use a heat exchanger to quickly heat water as it passes through the unit and bring it to the desired temperature.

Tankless units use natural gas, electricity or propane to heat the water only when you need it, rather than working to constantly keep a full tank of warm water. This allows them to be fairly small and fit in tighter spaces. Each model varies in size but they are usually around two feet tall and one foot wide.

Advantages of Going Tankless

  • Higher energy efficiency because they eliminate standby energy use, reducing utility bills
  • Saves space due to compact size and wall-mount setup
  • Has a life expectancy of 20 years, twice the life of traditional units
  • Heats a constant stream of water, so there is little wait time for hot water
  • Holds little water, so safety threats like overheating, explosion or leaks, are less likely

Disadvantages of Going Tankless

  • The upfront and installation prices are typically more expensive (but this is countered by the energy bill savings and extended lifespan)
  • Low energy efficiency in homes that do not have a gas line; electricity bills can rise with electric tankless models
  • Will struggle to meet multiple demands in large households. Homes that must use a shower, washing machine and dishwasher at the same time may need more than one tankless heater to experience all the benefits.

Traditional Tank Water Heaters

The most common water heaters used by homeowners and renters have a storage tank. The size of the tank can range from 20 to 80 gallons, depending on the household’s size and water demand, and are about five feet tall and at least two feet wide.

These tank heaters are filled with water and use the home’s fuel source (gas, electricity, propane, etc.) to heat the water and keep it warm. As hot water is used and drawn from the heater’s tank, it is filled from the bottom with cold water (that is then heated) in an effort to always keep hot water at the ready, even if it isn’t used right away.

Advantages of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Lowest initial purchase price out of all types of water heaters
  • Simple and easy to install
  • Can supply hot water to multiple sources at once
  • Has no pumps or fans that will wear out over time

Disadvantages of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Less efficient with energy use, because it is working to keep a full tank of water warm 24/7
  • Standby heat loss increases as the unit ages, making even the cheapest models expensive to operate and maintain over time
  • Takes up a lot of space — not an issue for homes with attics, but those without usually need a storage closet

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

The best way to make sure your tankless heating system lasts 20 years, or longer, is to have the heater maintained at least once each year. Especially if you live in an area with hard water, minerals will collect within the unit and impact its efficiency.

During routine tune-ups, professionals will flush the system and clean the water filter, air filter and tank to remove any mineral buildup that can damage the heat exchanger and other components.

O’ahu’s Plumbing Experts

If you still aren’t sure which water heating system is best for your home and family, call us! We can work together to figure out which custom solution fits your needs and get started on the job right away. 

Our team of trained technicians, at All Aloha Plumbing, strives to provide O’ahu residents with the best plumbing services available on the island 24/7, including tankless water heater installation and repairs. Contact us today to learn more about our water heater options, specials and other service areas that will exceed your expectations.

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