Tankless vs. Storage Tank Water Heaters – Which One to Buy?

hot water kitchen tap

Water heaters are an essential addition to your home. They make hot water accessible and life easier in cold seasons. There are two types of water heaters; tankless water heaters and storage tank water heaters. They’re both very effective, but they have their pros and cons, which you’d want to consider if you’re planning to buy one.

What Are Tankless Water Heaters?

tankless water heater on the wall

Tankless water heaters are water heaters without a storage tank. They don’t store up hot water. Instead, they provide hot water on demand. They are powered either by electricity or gas. Their method of operation is simple. When you turn on the hot water faucet, cold water flows through the heat exchanger and becomes hot. Hot water is available at the different water outlets connected to the tankless water heater.

What Are Storage Tank Water Heaters?

storage tank water heater

Storage tank water heaters have been around for decades. They’re the most commonly used water heaters, and you’ve most likely encountered them in some homes. Storage tank water heaters are very different from tankless water heaters. They store up hot water in a tank until it is needed. The storage tank can usually hold 30-50 gallons of water. The stored water is heated to a preset temperature and delivered when needed. Storage tank water heaters have a pipe at the top of the tank that distributes hot water to your kitchen and bathrooms when needed.

Like tankless water heaters, storage tank water heaters are powered by electricity or gas. The ones that use gas use about 50% less energy and are more expensive than those powered by electricity.

Tankless vs. Storage Tank Water Heaters

Tankless and storage tank water heaters have both weak and strong points. In choosing the water heater that is best for your home, there are some things you should consider. In this section, we’ll be relating the pros and cons of the two water heater types to specific scenarios:


Tankless water heaters cost a lot more than storage tank water heaters. Initial purchase and installation of an electric tankless water heater will cost you about $500 to $700, and a gas tankless water heater will cost about $1000 to $1200. If tankless water heaters fit within your budget and you’d want to get one for your home, check this tankless water heater cost guide for various models and their different prices.

Storage water heaters are cheaper than tankless water heaters. You can expect to pay $350 for an electric storage tank water heater and about $500 for a gas storage tank water heater. Storage water heaters are your best option if you’re trying to stay on budget.

Energy Efficiency

With every water heater, you want to think about how much energy is saved during the heating process. Tankless heaters are 22% more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters.

Storage tank water heaters take time to heat gallons of water and then store it for future use. During the heating process, they consume a lot of energy. They also have to reheat the stored water if it cools off after going unused for some time.
Tankless water heaters heat water quickly, so they consume less energy. If you’re going for the more energy-efficient water heater, a tankless water heater is your best bet.

Life Span

technician explains homeowner about water heaters
Image source: https://www.homedepot.com/

Tankless water heaters have a longer life span than storage tank water heaters. They can last more than 20 years. Storage tank water heaters only last for about 15 years. This means that you save money using a tankless water heater in the long run. You don’t have to bother repairing or replacing parts of your tankless water heater until after a reasonable period.
Hard water shortens the lifespan of both tankless and storage tank water heaters. It causes scale to build upon the heating element, increases the heating time, and causes energy waste. You can install water softeners to prevent damage from hard water.

Space Consumption

Storage tank water heaters take up a lot of space. The tanks are usually large and need a fair amount of square meters. A tankless water heater is typically small and does not consume much space. If you have a space problem at home, you should go for a tankless water heater. If your home has enough room to fit a storage tank water heater, then you are free to choose.

Family Size

Tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute. For a large family, this is very little. Also, if you are simultaneously doing different household activities like laundry and dishwashing, which consume a lot of water, the hot water produced by a tankless water heater might not be enough. Installing tankless water heaters for the different appliances is a solution but would cost you a lot.

Storage tank water heaters are better if you have a large family. The storage tanks come in different capacities (30-100 gallons), and you can get the one that fits your family size.

In Summary

Whether you decide to go for a storage tank water heater or a tankless water heater depends largely on your budget. If you can withstand the initial high amount of a tankless water heater, then you should go for one because, in the long run, you’d get to save more money on it. But if not, then you can get a storage tank water heater and still enjoy hot water in your home.