Whether you’re looking for a conventional, tankless, solar, heat pump, or condensing water heater, it’s good to learn as much as you can about them. Read about the benefits and potential drawbacks of each one, so you can make an informed decision.
1. Conventional Storage Tank Water Heater
This type of tank is the most traditional and popular. It features a tank that holds water to be heated–meaning, the capacity of the tank determines how much hot water at once you have available. The tank is insulated, so when the water heats up, it stays warm until it is needed. Many family homes have conventional storage-tank water heaters, but the amount of water this type of tank can hold is limited.
Because we have hard water here in Utah, mineral deposits can build up in your water heater and lead to the tank rusting from the inside out. A water heater flush is recommended yearly to help remove mineral scale, sediment and help reduce corrosion. A conventional storage-tank water heater is the most affordable of all types of water heaters and is easy to install.
Conventional storage-tank water heaters typically last 8 – 12 years. If maintained well, they may last longer.
2. Tankless Water Heater (On-Demand Water Heater)
A tankless water heater offers nearly endless hot water for your home; instead of a tank, super-heated coils fill with water and heat it quickly, hence the “on-demand” aspect. This type of water heater is perfect for large families. The tankless water heater comes in different sizes, if you are unsure of what size is right for your home, give our friendly plumbing technicians a call. Natural gas-heated homes work well with this type of water heater. However, if you have a large tankless water heater that runs on electricity, you may need to increase the electrical capacity in your home, which could increase costs.
Once a year, it’s good to maintain this type of water heater to remove any mineral scale and avoid corrosion. A maintained tankless water heater can be expected to last for around 20 years. They are quite energy-efficient because they only heat water when needed, instead of having to maintain the temperature of water in a tank.
3. Heat Pump Water Heater (Hybrid Water Heater)
This hybrid water heater doesn’t directly generate heat but is unique because it uses heat in the air and the ground to heat water. This type of water heater can use upwards of 60 percent less electricity than your more traditional water heaters. A vertical clearance of up to eight feet may be necessary for hybrid water heaters since the pump is at the top. Routine maintenance is recommended to avoid early failure.
Heat pump water heaters are also energy efficient, helping to reduce energy costs in the long run. However, if your water heater will be placed in a cold space, such as a basement or in excessively cold climates for long periods, this type of water heater may not work well since it pulls heat from the ground or surrounding air.
4. Solar Powered Water Heater
This water heater draws its energy from the sun, which is excellent if you have solar panels. Because it uses the sun, it’s the most energy-efficient water heater on the market. It counts on roof-mounted solar panels for its energy source. This works great in warm, sunny climates. It does, however, require a backup plan (natural gas or electricity) so it can still run on cloudy days.
Energy.gov suggests that solar water heaters’ “plumbing and other conventional water heating components require the same maintenance as conventional systems.” Environmentally friendly, these heaters are quite energy efficient. However, they are also more expensive than other options and not ideal in cold, cloudy climates.
5. Condensing Water Heater
For a home with natural gas, a condensing water heater may be a great option. It funnels heated exhaust from natural gas, using it to heat the water in a tank. Little energy is used, but because it is a tank-style water heater, you’ll need to get one big enough for your family.
A condensing water heater tank should be cleaned annually. It is a large tank, so it works best for families that need at least a 55-gallon capacity.