Tank or Tankless: Water Heaters

When it comes to water heating for your home, you have two choices: traditional tank heaters and tankless heaters. Tank or tankless, each comes with its pros and cons when you consider costs, longevity, and performance.

Traditional Tank Water Heaters

More common in older homes, traditional tank heaters come in a range of sizes, usually holding between 30 and 60 gallons of hot water. These heaters rely on a perpetual heating source that is gas or electric-powered to keep the stored water at a specified temperature throughout the day and night. This way, hot water is always ready to use when someone bathes or washes dishes.

Costs and Longevity

Storage tanks occupy a large space in your home and typically last up to 10 years. They are inexpensive to install and easy to replace, coming in as cheap as $300 and reaching $1,000. There is minimal maintenance necessary to keep these appliances running, although repairs are not always possible if the tank fails, which can lead to significant water damage. Seven out of 10 tanks fail at the end of their lifespans by bursting or springing leaks and spilling several gallons of rusty water all over the basement floor.


Tanks run the risk of emptying under excessive hot water usage. This translates to waiting for the tank to refill and reheat the water, so you need to make sure the tank size is right for the size of your home and number of family members.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless heaters offer on-demand hot water using a gas or electric heat source. This means it heats water only when a hot water outlet like your shower calls for it, so there is no storage. As a result, tankless heaters are 24–34 percent more energy-efficient over a traditional tank in households using less than 41 gallons of hot water a day. Demand heaters are simpler to repair than their traditional counterparts and take up little space.

Costs and Longevity

Purchase and installation costs can run $1,000 up to $4,500 based on the brand and type. Demand heaters can last 20 years, even longer with basic upkeep and part replacement. The cost savings on your energy bill will compensate the upfront cost over eight years or so.


There are some drawbacks that your household must adjust to. If multiple hot showers occur within a tight time frame, the tankless heater’s output may not meet the demand efficiently. There is also what’s known as the “hot water sandwich” — hot water sitting in pipes between uses will cool, leading to an occurrence where hot water turns cold for a few seconds.

Comparing Benefits

The final decision on going with a tank or tankless water heater comes down to your needs. A tank heater is good for a quick and inexpensive solution when you might be low on funds or planning to move in the next few years. A tankless heater is great for longevity, repairs cost less, and the long-term energy savings are great.

Our team at ESCO Heating, AC, Plumbing & Electric is happy to help you select the best water heater solution for your home. Call 801-204-9444 or request an appointment online.