Tank-Style vs. Tankless Water Heaters

Should I Get a Tankless Water Heater?

Three to four times a month we get an inquiry at Brenneco Plumbing about “Should I get a tankless or a standard tank-style water heater?”  Of course the proverbial answer to that question is, “It depends”.  Both provide hot water for your needs, but they work differently. Depending on your home and personal water needs, one may be a better fit over the other.

tankless water heater installed

Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient and last a long time.

How Each Type of Water Heater Work​s

Tank-style water heaters work by heating the cold water that enters your home to the desired temperature and storing it until needed. They work 24/7, so you always have hot water waiting.

Tankless water heaters are much smaller because they do not hold water. Instead, the pipes that supply your water pass through the heater, and it heats the water passing through the tank instantly. When hot water is not needed, tankless water heaters are essentially in standby mode, not using any fuel or heating water.

Energy Efficient Choice

The primary selling point for tankless water heaters is that they are more energy efficient.  Because a tank-style heater runs constantly, it continuously uses energy. If you go out of town for a day or two and use no hot water, your tank-style unit still heats the water and uses energy.

Tankless heaters only turn on when water passes through them, so they use less energy overall. They do not use a constant supply of energy, but they use more energy minute for minute when they are operating.

Which is the best choice depends on how much water is needed daily.  For a household that uses 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, you will use 24% to 34% less energy with a tankless heater. (Two 10 minute showers will use approximately 40 gallons of water.)  Those who use more than 41 gallons daily, a tank-style heater comes out ahead.  But for homes that use less water, tankless styles save more energy.

There are other factors to take into account when comparing tankless and tank-style water heaters.  This includes ….

standard tank style water heater installed

Standard Tank-style water heaters are less expensive and require minimal maintenance.

Initial Purchase Costs

Tank-style water heaters typically are less expensive and require less time to install. Tankless water heaters typically cost more to install but have similar purchase costs. This can roughly double the overall initial cost of a tankless water heater.

Installation Costs

Tank-style heaters are easier to replace. It takes only minutes to position the heater in place and connect the water and fuel supply.  Tankless water heaters are often installed inside your walls.  This can entail relocating water and power lines and may involve repairing walls/flooring.

Maintenance and Repairs

Tank-style water heaters do not require any regular maintenance, whereas tankless water heaters require regular, yearly maintenance to make sure they work properly. There are many internal parts that need to be kept in good repair to ensure that the heaters run the way they should.

Tank-style water heaters are simple to repair and replace. They are easy-to-reach and have few parts that may need replacing. This makes repairs fairly inexpensive if something goes wrong. Tankless water heaters are more complex, which makes repairs or replacement more challenging and typically more time-consuming and expensive.


A tank-style water heater lasts on average between 10 and 12 years. This is because over time, corrosion from the constant water and mineral buildup wear away valves and the bottom of the tank.

Tankless water heaters can last up to 20 or 30 years with proper maintenance. Because they are not constantly subjected to standing water, they do not corrode or experience the same type of mineral buildup.

Brenneco Plumbing tankless water heatersWe Are Here to Answer Your Questions

Everyone needs hot water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. So choosing a water heater that works well for your family is important. Tank-style and tankless water heaters will both do the job for you. Which one will be the most cost effective over time is the real question.

If you want to discuss the pros and cons of each type, please give Brenneco Plumbing a call at 765-448-6190.  We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you make the best decision.