Ever wonder what the difference is between a gas water heater and an electric water heater? Tankless water heaters versus traditional water heaters? Let us fill you in on the details so you know which is the best choice for your home.
A water heater is a vital appliance in any home, especially if you like comfortable showers with enough water pressure and hot water that doesn’t run out before you finish. Have you ever tried to jump in the shower in the morning before a long day to find that your water just isn’t hot enough? It’s no fun! What about coming home from work to find that you’ve only got ice water to refresh you after a long day? No thanks!
So, water heaters are definitely our friends. But which one is right for you? Whether you're looking for a new water heater installation or want to know if what you’ve got makes the most sense, we’re going to take a look at the different types of water heaters and how they vary. That way, when it comes time for your next plumbing service, you’ll be ready for the job.
There are two main types of water heaters: electric, and gas. Between the two, there is a further option: do you want one with a tank that stores a quantity of hot water, or are you looking for one that heats your water as you go?
Let’s learn a bit about each option.
Gas Water Heaters
Gas water heaters run off of natural gas, and will typically recover hot water used faster than an electric heater. The initial cost of a gas water heater may be slightly more than an electric one due to the gas line installation; if you already have a gas line installed in your home, however, it can be a quick and affordable installation.
In addition, there are some high energy-efficiency options in gas water heaters on the market that simply aren’t available for electric water heaters, which will prove a higher level of overall efficiency.
On the downside, if your gas water heater is not a high energy-efficiency model, it will in fact increase energy consumption and produce more waste. This could be solved by simply insulating the unit as well. Furthermore, gas does pose some danger in the case of a gas line leak detection, which will result in an urgent gas line repair.
Electric Water Heaters
Depending on the unit and the amount of water you will be using, electric water heaters may be a good option for your home. Typically you will see a lower installation cost in an electric water heater and you won’t have to worry about a gas line installation or repair down the line.
Since electric water heaters are dependent on electricity, though, they will unfortunately not work if the power goes out. Further, over the lifespan of the heater, you may end up spending more in usage as electricity costs more than gas.
This will depend on how much water you need to use; electric water heaters have a slower recovery rate than gas water heaters, so if you have a large family and need to heat up large quantities of water, this may not be the best option and could cost you a lot more in the long-term.
Tankless Water Heaters
Aside from considering gas versus electric, you may want to consider whether or not a tankless water heater would be a better option for you.
Traditional water heaters store a set quantity of water and maintain its heat. This goes for both gas and electric water heaters. If you use more than what is stored in the tank, you’ll run out of hot water until the unit can recover.
A tankless water heater, however, will take the cold water and heat it as you need it, thus avoiding the inconvenience of running out of hot water. This also allows for energy efficiency in the sense that it won’t be holding the water at high temperatures, reducing energy output and potentially lowering costs and environmental impact.
Tankless water heaters are also excellent options for homes with small or limited space, as you won’t have to find a spot for the tank and your unit installation will be much smaller.
There are some disadvantages, however. As far as initial costs are concerned, tankless water heater installation will cost you more than traditional unit installation. Also, If you have a large family or want to run many hot water faucets or showers at the same time, you’ll need a larger unit, as a smaller one won’t likely be able to keep up with the demand. You’ll also have to wait a bit for the water to heat up, as it won’t be coming from a direct heated storage but rather an instant heating process. This doesn’t take too long, but there is a delay nonetheless.
Final Thoughts Overall, there are many things to consider here. As far as gas and electric water heaters go, take these things into account:
All of these factors will help you to decide which type of water heater unit is right for you. When considering whether or not to go tankless, consider:
After considering all of these factors, you should have a pretty good idea of which type of unit is right for you, or whether or not you should switch your current unit. If you’re looking to switch from a gas water heater to electric, the process is very straightforward. When switching from electric to gas, however, you’ll have to keep in mind the necessity of the gas line installation which can complicate the process and raise costs.
All in all, traditional gas and electric water heaters have a lifespan of about 12-13 years, whereas you’ll see a longer lifespan of around 20 years from a tankless water heater, be it gas or electric.
If you still need help in making the choice or talking it over with someone, reach out to us at New West Plumbing!