Tank vs. Tankless: Is a Conventional Tank Water Heater or a Tankless System Better For You?

Tank vs. Tankless: Is a Conventional Tank Water Heater or a Tankless System Better For You?Most people enjoy warm showers and clean laundry, both of which require hot water. But once your old water heater stops working, should you replace it with a storage-tank water heater or a tankless model?

Both tank and tankless water heaters have pros and cons that must be considered first. Using this tank vs. tankless water heaters guide will help ensure that your decision is the right one.

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

Unlike a conventional water heater, a tankless water heater consistently delivers hot water to your home regardless of your consumption needs. Also known as “on-demand heaters,” tankless water heaters use high-powered, gas or electric burners to heat water within minutes by passing it through a heat exchanger.

That heated water is then delivered directly to your faucets, shower, or washer without being stored in a tank.

Gas-Powered Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters require one of these fuel sources: natural gas, propane gas, or electricity. If you want a gas-powered water heater, living near an existing natural gas line will result in an easier, less-expensive installation. Unless you already heat your house with propane gas, installing a propane-powered heater will require you to purchase and store the fuel on your own.

Electric-Powered Tankless Water Heaters

As the name implies, an electric tankless water heater uses your home’s electricity to power its heating system instead of natural gas or propane.

What Is a Tank Water Heater?

Still found in most American homes, a tank water heater has an insulated storage tank that typically holds 30 to 120 gallons of heated water. A pipe on top of the water tank transports hot water to your home’s faucets. Just like tankless water heaters, tank water heaters run on either electricity or natural gas.

How are “Traditional” Tank Storage Water Heaters Different?

A traditional tank water heater is less expensive to install and maintain than a tankless system, but it will use more energy. Typically found in a basement, laundry room, or garage, tank water heaters also take up a lot of space. On the positive side, they do have a longer lifespan and deliver a higher volume of heated water than tankless systems.

Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters vs. Tank Water Heaters

Here is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each water heater system:


Tank water heater 

  • Less expensive to install
  • Can heat a larger amount of water
  • Simple, inexpensive repairs

Tankless water heater

  • No floor space needed to install
  • More energy-efficient in the average home
  • Water heats up quickly


Tank water heater

  • Requires a lot of space
  • Shorter useful life
  • Higher utility bills due to constant water heating

Tankless water heater

  • Expensive to install and retrofit
  • Runs out of heated water more quickly
  • Requires more extensive upkeep and repairs

Operating Costs and Energy Savings

Although they cost a little more to install, natural gas tank water heaters use nearly 50 percent less energy than electric tank heaters. Compared to a tankless water heater, a tank water heater costs less to maintain, a benefit that may be offset by inferior energy efficiency. Depending on how much hot water is used each day, tankless water heaters are between eight and 34 percent more energy efficient than traditional tank storage models— resulting in lower monthly utility bills for the homeowner.

When your old system isn’t getting the job done, choosing the best water heater for your home or business can be challenging. At Northern Climate Control, we are a locally owned and operated HVAC company specializing in sales, installations, repairs, and maintenance for both tank and tankless water heater systems. Located in Littleton, we proudly serve residential and commercial customers in the entire Denver Metro Area. Contact us to request your free estimate today!