- Water heater type
- Heating source
- Water heater size
We’ll explain these 3 factors in more detail.
1) Water heater type: tank vs. tankless
There are 2 types of water heaters: storage tank and tankless
Storage tank water heaters heat and store water for when you need it.
Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, don’t store water—they heat water on demand as water passes through a heat exchanger.
If sized right, tankless water heaters can provide limitless hot water. They’re suitcase-sized and are perfect for homes that don’t have enough space for a larger storage water heater.
Which should you get? We’ve covered tank vs. tankless water heater in detail in this article.
But we’ll summarize: While tankless water heaters can provide limitless hot water, they can be 2 to 3 times more expensive to buy and install.
If you want limitless hot water and have the budget to accommodate the high upfront cost, tankless water heaters are for you.
If you just need a quick replacement and money is tight, then go for a storage tank water heater.
2) Heating source: gas vs. electric
Water heaters are usually fueled by either natural gas or electricity.
Gas is usually the go-to fuel source because it’s cheaper than electricity.
You can see annual heating costs of gas vs. electric water heaters using this Fuel Cost Comparison Calculator:
- Electric storage tank water heater: $593*
- Natural gas storage tank water heater $324*
That’s a $269 difference!
*Cost can vary depending on the rate for each fuel type.
However, if you don’t already have gas running to your home, installing a gas water heater will be more expensive, increasing its total lifetime cost. This could possibly tip things in favor of choosing an electric water heater.
3) Water heater size
To provide enough hot water to your family, you need the right water heater size
However, “size” means different things for storage tank and tankless water heaters.
For storage tank water heaters, size means how much water it can store in the tank (measured in gallons).
For tankless water heaters, size means how many gallons of hot water it can provide in a minute (GPM). This is called the “flow rate.”
Here are articles to help you find the water heater size you need:
- What Tank Water Heater Size Do I Need? [FAQ]
- Sizing a New Water Heater (energy.gov article with a section on sizing for tankless water heaters.)
Or you could just call a contractor to find the size for you.
You’ll have to get one to install it for you anyway, might as well have them help you find the size you need, too.
Need help finding the perfect water heater for your family? We are the plumbing contractor that Ashland, Framingham and Metro West residents can depend on.
Nicholson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning gladly serves the Framingham-area.