There was a time when there was only one kind of water heater. Every water heater company made more or less the same products. That time has passed — there are now multiple water heater types, and knowing which to buy can be complicated.

In this article, I’m going to help you to understand the difference between the two main types of water heaters so that you can know what to purchase when the rims comes.

Though there are more than two kinds of water heaters, most people use either traditional water heaters or tankless water heaters.

Traditional heaters are, as you would expect, the ones that everyone used to use. Tankless water heaters are the result of newer technology, and they are a little counter-intuitive for some people. They can, however, save both space and money in the long run, and so it is good to consider them.

What Is A Traditional Water Heater?

A traditional water heater is the kind of heater we are all used to seeing. It comprises a large tank, which fills with tap water, and some kind of heating element, which heats the water to a set temperature. As the now-hot water is used, the tank refills and is heated again. This provides hot water for some amount of volume; however it is possible to use all of the hot water in the tank and then have to wait for the tank to re-heat in order to have more hot water.

The principle behind these heaters is simple, and quite effective. But there are a few drawbacks. First, as we have already said, it is possible to run out of the water in the heated tank. This means cold showers (or else waiting for the water to heat, which can take some time). Large families have for years had to learn how to conserve water during showers (or time them so that they aren’t concurrent) in order to not run out.

The other main drawback is that this system heats water constantly. Whether the water is being used or not — whether you are taking a shower or on vacation — the water in the tank is being constantly heated so that it is up to temperature. This means that you are spending a lot of energy, and thus money on your electric bill.

What Is A Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater responds to these two drawbacks. It has no tank at all. It simply heats tap water to temperature as the water passes through it. It only, however, does so when there is a demand for the hot water.

This means that 1. hot water will never run out and 2. the water heater is only used when it is needed. This saves money on your electric bill.

While switching to a tankless system can be costly, it can save you money in the long run depending on your usage needs. It is worth sitting down with an experienced plumber to discuss this option if you are considering getting a new water heater or if you are planning a renovation or new construction.