Okay, you’re sure that you need a new water heater. But one thing you’re not sure about is which type will be the best water heater for your Barrhaven home. A hot water tank or tankless? Which is the best water heater buying option?
To help you decide, we answer your questions about performance and costs for both tankless water heaters and hot water tanks.
How Do They Work?
Hot Water Tanks are 75 to 300-litre insulated metal tanks equipped with a heating element (most commonly natural gas or electric). As cold water from Ottawa’s municipal water supply enters the tank, it’s heated to the preset thermostat temperature — usually 50° Celsius. Once the water has reached the desired temperature, the system will continue to keep it hot.
Tankless Heaters are gas or electric-powered systems that heat water as it flows through a pipe. They are often called “on-demand” water heaters because the water is heated only when a hot water faucet is turned on and not stored for future use.
Unlike gas, electric tankless heaters are generally not powerful enough to supply hot water for the needs of your entire house. In Canada, small-volume electric tankless heaters tend to be found as “point-of-use” installations, supplementing a tankless gas heater.
Does Hot Water Run Out?
Hot Water Tanks
Yes, you can run out of hot water with a tank. Once the capacity has been used up, you’ll have to wait approximately 30-40 minutes for a gas hot water tank to heat up fully, or about twice that for an electric one. Avoid this problem by selecting the correct water heater size for your family when you buy a new water heater.
In a power outage, an electrically powered tank will keep the stored water hot for some time (especially if you turn off the tank’s water supply), but if the outage is a long one, eventually, you’ll run out of hot water. By contrast, a tank with a continuous gas pilot light will work normally.
Tankless Water Heater
No, you won’t run out of hot water with a tankless heater — you’ll have a constant supply. However, heated water “on demand” does not mean “unlimited.” Depending on your system, it will heat about 7.5-20 litres per minute. If you overtax its capacity (say, by trying to run a shower and your dishwasher at the same time), the water will come out cooler than you’d like.
In a power outage, an electric tankless heater will immediately stop providing hot water. Because most gas tankless heaters rely on an electric control panel, they won’t be able to heat water either.
A third option could be a Heat Pump Water Heater, also known as a Hybrid Water Heater. Learn about the pros and cons of a Hybrid Water Heater to see if it could be the right choice for you.
How Much Does It Cost To Install?
Tank water heaters tend to be less expensive to purchase and to install, particularly if you are replacing one of the same sizes.
The initial cost to buy a tankless water heater is likely to be higher. In addition, installation is more expensive and complex; when you switch to a tankless water heater, you might need a larger-diameter gas pipe or an upgraded electrical panel, for instance.
Which Is More Convenient?
That’s a tricky question. To answer accurately, let’s break it down :
Hot water supply. With a tankless hot water heater, everyone in your family can shower for as long as they want, with no fear of running out.
Speed of installation. When you need emergency water heater replacement in a hurry, you might prefer to install a new hot water tank. The process is likely to be faster and simpler.
Budget. Although a tankless water heater will end up saving you money over its lifespan, the upfront costs might be beyond your means right now. If your finances are tight, consider budget-friendly water heater rental. Learn about the difference between renting a water heater vs. buying.
Space. A 120-litre tank (the most popular size) takes up quite a bit of floor space, with approximate dimensions of 150 centimetres in height X 60 centimetres in diameter. If you live in a small house, a townhome, or a condo, you’ll appreciate the trim profile of a tankless water heater, which can be wall-mounted in a small space such as a closet. (IMPORTANT TO KNOW: A gas water heater will require venting.)
Which One Lasts Longer?
The age of your water heater matters! Tankless water heaters tend to last up to 20 years, up to twice as long as hot water tanks, which have a lifespan of about 10-12 years. Regular flushing of the system to remove mineral buildup will help both types to last longer and work more effectively.
For a tank water heater, you should also have an annual professional inspection of components such as the pressure relief valve and the heating element. The anode rod may also need to be replaced.
Which Is More Energy-Efficient?
Energy Canada reports that, on average, the cost of hot water is responsible for 15-25 percent of your total household energy bill, second only to heating your home! That’s why opting for an energy-efficient type, when it’s time to replace your water heater, can save you quite a nice chunk of change, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
Hot water tanks have a major drawback in terms of energy efficiency — standby heat loss, referring to the energy which is wasted by maintaining stored water at a high temperature when it is not being used. Standby loss is avoided when you own a tankless water heater, making it the more energy-efficient choice. Your ongoing savings on energy will reduce the total cost of ownership, making a tankless heater much more worthwhile than you might imagine.
It’s important to know you don’t have to completely sacrifice energy efficiency if you really want a hot water tank rather than a tankless type, however. Look for a model with low standby loss (the Canadian standard of water heater efficiency).
And with either type, look for Energy Star certification, as well as the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) indicated on the label. This is a standardized water heater efficiency rating system, implemented by the US Department of Energy since 2017.
Talk To The Ottawa Water Heater Experts
Before you make your final decision, talk to us at Hot Water Ottawa. Our expert team will help you weigh the pros and cons of hot water tanks vs tankless. Once you’ve made an informed decision, we’ll expertly install your new tank or tankless water heater for you.
If renting a water heater looks like the best way to go, we take care of that, too. The affordable monthly rental charge is conveniently added to your Enbridge bill.