Did you know that you can buy a water heater without a storage tank? They’re called tankless water heaters, and they might be the best solution for providing hot water to your home.

Tankless water heaters work by heating only the water you use, as you use it. They accomplish this with either an electric heating element or fuel-combustion burners. When you turn on the shower, cold water travels through the pipe until it reaches the water heater unit, and that unit heats the water as it flows through. The system has both benefits and disadvantages. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

PRO – They don’t make you wait for hot water (well, not for more than 30 seconds or so). You’ve been there. You’re in the middle of a long, hot shower when suddenly the water turns lukewarm, and then flat out cold. Then you’ve got to wait for your traditional water heater to catch up. That doesn’t happen with a tankless water heater, because the water is heated as you use it, so you can shower as long as you want to and the water will always be hot – with one important qualification…

CON – They’re not good at multitasking. While tankless water heaters can supply an endless flow of hot water, that flow is limited by the heater’s output. Most tankless water heaters can handle about two to five gallons a minute. So while you may be able to take an endless hot shower, you might not be able to run the dishwasher while you do it. Tankless water heaters sometimes struggle to handle the demands of a large household, which is why homes with large hot water demands will install a main tankless unit, and supplement it with one or more smaller, point-of-use tankless units.

CON – You’ll have to pony up the cash. Tankless water heaters are more expensive to buy and install than traditional water heaters. How much more expensive depends on your house, the model you choose, whether it’s gas or electric, and your water-heating needs.

PRO – They live to a ripe old age. Tankless units usually last significantly longer than traditional water heaters. While a traditional water heater tends to die after 10 to 15 years, tankless water heaters last, on average, 20 years.

Still not sure which type of water heater you need? Give Stack Heating & Cooling a call. We’ve been helping Northeast Ohio customers make these decisions since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about tankless water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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