Tankless System versus Tanked System
Many consumers believe that your tanked-type water heater burns gas all day long whether you’re using hot water or not. Yes, these standard water heaters maintain a constant temperature all day long, but it’s not necessarily burning all day long to do it. The unit cycles on to get the water in the 50-gallon tank to a specified temperature. It then cycles off when the tank reaches the desired temperature. Good insulation helps maintain the heat. The tanked water heater acts much like the furnace in your home. Instead of running 24 hours a day seven days a week, the furnace cycles on and off as needed to keep your home at a constant temperature.
The drawback of a tanked water heater comes when all of the hot water is used. You need to wait over an hour to get more hot water. That works perfectly for smaller families or homeowners who have very little need for hot water each day, but can be a problem for families that use a lot of hot water.
A tankless heater, on the other hand, gives you an endless supply of hot water so you can fill your giant bathtub, wash dishes, do laundry, take showers and more.
Another comparison between a tanked-type water heater and a tankless system is the way it burns natural gas. Any appliance that burns natural gas consumes air. A standard water heater gets all of that air from whatever room in your home that it resides. In the winter time it burns about 40 cubic feet of air per hour. That means when the tank is being heated, 40 cubic feet of air is going up the flue. That air has to come back into the house from somewhere, including cracks in windows, doors, sidings and anywhere you feel a draft in your home.
A tankless water heater, on the other hand, uses a process called sealed combustion. Instead of pulling air from the home, a tankless water heater gets its fresh air directly from the outdoors. Plumbers install a pipe that goes from the outside straight into the unit. That means in the hottest parts of summer you avoid cooling down 40 cubic feet of hot air and in the depths of winter there’s no need to heat up the zero degree air being pulled through the cracks of your home. The sealed combustion process of a tankless water heater increases the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
Finally, a tank-type water heater requires yearly maintenance to stay in its best working condition. Sediment builds up in the tank over time, which decreases the water heater’s efficiency in two ways: first by reducing the water capacity in the tank so you run out of hot water faster, and second by requiring more energy to heat the water because the sediment is being heated as well. The water heater must be serviced yearly to drain the tank and remove the sediment in order to work at peak efficiency.
Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, require very little maintenance. They have fewer parts overall than tanked water heaters and, because there is no tank, there’s nowhere for sediment to build up and reduce efficiency.