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Cummings Plumbing on tank or tankless: Which hot water supply system is right for your home?

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Are you experiencing trouble with your existing hot water supply system? Or perhaps you’re building a new home and aren’t sure which type of system to install? Either way, you’ve come to the right place. The decision of which type of hot water supply system to install is an important one to make. The two main types of systems are tank-based and tankless. While they both result in the same thing (hot water), the method they use to achieve it is different and there are pros and cons to both.

Cummings Plumbing is a plumbing and HVAC company from Tucson, Arizona. They provide their insight into the debate between tank and tankless water systems, helping you decide which one is right for your home.

What is a tank water heater?

Tank water heaters increase the temperature of your water supply via one of two methods: electric or fuel. Fuel-powered water heaters are most often powered by either natural gas, oil, or propane. Cummings Plumbing claims that of the fuel-powered tank heaters, natural gas options are by far the most popular; however, oil-based water heaters are quite popular in some specific geographic areas in the United States. The primary role of a tank water heater is three-fold. First, its job is to heat up the water. Second, it must store the heated water until it is ready to be used and must maintain the hot temperature while doing so. Finally, the tank must filter out any potential byproducts that could get into the water, such as exhaust gases from natural gas units.

What is a tankless water heater?

In direct contrast to the tank water heater is the tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters heat water “on the fly,” completely eliminating the need to store and insulate water in a separate tank. This is ideal if you’re cramped for space or don’t like the aesthetic of a bulky heater in your home. Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, claims that their “on the fly” nature has led to tankless water heaters sometimes being referred to as instantaneous water heaters or demand water heaters. Rather than storing hot water for future use, tankless systems only provide hot water at the moment it is necessary. How tankless water heaters work is as follows: in a tankless water heater setup, cold water must flow through a heating element, such as a coil pipe, in order to warm up. Whenever someone turns on the hot water, for instance when they’re taking a shower, the cold water flows through the heating element and is warmed up, either by gas or electricity. On the flip side, when someone in your household turns the hot water tap off, cold water stops flowing through the heating element, leading hot water to stop coming out of the tap.

Pros and cons of tank versus tankless water heaters

Tank and tankless water heaters produce hot water quite differently. Given the major differences between these systems, there are pros and cons to be considered for both. According to Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling of Tucson, Arizona, in a contest for most reliable, tankless water heaters come out with the win. That is because tankless water heaters are better at delivering a steady temperature since the supply of water flowing through the heating element is constant. That said, if you’re looking for more water, or higher flow rates, a tank water heater is usually the way to go. The heating element in a tankless system restricts the flow of hot water to the tap, usually resulting in less water. By contrast, water flows freely from the tank, without any limits, when using a tank water heater system.

The cost of tank versus tankless water heaters

Another consideration when deciding whether to install a tank or tankless hot water system in your home is the cost. Tankless water heaters are usually more efficient in the long-run when it comes to both cost and energy usage. This is because tankless water heaters don’t have to constantly maintain the warm temperature of the water like tank-based systems do. Further, tankless systems can be installed at each water outlet, compared to tank systems which usually involve one tank in the home. This also saves more energy as the water doesn’t have to travel as far as it does with a hot water tank system. That said, Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling thinks it’s worth noting that while the long-term costs may be lower with a tankless system, the upfront installation costs will likely be higher. Before you make a decision, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional plumber in the area and get their opinion, as well as a quote on how much installation would cost for the hot water supply system you want. Remember that if long-term cost and energy efficiency are a priority, it’s always best to have your hot water system installed by a professional.

Which hot water supply system is right for your home?

As Cummings Plumbing sees it, tankless water heaters are generally the more popular option and in the long run, will save you money. However, they acknowledge that this doesn’t mean a tankless hot water supply system is necessarily the right one for your home. It really depends on the existing infrastructure. For example, if you’re renovating a home or building a home from scratch, the tankless option may be the better option. However, if you live in a home that already has a tank-based hot water supply system installed, then sticking with the existing system is likely to be the best option. That is because replacing a tank water heater can be very costly, so costly that the amount of time you’re paying for it can be longer than the warranty on the unit. Cummings Plumbing notes that especially for tank systems that have warranties of 12 to 15 years, it simply isn’t worth it to replace it and install a tankless system, from a financial point of view. Ultimately, only you can decide which hot water supply system is right for your home, but hopefully this article has helped provide some insight into how the two systems differ and what their main pros and cons are.


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