Ultimate Water Heater Review: Tankless vs Tank-style vs Hybrid
There are several types of water heaters on the market and understanding which one is right for you and your home is key to not only getting hot water, but also getting the most out of your water heater.
Each type of water heater can cater to different needs and sifting through all the specs of which is “best” for you can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air are trained and certified with some of the top water heater manufacturers on the market. Since 2007, we’ve helped thousands of clients across the Los Angeles area with their water heater needs including helping them decide which water heater is right for them. Now, it’s your turn!
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which water heater is the right choice for you and your home.
Tank-style, Tankless, Hybrid: Who’s the Best of the Best?
Tank-style, tankless, and hybrid water heaters are the main event when it comes to water heaters on the market. But which one is the right choice for you and your home?
When searching for the right water heater for your home, you want to cater to your specific needs right? Luckily for you, there is a water heater for every homeowner and we have compiled lists of pros and cons of each type of water heater on the market so that you can make the best choice for you and your home.
Pros and Cons of Tank-Style Water Heaters
A tank-style water heater is (also known as a traditional water heater, standard water heater, or conventional water heater) a traditional water heater that is found in most homes and is used to heat the water used in your home. It’s typically a large cylinder that holds between 30-to-100 gallons of water, with the most common size for homes usually holding about 50 gallons of water.
Some of the pros of a tank-style water heater are:
- User friendly
Tank-style water heaters are cheaper than tankless water heaters upfront. According to our subject matter expert, tank-style water heaters can range anywhere from $1900 to $3300. Additionally, if the water heater breaks or if you need to replace it, repairs and replacements can also be cheaper initially.
Tank-style water heaters can be more D-I-Y as it has limited parts so it’s easier to do repairs or replacements. This style of water heater has also been around for years, so there are tons of resources on how to perform repairs or replacements.
Lastly, since it’s not such a complex machine and is more easily accessible, you don’t have to have extensive knowledge of how it works. While they are D-I-Y friendly, we still recommend you consult your local plumbers before doing any repairs or replacements.
With tank-style water heaters, water users have more leniency when it comes to maintenance. While maintenance is still needed for a tank-style water heater, you can most likely get away with not doing maintenance for over a year without running into any problems.
With the highs, come the lows and with tank-style water heaters, some of the cons are:
- Space Needed
- Time needed to fill the tank
- Shorter Warranty Timeframes
- Fewer rebates
With tank-style water heaters, they’re big and bulky which certainly takes up space in smaller homes. So if you’re tight on space, you certainly want to consider if you have enough room for a tank-style water heater.
Most tank-style water heaters are found either in the closet, laundry room, garage, or shed in the backyard.
Time Needed to Fill Tank
With the tank-style water heater, water users also run out of hot water a lot faster. If your tank runs out of hot water, you'll need to wait for that hot water to replenish, which can take over an hour.
Shorter Warranty Timeframes
Tank-style water heaters tend to break down faster than tankless water heaters. Most tank-style water heaters have a life expectancy of around 10 years, with most manufacturers offering up to 6-year warranties.
Additionally, there are usually no rebates (or money back) for using a tank-style water heater. So if you were looking to possibly cash in on having a tank-style water heater, look away.
Pros and Cons Of Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater is a device that heats your water without the bulkiness of a tank. Unlike a tank-style water heater that is storing the water inside the tank, a tankless has nowhere to store it.
Some of the pros of having a tankless water heater are:
- Space needed
- Life expectancy
- Gas costs
One of the biggest pros of having a tankless water heater is that it’s much smaller than a tank-style water heater and can help open up a space if you need it.
A tankless water heater is going to last twice as long as a tank-style water heater with the proper maintenance. If installed properly and taken care of, a tankless unit can last anywhere between 20-to-25 years.
As a tankless water heater owner, you will not be spending nearly as much on gas. The reasoning behind this is that it’s only heating water as you need it, whereas a tank-style water heater will constantly be heating water that's in that tank for whenever you do need it.
If you have a tank-style water heater and are looking to go tankless, there are rebates in Southern California for qualifying tankless water heater models, including the federal tax credit. Check out this article here as we dive into the rebates offered in Southern California for tankless water heaters.
Some of the cons of having a tankless water heater include:
- Larger homes
- Yearly maintenance
- Hard water issues
Tankless water heaters have a higher upfront cost compared to tank-style water heaters. While tank-style water heaters can cost $1900-$3300, tankless water heaters can cost anywhere from $4800-$7500, including installation. While the upfront cost of a tankless water heater is higher, the warranties and life expectancy of a tankless water heater can save you money in the long run.
While most tankless water heaters have no problem keeping up with hot water demands, the larger your home is, the larger the demand. If you live in a large home or business, you may need to install more than one tankless water heater to make sure you'll always have endless hot water.
With a tankless water heater, yearly maintenance is highly recommended for homes that have hard water. While yearly maintenance is recommended to keep a tankless water heater running smoothly, you can have a trained tankless specialist perform your cleaning or even do it yourself.
Hard Water Issues
Lastly, hard water is not a fan of the tankless water heater, so if you don’t have water filtration installed on your tankless water heater, it can very likely cause early breakdowns or a leak.
Because water is heated up through the heat exchanger, hard water will create scale build-up inside of your tankless water heater, which can cause your tankless water heater to work harder to heat your hot water and shorten the lifespan of your tankless water heater.
Check out this article here to learn more about hard water and its effects on the fixtures in your home.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Water Heaters
Hybrid water heaters, also known as hybrid heat pump water heaters or heat pump water heaters, are tank-style water heaters that use electricity to heat the water coming into your home.
Some of the pros of having a hybrid water heater are:
- Saving Money on Energy Bills
- Customizable usage
- Environmentally friendly
Saving Money on Energy Bills
Heat pump water heaters are extremely energy efficient as they use about 3x less energy than an electric tankless water heater does. This is saying something, as electric tankless water heaters are considered highly efficient options. Having a hybrid water heater can help you cut costs on energy bills.
Additionally, every single hybrid water heater runs exclusively on electricity. None of them use natural gas or propane to heat water. Meaning that homeowners who use gas-powered heaters will see even bigger savings on their energy bills if they decide to switch to hybrid water heaters, as natural gas is typically a more expensive fuel source than electricity.
Most hybrid water heaters have a control panel that allows you to choose between a useful selection of different heating modes such as auto, electric, and sleep when you are away on vacation.
Unless you consistently use the electric mode, your hybrid water heater will use less energy than the gas-powered and traditional electric tank-style models. Because of this, hybrid water heaters have less of an impact on fossil fuel emissions than other water heaters.
Not every aspect of the hybrid water heater is outstanding. Some of the cons of having a hybrid water heater include:
- Higher upfront costs
- Inefficient in Colder Temperatures
- Loss of space
- More maintenance
Higher Upfront Costs
Much like tankless water heaters, the initial cost of a hybrid water heater is higher compared to a tank-style water heater. While the average tank-style water heater can cost anywhere from $1900-$3300, the average hybrid water heater can start at $1,200, and they can go as high as $2,500 or more.
Inefficient in Colder Temperatures
Hybrid water heaters pull in hot air from their surroundings. This design aspect means that they won't operate well in colder climates.
It is generally recommended that your hybrid water heater be placed in an area where it is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 40 degrees and the water heater won't function properly.
Loss of Space
Hybrid water heaters need at least 1,000 cubic feet to function. Anything less than 1,000 cubic feet of air around the water heater, and there won’t be enough air for the heater to function.
Unfortunately, hybrid water heaters require more maintenance than tank-style water heaters since they're a bit more complicated. On top of the typical draining service required by most water heaters, hybrid water heater filters need to be cleaned about every two to three months. They also have a heat pump, which will require service as well.
While you can drain a hybrid water heater yourself, we recommend that you call a certified technician to perform maintenance on your unit.
Hybrid, Tankless, Tank-Style: Which One is Right For You?
Water heaters are essential if you are trying to get hot water in your home but finding the right one for your home can be overwhelming. Tank-style, tankless, and hybrid water heaters all have their pros and cons but which one fits your needs best is up to you to decide.
Want to continue your water heater knowledge? Check out the three articles below as we dive into the price breakdowns of hybrid, tank-style, and tankless water heaters to better understand which is the right fit for you.
We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air want to help you make the best decision for you and your home. If you live in the Los Angeles area and are ready to purchase either a tankless, tank-style, or hybrid water heater, click the ‘Book’ button below. Or if you have any other questions regarding your water heater needs, call us at 310-853-8690, and one of our call center representatives would be happy to help you.