When should you choose a tankless water heater over a storage water heater? This is actually a fairly complex question with no simple answer that fits everybody. In general, if you have a working water heater, from a financial point of view it will seldom be worth it to replace that working system unless you place a high value on not running out of hot water or you want to make use of some of the other benefits of tankless hot water heaters. Of course, sooner or later that water heater will stop working, and then the economics suggest you will want to at least consider a tankless water heater.
Also, there are often rebates from your local utility company or tax incentives from the State or Federal Government which might significantly alter your financial decision. Make sure you check for these rebates with your utility company and governmental agencies.
If you are dealing with new construction or a substantial remodel, your decision can be made from a clean sheet of paper. In this case, consider the advantages and disadvantages. In many cases your analysis will come up favoring a tankless water heater.
If your existing water heater needs replacing, then you can consider all of the advantages and disadvantages in making your replacement decision. For example, in our house replacing the storage water heater with a centralized tankless water heater would be quite straightforward and a relatively low-cost option. Our existing water heater is gas, so all of the plumbing for both gas and water are right there. Replacing the storage water heater would simply require removing the existing water heater can mounting a tankless water heater to the wall and making simple plumbing connections. This is a simple and straightforward approach which would yield unlimited hot water but does not provide hot water to showers or faucets any more rapidly than the current storage solution. So here we would make a decision based on economics and on the value of having unlimited hot water. We could also choose to install multiple smaller units, which would solve the problem of making hot water more quickly available but which would increase to the installation cost.
Unless you have a high “honey do” quotient, you will most likely be involving a professional in the installation. So we suggest involving a professional in your decision to go tankless so that you can have a clear understanding of costs and work involved.
Things to consider when looking at a tankless water heater to replace a storage water heater:
- The tankless water heater cost
- The operating cost of the tankless water heater
- The cost of installation
- the cost of maintenance
- Potential energy cost savings
- Expected life of the water heater
- Water heating needs (flow rate)
- Flow capacity of new water heaters
Check out our recommended best tankless water heaters.