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What Is An On Demand Water Heater?

Not all water heaters are created equal — is an on demand water heater the right choice for your home? That depends.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the market for a new water heater. Well, that, or you just really like residential plumbing. As you consider what the right water heater for your home is, you may be wondering if you should invest in an on demand water heater. This style of water heater is a relatively new innovation; if your old unit is ancient, you likely have a traditional conventional storage water heater. Should you buy a newer version of what you already have, or branch out and get an on demand water heater? We’ll help you decide by explaining the difference between the two, and weigh the pros and cons.

The Two Types Of Residential Water Heaters

Conventional Storage Water Heaters

Conventional storage water heaters are the workhorses of home water heating systems. They function with insulated tanks that can hold up to 80 gallons of water. This water is heated, then kept hot in the holding tank. When you turn on a hot tap at the kitchen sink, or start a steamy shower, the hot water travels from the storage tank through your home’s pipes, and to your faucet. Because the water is kept hot, and there’s plenty of it in storage, you won’t have to wait for it to come to temperature — and unless you’ve got a teenager or two in the house, you likely won’t “run out” of hot water with average use.

On Demand Water Heaters

In contrast, an on demand water heater does not contain a storage tank. This style is also called a tankless water heater because there is no place for hot water to be held before it’s needed. Instead, when hot water is required (say, you run the dishwasher), the water is heated to temperature and then brought through the plumbing system to the appliances and/or faucets.

Are On Demand Water Heaters Worth The Investment?

A tankless water heater will cost more up-front than a traditional or conventional storage unit. This is largely due to their smart technology and complexity. However, if the higher initial price point is in your budget, you may find an on demand water heater to be a smart long-term investment. Here’s why: Storage water heaters are constantly cycling on and off, to ensure that the water in the holding tank is always hot and ready to go. This happens even when you’re not using it, or are away from home for a period of time. But on demand water heaters only kick on when prompted, which means they use a lot less energy. In addition to being more environmentally-friendly, they can also result in a lower monthly energy bill.

Pros And Cons On Demand Water Heaters

While only you (and your plumber!) can determine which type of water heater is best for your family, here are a few helpful takeaways about tankless units:

  • PRO: They do not use unnecessary energy
  • PRO: They can save you money in the long term
  • CON: They cost more up-front
  • CON: They may not meet the volume of water use needs in your household

As you can see, there’s no easy answer as to which type of unit is ideal. But either way, this is an important purchase, and one that you will be living with for seasons to come (the average hot water heater can last 8-12 years!). Equally important in this decision is which brand of water heater you buy. Here at Blanton’s, we’re partial to Rinnai and Bradford White. Both brands make a variety of trustworthy units for all budgets. There are gas- and electric-powered options, economy units, and even ENERGY-STAR rated water heaters. It pays to do your research!

Before you make the investment, talk to your local plumber, and be sure to bring a list of your specific questions regarding on demand water heaters. Even though it’s an appliance you’ll rarely see, it is one of the most important and hardest-working tools in your home.

Contact Blanton’s Air at (910) 822-2866 for all your Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC HVAC and plumbing needs.

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