It's time to replace your water heater, but is tank or tankless better for you? It depends on many different factors, but in general, here are our recommendations:
TANK WATER HEATER
Choose this if you want something cheap and reliable, and your current tank water heater has served you well.
The default choice of water heater in the U.S. is the tank-style water heater. They work by heating water in a large storage tank so you have a supply of hot water ready when you need it. Don't want to take a cold shower? This is not the choice for you because it will take some time to reheat a new batch of water once it has run out. Tank water heaters have a lower upfront cost and need less maintenance, but they are also less efficient because they are always working to keep the water in the tank warm. Tank water heaters are fairly large, so you'll need space for one. The typical lifespan of a tank water heater is 10-15 years.
If you don't have natural gas, a tank-style water heater is the best choice for you. We do not recommend electric tankless water heaters for our upstate NY region. They cannot heat water quickly enough to be worth it.
TANKLESS WATER HEATER
Choose this if you want an endless supply of hot water and/or you want something smaller that takes up less space.
Tankless water heaters don’t have a storage tank for hot water. Instead, they only heat water when you need it which makes them the energy efficient choice. That’s why they’re sometimes called “on-demand” or “instantaneous” water heaters. This does come at a price, and their higher upfront cost scares consumers away. There are also maintenance costs that the manufacturers require to maintain the warranty. Typical service is every 6-12 months.
A tankless water heater never runs out of hot water. Now, don't go crazy, that doesn’t mean you can run 5 showers at once. Tankless water heaters are limited by flow rate. Tankless water heaters take up less space and last longer. The typical lifespan is up to 25 years.
Ultimately, the choice is yours and will largely be determined by your budget. But if you don't like cold showers or want to make a green decision, then a tankless on-demand hot water heater is the best for you!