A water heater is crucial to any homeowner that enjoys a hot shower or running warm water in their washing machine or dish washer.
But with so many options to choose from, such as gas vs. electric, conventional vs. tank-less etc, it may be hard to figure out what the best water heater is for you and your family’s needs. That’s why we’ll break down what types of water heaters there are, their pros and cons, and what type of water heater you’ll need in your particular situation.
5 Main Types of Water Heaters
There are 5 main types of water heaters that are used in a majority of homes to store and use hot water.
Conventional – Also referred to as a storage water heater, this is the most popular choice of water heater in homes today. Conventional water heaters work by heating and storing water until it is ready for you to use. They have a tank capacity of around 20-80 gallons depending on your needs. Conventional water heaters can be powered by either natural gas, fuel oil, electricity of other sources, but most tend to use either natural gas or electricity. Natural gas water heaters generally use less energy and cost less to operate than electrical water heaters, but they cost more initially at the time of purchase.
With conventional water heaters, you will need to have a hot water flush done to your unit once or twice a year to drain out sediment and other gunk that gets collected at the bottom of your unit after prolonged use.
Doing so will help extend the life of your unit and save you money in the long run.
Typical water heaters last 5-10 years depending on whether they have one or two anode rods which can also be replaced to extend the life of your heater. The anode rod is used to extend the life of your metal water heater by having the water degrade the rod instead of the metal of the tank.
Tankless Water Heater – Also known as on-demand water heater, this type of heater uses a surge of energy to heat coils and warm up water quickly when it is needed. This type of water heater is more energy-efficient than conventional water heaters, but they also have a greater initial cost.
This can be a great option for those who have a large family or need to use a large amount of hot water at one time (running two showers, and the washing machine simultaneously, for example.). Natural gas is best fitted to tank-less water waters, but if you go with an electrical option, it may require an upgrade to your electrical panel to power the heater.
This type of water heater also needs to be flushed at least once a year to extend it’s life, just as the conventional heaters do.
Heat Pump (hybrid) – Heat Pump water heaters are heaters that use the heat pump you may already have to heat your water. It works by sucking in hot air around the area you have it in and the ground and uses it to heat the water. Since heat pump water heaters use the hot air around it, it is best to have it in an area that in your home that has excess heat.
It is also good to note that heat pump water heaters don’t work well in very cold places, so you should plan according if you wanted to use this option.
Although heat pump water heaters have a high initial cost, they can be two to three times as energy-efficient than standard electric water heaters. That means you can save even more on your energy bill and in the long run, it may pay for itself with those savings.
Solar Water Heaters – This type of water heater uses the sun’s heat and converts it into a fluid that flows to the water tank and heats your water. Solar power water heaters will obviously work best in sunny regions, and work may not work at all when it is cloudy outside. If that is the case, the heater has a backup system that will activate to heat your water if the sun is not available.
Solar water heaters are one of the most expensive choices out there when it comes to heating your water, although it may seem attractive to get your water heated by the sun.
Because of this, it may take years for you to see actual savings after the initial cost of installing your solar panels.
Condensing – This form of water heating works well for people that heat their heaters with gas and need a capacity of over 55 gallons. It works similar to conventional heating, where there is a large tank involved with storing the water, but it captures hot exhaust gasses that would normally be lost through pipes or vents and uses them to heat the water in the tank.
There are coils at the base of the unit which these gasses are blown through and can be absorbed by incoming cold water to heat it.
There are many options out there when it comes to heating your water. To know which is best for you, think about your water uses and how many people there are in your family. Also think about if you want to have it powered by gas, electric of other methods as described in this article.
Again, all of these options have pros and cons, but if you want expert advice on which water heater you should use and you live in the Northern Virginia area, call the pros are 4 Service Pros to give you a helping hand with choosing your unit and installing it properly and safely. Find out more about our water heater services on our website.