What are the main differences between an instant hot water heater and a traditional unit?


Quick Answer

Traditional water heaters use a large tank to store preheated water, while instant or tankless systems heat water on demand. As of 2015, tankless systems cost significantly more to purchase.

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Full Answer

Traditional systems are sized by how much water a home typically uses. A family of five, for example, needs a larger tank than two people would need. In homes with multiple showers, running both while also running a dishwasher, for example, can cause the tank to become depleted quickly, and it might take hours for the tank to refill. As a result, homeowners often purchase large tanks to deal with periods of high hot water consumption.

Tankless systems can produce hot water on demand, but they can only produce a certain volume of water while running. As a result, using multiple hot water connections simultaneously can lead to insufficient heating. By staggering use of hot water, however, users can avoid cold showers as there is no tank to warm up. Tankless systems can also be installed in individual rooms, although the cost can be prohibitive in some cases.

Water in colder regions is typically colder than water in temperate and warm areas, which can tax tankless systems. When calculating how much hot water is needed, homeowners may need to determine if their systems can handle near-freezing temperatures.

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