Buying a New Water Heater: How to Choose between Tankless, Tank, and Indirect

As a homeowner, there are a lot of potentially high-cost factors that you need to consider from time to time including your energy and water usage. Water heaters can be an expensive upfront investment, but if you choose the right one for your dwelling and administer regular maintenance and repairs, you could also end up saving a lot of money in the long run. The key is deciding whether you need a tankless, tank, or indirect water heater for your home. This decision relies heavily on your budget, water usage, and above all, the infrastructure of your home. Keep reading to learn more.

What Are the Different Types of Water Heaters?

A high-end and durable water heater is a worthwhile investment for your home, but you need to make sure that you’re choosing the best one based on a number of factors. First and foremost, you need to consider your monthly water usage and how many people are living in your home. Simply put, the more people living in your home at any given time means that you’re most likely going to need a large capacity water heater for things like laundry, cooking, showering, watering your lawn, washing dishes, drinking, and more. Water is such an integral part of our daily lives that we often don’t realize how much of it we actually use until the water bill comes or it’s time to repair or replace our water heaters.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to compare and contrast between the three main types of domestic water heaters: tankless, tank, and indirect.

Drawing Comparisons between Tankless, Tank, and Indirect Water Heaters

If you’ve been researching the different types of water heaters and trying to determine which one is a good fit for your home’s infrastructure and the needs of your family, then this table contains a lot of useful information.

Water Heater Type
Tankless/On-Demand Water Heater Tank/Traditional Water Heater Indirect Water Heater
Cost Between $1,000-$2,800 (factor in installation costs and additional piping) Between $952-$2,098 (factor in cost of installation, materials, labour, required permits) $800-$1,500
Energy Efficiency Between 24-34% more efficient for households using 41 gallons of water or less; 8-14% more efficient for households using 86 gallons daily Depends on the type of energy being used (natural gas, propane, or electricity) the size of the tank, and daily water usage About 96% energy efficient if connected to a modern modulating/condensing boiler
Heating Time About 15 seconds About 30-40 minutes to heat water in the tank, but hot water delivery is instantaneous About 10-15 minutes, depending on what boiler system is being used
Water Usage Provides water at a rate of 2-5 gallons/minute Can store about 20-100+ gallons of water at a time Uses boiler or furnace to heat water
Repair Costs $150-$800 depending on type of repair About $50-$1,200+ depending on what needs to be repaired, parts, and labour About $250-$600, unless the tank develops a leak. In that case, the tank would be covered under warranty for life.
Available Sizes Electric: 10" high x 7" wide
Gas: 30"high x 20" wide
20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 gallons 30-100+ gallons depending on boiler, number of people, and water usage
Maintenance Frequency About once a year depending on regional water conditions and heating temperature Either every 6 months or once a year, depending on water hardness Less maintenance than direct water heaters because they have fewer parts
Average Lifespan About 20-30 years About 8-12 years About 15-20 years

How to Determine which Water Heater Is Best Suited for Your Needs

The first and most important step in choosing the appropriate water heater for your home or business is to schedule an onsite consultation with a fully trained, licensed, and experienced technician or HVAC installation company like MDM Mechanical. They can thoroughly inspect your current water heater, advise on any repairs or part replacements that need to be made, and recommend brand new top of the line water heaters that are perfectly suited for your needs and fit within your budget long-term.

A certified HVAC technician in your area will explain the differences between the different types of water heaters currently on the market, including the difference between indirect vs. tankless water heaters, potential energy saving between tankless vs. tank water heaters, installation and maintenance costs, and so much more.

The above table should only be referred to as a general guideline. Actual costs and energy efficiency ratings will vary depending on a number of factors including the number of people living in your domicile, water usage per person, as well as the size, make, model, and energy source of each water heater.

What Is the Best Water Heater for Domestic and Commercial Use?

With so many different models on the market today, selecting the right water heater for your home or business can be tricky. As mentioned, a number of important mitigating factors need to be taken into serious consideration. These factors will inevitably determine the type of water heater you need.

Unfortunately, what you need doesn’t always perfectly coincide with what you can afford, which is why it may be necessary to crunch some serious numbers or adjust your overall water usage practices.

For example, depending on the brand, size, storage capacity, and energy source, indirect water heater installation can cost anywhere from a minimum of $400 to $6,000 or more.

Commercial enterprises inevitably spend more on water heating and energy than a single household ever will, so water storage capacity and heating time also need to be taken into consideration. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of tank vs. tankless water heaters can be useful.

Simply put, if you need hot water instantaneously, then you’re probably better off purchasing a standard tank water heater. But if energy efficiency and lower long-term costs and maintenance are your game, then you’re better off choosing a tankless water heater.

For more detailed information and assistance with choosing the right water heater for your property, contact the experts at MDM Mechanical. Our comprehensive services include onsite consultations, installation, routine maintenance, and extensive repairs. Give us a call today!

About Michael Mead

Michael Mead was born and raised in London, Ontario. He spent 5 years in Calgary, Alberta – and furthered his education in Natural Gas. If Michael isn’t working, he is at home with his son and wife or cooking for a large group of family and friends. Michael is extremely passionate about his business, and is constantly looking for ways to better himself as an employer.

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