We at Expert Plumbing are a family-owned, local Santa Cruz business with over a quarter-century of experience. We install water heaters of various brands and models and can assist you in finding the water heater that best fits your needs and budget. Below, we give an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of water heaters to help you to make an informed decision.
The least expensive type of hot water heater to install is the traditional tanked heater, which comes in propane, natural gas, and electric sub-types. The drawback is that these models can become inefficient as they age and sometimes account for as much as 30% of home energy expenses.
Repairs are more frequent with these models, including: cleaning out lime-scale buildup, dealing with thermostat troubles, and replacing old or rusty parts. For all their limitations, however, traditional water heaters are very popular because of their low initial cost.
Power-vent water heaters are traditional in every way but one- they add a ventilation fan that eliminates reliance on the “natural draft system.” This fan creates several benefits:
The cost of installing the vent can be a major drawback in homes without pre-existing chimneys, but other homes are so tightly built that it is difficult to vent the water heater at all without a fan.
Tankless models allow quick, unlimited access to a steady stream of hot water. There is no danger of a shower suddenly going cold, and there is also no tank to gather lime and rust.
Tankless water heater installation costs more than traditional, but they also cost less to operate. Being built to higher standards, they seldom need a repair and last an extra 10 to 15 years. They are about the size of a small suitcase and can be conveniently installed on almost any inside or outside wall, saving valuable floor space.
Opting for tankless water heater installation will give fast access to hot water but not technically “instant” access. For this benefit, an instant hot water unit must be installed along with the tankless heater.
Condensing water heaters are 97% efficient and boast the lowest operating costs of any model. Their stainless steel tanks also minimize maintenance and repair needs. In fact, these water heaters will usually last as long as the house they are in. The drawback is the high installation expense. Tax credits, however, are often available to offset the cost.
Hybrid models typically let you choose among many settings, most notably “heat pump” and “electric.” When on heat pump mode, energy usage drops by as much as two thirds. Heat pumps absorb hot air and transfer the heat to the water to attain this exceptional efficiency. Hybrids also install easily since they use existing connections.
Active solar-powered water heaters use solar panels to generate non-electrical heat. Passive solar water heaters, on the other hand, simply utilize sun-powered convection currents to heat and circulate water. These models are considered the most environmentally friendly.