Find The Best Water Heater For Your Needs With Ultimate Plumbing

Having hot water available at the turn of a faucet makes life so much easier. But when your water heater stops working properly, it quickly becomes a major inconvenience. Understanding the different types of water heaters can help you choose the right one for your home. 

The experts at Ultimate Plumbing in Mooresville, NC, are here 24/7 for water heaters across the Lake Norman area. Call (704) 892-5843 anytime to meet our water heater technicians.

What Are Water Heaters?

A water heater provides hot water for household needs like bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry. It works by heating cold water from your home’s plumbing system into a storage tank for on-demand use. As you use hot water, the tank refills with more cold water and reheats it.

Water heaters run on various fuel sources. The most common options are electric, natural gas, propane, and oil. All water heaters have a storage tank, heating mechanism, and controls. They differ in how they generate and store heat.

Types of Water Heaters

There are three main types of water heaters:

  • Conventional Storage Tank
  • Tankless
  • Hybrid

Storage tank water heaters are the most common. They provide hot water from a large insulated tank that continuously keeps it hot. Tankless water heaters heat water only as needed, so they don’t have a storage tank. Hybrids combine aspects of both tank and tankless models.

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters

This traditional style has an insulated tank that keeps 30 to 50 gallons of water hot and ready for use. Cold water enters the bottom of the tank. A gas burner or electric heating element heats it. The hot water rises to the top of the tank for delivery through hot water lines.

The main types of conventional storage tank water heaters include:

  • Electric: Electric heating elements controlled by thermostats heat the water. Electric models are relatively affordable to purchase but can have higher operating costs.
  • Gas: A gas burner at the bottom of the tank heats the water. Gas models provide hot water at a lower operating cost but have a higher upfront cost. Natural gas and propane models are available.
  • Oil: An oil burner heats the water in the tank. Oil water heaters have high upfront and operating costs but work well where natural gas lines don’t exist.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, also called on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, don’t store hot water. They heat it only as you need it. Copper heat exchanger coils inside the unit heat cold water from your home’s plumbing as it flows through the system. A gas burner or electric heating elements provide the heat source.

The main tankless water heater types are:

  • Gas Tankless: Natural gas quickly heats the water as it flows through the coils. This option provides an endless supply of hot water.
  • Electric Tankless: Heating elements instantly heat the water flow. Consider a whole-house electric model only if you have a three-phase electrical service.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters combine storage tank and tankless technologies. A standard storage tank offers a readily available hot water supply. An electric heating coil or secondary heat pump provides additional heating as needed. Hybrids provide greater energy efficiency than conventional tank models.

The main hybrid types include:

  • Heat Pump Water Heater: An air-source heat pump pulls heat from the surrounding air to help heat the tank. This makes them two to three times more energy efficient than standard electric tank water heaters.
  • Tank-Tankless Hybrid: A small storage tank connects to an on-demand tankless unit. The tank provides immediate hot water while the tankless heats more as needed.

Types of Water Heaters Compared

When choosing a new water heater, consider how the main types compare:

  • Hot Water Supply: Conventional tank models offer plenty of readily available hot water. Tankless provides unlimited continuous hot water on demand. Hybrids offer a combination of ready hot water and on-demand heating.
  • Energy Efficiency: Tankless water heaters are the most energy efficient since they only heat water as needed. Hybrid models with heat pumps also offer excellent efficiency. Standard tanks have the lowest efficiency.
  • Upfront Costs: Conventional storage tanks are the most affordable option to purchase upfront. Tankless and hybrid models have significantly higher initial costs.
  • Operating Costs: Tankless systems can save on energy costs compared to storage tank heaters. Hybrids also have relatively low operating costs. Standard tanks typically have the highest energy costs.
  • Maintenance: Tankless and hybrid water heaters require more frequent maintenance and professional service calls than conventional tanks.
  • Installation: Installing tankless or hybrid models is complex compared to traditional storage tanks. They often require upgrades like installing larger gas lines or electrical wiring.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is six to 10 years for tank water heaters, 10 to 15 years for tankless, and 10 to 13 years for hybrids.

Benefits of Each Water Heater Option

Each type of water heater has pros and cons to consider before making a decision:

  • Conventional Storage Tank
    • Lower upfront purchase price
    • Simple installation
    • Provides plenty of readily available hot water
  • Tankless:
    • Provides an unlimited supply of continuous hot water
    • Highly energy efficient and can lower utility bills
    • Compact size saves space
    • Long lifespan up to 20 years
  • Hybrid:
    • Very energy efficient
    • Lower operating costs than conventional tank models
    • Provides ample hot water combined with on-demand heating
    • Heated water recirculates, avoiding waste while you wait for it

Frequently Asked Questions

What size water heater do I need?

The right water heater size depends on the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, people in your household, and peak hot water usage. For one to two bathrooms and a few people, a 40-gallon tank is usually sufficient. Three or more bathrooms and four or more people often need 50 or more gallons. Tankless provides endless hot water.

Which is more energy efficient, tank or tankless?

Tankless water heaters are generally more energy efficient as they only heat water on demand rather than maintaining a full tank 24/7. Some tankless models can save 30 percent or more on energy costs. Hybrid heat pump tanks also offer excellent efficiency.

What fuel type is best for a water heater?

It depends on your home. Electric water heaters offer simplicity but higher operating costs. Natural gas has lower energy costs but requires gas lines. Propane can be used anywhere, but tanks need filling. Compare costs and consider heating needs, fuel access, and upfront purchase price.

Should I get a warranty on a new water heater?

Yes, you should purchase an extended warranty if possible. Water heater warranties typically cover six to 12 years on the tank and one to five years on the parts. This protects against leaks, rust, defects, and premature failure. Warranties provide peace of mind and cover repairs.

Get Help Choosing the Right Water Heater in Mooresville, NC

Replacing your outdated or faulty water heater provides an opportunity to upgrade to a more efficient, cost-saving model. But selecting the best system for your home can be confusing. The experts at Ultimate Plumbing are happy to help! 

Give us a call at (704) 892-5843 to schedule your consultation and learn more about water heater replacement in Mooresville, NC. We’ll assess your needs and recommend the ideal system for your family, lifestyle, and budget.