Understanding the Differences Between Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heater in Anaheim, CA

Whether purchasing a new home or updating your existing water heater, you have two main options: tankless water heaters and traditional tank-style water heaters. Understanding the differences between the two can help you determine which one is ideal for your home.

How They Heat Your Water

One of the most significant differences between traditional tank-style and tankless options is how they warm your water. A traditional water heater has a cylindrical storage tank that holds preheated water whenever you need it. There are different sizes of tank-style water heaters that you can select depending on the size of your household and your anticipated hot water demands. On the other hand, a tankless water heater does not preheat the water. This type of water heater works to warm the water whenever you place a demand on it.

Available Hot Water Supply

Most people with a traditional water heater can attest that it will eventually run out of hot water. Typically, if you take a long shower or you’re the second one in line, you’ll notice that the water will start to cool off, and you’ll need to give it some time before you start to get hot water again. This is because a tank-style water heater only has as much hot water as the tank will hold. If you demand more hot water than the tank can hold, it will need time to reheat the new water that replaces the warm water in the tank.

If you have a tankless water heater, you will enjoy seemingly endless hot water. Since this type of system heats the water as you demand it, you can place any demand on this water heater, and it will keep supplying you with hot water. No longer will you have restrictions on how long you can take a shower or how many people can take a shower directly after one another and still have nice, hot water to use.

Size Requirements

When you compare a traditional water heater to one of the newer tankless water heaters, you’ll notice drastic size differences. Traditional water heaters are tall, cylindrical objects that take up quite a bit of space. Contrarily, a tankless water heater is positioned on the wall and is typically composed of a small metal box. A tankless water heater can fit easily in closet compartments or other small spaces.


Another noticeable difference between tank-style and tankless water heaters is their expected lifespan. Traditional water heaters will last around 10 to 12 years. Tankless water heaters will last up to 20 years.

Much of the lifespan difference is due to the fact that tankless-style water heaters are less exposed to water-based corrosion when compared to traditional tank water heaters. Tank-style water heaters store water in their tanks for a lengthy period of time. When you compare this to a tankless water heater that only has water running through it whenever you require hot water in your home, it becomes clear why their lifespan is so different.

Energy Usage

When comparing these two types of water heaters, you can’t leave out their differences in energy usage. The EPA has estimated that tankless water heaters can use up to 34% less energy than water heaters with a traditional storage tank. This difference is simply due to the fact that tank-style water heaters are constantly running to ensure that the water in the tank stays at the set thermostat temperature. On the other hand, tankless water heaters are only using energy whenever you place a demand for hot water on them.


Another imperative factor to consider when comparing these two water heater types is their overall cost. You can expect to pay more initially for a tankless water heater than a traditional tank-style water heater. The cost difference exists because a tankless style lasts longer and requires more in-depth installation expertise than a traditional style.

Reliable Plumbing Services

Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. offers reliable water heater services for Anaheim, CA and the surrounding communities. Our experienced technicians can also assist with all your heating, cooling, ducting, attic insulation, indoor air quality, and smart thermostat installation needs. Contact our office today to determine if a traditional or tankless water heater is the best option for your home!