Regular gas or electric hot water heaters usually last between 10 and 15 years. If yours is reaching that time frame, it might be time to consider the different types of water heaters and what type you want next.

When the time comes to consider buying a new water heater, you need to understand the differences among the five common types of water heaters. Understanding what makes them different will help you make the best decision possible for your family.

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters

A traditional tank water heater is the most common type of unit, consisting of an insulated tank in which water is heated and stored. These heaters hold anywhere between 30 and 100 gallons. Inside the tank, a sensor reads the water temperature and brings the temperature up if it goes below a certain level. In essence, you are paying to heat water even when you are not using it. Natural gas heaters generally use less energy and cost less to operate than electric heaters, but are more expensive and more difficult to install. The water should be drained and flushed twice a year to eliminate sediment and minerals from accumulating on the bottom of the tank.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless, or instantaneous, water heaters heat water on demand, so you are not paying to heat water when you are not using it. Since these units heat water on demand, they are more energy efficient than conventional units, but they cost more. These heaters may also last longer than conventional units. Gas heaters are the best choice, as electric heaters might require an expensive upgrade of the home’s electrical capacity. A tankless water heater should be descaled of minerals at least once every two to three years.

Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters

A heat pump water heater captures heat from the air or ground and transfers it to the water in the tank. These water heaters are more expensive than electric heaters, but they use significantly less energy, and, over time, will be less costly. However, they don’t work well in very cold spaces, making them less desirable in colder climates.

Solar Water Heaters

A roof-mounted solar-powered water heater takes the sun’s heat and transfers it to a water tank that heats the water. These units provide ample savings during the warm summer months. Most models have a backup electric or gas model that kicks in during colder or cloudy days. These units are extremely expensive, even with federal and local rebates, but the prices are coming down.

Condensing Water Heaters

A condensing water heater is an option if you heat with gas and need a larger unit – one with a capacity of more than 55 gallons. These units operate similarly to a conventional water heater, but also capture hot exhaust gases that would go out the flue and recycle them to help heat the water. Most tankless and some tank-type water heaters are condensing. Their increased energy efficiency will more than pay for their increased cost over their operational life.

Contact Ravinia Plumbing for Water Heater Services

No matter the type of water heater that you currently have, or the type that you want to install in your home, Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric can help. Our team of plumbing professionals knows how important water heaters are to the comfort and safety of your home, so we’ll provide you with the necessary services to ensure that your water heater is working properly and without any issues. Contact us today to receive more information or to schedule an appointment with our team.