Tankless water heaters are among the new modern solutions for an energy-efficient home. They instantly generate warm water using electric coils or high-powered gas burners. Of course, there are both pros and cons of tankless water heater, as no product is perfect.
Many people wonder, ‘Is an electric tankless water heater worth it?’ After reading these pros and cons, you’ll find out if this is the case. These instant heaters are a great solution for your home when you want to have constant access to warm water, and save some money in the long run.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a tankless water heater?
10 Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
There are many advantages of replacing your old water heater with a tankless one. The most important ones are:
- Instant warm water
- Long lifespan
- Energy efficient
- They save space
- Tax breaks
- No ‘standby loss’
- Constant warm water supply
- Works on either electric and gas
- Long warranties
- Ideal for small homes
We’ll go in depth.
Instant Warm Water
Tankless water heaters provide you with warm water almost instantly after you’ve turned them on. While they need to flush the cold water out of the faucet, this is done in a split second. You’ll have warm water as soon as you turn the faucet on!
One of the biggest advantages of a tankless water heater is its long lifespan. While a standard water heater lasts around a decade, tankless heaters can live twice as much!
Consumer Reports stated that tankless water heaters save about 22% more energy compared to regular heaters with the tank. This means you can expect smaller utility bills, which could save you thousands in the long run.
They Save Space
Because they don’t come with a huge tank, tankless water heaters are quite smaller compared to units with tanks. This is perfect for small bathrooms or areas such as basements.
Since they are energy efficient, these units qualify you for federal tax credits, which can help you deal with the installation cost. Also, you might get a 10% tax credit or even a tax break!
No ‘Standby Loss’
One of the biggest selling points for these units is that they eliminate the ‘standby loss’ other heaters’ heat. The ‘standby loss’ occurs when the water inside the tank cools, so the heater has to warm it again, using more energy.
Constant Warm Water Supply
We cannot talk about pros and cons of tankless water heaters without mentioning their constant warm water supply. They heat the water directly in the pipes. This is different from regular heaters, which store water in a tank and then heat it. This allows them to have hot water all the time.
Works On Either Electric Or Gas
Most tankless water heaters work on natural gas, but there are plenty of electric models available out there, as well. No matter the power source, all the pros and cons of tankless water heaters we’re talking about remain.
Since they have a long lifespan, tankless water heaters also come with longer warranties. If anything goes wrong, you won’t have to pay for the repairs, as the manufacturer will take care of that. In fact, some warranties last for 20 years!
Ideal For Small Houses
If you have a small property that doesn’t require too much hot water, the tankless water heater is one of the best options for you. These units are amazing when there’s a need to provide hot water for up to three people at the same time.
What Is The Downside Of A Tankless Water Heater?
Nothing comes without downsides – and this is why we have both pros and cons of tankless water heater. Unfortunately, even these models come with several bad sides to them. These include:
- Inconsistent temperatures
- Higher initial cost
- Limited warm water supply
- They require additional equipment
- Rerouting gas lines
- It takes a long time to make up for a high price
- There are other ways to save money on utilities
- There are other energy-efficient options
- Possible additional maintenance
- They can still fail
We’ll explain all of them in great detail below.
Among the biggest buyer’s complaints about this type of unit are the inconsistent water temperatures. This is the result of the inability to send plenty of hot water to several units at the same time. Also, sometimes these heaters won’t turn on if the faucet is just slightly open.
Higher Initial Cost
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than most heaters with a tank. The installation process can also be costly. Fortunately, this price difference will disappear if you count all the tax breaks and money saved on utilities.
Limited Warm Water Supply
Unfortunately, tankless water heaters have a struggle when they need to deliver hot water to more than one place. So, if you’re showering while someone else is washing dishes, there might be some issues with the water temperature.
They Require Additional Equipment
Some tankless water heaters require a water softener, as they can become faulty if the water is too hard. This can add to the initial price tag, which is already quite high.
Rerouting Gas Lines
Tankless water heaters are quite challenging to install, which is why the installation process is also quite expensive. They require a non-traditional approach, and the professional might even be forced to reroute gas lines or add new venting. All of this will make the price skyrocket!
It Takes Long To Make Up For A High Price
While utility bills are cheaper with this type of heater, it can take quite a long time to make up for the high purchase and installation cost. In fact, it might take you up to a decade before the savings cover the initial price!
There Are Other Ways To Save Money On Utilities
Changing your water usage habits can also save much money, without the need to purchase a new tankless heater. Just by changing how much water you spend you could lower your utility bills in no time! Of course, this would require constant taking care of how much water you spend.
There Are Other Energy Efficient Options
If you’d like to become more energy-efficient, there is no need to go tankless. For example, you could install solar heating, which will eliminate the complicated installation process and it’s usually much cheaper. However, this isn’t a good option if you live in a place without a lot of sun, as the heaters won’t have the power. 
Possible Additional Maintenance
Despite the long warranty, you might still be required to perform some annual maintenance and to purchase a water softener. Yearly flushing is also recommended, as this will keep the mineral deposits at bay. And yes, you’ll be the one responsible for paying for these.
They Can Still Fail
While a tankless water heater isn’t likely to explode, these units can still fail and malfunction, just like any other heater. Once they do, it might be difficult to find a plumber who knows how to fix these issues.
Should You Buy a Tankless Water Heater?
Not everyone agrees with the thought of having to change their water heater just so they could follow the latest trends. However, there is more to the best tankless water heater out there than just being modern.
While it’s true that there are both pros and cons of tankless water heater, the same could be said for any other model. Without knowing your situation, though, it’s difficult to say whether this type of water heater is the right one for you. If you have:
- A small bathroom,
- High utilities that you want to lower,
- Not many people living in the household,
- A few bucks to spend on the new product,
You should definitely consider switching over to a tankless water heater.
While there are other energy-efficient options out there, this is the only one that is certain to work in the long run. Water heaters that work on solar power aren’t a good choice in Northern areas, and there is never a guarantee that you’ll be able to change your water spending habits enough for it to make a difference.
The Final Word
People have different preferences and different requirements when it comes to water heaters. Some people want instant access to hot water, others want to be able to find a heater that won’t take up too much space in their already small bathroom.
There are many advantages to a tankless water heater that no one can deny. This makes it one of the best modern solutions for your bathroom out there.
Michael Davis is a heating & plumbing expert who currently works as independent contractor in SC. He also writes for Plumbertip.
For almost 10 years he worked on various plumbing tasks across South Carolina.