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What’s the Best Type of Water Heater?

Water Heater 101

To many people, water heaters are simply that big tank that sits in the basement. But did you know there are several water heater varieties? And that the type of water heater you choose can have a big impact on energy savings?

We break down the two most common type of water heaters, along with their pros and cons.

Conventional Water Heater

conventional hot water heater tankA conventional water tank stores constantly heated water. This type of water heater is the oldest, most traditional type of unit. They’re easily recognizable as a tall, cylindrical tank that sits upright inside your basement or a utility closet. Generally, a conventional tank’s volume capacity is stated in gallons. The larger tank, the more hot water it will hold. This provides a longer session use.

Conventional water heaters use electricity or gas to warm up water.  Water that collects in the tank is heated from the bottom and dispersed when a hot water faucet is turned on. In general, gas powered tanks have proven to be more energy efficient and faster to heat than electric types.

Conventional Water Heater Pro’s:

  • Economical option
  • Install in closet, basement, or garage
  • Capacity ranges from 20-80 gallons

Conventional Water Heater Con’s

  • Efficiency varies between model, brands, and fuel sources
  • Tank takes up space in your basement or utility closet
  • Less energy efficient than newer tankless models

Tankless Water HeaterTankless water heaters don't take up floor space

A tankless water heater heats cold water with a gas burner or electric element as it passes through the water heater. Also known as “on demand” units, tankless units function by heating the main water line only when hot water is needed. For example, when you turn on the sink.

Since tankless units only heat the water you need — when you need it — you could save between 24% and 34% on your energy bill every month. For the average homeowner, that equates to between $50 and $100 per year. As an added benefit, upgrading can earn you a green energy tax credit because tankless water heaters are the efficient choice.

Tankless Water Heater Pro’s

  • Energy efficient
  • Install by hanging on wall, saving valuable floor space
  • Preferred option for residences that are only occupied part-time
  • Reduce energy consumption by up to 34%
  • Lifespan is double that of traditional model

Tankless Water Heater Con’s

  • Larger initial investment
  • Can run out of hot water during heavy usage
  • Require ventilation
Tankless water heater installed in basement
A tankless water heater doesn’t take up basement or utility closet floor space.


Whether you are looking to repair your old heater or upgrade to an energy efficient tankless model, Benjamin Franklin plumbers can guide you through the process. We carry all types of models, from conventional to tankless. Contact us for all your water heater needs!

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