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Understanding the 5 Main Types of Water Heaters

When the time comes to replace an old water heater, most people face a challenging decision. There are several types of water heaters to choose from, and all of them offer various things. If you want your new appliance to work flawlessly for your particular purpose and last for the next 15 years, you have a lot of things to think about.

First thing first, you should get to know what are the different types of water heaters available on the market. Secondly, you should make a decision depending on the energy source and capacity of each appliance. To help you make an informed decision, we break down all about different water heaters types in the following article.

1. Conventional Water Heater

Conventional water heaters are the most common ones and most widely used. They feature storage tanks that hold water to be heated, which means the capacity of the tank determines how much hot water you’ll have in your home. These tanks are insulated inside to keep the water warm until you need to use it.


  • The main benefit of this water heater type is the price. These appliances are quite cost-efficient and easy to install, which means you don’t need professional help to set one up in your home.
  • These appliances also provide hot water regardless of the installation place. Some of the other water heaters we will discuss further on can’t work efficiently if not installed in a proper space. Solar, tankless, and heat pump appliances require specific conditions for best performance.


  • Conventional water heaters also require regular maintenance for a longer lifespan. They are more prone to sediment buildups because of consistent water storage. To avoid having corrosion in your conventional water heater, you’ll need to clean the tank at least two times a year.
  • With a conventional water heater, you are limited to how much hot water you’ll have at once. A small tank might run out of warm water rather quickly, so you’ll need to fill the tank all over again and wait for the new water to warm up.
  • These water heaters also use a lot of energy to maintain the water temperature.


2. Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters offer a huge hot water supply for your home. As the name suggests, these appliances don’t have tanks. They use super-heated coils that fill with water and heat it almost instantly. That’s why these appliances are also known as on-demand water heaters – they provide warm water whenever you need it.


  • Tankless water heaters make an excellent choice for families who need a lot of hot water instantly. With them installed, you won’t have to wait for the cold water to turn warm. You can take a hot shower at any given moment.
  • One of the great things about water heaters is a compact design. Unlike conventional appliances, these water heaters don’t have tanks that take up a lot of space. You can mount them on walls or store them anywhere else in your home.


  • Tankless water heaters come in different sizes, and not all of them provide the same flow of hot water at every moment. While they are perfect for small families, we don’t recommend them for bigger ones because the warm water might run out before all members get to the shower.
  • Although these water heaters don’t have tanks that require maintenance, you still need to clean their parts to remove minerals and avoid corrosion. The thing that might be tricky with these water heaters is getting to all the small elements. It’s difficult and time-consuming to access the entire tankless water heater.
  • Another drawback of the tankless water heater is the high price tag. These appliances might lower your monthly costs but also require a large initial investment. You can expect to pay double compared to installing a conventional water heater.


3. Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat pump water heaters are probably the most unique ones on the market. They use heat found in the air around them and the ground beneath to warm up the water rather than using electricity to generate heat.


  • This water heater can save you quite some money on electricity because it uses up to 60 percent less energy than the conventional one. That will most certainly lower your bills in the long run.
  • Although this appliance doesn’t warm up water directly, it’s still incredibly efficient. You’ll probably find it more effective than fuel, oil, and electric water heating systems.
  • Heat pump water heaters also require less maintenance. You can check them up and clean them once a year to be sure everything works properly and all the parts are free of corrosion.


  • These water heaters need quite some room for installation. Sometimes, the pumps are located on the top of the unit, which requires a lot of vertical clearance for storage. Keep this in mind if you have a limited storage area in your home.
  • There’s also one thing to keep in mind regarding the design of this water heater. Namely, the appliance pulls heat from the air and the ground, which means it won’t be very efficient in cold spaces and climates.
  • Lastly, heat pump water heaters don’t have an impressive lifespan. They last only for about ten years, which is significantly lower compared to solar and tankless heaters.

4. Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters are powered by the sun and use the original source of energy to warm up the water. A sun-powered device relies on solar panels that pick up the energy and transfer it to the conductive material, which further heats the water in the tank. If you already have solar panels in your home or you’re about to get them, this appliance might be a great fit.


  • The main benefit of this water heater is the overall cost-efficient design. If you live in a sunny area, you’ll have hot water at all times without breaking the bank. Still, we do recommend having a backup option such as electricity in case you run into cloudy days.
  • Another great thing about this water heater is an environmentally friendly design. By allowing the sun to heat the water in your home, you lower the emissions and make your household safer for the planet.


  • However, you have to pay quite some cash to get a solar-powered water heater. Also, your investment won’t return that quickly, so those who are on a tight budget might need to look for alternatives.
  • If you live in a shady area or a climate with many rainy days, a solar water heater might not work for you at all. Although you don’t need direct sunlight to power up these devices, cloudy days significantly reduce the performance of solar water heaters.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that solar panels might take up a lot of your rooftop space, depending on how powerful the water heater you need in the first place. This can be a drawback for people who live in small homes.

5. Condensing Water Heater

Condensing water heaters are ideal for homes that use natural gas as the primary source of energy. They use unused gas fumes to warm up the water in the tank, just like conventional water heaters. However, these appliances use much less energy than conventional ones, which makes them a more cost-efficient option.


  • A condensing water heater is perfect for families who use natural gas and saves a lot of extra money in the long run. The appliance also reduces emissions by redirecting and using them for heating water and is safer for the environment.
  • These water heaters are also able to make cold water turn hot in a matter of several moments. They are incredibly efficient and reduce natural gas bills.


  • Still, one thing to keep in mind before the purchase is the cost of this water heater. The installation is inexpensive, but the unit itself comes with a high price tag.
  • Condensing water heaters usually come with tanks that have a capacity of 55 gallons or more, which means you’ll need to free up a lot of storage space. Also, this makes a condensing water heater unsuitable for smaller families.

Understanding the 5 main types of water heaters

When considering what types of water heaters to purchase, it’s essential to think about how much hot water you need and what energy source you’ll use. Whatever appliance you pick, make sure it can fit in your home and be installed in an easy-to-access area. Lastly, think about your budget and what option will save you the most money in the long run.



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