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Storage vs. Continuous Flow Water Heaters – Which is Best?

A water heater is a commodity appliance. It may not be as exciting as a spacious shower or a whirlpool tub with jets, but it is still an important piece of equipment, and it’s crucial to making them both function! For the sake of hot showers and clean laundry, you need to have one. A good water heater will live in your home for at least a decade, so it is important to seriously consider which type is best before you budget and plan.

There are two basic types of water heaters; storage and continuous flow models. They are powered by natural gas, propane, or electricity and both have their pros and cons. When deciding which type of water heater is best for you, you’ll want to consider the costs, energy efficiency, and longevity of each.

Storage Water Heaters

Storage water heaters are the most common. They are usually a cylindrical tank that stores 75-300 litres of water. Cold water is piped into the bottom of the tank, and then a heating element or burner heats the water. The hot water will then rise to the top of the tank. The water is stored until you turn on the tap to hot, where the hot water is then sent from the top of the tank to your tap.

Storage water heaters have a much lower initial cost compared to tankless systems. They are also much simpler to install. However, they suffer from what is called “energy waste from standby loss”. Since these heaters are constantly maintaining hot water in their tanks, energy has to be used to keep the water hot at all times. Also, once you’ve used all the water from the tank, you have to wait until the tank fills and heats again for more hot water.

There have been some improvements with their basic technology that has made them more energy-efficient while also reducing their recovery times.

The expected life of a storage water heater is 10-15 years. If a key part of a storage water heater breaks, it is very possible you will need to replace the whole unit because they are not very cost-effective to repair. But, with regular preventive maintenance, you can extend the life of the unit and preserve the key parts.

Continuous Flow Water Heaters

Continuous flow water heaters are common in Europe and Japan, but relatively new to other parts of the world. Instead of heating the water and storing it in reserve, they heat the water as it is needed. Cold water is drawn into the unit and passes through a heat exchanger, which heats the water to the preset temperature and then pipes it to the outlet.

The two different types of continuous flow (or “instant”) water heaters are point-of-use and whole-house. A point-of-use system is usually smaller, electric, and used to provide hot water to a specific faucet or appliance. They are usually installed under a sink or in a closet close to the water outlet.

Whole-house systems are larger, more expensive, and heat multiple outlets. They are fuelled by electricity, natural gas, or propane. It is best if they are installed on an outside wall for venting purposes. This may add additional charges to your installation costs if you are switching from a storage to a continuous flow system. For larger homes with more hot water usage, you may consider having two units installed.

Tankless water heaters are great if you have limited space or prefer having an exact water temperature 100% of the time. With proper maintenance, many units have a life expectancy of over 20 years. This is because their parts are largely replaceable. Continuous flow water heaters are also much more energy-efficient than their storage counterparts. Depending on your hot water usage, you can have increased energy savings of 8-34% compared to storage water heaters.

However, continuous flow water heaters are more expensive upfront (the unit itself will be more expensive than a storage heater) and they will require professional installation. Maintenance costs are likely to be more expensive as well, as continuous flow water heaters require the use of chemicals and additional flushes.

Storage or Continuous Flow?

When choosing a water heater system for your home, it is best to consider your hot water usage, installation, preventative maintenance, cost of the unit, and budget. A storage water heater will be much less expensive initially and easier to install. But will it end up costing more in energy usage over time?

If you go tankless, will the initial cost of the unit, installation, and maintenance be made up for with the energy savings? Although it may cost more upfront, a continuous flow model will usually save you more money in the long run, especially considering the extended usage life, and reduced energy consumption.

No Probs Has You Covered

No Probs Plumbing and Electrical covers all areas of Perth and supplies and installs most brands. We can help you decide which water heater system is best for your home and we even remove your old hot water service free of charge.

The No Probs Plumbing team knows the uproar that ensues the moment your hot water stops running. That’s why if we can’t repair, service or replace your hot water system, we will loan you one at no extra cost, so you don’t have to go without – that’s our promise to you!

Contact us today to learn more about our hot water system installation and repair services.

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