types of water heaters

Different Types of Water Heaters: Choose the Right One

What types of water heaters will ensure you always have hot water? Which heaters are budget-friendly, and which are the most durable? And how to find an appliance that will fit your household needs? That’s what we are trying to answer in this all-around guide to choosing a water heater!

Types of Water Heaters

The basic categorization of water heaters includes five classes:

  • Tank. This is a traditional water heater that uses a storage tank. Its size directly affects the hot water amount that’s available.
  • Tankless. It’s an on-demand water heater. Instead of coming with a tank, it uses hot coils to warm up the water as it goes through there.
  • Hybrid. These don’t have a gas burner or a heating component. Instead, they draw outside heat and use it to provide hot water.
  • Solar. A solar water heater uses the Sun’s energy, which makes it an eco-friendly and energy-efficient solution.
  • Tankless coil and indirect. You can combine space and water heating into a single system. These appliances are a part of those systems as they use space heating to keep your water hot.

The first two categories are most popular among users. That’s why you’ll often hear the question – should you go with a tank or tankless water heater? If you have that dilemma, here’s a bit more info about these appliances!

Tank Water Heaters

storage water heater

Source: This Old House

It’s how most of us envision water heaters. That’s understandable because these conventional units were the first to appear in the market.

The working process of tank water heaters is simple. They have a storage tank that keeps water. A burner or another heating component ensures it remains hot for when you need to use it. You can use a thermostat to pick the desired temperature. The capacity may vary, as well as fuel. That’s why you’ll find different types of water heaters, such as electric and gas, in this category.

The main advantage of these appliances is the affordable initial cost. Even those with a large tank capacity don’t require you to break the bank. However, this water heater might lead to high utility bills. That’s because there’s standby heat loss. The appliance keeps the water hot even when you don’t plan to use it. The fact you need to keep it on leads to elevated operating costs.

Tankless Water Heaters

tankless water heater

Source: Forbes

These appliances don’t use a storage tank. Instead, they have gas burners or heating components with hot coils. Those coils warm up the water as it goes through and deliver it to the faucet you are using. This is an excellent way to have as much hot water as you want whenever you need it.

These units can come in any size, which enables a point-of-service setup. In other words, you can place them virtually anywhere, such as under the sink, in the bathroom, etc. Tankless water appliances can be space savers, and they are convenient if you need an additional hot water supply to the existing system.

Tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient, but they often come with a limited flow rate. That can be a problem if multiple faucets use the same tankless appliance as the source of hot water.

How to Choose a Water Heater

There’s no such thing as the best water heater overall. It’s all about finding a unit that meets your expectations. Here is how to choose a water heater that fits your preferences.

Fuel Options

How does your appliance operate and heat your water? Each heater needs to use certain fuel to run, and these are the available choices:

  • Electricity. An electric water heater is a choice of most households. The coils do a good job of keeping the water hot. The initial investment is low, but utility bills can be high for large households.
  • Gas. You have two options here – propane and a natural gas water heater. If you have access to the latter, it’s more convenient to use. Water heaters using propane usually source it from a big gas tank on the property. It’s your task to ensure there’s enough propane to power the desired appliances.
  • Heat pump. This is necessary for hybrid heaters. They pump the outside heat to the device to ensure it can warm up the water. Although it’s efficient, you can’t use the heat pump in areas where the temperature goes below 40F (4.4C).
  • Solar. It’s a great option for those dreaming about an eco-friendly solution. The utility bills will also be lower, but solar energy might not be able to provide enough hot water for a large household.


There are two factors to consider when sizing your water heater. The first is to ensure it meets the needs of your household. A small appliance might be sufficient for you or to place in an RV. But you’ll need a big water heater for a large household.

Another consideration is that the appliance can fit into the designated location. The trick is to compare the measurements of the device and the dimensions of the spot where you plan to fit it.


This is not only the initial appliance cost. While that also matters, you need to consider your utility bills, too. For example, a solar water heater might be pricey to buy. But if you have the right conditions for it, you can reduce utility bills and make it a smarter investment after only a year or so. Don’t forget to calculate potential installment costs, as well as maintenance expenses.

Features to Consider When Choosing a Water Heater

Now that we’ve gone through the basic considerations, it’s time to focus on the heater’s features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a suitable appliance:

  • Energy efficiency. Did you know that an average household spends 64 gallons of water daily? Picking an energy-efficient water heater and applying tips to reduce hot water use can lower your utility bills. 
  • Life expectancy. A tank water heater usually lasts 8-12 years, while tankless units can hold for 15+ years. Solar water heaters also have impressive durability. Of course, you can extend the lifespan of your water heater by regularly performing preventative maintenance check
  • Storage capacity. This refers to those types of hot water heaters that come with tanks. The capacity varies but is usually from 40 to 60 gallons.
  • Flow rate. You’ll see this mentioned in GPM (gallons per minute) in heater descriptions. An individual can do with 2GPM. However, multiple faucets in a single household will require 5-7GPM.
  • Functionality. Most units will allow you to adjust the desired hot water temperature level. Some other functional accessories could include indicators when the water is hot, power buttons, etc. 
  • Aesthetics. It would be foolish not to consider the heater’s exterior, too. You want it to match the décor, especially if it’s in a visible spot.

Now that you have all relevant information, it should be easy to find the most suitable water heater. If you are looking for water heater services in Los Angeles to  install a new appliance or conduct maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact MVP Plumbing!