It’s a tough choice: a tankless (demand) water heater or a solar water heater—which should you get?
There’s no easy answer since both save you tons of money and both have long lifespans.
The one that’s right for you depends on your circumstances.
Here’s a quick comparison and contrast of both water heater types so you can make an informed decision.
Solar water heater
- Adaptable. Can work with your current water heater if it’s still in good working shape.
- Greater energy savings compared to tankless. According to energy.gov, “On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%.” In another article, they state, “For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water -- around 86 gallons per day.”
- Uses free renewable resources. Never worry about the price of electricity or gas again. You’ll get the majority of your energy from the sun.
- May not be economical. If you have a small household, are a very light hot water user or only spend a limited amount of time at a vacation home, a solar water heater may not be worth the large upfront cost.
- Needs more room. Solar water heaters take up more room than a tankless water heater, but are similar in size to non-solar tank water heaters.
- High upfront cost. While the upfront cost is high, we’ve done the math, showing that it can pay for itself and then some in the long run.
- More equipment = more maintenance.
Tankless water heater
- Continuous hot water. Provides continuous hot water on demand regardless of the time of day.
- No costs from heat lost. You never have to worry about costs from heat loss because the water isn’t stored; it’s heated on the spot. Perfect for a vacation home.
- Compact. Since it’s small, it’s easier to install in various places
- Struggles in cold weather. May not provide enough hot water in cold weather (rarely a problem in Florida).
- Installations can get pricey. Installation costs increase when retrofitting into a current home. So tankless is ideal for new construction. Compare the cost of the tankless installation to a solar installation to see which costs more.
- Struggles with multiple heavy water using appliances. Tankless water heaters may not provide enough hot water if several people simultaneously use heavy water using appliances (showers, dishwasher, clothes washer, etc.). But it all depends on the size of tankless water heater you get.
Want an estimate for solar and/or tankless water heaters in Florida?
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Posted in: Buyer's Guide