‘Tankless’ Vs ‘Storage’ Water Heater (Part 2) – It’s about your needs.


In my last article on ‘Tankless vs Storage’ water heating, we ‘did the math’ and discussed the economics of changing over to a tankless water heating system. This was the first of three things I recommend you consider when deciding whether or not to ‘go Tankless’.

Here’s a recap of those considerations:

1. Economics – all the economics of water heating…from day to day use to installations.
2. Needs and performance – the needs of the family will best fit what unit and how it performs?
3. Family/community impact – how concerned is my customer about how their choices are affecting our planet?

This article will focus on ‘Needs and Performance’-
• Needs…what things exist in my home and life regarding hot water, and what will serve them best?
• Performance…how well are things working with my storage tank unit, and will tankless improve things?

Our needs fall into many different categories. How many people are in the home? What are the bathing habits of everyone? (Does everyone try to bathe at once every morning, or does it spread out into evenings and on different days?) Are there any special items that need lots of hot water at once, like a large whirl bath or soaking tub? Is the space taken up by a large storage tank a problem, and would the much smaller footprint of a tankless unit hanging on the wall be valued?

In many homes today, especially those of ‘boomers’ like my wife and I, even though there are now fewer people living in the house, there is often less room due to down-sizing. For me, the older I get the more I like to sit and soak my old bones in a nice hot whirl bath tub, and that takes over 60-gallons of hot water. Another issue at our home is our pets. They’re family too! So my wife Judy had me put a simple shower valve on one of our exterior hose bib faucets. Now when she washes her dog or one of her horses, she can use water out of the hose at any temperature she wants. The tankless water heater has been great for us in all these things.

And that leads us to ‘Performance’. Usually there is just the two of us and our pets at our house…but how we use hot water has changed from when we had a house full of children. It used to be we needed hot water for laundry and dishes, now it’s needed more for bathing and soaking ourselves and our ‘stuff’… and we use it for longer stretches than we use to.

With a storage tank water heater, you can usually get 40 to 60-gallons of hot (110-degree) water (that’s about 20 minutes of running time). With a properly sized and installed Tankless water heater, you can run 110-degree water at 5 to 6-gallons a minute for as long as you want and never run out. What does that ‘feel’ like or look like? These days the Plumbing Code calls for all faucets and shower-heads to have a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. Consequently, you can have a sink and a shower, and often another fixture running and calling for hot water, before it hits the limits of the Tankless heater’s flow rate… and you can do that continuously as long as needed. That is worth a lot to many families.

When you’re thinking about needs and performance, this is what it boils down to: What would work best for you and your situation? If a Storage Tank unit has been serving you fine and you have no compelling reason to ‘go tankless’, why fix it if it’s not broke? If however, some of the attributes of a tankless unit are appealing, I think it’s a good idea to price out a conversion sooner rather than later. This will allow you make an informed decision when the time comes, and that will be especially helpful if you need to replace your current water heater due to an unexpected equipment failure.

Okay, so now you’re two steps ahead. You can make a decision based on economics, plus needs and performance. In our next article on ‘Tankless vs Storage’ water heating we’ll look at the third issue you might want to consider before making a buying decision; Family and Community Impact. In other words, how ‘green’ is one versus the other? It is a ‘small world’ after all, and I believe it’s important to consider the impact on the planet when choosing to install these long-term systems in our homes. If you feel like I do…stay tuned!

“This article is one of a 3-part series, and the author strongly recommends that anyone considering ‘Tankless Vs. Storage Tank’ issues for heating water in their home or business, have a Licensed Professional make a site-visit to examine all the variables that need to be considered, including water quality, site limitations, anticipated usage, and budget available for both the installation & necessary annual Maintenance…”


Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating,
a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating
business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037


One Response to “‘Tankless’ Vs ‘Storage’ Water Heater (Part 2) – It’s about your needs.”

  1. Thank you very much for this information. I’ve been wondering whether or not I should choose a tankless or a storage water heater, and this article has provided me with a lot of useful information. I’ll be sure to take your advice and give a lot of thought to my current needs before I make a decision.

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