Young girl washing her hands in (warm) water.

Tank vs. Tankless Water Heater: What’s the Difference?

When the temperatures drop outside, we in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley know there is nothing like a hot shower to make you feel better. The luxury of having warm water whenever you want it is still relatively new in the United States, let alone Alaska. Just a few generations ago, people were heating water on a stove when needed. Consumers today have to decide on tank vs. tankless water heater options.

The technology of water heaters has changed drastically over the years. From the first “geyser” made in England to the water heaters of today, we’ve come a long way.

One of the most significant developments is the advent of multiple types of water heaters. Among the most popular are the tank and tankless water heaters. Tank water heaters are the traditional style in which water is heated and stored in a tank until needed. Tankless options heat the water on demand, so they do not require a large container to store the hot water.

If you need a new water heater, check-in with KLEBS today. Our expert technicians can have your hot showers back in no time.

The tank and tankless systems have different features, and understanding these distinctions will allow you to make the best possible choice for your home hot water needs.

Speed of Hot Water Delivery

If your family must plan its showers carefully so you don’t run out of hot water, then you have a tank system. This type is the standard version of home water heaters and it can leave you in the cold when demand is high.

Tankless water heaters, however, run the cold water through a heat exchanger that heats the water quickly, just before sending it through the pipes. Burners heat the cold water on demand when someone turns on the hot water faucet. Because of how they heat and deliver the water, tankless systems also go by the name instantaneous or on-demand water heater.

Instantaneous systems can struggle with high demand. For example, if you are trying to take a shower while the dishwasher is running, you are likely to end up with chilly water. Some homeowners choose to install two tankless systems to alleviate this problem, but that doubles your initial cost.

System Cost

Tankless systems tend to cost quite a bit more than the standard tank storage heater and depending on where it will be in the home, there may be additional installation costs, as well.

However, tankless water heaters require much less energy than a traditional system. Tank water heaters use energy around the clock to heat the water and keep it hot and the warmer you want your water, the more you are paying for that luxury.

On-demand systems only require that surge of energy when they heat the water just before sending it through the pipes. This reduced demand can lower your energy bills significantly. When it comes to tank vs. tankless water heater choices, traditional systems definitely have a lower cost.


Most homeowners look for appliances that will last a long time. For water heaters, tankless systems can last twice as long as traditional options. This is good news, given the higher purchase price.


Tankless water heaters are much smaller than their tank storage counterparts. They are popular in smaller homes or where installation space is at a premium. Condos and apartments can be great candidates for tankless systems.

Maintenance and Repairs

Traditional tank water heaters are much more straightforward and inexpensive to repair. Their parts are easier and more affordable to replace, as is the entire unit.

Tank vs. Tankless Water Heater: Which One Is Right for You?

If it’s time to buy a water heater for your home, the friendly staff at KLEBS is here to help. We can go over all of your options with you and help you decide on the best choice for your needs. Give us a call today to get started.