Tankless Water Heater vs. Tank At The Cottage: Which Is Better?

Shipton's Heating and Cooling explores the pros and cons of a tankless water heater. vs tank at seasonal cottages.

Heading up to the cottage this weekend? You might be in for a chilly surprise – and we aren’t just talking about the frigid lake water!

If your hot water heater started showing signs of failure last summer, you’re likely in the market for a new one this year. But which will you choose?

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of installing a tankless water heater vs. a tank at your seasonal cottage.

We also answer some of the most popular questions about a tankless hot water heater, including the following:

  • How does a tankless water heater work?
  • Is a tankless water heater worth it?
  • How much is a tankless water heater?

Choosing any new HVAC equipment can be confusing and overwhelming. But our team at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling in Hamilton, Ontario, promises to make it as fun and easy as we can!

Are you already deep into researching the best cottage water heater? Just starting to dip your toes in? Whether you’re in deep or just starting, we hope this information will be helpful!

But First, Let’s Dive Into Some Hot Water Heater Warning Signs

You never know what you might find during your first trip back to the cottage.

There could be a dock floating too far from shore, fallen trees, water damage or a cracked window. But some other issues aren’t quite so obvious – like those hidden in your hot water tank.

While you might enjoy a refreshing dive into lake water, you probably wouldn’t get the same thrill hopping into an icy cold shower. Or dunking your hands into a sink of icy dishwater!

So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of water heater pros and cons, here are some of the system warning signs you should watch out for!

At first glance, you might not notice these tell-tale signs, but take a deeper look…

Hot Water Heater Warning Signs:

  1. Rumbling Noises

Rumbling noises are often due to sediment buildup in an ageing water heater.

  1. Ageing System

Traditional water heaters usually only last 10-15 years.

  1. Leaks

A leak can develop due to a failed connection in the tank, high temperature, heat expansion or pressure overflow.

  1. Rust (Rusty water, valve/inlet or pipes)

Dirty, rusted or cloudy water is a sure sign of rust inside the tank. A rusted valve or inlet can also point to this problem.

Rusted pipes are another issue – but it only exists in galvanized piping.

  1. Insufficient Heating

And, of course, there’s the unmistakable warning sign of insufficient heating. This could be due to a broken heating element or a thermostat that needs readjusting. But it could also mean that your tank is not the right size for your cottage needs. 

Give us a call! Our HVAC maintenance team can help locate and decipher these warning signs. We’ll also tell you whether you need a simple repair or total system replacement.

Choosing The Best Hot Water Heater For Your Seasonal Cottage

Now for the fun part – the notorious battle of the water heaters!

Most homeowners and cottagers struggle when deciding between tankless hot water vs. tank. Why? Because there are just so many factors to consider! And one really isn’t better than the other. It all depends on your lifestyle, budget, family, usage patterns, energy consumption, location etc.

Suddenly your restful cottage vacation is consumed with thoughts of energy efficiency, fuel type and installation costs! Rather than canoe trips, campfires and hikes.

We know weighing the pros and cons can be a daunting and tiring task, and we’d hate to see your cottage season go to waste! So we’ve made it easy for you.

We’ve collected all the pros and cons of a tankless water heater and a hot water tank. We even provide our professional recommendations on which is better! So you can make a wise decision, schedule your installation and get back to enjoying your summer.

First up? The hot water tank!

Hot Water Tank

The hot water tank is the traditional form of hot water heating. It’s currently the most common water heating system used in Canadian homes.

These systems store hot water in a large tank – keeping it at a consistent temperature 24/7. They can typically hold between 20-80 gallons of water, depending on the size you choose.

As you use this hot water (for showering, dishwashing, laundry etc.), the tank empties. Then, new water has to pour in and heat up. It’s easy to note when this emptying and refilling happens because your water will go from hot to frigid in just seconds!

So, what are the advantages of relying on a tank water heater?

Advantages of a hot water tank:

  • Easy to install.
  • Affordable.
  • Reliable.
  • Offers on-demand hot water (that is until it runs out of hot water).
  • Runs on electricity, propane or natural gas.

Disadvantages of a hot water tank:

  • Constant energy usage means potential energy waste.
  • Can have higher energy costs depending on usage patterns.
  • Shorter lifespan (10-15 years).
  • You have to wait for the water to preheat in the tank after it empties.
  • Large tanks take up space in your cottage.
  • The tank needs draining quite frequently at a seasonal cottage.

When is a hot water tank a good decision?

When you have a large and busy family with simultaneous hot water demands, a large tank is probably the best choice for your cottage.

Tankless Water Heater

How does a tankless water heater work?

The tankless water heater is, well, tankless. It doesn’t come in different gallon sizes because it doesn’t store preheated water. In fact, a tankless water heater is often called an on-demand hot water heater because it heats water up as you need it. And it never runs out of hot water like a tank does!

Because a tankless water heater doesn’t store hot water, it uses flow rate to measure its tank size instead. This flow rate usually ranges between 2-5 gallons per minute – meaning that it can heat up to 5 gallons of water in a single minute!

Advantages of a tankless water heater:

  • Energy efficiency.
  • Longer lifespan (20+ years).
  • Saves space in your home.
  • Cost efficiency (you only use energy when you need it, not 24/7).
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Endless hot water. 

Disadvantages of a tankless water heater:

  • Expensive upfront costs.
  • Harder to install.
  • May take longer to heat up during the winter months.
  • Can struggle to handle larger household hot water needs – especially simultaneously.

When is a tankless water heater worth it?

If you have very little space in your cottage or only have a few people there for a short amount of time (ie. weekend trips), then going tankless is probably the best option. As we said above, a tankless water heater only turns on when you need it. So you won’t be wasting energy and money during the week!

How much is a tankless water heater?

As we mentioned above, one of the disadvantages of a tankless water heater is the expensive upfront costs. A tankless water heater will no doubt cost you more than a tank would initially. But as long as your lifestyle and water usage patterns fit its recommendations for energy efficiency, the investment is usually worth it!

Schedule Your Cottage Water Heater Installation With Shipton’s Heating and Cooling!

Do you have more questions about a tankless water heater vs. a tank? Give us a call! At Shipton’s Heating and Cooling, we’ve helped many cottage owners find the best HVAC equipment for their specific needs.

Our goal is always to provide you with the best product for the most peace of mind. So you can enjoy your summer vacation to the fullest!

Reach our water heater experts at (905) 549-4616 to learn more or get a free quote online!

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