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Features to Consider When Buying a Water Heater

tankless heater

In one of our recent articles, we’ve covered some of the most evident signs that your water heater may be destined for imminent failure. If that’s your current situation, you have probably started looking into purchasing a new appliance. But let’s face it, you haven’t shopped for a water heater in years, or maybe ever! How are the modern water heaters better? Which features should you be looking for? No worries, our Maryland water heater installation experts are here to offer you a few tips!

Tank or Tankless

The first decision you will need to make is the type of water heater you should get. The traditional model (which is likely what you have right now) is a storage tank water heater. It comes with an insulated tank that can store 50+ gallons of water. You can’t go wrong with a tank-based water heater: when properly matched with your household’s needs, it will supply enough hot water whenever you need it.

Now, if you are looking for energy savings, a tankless water heater may be a better solution for you. This model heats water on demand, so there is no tank (unless you install an auxiliary one). Tankless water heaters are more suitable for people who live alone or those who don’t use hot water from several sources simultaneously. So if you want to shower and run a washing machine at the same time, a tankless water heater may not be enough.

Fuel Type

Both tank and tankless water heaters have models that can be used with either of the two key fuel types: gas and electricity. As you probably already know, electricity costs more than gas in most areas, so it’s generally cheaper to run a gas-fueled water heater. However, gas models may cost more upfront. Before you decide on the fuel type, consider how much effort it would take to convert your current setup to use with the new fuel type. Feel free to consult with your Maryland plumber—the final cost of installation may not be worth the potential savings in your case.


The capacity of your water heater is measured in gallons if it’s tank-based and in GPMs (gallons per minute) if it’s tankless. To determine the right capacity for your household, you will need to calculate your water use in peak hours. Depending on your lifestyle, your family’s peak hours are in the morning when everyone is getting ready for school/work, or in the afternoon when everyone gets home, dishes are washed, laundry is done, etc.

A single shower uses about 20 gallons of water, while an XL load of laundry can use 30+ gallons depending on the efficiency of your washing machine. If you want to be precise, isolate each use and take down numbers from your water meter. Keep in mind that you rarely use hot water alone, so the number you get will be for total water use per appliance. If you base your capacity calculations on these numbers, you should have more than enough hot water for all of your needs.

Other Features to Consider

Type, fuel, and capacity are the most important factors, but there are other features you might find useful. Be sure to read the product specifications carefully and ask the salesman if you have any questions. These features may include:

  • Warranty: it may be worth tit o pay for longer warranty and have peace of mind.
  • Anti-scale features: many tank water heaters have devices or features designed to reduce scale buildup, which will prolong the life of your appliance.
  • Digital controls: some electric water heaters may have digital displays and controls to provide easy pressure and temperature readings and allow customization of setting.

Have any other questions? Remember that at Michael Runk Plumbing & Heating we install water heaters almost on a daily basis. Give us a call or contact online for a consultation!

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