Types of Water Heaters: Which One is Ideal for Your West Columbia Home?

Our comprehensive guide takes the hassle out of choosing a new water heater. With an abundance of options available, including traditional tanks, solar, and tankless units, each with varying energy efficiencies and hot water capacity, making an informed selection for your family's needs can be overwhelming. We provide an in-depth review of each type to empower you to make the right choice. Don't make a decision before reading our guide, as each water heater type has pros and cons you should consider.

Traditional Storage Tank Water Heaters

Tank-style water heaters are a highly prevalent type of appliance that stores and heats water in insulated tanks, utilizing different sources of energy such as gas, electric or oil. Consequently, these units facilitate smooth hot water flow from the tap whenever required.


  • This model has a low cost.

  • It comes with longer warranty periods when compared to other similar products.

  • It is easy to perform maintenance on.


  • Traditional water heaters have significant operating expenses due to their low energy efficiency.

  • Their limited capacity tends to leave a shortage of hot water when needed.

  • There is always a risk of water damage caused by leaks or failure of the tank.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a modern and efficient alternative to traditional models. Rather than storing heated water in a large tank, they heat water on demand, effectively saving energy and space. Although their initial cost may be higher, tankless models offer long-term utility savings that eventually make up for it.


  • Tankless water heaters are a great option for homeowners due to their compact design, which makes them easy to install.

  • They boast high energy efficiency, resulting in low monthly bills and uninterrupted hot water.

  • Tankless water heaters have an extended lifespan, which means they can be a wise long-term investment for your home.

  • You can always enjoy hot water on-demand without any fears of running out.


  • Tankless water heaters have a higher upfront cost compared to standard storage tank models.

  • Small spaces can pose venting challenges because they require additional piping or ductwork.

  • It's crucial to note that tankless water heaters have limited capacity and are not ideal for high-demand applications.

  • Hot water availability per use will be limited.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters are an excellent choice for heating water due to their affordability and high efficiency. They work by using a small compressor to move heat from the air, which means that they can provide hot water without costing you too much. In addition, they are electricity-free, making them highly reliable during power outages.


  • A heat pump water heater can effectively reduce the utility bills of a given month by increasing energy efficiency.

  • This eco-friendly model sources renewable energy from the air.

  • Not even power outages can affect the steady supply of hot water.


  • Heat pump water heaters have a higher initial cost in comparison to traditional water heaters.

  • They might require more ventilation and space, which can create challenges during installation.

  • Additionally, their capacity may be limited, leading to less availability of hot water per usage.


Heat Pump Hybrid Water Heaters

Heat pump hybrid water heaters offer a modern alternative to traditional water heaters, combining the features of storage tanks and heat pumps to achieve better efficiency and lower costs while providing superior performance. Although they require a higher initial investment, the improved functionality and effectiveness are worth it.


  • These advanced technology units achieve higher energy efficiency, resulting in reduced monthly utility bills.

  • They conserve electricity by using renewable energy from the surrounding air.

  • They have the added feature of being able to supply hot water during a power outage, making them even more valuable.

  • Compared to traditional storage tank heaters, heat pump hybrid water heaters have a lengthier lifespan.


  • Tankless water heaters have a higher initial cost when compared to conventional storage water heaters.

  • They require more ventilation and space which could lead to installation issues.

  • The limited capacity means that there is only a finite amount of hot water for each use.

  • There is a risk of water damage if a tank fails or leaks.

  • The heat pump component can cause higher noise levels.

  • In warmer climates, they may have issues with heating and cooling.

  • It is possible that some utility rebates or incentives may not be available depending on your location.

Solar Powered Water Heaters

One can benefit from solar-powered water heaters that use renewable energy and can significantly lower monthly utility bills. There are two main types of solar water heaters, active and passive. These environmentally friendly systems save money by heating stored water and are relatively straightforward to use.

Active Systems:

Solar water heaters powered by an active system function through hot fluid transfer from collectors to a storage tank, and are more efficient than passive thermal systems. They produce significant amounts of hot water for future use.

Passive Systems:

Passive solar water heaters utilize solar power to warm water, moving heated fluid from collectors to a storage tank via natural convection. These systems boast low installation and maintenance costs, though they produce less hot water than active systems.


  • These units boast high efficiency, leading to significant monthly energy savings.

  • They utilize renewable energy from the sun, qualifying them as eco-friendly.

  • Their lifespan exceeds that of traditional water heaters.


  • Solar-powered water heaters have higher initial costs than traditional storage tank heaters, but they are a smarter long-term investment.

  • Installation may incur additional space and equipment requirements, causing complications.

  • Some models have limited capacity and can only provide a fixed amount of hot water.

  • Utility rebates and incentives may vary, depending on the geographical location and sun exposure.

  • Heating and cooling issues may arise in warmer climates.

  • Freezing may occur in colder climates.

  • Regular maintenance is necessary to optimize its performance.

  • If the unit is damaged, repair or replacement may incur higher costs.


Water Heaters

Instant hot water is available through point-of-use water heaters. They are compact and efficient, making them perfect for limited areas or for those wanting to avoid the expenses of conventional storage tanks. What's more, their lower energy consumption helps decrease monthly costs allowing for long-term savings.


  • These units have remarkable energy efficiency, which leads to lower monthly utility bills.

  • The compact size enables easy installation and maintenance, even in tight spaces.

  • Compared to storage tank heaters, they have a longer lifespan.


  • Point-of-use heaters come with a higher initial cost, and may require extra ventilation and installation space.

  • These heaters have lower hot water capacity, which means that hot water availability can be limited per use.

  • The risk of water damage is higher for tankless heaters, due to the possibility of tank failure or leaks.

  • These heaters also operate at higher noise levels as a result of the heating component.

  • These heaters may not qualify for utility rebates or incentives, and are not recommended for high-demand areas.

  • It's important to note that point-of-use heaters may cause heating and cooling issues in warmer climates.

Water Heaters With Hydronic Boilers

Hydronic boilers use water instead of air to distribute heat throughout a space, thereby ensuring efficient use. They are adept at managing hot water for domestic use and space heating in colder regions. Additionally, you can pair them with tank water heaters for a more cost-effective approach to meeting your hot water needs.


  • This system offers an opportunity to lower monthly utility bills via high efficiency.

  • Boasting a compact design, installation is also simplified even in tight spaces.

  • They provide space heating and domestic hot water.

  • The system outperforms traditional tank water heaters, having a longer life expectancy.


  • Water heaters that include hydronic boilers have a higher initial cost in comparison to traditional storage models.

  • They also have limited capacity, thus offer less hot water per use.

  • The heater component of these models may generate noise during operation.

  • They might not meet eligibility criteria for some utility rebates or incentives.

  • In regions with high hot water demands, these models may not be the optimal choice.

  • Repairing or replacing damaged units can result in substantial expenses.

Smart Water Heaters

Upgrade your water heating system with smart water heaters -the most advanced technology for water heating. Manage hot water consumption and expenses from anywhere via Wi-Fi enabled thermostats. Control temperature settings using your phone and minimize monthly costs with eco-friendly options such as vacation mode.


  • The Wi-Fi thermostat offers remote control for the water heater via smartphones and tablets.

  • Energy-saving modes, such as vacation mode, can lower monthly bills.

  • Its compact size makes it easy to install and maintain in tight spaces.

  • Compared to traditional storage tank heaters, it boasts a longer life expectancy.


  • These kinds of water heaters cost more than standard storage models.

  • There are utility rebates or incentives available, but not all may apply.

  • To ensure compatibility with newer devices, additional software updates may be necessary.

  • If the Wi-Fi connection isn't secure, there may be potential security risks.

Condensing Water Heaters

Water heaters that condense combine the benefits of tankless and traditional storage-tank models. This innovation couples advanced technology with heat retrieval from exhaust gases to deliver enhanced performance and monetary savings.


  • This appliance is designed with renewable energy technology that utilizes surrounding air, making it exceptionally energy efficient.

  • This energy efficiency means not only significant savings in utility bills but also increased durability when compared to conventional water heaters.

  • This product still operates during power outages, providing a reliable source of hot water.


  • Condensing water heaters are more expensive than traditional storage water heaters.

  • They require more space and ventilation, making installation a bit more complicated.

  • These heaters have limited capacity, which limits the hot water available per use. In the event of a tank failure or leakage, significant water damage problems can arise.

Tips on choosing the ideal
water heater for your home

Picking the correct water heater size is vital for cost-effective and comfortable living. Going for a small water heater leads to limited hot water reserve, while a larger one poses more expense and takes up space. Determining a suitable water heater size based on daily usage and lifestyle ensures adequate hot water and affordability for your family.

When to replace

your water heater

A functioning water heater is crucial to the plumbing system of a home since it heats water used for laundry, dishes and bathing. With a lifespan of 10-15 years, it may be best to consider a replacement if your heater has surpassed this time frame.

Other signs that could mean you need to replace your water heater:

  • Tank leakage.

  • Strange noises coming from the water heater.

  • Discolored and rusty hot water.

  • Lack of hot water.

  • Fluctuations in water temperature.

  • High energy bills.

If you run into issues with your water heater, it's essential to consult a licensed plumber to evaluate possible solutions. Although the cost of installing a new unit can be high, its long-term savings in energy efficiency and reliability make it a prudent investment.

Essential maintenance tips

for maximum water heater efficiency

Regular maintenance of your water heater helps prevent disappointment. Flushing the tank frequently to remove sediment buildup and inspecting the anode rod, pressure relief valve, and heater surroundings are simple routines that keep efficiency up and bills down. Following these practices ensures your water heater lasts longer, provides affordable warm showers, and avoids any headaches.

Reasons to hire a licensed plumber
to replace your water heater

If you’re thinking about replacing your water heater, you might be tempted to tackle the job yourself. However, it’s worth considering the numerous benefits of hiring a professional.

  • Qualified experts in the field of water heaters have the necessary skills to install a new one in a secure and proficient manner.

  • They can also offer guidance on which type and size are most suited to your requirements.

  • Licensed plumbers keep up-to-date with local building codes, ensuring that your water heater is installed in adherence to these regulations.

  • By entrusting the work to a professional, any potential issues can be quickly and effectively resolved.

  • These professionals have all the necessary tools and equipment to perform the job to the highest standard.

Hiring a licensed plumber to replace your water heater can save time, money, and headaches.

Contact Us

One of the most significant investments you can make in your home is a water heater replacement.


PHONE:+(803) 784-1514


Merritt Plumbing & Heating
West Columbia, SC 29171