Considering a new water heater? How do you know what size and type you need? Simply put, it depends on your:
- Family size
- Home layout and square footage
But there’s a little more that goes into it. We’ve put together a quick guide for knowing what type and size of water heater will work for you.
Signs You Need a New Water Heater
If repair isn’t an option for your heater, replacement is the way to go. Here are just a few signs that it’s time to replace your unit:
- It’s over 10 years old (conventional tank) or over 20 years old (tankless unit).
- The water or unit is rusty and corroded.
- Leaks are coming from the tank itself, or there is standing water around the tank.
- You notice strange odors, tastes, and non-clear colors.
- You’re suffering from little or no hot water.
If you notice any of these signs, first call a professional, so they can take a closer look and get to the root of the problem. In some cases, it may be more beneficial to your wallet to buy new rather than fix your old unit.
What Type of Heater Is Best for You?
Choosing what hot water heater size and type works best for you depends on your home’s needs. There are several options available.
Gas and Electric Hot Water Heater Tanks AKA Conventional
Gas and electric hot water heaters are also known as “conventional tanks.”
Gas Heater Pros and Cons
A gas heater runs off natural gas. Although it is less energy efficient than an electric water heater, it can still save you money thanks to the costs of gas. vs. electricity.
A gas water heater also has a faster recovery rate than electric. Recovery rate refers to the amount of water your heater can produce in a set amount of time. Gas recovers at about 50 gallons per hour, while electric recovers at 14 gallons per hour. This makes gas great for larger families, especially those with five or more people. If family members take hot showers in quick succession, there will be plenty of hot water for all.
Another bonus of gas heaters? They still work during power outages!
Electric Heater Pros and Cons
While gas may save you money on the bills, electric tends to be safer due to the risk of explosion from gas leaks. Electric heaters also have longer lifespans and require less maintenance. For families with fewer than five members, electric may be a better option, as smaller families will not benefit as much from the higher recovery rate of gas. Heat pump styles are available for better value.
Tankless Water Heater
While more expensive than conventional water heaters, tankless heaters are great when you have the demand for large amounts of hot water. They’re especially useful for commercial applications, such as hotels and restaurants. They instantly heat up water to the desired temperature rather than constantly running, meaning you can save money on utility bills.
For families or single units with less demand, a tankless water heater can easily keep up with the need for hot water. It will also take up less space within your home.
Once you’re familiar with the different types of water heaters, it’s easy to figure out what size you need in your home. A “First Hour Rating,” or FHR, tells you how much hot water a full tank supplies in the first hour of use.
Figuring Out What Size Hot Water Heater Tank You Need
Think about your family and their habits. When do they use the most water? Hint: It’s probably in the morning, when most members of the family are doing dishes, taking showers, brushing their teeth, rinsing out coffee cups, washing up, etc.
Count the number of people in your home, plus one. For example, for four family members, this number would be five. Multiply this number by the estimated number of gallons of hot water each person will use during this peak time in the morning to determine how many gallons your family will need at peak usage times. If you estimate that each person in your family of 4 needs 12 gallons of water, for instance, the total is 60 gallons (5 x 12 = 60), so you should aim for a water heater around that size.
If you wish to be more precise with your water usage, here’s a great tool for helping you calculate exactly how much hot water your family uses.
If your family has 5 or more members, it’s safe to say you’ll need a hot water heater of at least 50 gallons. A 50-gallon unit will have a First Hour Rating of 67 to 81. When you’re searching for a new heater, make sure to check the yellow label on the units. This will give you all the information you need to make sure that you’re choosing the correct size for your family.
Figuring Out What Size Tankless Water Heater You Need
Tankless water heaters are not rated by size but rather by the maximum temperature they can reach at specific flow rates. To determine which unit works for you, consider what your family is doing at peak times, and think about how much hot water is needed for each activity (washing clothes, taking showers or baths, doing dishes, etc.). If these activities were done at the same time, what would your flow rate be? Most families tend to need a unit that can heat to about 120 degrees.
If you think it’s time for a new water heater for your family and need more info about hot water heater sizes, you can always call a professional! C&W Plumbing is available 24/7 for all your routine and emergency needs, including installations, repairs, old water heater disposal, and advice.
Our plumbers are knowledgeable, trained, and qualified to answer all your questions. Give us a call at 972-395-2597 to see how we can help you determine the right hot water heater for your home.
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