The Pros and Cons of Various Types of Residential Water Heaters

Before you buy a new water heater for your home, you might want to think about the various options available. Some choices are more energy efficient than others, while others may be better for your family and your water usage and needs. Note a few pros and cons of various types of hot water systems so you can determine the best choice for your home and will be happy with your water heater for years to come.


If your home already has power lines running to the basement or a utility closet for an electric hot water heater, it may be easiest to simply buy the same model as you had before and have it installed, so you don't need to plumb in new lines for gas or another type of power. An electric hot water heater can also be stored virtually anywhere, so you can put it in the garage or even build a separate outdoor space for it to get it out of the way.

However, an electric water heater may mean the longest delay for heating water, as electric hot water heaters work with a simple heating coil that heats water when it reaches a certain low temperature. As you may already know, heating water once it cools can take several minutes to a half hour or even longer, depending on the tank size and the average temperature inside your home.


Solar panels can mean lower utility bills, as the solar heater only uses electricity to heat water when the stored solar energy runs out. Solar panels are also an eco-friendly choice, as this means less pollution created by generating electricity. However, you need a specialist to install solar panels, and the panels can only be placed outside in a sunny area; for smaller properties, this can limit your choices as to the size of panels and may reduce the amount of power they collect.

Heat pump

A heat pump extracts heat from the air and pumps it to the hot water heater, using a compressor to make that air even warmer and to then heat up the water. A heat pump can mean lower utility costs, as that compressor usually works more efficiently to create heat than the coil in an electric hot water heater. However, heat pumps need plenty of ventilation, and they may be somewhat noisy, so they're not good if you have a very close neighbour. A boosting element, needed for colder climates, can be expensive and may offset any cost savings from the efficiency of the compressor.