Consider the size of your family and the utilities in your area to choose the best water heater. It's important to keep the following things in mind:
This is the most common type of water heater. These units have an insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it's needed. They're available in electric, liquid propane (LP) and natural gas models. Natural gas and LP water heaters normally use less energy and are less expensive to operate than electric models of the same size.
- Storage tank water heaters are classified by the amount of water they hold in gallons. Tank size is a major consideration. If you intend to use a storage tank water heater, use our chart as a guide to finding the size you need.
- Another consideration for storage tank water heaters is recovery rate — the number of gallons of water they can heat in an hour. The greater your demand for hot water, the higher recovery rate you need.
- When you buy a water heater, look at its cited energy efficiency and yearly operating costs. This information can be found on the EnergyGuide label.
Tankless or On-demand
They don't store hot water; they heat water as it passes through a series of coils in the unit. Since the unit only heats water as you use it, a tankless heater is usually more energy-efficient than a traditional storage tank water heater. They're available in electric, LP and natural gas models. A tankless unit can provide only a limited flow rate of hot water. Most tankless units can provide up to 3.5 gallons of heated water per minute. These units are a good choice for anyone whose demand doesn't typically call for hot water at more than two points at a time.
Point-of-Use or Utility
Small storage tank water heaters, known as point-of-use or utility water heaters, are good choices for adding hot water to outbuildings, shops or garages. Utility water heaters usually range in size from 2.5 to 19 gallons. The largest of these miniature units can also be used to provide hot water to secondary bathrooms that may be situated far from your home's main water heater.
Mobile homes require water heaters specifically made for this type of dwelling. All heaters must be H.U.D approved. Mobile home water heaters can be either gas or electric. Electric heaters are typically cheaper than gas. If you select gas, make sure to buy the correct type for your connection (propane or natural gas). You'll also need to look at the location. If a gas heater will be enclosed with no outside access, it's necessary to buy a sealed combustion gas water heater. If there's outside access, a standard gas water heater is sufficient. When installing, check your measurements carefully because mobile home door openings can be smaller than an average home.