Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters: Which One Is Best in Minnesota?

What’s the best type of water heater for homeowners in Minnesota: tankless or traditional (tank)? 

Well, there’s no simple answer. It depends on what’s most important to you. Both have their merits and both have downsides.

To help you decide, we’ve listed the most common reasons people choose one type over another, starting with the trusty traditional water heater.

(And if you need help deciding or have any questions contact us!)

Reasons to stick with a traditional water heater

A traditional water heater heats water in a large storage tank so that you have hot water ready and available when you need it. It’s in most homes in America. Choose a traditional tank water heater if…

You heat your water with electricity

If electric is your only option for heating your water, stick with a tank. Electric tankless water heaters just don’t work well in cold climates like Minnesota. They can’t keep up with the hot water needs of most homes, so de do not recommend them.

You want a water heater with the lowest lifetime cost

You’ve likely heard that tankless can save you money. And they can: on your monthly energy bills.

But they also cost much more to purchase and install. (Traditional water heaters are usually $700 to $2,300 while tankless are between $3,200 and $4,500.) And this difference is so much that a tankless water heater can’t recoup it over its lifetime, in most cases. 

In fact, one study showed that to pay for itself, a tankless water heater would have to last for 21-78 years! (And they only last 15-20 years).

Related: How Much Does a Tankless Water Heater Cost in Hastings, Minnesota?

Another way traditional water heaters save you money is that they need less maintenance. Tankless water heaters heat water so quickly that they have more issues with limescale buildup and need to be cleaned at least every few months. 

And tankless water heater maintenance is more complicated and costly than the maintenance traditional water heaters need.

You don’t usually run out of hot water

Paying more for the convenience of limitless hot water only really makes sense if you currently run out of hot water regularly. If not, stick with a traditional water heater because it’s more cost effective (see above).

Reasons you should choose a tankless water heater

Instead of heating water in a large reservoir, tankless water heaters only heat water when you need it. You should consider a tankless water heater if...

You need the space

A tankless water heater is smaller and more compact than a traditional water heater because it doesn’t have a large storage tank. So a tankless water heater can give you back some valuable storage space.

Size comparison between a typical traditional water heater and a tankless water heater. Photo source: A Better House (cropped)

And this is an even bigger issue because of new federal water heater regulations that went into effect last year. To comply, most new storage water heaters are now 2 to 8 inches taller and 2 to 6 inches wider than their predecessors.

Diagram showing growing size of tank water heaters. Source: Dave Croy/The World-Herald

You want to be green

Traditional water heaters are constantly heating your water so that it’s ready whenever you might need it. This results in what’s called standby heat loss. Basically, as the water is sitting in the tank, some heat escapes and the water heater has to re-heat it.

Tankless water heaters don’t have this problem because they heat water only when you need it. 

Part of an infographic from Noritz showing the difference between tankless and traditional water heater run times.

According to, this can result in an efficiency gain of 24% to 34% for families who use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily.

However, as discussed above, it’s unlikely that this energy savings is enough to overcome the increased cost of installing a tankless water heater.

You want endless hot water

One of the most-touted benefits of a tankless water heater is endless hot water. 

And tankless water heaters can indeed deliver an unending supply of hot water—so long as you get the right size for your home.

Get a new water heater installed

Whether you’ve decided on a tankless or regular water heater, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing can install it for you. Contact us to get started.

Benjamin Franklin's Plumbers serve Hastings, Minnesota and the surrounding areas, including  Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Woodbury, Lakeville, Rosemount and Stillwater.

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