How to pick the right water heater for your home : A Complete Guide

What’s more refreshing than a hot shower after a tiring day. Uninterrupted hot water supply is the necessity of modern homes. While buying a water heater for your home, you might have certain queries in mind such as-

  • What types of water heaters are available in the market?
  • What is their source of energy?
  • What are the various capacities available?
  • Will the water heater fit into your selected space?

This water heater guide will answer all your queries and will help you take an informed decision while buying the water heater for your home.

Types of water heaters:

Storage tank water heaters: These are the most popular water heaters used in homes. They release hot water from the top part of the storage tank when you turn on the tap. As the hot water flows out of the tank, cold water streams in at the bottom of the tank to ensure a continuous supply of hot water. The fuel sources of these water heaters are electric, liquid propane and natural gas. Look for well insulated tank that significantly lowers the standby heat losses and the tanks with a thermal resistance(R-value) of R-12 to R-25 to reduce the annual operation cost. Natural gas and liquid propane water heaters are more energy efficient than their electric counterparts.

Tankless water heaters: Also known on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, these water heaters provide hot water only when required. Unlike the conventional storage water heaters, they don’t loose energy in standby mode. They heat the water directly without the usage of any stored water inside them. When you turn on the hot water tap, cold water travels through a series of coil installed inside them and you get a constant stream of hot water without waiting, typically at the rate of 2-5 gallons per minute. They come with two types of fuel sources-electric and gas fire. Gas fired ones delivers higher output than the electric ones. These heaters are recommended for your household in terms of yearly operational cost if your you don’t require hot water from not that two sources at a time.

Utility water heaters: These are small storage water heaters, also known as (POU) are used to provide hot water to the bathrooms that are not connected with the houses’ main water heater supply. They are available in the size range of 2.5 to 19 gallons and are best for heating water at outhouses, shops, and small offices.

Source of energy

 It is essential to match the water heater with the source of energy you have in your household. Here are the features of all the available fuel sources for the water heaters.



Electric water heaters are budget friendly heaters and are quite efficient. They use one or two replaceable heating elements to heat the water. You can find a large variety of electric water heaters within the size range of 28 to 100+gallons.

Gas or propane:

Water heaters that run with gas or propane are energy efficient than the electric water heaters and also a bit higher in price. They use a burner to heat water. You need to take certain precautions while using gas or propane as a fuel source such as to keep the space well ventilated and to keep the place free from any kind of combustible material. They are available in the size range of 30 to 100 gallons.

Heat pump or hybrid: Water heaters with heat pump or hybrid fuel source are an expensive initial investment. However, the high cost gets optimized as they are highly energy efficient and reduce annual operational costs to a large extent. Heat pump draws heat from the outside air into the evaporator coil. Then an in-built heat exchanger heats the water stored within the tank to an optimum temperature and allows the water to flow in your water outlet points. These heaters are available in the sizes ranging from 50 to 80 gallons.

Capacity of water heaters

You need to identify the size of water heater that your household requires keeping in view the number of members, outlet points such as faucets, showers, dishwasher, washing machines and more. If you plan to buy a storage tank water heater, here are the basic recommendations based on your family size:

Family of 2-3 people30-40 gallons
Family of 3-4 people50-60 gallons
Family of 5+ people80 gallons


Space for the Water Heater

Know the space and its measurements when choosing the water heater for your house. Water heaters are available to fit into all kind of spaces.

Lowboys or Short Water Heaters

These water heaters are designed to install into tight spaces such as under counters and cabinets and in crawl spaces. They are shorter and wider than the standard size water heaters. However, they have the capacity to hold same amount of water as their standard size versions. They are available in sizes ranging from 30-49 inches. They can store

Tall Water Heaters

These type of water heaters are suitable for place where there is enough space to accommodate the height of the unit such as basement and garages. They are typically cylindrical in shape and come in a height range of 46 to 60 inches. They usually have the storage capacity of 30 to 100 gallons of water.