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Instant vs Storage Hot Water Systems – Top Pros & Cons of Each

Hands washing in sink

Renovating the home or building a new one? Choosing the right appliances and fixtures for your new or renovated home can save you money, lower your household emissions, and provide reliable functionality to support all the highs and lows of your family routine. Among these important decisions is choosing the right hot water system for your home. Factors influencing a hot water system decision include whether it’s energy efficient, space-saving and equipped to support the whole house. Further, you’ll need to decide between a storage or instantaneous hot water system.

We supply all types of hot water systems and we understand that it can feel like an overwhelming choice! So we’ve narrowed down the pros and cons of each to help with your water heater buying decision.

After reading this article, it’ll be easier for you to select the right hot water system for your household size, hot water demand, energy efficiency goals, and budget.

Instantaneous Hot Water Systems (Continuous Flow)

Rinnai continuous flow hot water heater on home exterior

What are they: Instantaneous hot water systems, also known as instant natural gas or continuous flow systems, don’t require a storage tank to operate, and they only heat the water when needed. An instantaneous system may be right for you if you have a smaller property, as it is usually a small unit mounted to the wall (or if only a few people will be using the hot water and you want to lower your energy output).

How they work: Perfect for those with limited storage space, a continuous flow system will heat the water as it moves through the system via a coiled pipe known as a heat exchanger triggered by the hot water tap. This allows households to only heat the amount of water needed per shower or water use, preventing the need to heat an entire unit full, resulting in both energy and cost savings.

Top 3 pros of continuous flow water heaters

  1. Space-saving – instantaneous systems are tankless and can be installed on the wall or under the sink, having a negligible impact on the overall space in your garage or house exterior.
  2. Perfectly tempered water – due to the small amount of water being used each time, perfect water temperature is no stranger to continuous flow systems. This is one of the main reasons why continuous flow systems are worth it to some home owners.
  3. Cheaper to install & operate – an instant hot water system will generally be cheaper to install, with fewer accommodations needed. Their operation only uses the exact amount of water for your needs, lowering running costs overall.

Top 3 cons of continuous flow water heaters

  1. Lower water pressure – the water is slowed as it passes through the system to allow enough time for the water to heat. This can result in lower continuous water pressure.
  2. Not ideal for large households – the beauty of having an electric tank system is that hot water is constantly stored and heated. This is not the case in continuous flow systems, which only heat the needed water. This can cause issues when many people want showers right after one another.
  3. Can be more expensive to purchase – high-end instantaneous hot water systems have a higher purchase price than some other hot water heaters.

Want to know more about continuous flow systems? We’ve got even more information that you can read in our blog on how to tell if an instantaneous hot water system is right for you.

Storage Hot Water Heaters

Dux Electric Pro Flo

What are they Storage hot water heaters will heat and store the water in an insulated tank until it is needed. These units last around ten years and can support various power types – electricity, solar, gas and heat pump. The tanks can be made from steel, enamel or copper and are made to be resistant to corrosion and installable inside or outside.

How they work: A hot and cold water supply is fed into the tank, and then electric water heaters, solar power storage systems or gas hot water storage systems work to heat the water to store it for later use. As the water gets warmer, it rises to the top of the tank, ready for use in your hot water tap. The storage tank will ideally need to be installed in a sunny spot to prevent heat loss.

Top 3 pros of storage hot water heaters

  1. Extended warranties – storage water heaters usually come with at least ten years of warranties.
  2. Safety in numbers – storage tank water heaters have been around for decades and are still among the most common systems in Australian homes. This makes both parts and qualified technicians easy to find.
  3. Low maintenance needs – after installation, your tank will need minimal maintenance, with elements such as the sacrificial anode rod working to keep the tank rust-free. 

Top 3 cons of storage hot water heaters

  1. Higher energy consumption – as the heating element is continually working to heat the water, your operating costs may be higher than when using other systems.
  2. It can be expensive to purchase and install – you may need to make accommodations for your energy source and tank installation, potentially adding to the purchase and installation cost. 
  3. Local water quality can impact the system – if you have hard water or a build-up of sediment in your tank, this can affect performance and cost you more for repairs and maintenance.

Which hot water tank is right for you?

Much goes into a decision as impactful on your day-to-day life as the type of hot water system you use. Lowering your greenhouse gas emissions, fitting into your budget for household running costs, and fitting into the available space are just some of the considerations that can help you choose which hot water system is best for you.

Ready to make your choice and purchase your new hot water system? We are proud to stock Australia’s best range of hot water systems, both storage and instantaneous. If you’re in the market for your next reliable, affordable, and efficient hot water system, browse our range of hot water heaters today.

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