Hybrid water heaters are the latest energy-saving option your plumbing company offers. While previously you might have heard of tankless water heaters as the hot new thing in the world of warm water. Which of these two options is better for you? We’ll discuss how they compare below.

1. Energy Savings – Winner: Hybrid Water Heaters

Let’s start with the metric that matters the most to the majority of homeowners: which kind of water heater uses the least energy to generate the same amount of hot water. The answer is hybrid water heaters. They use heat pump technology to take heat from the ground or air and put it in your water. This is much more energy efficient than generating heat from electricity or gas, which is what tankless water heaters do.

2. Recovery Time – Winner: Tankless Water Heaters

What happens when your hot water runs out? The amount of time it takes for tank-based water heaters to start producing hot water again after being emptied out is called the “recovery time.” But the whole point of tankless water heaters is that they don’t run out. They can produce a certain number of gallons of hot water per minute indefinitely. So, as long as you are asking for less than that gallon per minute limit, you can stay in your warm shower for as long as you like.

Hybrid water heaters have a tank and do run out of hot water. They do have a back-up electrical system which reduces the recovery time and gets you more water faster. However, this is not nearly as seamless as a tankless water heater.

3. Fuel Source – Winner: Hybrid Water Heaters

Depending on where you live, certain fuel types may be more accessible or more affordable than others. If you only had the choice between gas and electric, gas has many advantages. Gas is often cheaper, including in many places here in California, and it is also more reliable and not impacted by power outages. You can get a tankless water heater with either fuel source.

Hybrid water heaters use electricity as a back-up and to power the heat pump technology. They use so little power that they make up for the relatively higher cost of electric over gas. Also, as they have tanks, they will maintain some hot water for a short time during a power outage, whereas electrically powered tankless water heaters will not provide any hot water from the moment the power goes out.

Electric power is also a bit safer than gas, with no risk of a gas leak. Overall, hybrid water heaters make electricity use a more appealing option for heating your water.

4. Space Usage – Winner: Tankless Water Heaters

Where are you putting your water heater? Tankless water heaters, as they are without tanks, are much smaller than other water heating options. They can be installed directly in the wall instead of taking up floor space. Hybrid water heaters, with two heating systems, take up much more room.

5. Installation Cost – Winner: Hybrid Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are one of the more expensive options for heating water, often costing 50-100% more than the cost of a typical water heater installation.

For as long as California’s hybrid water heater rebate program is running, hybrid water heaters cost roughly the same as a typical water heater to install. That gives hybrid water heaters a clear edge.

Winner: Hybrid Water Heaters

California’s hybrid water heater rebate program gives these units a clear edge with significant savings. Once that program has depleted their funding, it comes down to personal priorities. If you prefer a small water heater that has zero recovery time, tankless is hard to beat. But in most other categories, hybrid water heaters still win out.

Want to learn more about which kind of hot water heater is right for your home? Give us a call today. With service in Livermore, Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, and more, help is never far away.

Here’s my personal promise to you: When you call or schedule an on-site estimate, there will be no pressure. No obligation. We will not sell you a water heater you don’t need or want.

Thanks for letting us be your trusted plumber.

Phil Barnett
President of Barnett Plumbing & Water Heaters