Bathroom Renovation Series: Is your Water Heater Big Enough?

Water heater size for a BL3

You’re getting ready in the morning, and suddenly the water goes cold. That’s what happens when you lose track of time. But what happens when the cold water starts in what seems like just a few minutes after you turn the water on?

If your water heater is too small to handle your home, you may be finding yourself missing out on one of the most important parts of your day: a nice, hot shower.

Let's take a look at what you need to consider when pondering the all-important question: is your water heater big enough?  Size isn’t the only thing that matters here.

Electric or Gas Tank

If you are going the traditional route, you still have a few options. A tank will hold the water and keep it warm until it’s time to use it. The size is an important feature that we will get to in a moment, but first off: how are you going to heat it?

Electric water tanks are energy efficient and have the widest variety in sizes. They are also some of the cheapest options on the market, so the cost savings are up front and long term.

Gas or propane heaters use a burner to heat the water and can do so faster than an electric heater. They can be more energy efficient than electric heaters, but they are more expensive up front.

There are even hybrid options out there, and they further increase the efficiency, but they might also be more expensive to purchase, but you’ll reap savings benefits every month!

Tank Size Guide

How many people in your home are going to be using up all the hot water at one time? If the whole family has to get ready at once, you may need a larger option, but if the morning preparation can be spread out over a couple of hours, a smaller tank should suffice.

The quick and easy guide is this:

●     1 to 2 people: 30-40 gallons

●     2 to 3 people: 40-50 gallons

●     3 to 4 people: 50-60 gallons

●     5+ people: 60-80 gallons

Determine your peak hot water hour. It's okay to aim a little high with your figures. Let’s say a shower takes 15 gallons of hot water at 3 gallons per minute. If you have 4 people getting ready in the morning, and they run through the showers in 30 to 40 minutes, you are going to need a hot water tank that can provide at least 60 gallons of hot water.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have a large, 60-gallon tank. You are looking for what is called the First Hour Rating or also known as its Recovery Rate. A 40-gallon Natural Gas water heater may be able to provide up to 80 gallons of hot water the first hour whereas a 40-gallon electric water heater may only be able to provide up to 60 gallons of hot water in that same time frame.

Should You Go Tankless?

One of the newest and most efficient setups is a tankless water heater. Rather than storing large quantities of hot water, tankless heaters only heat up what you need, as you need it. Turn on the hot water tap, and it goes to work instantly.

Earlier models could only heat up two, maybe three gallons of hot water per minute. Newer models can almost double that, providing two running showers continuous hot water, with plenty to spare.

With electric, gas, and hybrid options available, any small to medium sized home can have hot water as long as the taps are open.

However, if you are looking to operate a home with multiple showers going, a tankless heater may not be quite up to the job, and a traditional tank may be in order.


Is your Hot Water Heater Big Enough?

Hopefully, by now, you have a better understanding of how hard your water heater works to keep you and your family supplied with enough hot water to get through your morning routines.  If several of you are using it at the same time, you will definitely notice it when it runs dry.

If you are finding yours lacking, upgrading the tank to something a little larger, more energy efficient, and advanced has never been easier. With trained professionals, we can come provide you with the information you need and the experience necessary to get your home taken care of before you know it.

You don't have to live with a water heater that is too small or under performing.

Give BL3 a call today and let us show you what you have been missing. If you’re planning a big bathroom renovation, we can get you started! Download our free Plumbers Guide.

Plumbing Guide for Bathroom Renovation