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Water Heaters for Big Families

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What's the Best Hot Water Heater for a Large Family?

If you have a big family, you know all about the constant war for the bathroom each day. It can be hard enough to get 5 minutes alone in the bathroom, let alone 5 minutes with enough hot water left to shower in, too!

Between family members who need to shower, loads of laundry that need to be cleaned, and dirty dishes that need to be washed, it’s easy for a family to go through large amounts of hot water without even realizing it.

So what can you do if your hot water is constantly running out? Some solutions might be to get a bigger water tank and a better water heater. Let’s evaluate your options so you can pick the right type of water heater for your family’s needs.

Water Heater Tank Size

You could opt to get a bigger tank so that it can hold more water. The advantage of getting a bigger tank is that it will be able to store more hot water at one time. You can use either gas or electricity to heat the water. The installation process is short, and tank water heaters are very cost-effective in terms of the cost of the unit as well as the cost to repair.

The downsides are that it will, however, take up more space, and it will take longer to heat up the water inside it; once that water’s gone, you’ll have to wait about 30–40 minutes for the average gas water heater to reheat, and twice that amount of time for the average electric water heater.

If you do decide to go with a tank water heater, the size of your family will be one factor that dictates the size of the tank that you go for. A general way to estimate what size of tank you’ll need is to add 12 gallons per family member. So a 50-gallon tank would be adequate for the average family of 2–3 children. Other estimates assign slightly more water for each person, saying you’ll need a 30–40-gallon tank for 1–2 people, 40–50 gallons for 3–4 people, and 60–80 gallons for 5 or more people.

However, the truth is, these estimates may be different from what your family’s water usage actually is since they fail to account for how frequently the members of your family shower, do laundry, and use water in other ways. An experienced water heater repair technician can help you take your family’s needs into account and select the size that will be best for you. 

Are Tankless Water Heaters Good for Large Families?

If tank water heaters don’t seem to be doing the trick for your family, another option you may want to consider is to invest in a tankless water heater. There’s no bulky water tank, and you don’t have to wait for your water to heat up to the right temperature because the water is heated up almost immediately when you need it. 

This can be a great option if you’re getting tired of running out of hot water since a tankless heater will never “run out” of water. However, you still need to take your family size, home size, and usage habits into account. If you’re running several showers or appliances at once and it overburdens your heater, your water still might not heat up to the desired temperature. Large families that would need the equivalent of an 80+ gallon tank water heater will probably need to install two tankless heaters to keep up with demand—but keep in mind that this option will be significantly more expensive.

It’s Personal

In the end, big families generally use more water than small ones because of the difference that the number of people in one house makes. But it’s still possible for a large family to get along with a smaller water heater if they take shorter showers, shower at different times instead of simultaneously, or do fewer loads of laundry—it all depends on your personal habits. Be sure to consider your options and needs when choosing a water heater for your family.

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