Images of a heat pump, tankless and solar water heater transposed next to each other, from left to right

Modern water heaters are designed to last for at least a decade. In addition, some come with multi-year warranties that you can rely on for the duration of their lifespan. 

If you’re looking for a new water heater and you want to get a long-lasting unit (or the one with the best warranty), you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’ll break down how long all of the main types last, how long each heater warranty lasts, and which heaters have the best bang for your buck. Enjoy!

Which Style of Water Heater Lasts The Longest?

Tankless water heaters last between 20-25 years, making them the longest-lasting water heaters on the market. Solar, condensing, and heat pump models all last 15 years or more, whereas point-of-use and tank heaters usually last over a decade.

Not let’s look at the longevity of the different types in more detail.

Tanked Water Heaters

Most conventional water heaters last about ten years. These heaters face wear and tear from high temperatures, metal expansion, and more. 

While they’re prone to failure much sooner than other water heaters, some have top-notch warranties. A long-term warranty is essential if you want a tanked unit.

To make your water heater tank last longer, seal plumbing leaks as quickly as possible. These leaks can quickly cause rust and corrosion. A small hole can expand and cause permanent damage to the heater’s plumbing system. You should also open the air relief valve if there’s too much pressure building up in the water tank.

Other factors that can wear your conventional tanked heater include the following:

  • High mineral content in the water
  • Constant usage from multiple water sources
  • Turning the water heater’s temperature too high
  • The unit’s make and model
  • Clogs and blockages in the plumbing

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Bob Vila states heat pump water heaters save money, which is why countless customers use them over traditional tanked units. Furthermore, they tend to last 15 years, making them half a decade better than their conventional counterparts. They don’t corrode as quickly because they don’t use nearly as much energy.

a blue tesla model 3 on the left with a rheem hybrid heat pump water heater on the right in a garage
A heat pump water heater installed in the garage of one of our net-zero Florida homes

A damaged or incorrect thermostat is one of the main issues that eventually degrade heat pump units. If you turn it too high, the plumbing won’t be able to handle the extremely high water temperature. 

Furthermore, extremely high temperatures will cause steam to build inside the tank. Regularly open the air valve to get rid of the excess pressure.

Heat pump water heaters typically don’t need as much maintenance as conventional tanked models. This characteristic is because they’re much more energy-efficient, so there’s not as much heat buildup. It also saves money because you won’t have to buy another unit as often as a traditional heater.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are often touted as the best available for their longevity. They typically last up to 20 years, though many tankless units can make it up to 25 years. Proper maintenance every year will ensure these models last much longer. They typically have long-lasting warranties (which we’ll discuss later in the post).

There are many tankless water heat benefits to consider, all of which make them better investments. 

They don’t use massive metal tanks prone to rust, corrosion, calcification, and other natural problems that can shorten their lifespans. The plumbing is also updated (and typically narrower), so there won’t be as many replacements and repairs.

If you go with a tankless unit, you likely won’t need to replace it until its body cracks or stops working. That’s because all the parts are replaceable, so you can keep the internals running for a couple of decades or more. However, each component is designed to last longer than the corresponding parts of a conventional heater.

Point-of-Use Water Heaters

According to Billy Go, point-of-use water heaters aren’t as standard as most other heaters mentioned above. However, they last 10-15 years and don’t cost as much.

closeup on the bottom and cables connected to a gas tankless water heater

These devices connect to the point of usage (right under sinks, showers, and so on). Their exact longevity depends on the make and model.

Here’s what can affect a POU water heater’s lifespan:

  • Proper placement will make it last longer – if the plumbing isn’t tightened or the unit is too close to the point of use, it’ll break.
  • Using a POU heater multiple times daily will inevitably take a toll – however, you’ll still get a decade or more out of each unit.
  • On the other hand, not using a POU unit often enough can have adverse effects – stagnant water can cause rust and corrosion, both of which can damage the heater.

Solar Water Heaters

Much like POU heaters, solar water heaters are increasing in popularity. They use the sun’s heat to generate electricity and warm water. These efficient devices last up to 20 years, bringing them close to the longevity of tankless unit. Keep the panels exposed to as much sunlight as possible to make them last longer.

A solar heat pump water heater with orange trim on a beige floor.
Solar water heating is very efficient, provided you have sufficient sunlight

Following these suggestions will ensure solar water heaters last two decades or more:

  • Clean the panels regularly – dust, debris, and corrosion can destroy the panels, making the unit much less effective.
  • Make sure the plumbing isn’t bent – direct sunlight can wear down the plumbing, causing long-term damage.
  • Frozen pipes can crack – solar heaters aren’t the best choice for freezing climates because they’re prone to getting too cold to function properly.

Some solar heaters use tubes, while others use panels connected to large tanks. Both models send heat and energy to the water heater tank in your home.

Condensing Water Heaters

Condensing water heaters are pretty similar to tankless units. They’re much more energy-efficient than conventional heaters, and they last about five years longer (a total of 15 years). Not only do condensing models save space in your home, but they also don’t need as many costly repairs as tanked models.

Here’s what homeowners need to do to ensure a condensing water heater lasts for its entire predicted lifespan:

  • Get an adequate draining system. Moisture builds inside of a condensing unit, causing corrosion.
  • Clean or replace the water filter as the manufacturer recommends – a condensing heater filter can quickly break apart if it gets clogged.
  • Make sure the water pressure doesn’t get too high – tankless models (including condensing units) don’t have a lot of storage space. Thus, minor clogs and pressure buildups can cause unwanted metal expansion and cracks.

If you’re interested in learning more about every type of heater mentioned above, consider reviewing our list of the five water heater types you can install in your home.

What Hot Water Heater Has the Longest Warranty? (PAA)

Tankless water heaters often have the most extended warranty at 12 years. 

Most tankless heaters have slightly over half of their longevity covered by a warranty. For example, a unit designed to last around ten years typically has a six-year warranty. Doubling these numbers will bring the tankless heater’s 20 years to the aforementioned 12-year agreement.

Here’s a breakdown of the average warranty for each type of heater:

Type of Water HeaterTypical Warranty Period
Conventional TankSix years
Heat PumpTen years
Tankless 12 years
POUTen years
Solar Six years
Condensing10 years

Keep in mind that plenty of companies provide extended warranties. These warranties can offer five or ten years more, but they’ll add to the upfront costs or monthly expenses if you pay them off with interest.

Additionally, most manufacturers split their warranties into two parts:

  • Manufacturer defects (all issues caused due to improper production or transportation)
  • Part coverage (wear and tear that ruins components quicker than manufacturers quoted them to last)

You can also get a warranty from the service technician. These warranties typically cover damage caused by an improper installation.

What Voids a Water Heater Warranty? (PAA)

Many things void a water heater warranty, including customizing it, moving it without professional assistance, and modifying the plumbing. In addition, some manufacturers void their product’s warranty if you installed it without a technician. However, this depends on the make and model.

Let’s analyze each of these conditions.

  • Altering the heater will usually void the warranty – don’t modify any of the components without contacting the manufacturer. The last thing you want to do is ruin the heater and have to pay for the damages out of pocket.
  • Moving the unit to a new location can count as a modification – it’s always better to hire a technician to find out if you can change it to a more convenient spot. Unfortunately, doing so without professional help often terminates the remainder of the warranty.
  • Changing the plumbing and wiring often voids the warranty – a licensed plumber or electrician should only adjust your plumbing and electrical. Check the contract to find out if you’re allowed to make adjustments. Remember, this often includes switching the circuit breaker connected to the water heater.
A homeowner makes adjustments to the foam insulation attached to the pipes atop his water heater tank
  • DIY installations sometimes void agreements – almost all water heater companies take off all or some of a water heater’s warranty longevity. You’ll also have the opportunity to get a service warranty, which means you take responsibility for anything broken during the installation.

Is It Worth Getting a Water Heater Extended Warranty (PAA)

It’s worth getting an extended warranty on a water heater if you intend to live in the home longer than the initial service contract. For example, if you want to live in your home for over a decade, it’s worth extending a tankless heater warranty to its maximum agreement.

So, should you extend your heater’s warranty? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How long is the heater’s current warranty period? If your unit is covered for the rest of the time you intend to live in the house, there’s no need to extend it. Instead, you can ask the company if you can transfer its warranty contract to the new owner to increase its value.
  • What kind of heater are you getting? Rheem is famous for offering limited lifetime warranties. Check what the contract covers before assuming the entire unit is protected. If you’re getting a tankless heater, you likely won’t need to extend it beyond the average 12-year contract.
  • Is your water heater suitable for the climate? Solar units aren’t the best in freezing environments, whereas water heater tanks are suitable almost anywhere. Check the minimum and maximum operating temperatures before purchasing a unit. You can also inquire about environmental warranty coverage.

Can a Water Heater Last 20 Years? (PAA)

A water heater can last 20 years if you choose a traditional tankless unit, a solar model, or a condensing water heater. However, most conventional tank heaters don’t last two decades. Check the warranty agreement to know how long your unit should last.

You can save thousands of dollars by getting a long-lasting tankless water heater. While they initially cost more, you won’t have to replace it as frequently. Tankless, condensing, and solar water heaters typically last twice as long as conventional heaters. You’ll also save money on your energy bills along the way.

Remember, regular maintenance can make any unit last a bit longer than its predicted longevity.

Final Thoughts

Water heaters can last a long time, but regular maintenance is essential. If you don’t clean and repair your unit annually, there’s a good chance it won’t last as long as it should. Furthermore, you could void the warranty by making customizations or random modifications without a professional technician.


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