If you are in the market for a new water heater, you may be wondering whether to get a 40 or a 50 gallon model. Both sizes are popular and have their pros and cons. In this blog post, we will compare the two options and help you decide which one is best for your home.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Water Heater Size
There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing a water heater size, such as:
- The number of people in your household
- The amount of hot water you use daily
- The type of fuel you use (electricity, natural gas or propane)
- The energy efficiency and cost of the water heater
- The space available for installation
Let’s look at each factor in more detail.
Number of People in Your Household
The number of people in your household is one of the most important factors that determines how much hot water you need. Generally speaking, the more people you have, the bigger the water heater you need.
Here are some general guidelines for choosing a water heater size based on the number of people in your household:
- For 1-2 people, a 30-40 gallon water heater is enough
- For 2-3 people, a 40-50 gallon water heater is recommended
- For 3-4 people, a 50-60 gallon water heater is ideal
- For 5 or more people, a 60-80 gallon water heater is necessary
Of course, these are only estimates and may vary depending on your specific hot water usage habits.
Amount of Hot Water You Use Daily
Another factor that affects how much hot water you need is the amount of hot water you use daily for various activities, such as showering, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.
To estimate how much hot water you use daily, you can use the First Hour Rating (FHR) of the water heater. The FHR is the amount of hot water that the water heater can deliver in the first hour of operation when the tank is full.
To calculate the FHR for your household, you can assume that each person uses about 12 gallons of hot water per day for common tasks³. Then, add one to the number of bedrooms in your home and multiply this number by 12 gallons. The result is the FHR that you need.
For example, if you have a three-bedroom home with four people living in it, your FHR would be:
(3 + 1) x 12 = 48 gallons
This means that you need a water heater that can deliver at least 48 gallons of hot water in the first hour of operation.
Type of Fuel You Use
The type of fuel you use for your water heater also affects how big it should be. There are three main types of fuel for water heaters: electricity, natural gas and propane.
Electric water heaters are usually less efficient than gas or propane water heaters, which means that they need more energy to heat the same amount of water. Therefore, electric water heaters tend to have larger tanks than gas or propane water heaters.
A 50-gallon electric water heater is equivalent to a 40-gallon gas or propane water heater in terms of performance. This means that if you use electricity as your fuel source, you may need a bigger tank than if you use gas or propane.
Energy Efficiency and Cost of the Water Heater
Another factor that you need to consider when choosing a water heater size is the energy efficiency and cost of the water heater. Energy efficiency refers to how well the water heater converts fuel into heat. Cost refers to both the upfront cost of buying and installing the water heater and the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining it.
Generally speaking, the more energy efficient the water heater is, the more it will save you money in the long run. However, energy efficient water heaters also tend to be more expensive upfront than less efficient ones.
To compare the energy efficiency and cost of different water heaters, you can look at their Energy Factor (EF) and EnergyGuide label. The EF is a measure of how much heat the water heater produces per unit of fuel consumed.
The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater is. The EnergyGuide label shows you how much energy the water heater uses per year and how much it costs to operate. The lower the annual energy cost, the more money you will save.
To find the most energy efficient and cost-effective water heater for your home, you should compare the EF and the EnergyGuide label of different models and choose the one that has the highest EF and the lowest annual energy cost.
Space Available for Installation
The last factor that you need to consider when choosing a water heater size is the space available for installation. You need to make sure that the water heater can fit in the designated area and that there is enough clearance for ventilation, maintenance and safety.
Water heaters come in different shapes and dimensions, depending on their type and capacity. Generally, 50-gallon water heaters are larger and heavier than 40-gallon water heaters, which means that they may require more space and support.
Before you buy a water heater, you should measure the height, width and depth of the space where you plan to install it and compare it with the dimensions of the water heater. You should also check the local codes and regulations for water heater installation and follow them accordingly.
Choosing the right size for your water heater is not a simple task. You need to consider several factors, such as your household size, hot water usage, fuel type, energy efficiency, cost and space availability.
As a general rule of thumb, a 40-gallon water heater is suitable for smaller households (2-3 people) that use natural gas or propane as their fuel source. A 50-gallon water heater is better for larger households (3-4 people) that use electricity as their fuel source.
However, these are only estimates and may not apply to your specific situation. To find the best water heater size for your home, you should compare different models based on their performance, features and ratings.