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Tankless vs. Solar Water Heaters: Which is Right for You?

As you strive to make your home more energy saving and eco-friendly, you might have come across the question: what type of water heater is right for me? My Plumber CA has installed, repaired, and handled many different water heaters over the years, and we have hands-on experience with conventional, tankless, and solar water heaters in San Diego, CA. We know the ins and outs of each type of water heater, so we understand the pros and cons of each – and which model makes the most sense for your needs. Below, we discuss the differences between solar and tankless water heaters and, hopefully, help you make the decision about which water heater is right for your home or business in San Diego, California.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters have gotten a lot of attention in recent years because of their compact size and overall efficiency. That isn’t to say that tankless water heaters aren’t without their drawbacks, however. It’s important to understand just where they excel – and their limitations


  • Almost instantaneous hot water
  • Provides water on-demand
  • Small and compact
  • Can save you 30-40% on water use (and expenses)
  • Affordable and cost-effective
  • Available in gas or electric varieties
  • Long lifespan (20+ years)


  • The initial purchase is expensive when compared to conventional water heaters
  • No reserve tank of hot water, so you might need to purchase multiple units
  • Electric tankless water heaters require proper voltage and amperage – you might have to upgrade your hookups
  • Must be within 50 ft. of a power source

Solar Water Heaters

With the recent California drought and consumers becoming ever more environmentally aware, solar powered water heaters are an increasingly popular option. If your old water heater has bit the dust and you’re looking to save on water and on electricity and gas usage, then a solar water heater might just be the thing you’re looking for.


  • Uses renewable energy – the sun!
  • Extremely efficient
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Saves money on gas and electricity bills
  • Uses 50-90% less energy than traditional water heaters
  • Federal tax credits and rebates are available for initial costs


  • Bigger than tankless water heaters
  • Can be more expensive to install initially
  • Needs sunlight to operate
  • Must be in a well-ventilated area
  • Interior parts can become corroded in areas with hard water
  • Must work around local regulations in order to install on a rooftop

Tankless vs. Solar Water Heaters – So What’s the Verdict?

While solar water heaters are a great option, there are some limitations that make it a more difficult choice. If you live in an area that gets frequent snow or your home is covered in shade, a solar water heater won’t provide you with the benefits that it would an individual who lives in a mostly sunny climate. Additionally, solar water heaters are usually installed on the roof, which isn’t possible with mobile homes or in areas prone to earthquakes. For this reason, we recommend tankless water heaters to most of our customers, except those individuals who are adequately prepared for a solar water heater in their home or place of business.

We hope this has helped to clarify the tankless vs. solar water heater debate for you. Remember to call My Plumber CA the next time you need water heater repair and installation in San Diego, CA! We also offer installation of tankless water heater in El Cajon, tankless water heaters in La Mesa, and more.

How to Dispose of Water Heaters

Getting rid of a water heater isn’t like getting rid of a TV. You can’t just leave it on the curb on trash day, nor can you sell it to someone else who might want to use it. When you replace your water heater, it’s usually because the old one no longer works or has aged out of usefulness. No one else is going to want that water heater either.

Here are a few things you can do if you live in the San Diego area to dispose of your water heater:

Go to a Recycling Center

In San Diego, it is illegal to take appliances like water heaters and refrigerators to the landfill. You are legally required to recycle these and other appliances as per the Metallic Discards Act of 1991.

Once the water heater is drained, you can take it to a local recycling center. Make sure you ask if the recycling center takes water heaters before you just show up with it. Also ask if you are entitled to payment for the water heater since many recycling centers make a profit on these items by stripping them for parts.

San Diego also runs regular community recycling events, such as for electronics and used oil products. Call your city or county officials to find out if a recycling event is planned for appliances. You’ll be able to put your old water heater on the curb for pickup if so.

Ask the Utility Company to Take It

Some utility companies will take old water heaters and other appliances to recycle for you. Some will even give you a credit on your bill if you are upgrading to an energy efficient model. You may have to file receipts to get the credit.

Ask My Plumber CA to Do It

It’s not recommended that you install or remove a water heater yourself. Call an experienced plumber that will safely and properly install your new heater and can take care of removing and disposing of the old water heater. This is the easiest option since the technician takes care of everything for you, and you don’t have to worry about anything.