A water heater is an essential component of modern Shakopee home comfort, but there are a variety of options out there, which may be overwhelming. Let’s explore the many options available and why they may or may not be the right choice for your household.

Tank Water Heaters

Tank water heaters are the traditional option and still the most prevalent in Minnesota. The average household needs a water heater with a 40- to 50-gallon tank, but bigger and smaller tanks are options depending on your needs.

Although they’re common, tank water heaters have several major drawbacks. One is that the water within them needs to be constantly heated so that it’s ready for use throughout your home. Another is that, if the tank leaks, there’s a lot of water to potentially cause damage to your home.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters are tank units that use the same principles as your air conditioner to heat up your water. Where air conditioners transfer heat out of your home’s air, this type of heater transfers that heat energy into the water in the tank, which is more efficient than heating it the traditional way. Heat pump water heaters are often more expensive than standard tank units, but if you already have a heat pump for your home, you can often integrate it into your water heater to help with the cost of installation.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters heat up water on demand rather than storing a large volume of it. Sized properly, tankless units can give a nearly endless supply of hot water. Sizing a tankless system is a matter of choosing flow rate, which you measure in gallons per minute (GPM). A typical system provides 7 GPM, but what you’ll need depends on household size. Another factor is the number of appliances you want to run simultaneously.

Both tank and tankless water heaters can use several types of fuel sources.

Fuel and Power Configurations

There are three main fuel and power configurations to consider: electric, gas, and solar.


Fuel-powered water heaters are by far the most popular type of water heater. Propane and fuel oil are options, but natural gas is most common. Access to natural gas is widespread in Minnesota, and natural gas accounts for more than 25% of the state’s energy usage.

Electric appliances tend to be more efficient than gas ones in that they don’t waste power converting heat energy. However, depending on how electricity is generated in your area, a gas water heater might have less of an impact on the environment than an electric one.


Electric water heaters are usually the most affordable up front. While electric on-demand systems aren’t as energy efficient as their gas counterparts, they are very efficient relative to tank systems. Disadvantages include higher operating costs. Electric systems heat slower, and they’re susceptible to power outages.


Solar water heaters are typically tank water heaters located outside the home. They can have a dedicated solar panel or panels, or you can integrate them into your home’s solar panel array.

There are two main types of solar water heaters: direct and indirect circulation. Direct circulation generally isn’t practical in Minnesota due to freezing temperatures. Indirect circulation works through the use of a heat exchanger and heat transfer fluid.

Solar systems will typically use either electricity or natural gas as a backup. These setups can be rather pricey up front, but homeowners can save 50% to 80% over the life of the equipment.

Replacement vs. Conversion

When budgeting for your new water heater, be mindful of additional overhead. Replacing your current equipment with similar equipment will always be cheaper in the short term. If you’ve recently gained access to a natural gas line, conversion is well worth it in the long term. That said, having a plumber set up the connections for the water heater will be an additional cost. Likewise, upgrading your electrical panel for a tankless water heater, if necessary, will be an added cost. On the flip side, these are costs you’ll generally only incur once that will pay for themselves over time.

Tax Credit and Energy Rebates

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies water heaters and other home appliances through the ENERGY STAR program. When you choose a product with ENERGY STAR certification, you have confidence that it’s an energy-efficient choice. It also allows you to take advantage of the Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Credit, which is a federal tax credit. You can also take advantage of local energy rebates that you’ll find listed on the EPA website.

Your Local Water Heater Experts in Shakopee

Affinity Plumbing and Water Conditioning specializes in water heaters in Shakopee and throughout the Burnsville, Lakeville, Maple Grove, and Plymouth areas. Our plumbers pipe and repipe water and gas lines, perform plumbing repairs, detect and fix leaks and complete entire plumbing remodels. We also install sump pumps, garbage disposals, and water softeners. Contact us today to learn more about these services or to schedule an appointment.

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