There are many factors that can affect water heater recovery, or how fast a water heater will heat up. The biggest things you’ll need to consider are:

  • Water heater energy source.
  • Water heater size.
  • First hour rating.
  • Temperature rise.

Take the time to do your research before buying a new water heater. If having a fast water heater is important to you, keep reading to learn how the type of water heater affects how soon you’ll have hot water.

How Long Does It Take for Hot Water to Come Back with Certain Types of Water Heaters?

Water heating times vary — it may happen instantly, or it could take 60–80 minutes. It all depends on the type of water heater you’re using. Here are some common heat up times for different water heaters, assuming the appliances are new and properly sized for the home:

  • Electric storage tank water heater: 60–80 minutes.
  • Propane storage tank water heater: 30–40 minutes.
  • Propane tankless water heater: 0 minutes.

Remember that these are the amounts of time it takes to heat new cold water coming into the water heater tank. With a storage tank water heater, your appliance is constantly refilling and heating water for when you need it. But if you use up all the hot water (say, after a busy morning with multiple showers), you’ll be stuck waiting for more hot water as your appliance refills from empty. Unless you have a propane tankless water heater, which heats water on demand, you may be left without hot water during peak times.

Conventional Gas Tank Water Heater

A conventional gas tank water heater, such as one powered by propane, can take 30–40 minutes to heat water if it’s starting with an empty tank.

Gas Tankless Water Heater

Propane tankless water heaters are very popular for homes with moderate to high hot water demands. Sized and installed correctly, they powerfully heat water on demand, so it only takes a few seconds to deliver hot water when needed.

Conventional Electric Storage Tank Water Heater

One of these appliances can take longer to heat water; up to 60–80 minutes. Electricity doesn’t perform as efficiently as propane for heating water, so it’s only a good option for small homes with small water heating demands.

Electric Tankless Water Heater

Like propane tankless water heaters, these units heat water on demand for faster delivery than storage tank units. However, they will still take a little bit longer than propane.

Solar Water Heater

Some homeowners choose to install solar panels to collect energy that can then power a water heater. These systems can deliver adequate hot water, but unless you live in a region with plentiful sunlight year-round, you’ll likely need to support the solar system with another water heater, powered by gas or electricity.

Other Factors That Can Affect Water Heater Recovery Time

Besides water heater type, many factors can affect how quickly your water heater delivers hot water.

  • Water heater size: If you frequently find your household is without adequate hot water, your water heater may be too small for your needs. When you research which water heater is right for you, be sure to read about how to size a water heater.
  • First hour rating: This is the number of gallons of hot water a unit can supply per hour, beginning with a full tank. Check the manufacturer’s information about the water heater to be sure the first hour rating of the water heater will meet your needs at peak usage times.
  • Home size: If your water heater is far away from the appliances of fixtures needing hot water, it may take longer to receive that hot water as it travels through the pipes.
  • Pipe diameter: Smaller pipes can’t carry as much hot water as larger pipes.
  • Age and condition of the water heater: Water heaters lose efficiency over time. If you consider that one year for you is like 10 for your water heater, yours might be older and less efficient than you think, and deliver less hot water than it should. How long does your water heater have?

If Your Water Heater Heats Water Too Slowly

Do you live in a home where it takes way too long to get hot water when you need it? It could be due to any of the issues above, or a problem that needs professional assistance. Talk to a qualified professional, like a plumber or propane supplier, about your situation to ensure you can stay comfortable with enough hot water.

Keep Reading More

Before making a purchase, it’s important to know how to size a water heater  so you’re never left with cold water. Interested in getting hot water on demand? You should read up on the advantages of tankless water heaters.