Figuring out how much it will cost to have your water heater installed is difficult to generalize.
A lot depends on the type of heater that you will have installed and the local labor rates in your area.
That said, there are some general guidelines for calculating this sometimes formidable cost of installation (it ranges from $300 to $3,000).
What Determines the Cost of Installation?
Here are the factors that will influence your installation cost:
- The site for the water heater
If you are replacing an electric water heater with a gas water heater, for instance, your home will require additional pipes and venting, jacking up the cost. If you are going tankless, several new pipes will need to be installed. If your home is old, you might need a couple of alterations to bring your new water heater area up to code.
If your home is completely ready for a new heater, with the appropriate pipes and venting holes already in place, installation can be a breeze, and thus much less expensive. The differences in the site of a new heater’s place make it impossible to create one number that will apply to all new hot water heater installations.
- The size of the water heater
A 20-gallon hot water heater can be installed more quickly and easily than a 50-gallon heater. The size of your water heater will influence the installation cost. Getting a tankless model does not mean that it will cost less to install, however. Installation for those types of heaters is actually more complicated and expensive (see below for details).
- The type of person that you have install the heater
If that person is you, obviously your costs are limited to new parts and tools that you might need to acquire, as well as the cost of possible permits needed to do the installation yourself. If a plumber is doing the installation, the labor rate will vary according to his/her licensure and level of expertise.
It is recommended to have a master plumber do the installation because gas leaks can be very dangerous, and in many cases local building codes need to be followed. It will cost more to get the job done right, but faulty installation could result in a re-installation for more money down the line.
Now, for a comparison of the different types of hot water heaters to be installed:
Electric Water Heater Installation
These are the simplest type of hot water heaters to install. Many times, the job can be done for as little as $300. There are not as many codes and venting issues to face when an electric hot water heater is installed. That said, count on paying for at least three hours of labor to get your electric heater installed.
Gas Water Heater Installation
Gas water heaters are a bit trickier to install because venting becomes a more important issue. Harmful gases need to be channeled away from your home.
In addition, codes change from time to time for these types of heaters, so cutting holes and installing lines to meet new codes can also boost the cost. Gas heaters can be installed for as little as $300 if your home is equipped for a gas heater and you are replacing a 50-gallon model with another 50-gallon model, for instance.
However, if you live in an older home and are changing from electric to gas, your costs can rise well above $500.
Tankless Water Heater Installation
These are, by far, the most expensive hot water heaters to install. The reason is that the job is far more complicated than simply installing a standard tank. The job can take a day or a day-and-a-half to do, which will boost the price above $1,000 in many cases.
For tankless gas models, a dedicated gas line will need to be installed to funnel large amounts of gas that heat the water line instantaneously.
Electrical work is needed if you go with a tankless electric model, and venting becomes more complicated with this type of model.
In summary, installing a tankless heater will cost up to 6 times more than a standard gas or electric unit.
Whichever model you choose, be sure that disposal of your old hot water heater is included in the installation cost.