Gas Water Heater: What Is the Right Size Tank?

Whether you are not getting sufficient hot water or feel the need to upgrade your water heater, you will want to know what size to get. The size of your hot water tank will make a big difference in everything from your family’s morning bathing routine to your utility bill. Here are the facts you need to know to help you choose the right size gas water heater for your home.

What Factors Impact Tank Requirements?

There are a few factors that will influence what size gas water heater your home needs. The number of people in your home has the most impact on your hot water usage, especially when people are on the same general schedule. The more people bathing around the same time, the faster you’ll plow through the water in the hot water tank! How much hot water you go through in a day may differ though, depending on how long each person showers or if you run the dishwasher or do hot water loads of laundry at the same time.

Tank Size: What to Look For

The size of the tank is the first feature to consider when needing to purchase a water heater. How many gallons your tank holds will determine how long of a shower you can take, whether multiple people can shower in the mornings and whether you can do multiple tasks that use hot water, such as run the dishwasher, washing machine, and still have enough hot water for a shower. Too big a tank can be excessive though since you’ll be using a lot of energy to heat far more water than you need.

The average shower takes about 10 gallons of hot water, according to, while the dishwasher and clothes washer takes 6 and 7, respectively. Your gas water heater should be able to support all of the hot water needs during “peak” times, such as when everyone is showering at the same time in the morning. Another way to look at it: You’ll want about 30 gallons for one person, and another 10 gallons for each additional person. So if you have a family of four, you may need a 60-gallon tank or larger, which would allow for multiple people to shower at the same time and still have enough hot water to run the washing machine or the dishwasher.

Other Factors to Consider

Tank size isn’t the only feature you should be looking at in a gas water heater. You should also be aware of the first-hour rating (FHR), which will tell you how much hot water the unit can put out in the first hour of its usage. This will tell you whether the unit can provide enough water for your busy morning routine. You’ll also want to look at how quickly the water heater can reheat the water once most of its contents have been used up. This is determined by looking at the BTU, which is a measurement of the amount of energy the heater uses. The more powerful heaters will be able to recover more quickly.

Making the Right Decision for Your Household

A water heater’s life expectancy is ten years, so it’s important not only to look at the hot water you need right now, but what your hot water needs will be in four, six, or eight years, especially for those with growing families. Choosing the right water heater is a big decision, but not to worry, Greenwell Plumbing is here to help you make the right choice! Call us today and we’ll schedule one of our experienced plumbers to help you choose a gas water heater that will meet your needs now and for years to come.