Hot water heater
Photo by Jo Ann Snover

How to pick the perfect hot water tank for your cottage

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This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

How to pick a hot water tank? Start here.


The 40-gallon electric model (the same as in your house) is common. Two 240V elements heat water to a set temperature. You’ll rarely run out; the trouble is, they’re set always to heat water, even when you’re not using it.

Choose this option if: space and energy bills are not issues.


Cottages without the space can use a 20-gallon heater, but these take longer to heat water with their single 120V element. Plus, they run out of hot water fast.

Choose this option if: you’re tight on space and don’t have a horde of smelly teens waiting to shower.


Your best option is a tankless, propane, on-demand hot water heater. These small units hang on the wall and heat water as needed. Electric units are available, but pro- pane works better.

Choose this option if: you want to save energy and your cabin is rigged for propane.

Tip: Choose a unity with a longer warranty. You’ll pay more, but it’s built to last longer.

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