What are Some Pros and Cons of an Oil Fired Water Heater?

Many different types and configurations of water heating systems are in use today. The good news here is, it is now possible to more precisely tailor the hot water needs of each home or office to the size of the space and estimated water usage.

The bad news is, there are many more choices and options to evaluate before choosing a new water heater system. In this post, learn more about the pros and cons of choosing an oil fired water heater.

How a Traditional Water Heater Works

oil-fired-water-heater-diagramA traditional water heater has several components: a tank for water storage, a source of fuel, and (for gas and oil-fired water heaters) fuel lines and a system of venting to safely remove the exhaust gases.

Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, and there is no tank to store hot water for use later.

Alternatively, traditional water heaters operate by dispensing the water at the top of the tank first, thus giving the unit time to heat the incoming cooler water at the bottom of the receptacle before it is needed.

What is an oil fired water heater?

Oil-fired water heaters, like traditional electric and gas powered water heaters, have a tank system in which water is stored so it is always ready to be used when needed.

However, there are some differences between oil fired heaters and heaters operated via other types of fuel. In particular, only oil-fired heaters use both oil and electricity for fuel. With an oil-fired heater, there is a burner that creates an oil plus water mixture. This mixture is then exposed to an electric spark and ignited to heat the water.

What are the pros and cons of an oil fired water heater?

As with any type of water heating system, an oil fired water heater has its unique set of pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks. To achieve the greatest energy efficiency for the least amount, it is important to analyze these pros and cons to determine whether an oil fired water heater is the right choice for your home or office.

Oil Fired Water Heater: Pros

Here are the acknowledged pros that an oil-fired water heating system can offer.

  • Very energy efficient.
  • Able to heat and store more water.
  • Water heating time can be up to four times faster than with other water heaters.
  • Very reliable long-term operation.
  • Extra insulation can significantly reduce any energy losses due to venting exhaust gases.
  • Costs less to operate.
  • Can heat lots of water very rapidly to supply high demand and large spaces.
  • Exceptionally efficient in providing hot water in large commercial operations.
  • Can work with a direct-fired, indirect-fired, tank or tankless water heater system.
  • Come in a variety of tank sizes.
  • Can operate solely via oil and electricity or via dual fuel sources such as propane plus oil.

Oil Fired Water Heater: Cons

  • Experts cite these as the major cons of selecting an oil fired water heater.
  • More expensive to purchase and install.
  • May require more cleaning and maintenance to continue operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Requires the use of combustible fuel sources (the oil plus water plus electric spark system).
  • Produce exhaust gases that must be vented to the outside of the building.
  • May be harder to procure due to the more limited availability of oil fuel.
  • Can produce some energy losses due to the need to vent exhaust gases.
  • May need to have the pilot light relit more frequently when housed outdoors.

4 Keys to Choosing the Best Water Heater for Your Space

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are four key aspects to consider before selecting a new water heater.


This must be considered first since energy costs can differ substantially in different geographic regions. Another thing to note; not all energy types are readily available in every area.

So here, what you want to do is find out what fuels are easily available in your area: electricity, gas, oil, propane. Then do a cost evaluation to get a sense of how much you would spend each month using different types of fuel to heat your water.


The cost of the water heater itself - purchase, installation, maintenance, repairs - is also a significant aspect to consider before you make your final purchase decision.

Along with the cost assessment, it is important to be aware that some types of water heaters are more expensive to purchase and install up front, but they will deliver much greater savings on monthly energy usage once operational. Doing these comparison estimates can be very helpful to make your final choice.


Whether your reasons are adopting a more sustainable lifestyle with a lower carbon footprint or simply saving money on your monthly energy costs, it is important to consider the overall efficiency projections for different types of water heaters.

These factors will highlight which type(s) may best align with your overall goals.


Some hot water heaters can generate higher amounts of hot water more quickly than others.

By comparing your home's daily hot water demand and the timing of that demand against the capacity and speed of the water heater, you can determine which water heater unit will align most to meet your needs.

It can be very helpful to schedule a professional consultation and home/workplace evaluation when you are ready to consider replacing your water heater. This consultation can help you evaluate the four aspects of selecting a new hot water heater and identify hidden cost savings you may not be aware of.

Finally, working with a professional will ensure your new hot water heater is installed safely and correctly the first time!

For a new oil-fired water heater installation in Vernon, call Water Heater Medic at Water Heater Medic.