Why Choose a Tankless Water Heater?

Leave a Comment - 50



Subject: Tankless VS tank.

I put in a Thermar Homemaster Deluxe back in our earth home in 85. It worked fine until we added onto the top of the earth home in 2000 and it had to go. I did have to descale it maybe 4-6 times in that 15 years of service, but never ran out of hot water and had no other issues with the unit as a whole. As long as water flowed, it worked. No power required. In 2000, we went to a 50 gal power vented Bradford White tank heater. Now, about 13 years into it, the hot surface igniter went out. Repaired that. The 50 gal tank type heater would never fill the hot tub installed and barely had enough for a standard tub and even runs out on longer showers. Then the tank started to leak..(Small drips) Been dealing with that but now the Honeywell Smart (gas) valve went out. Looking to go back to a tankless. Always liked the endless supply of hot water with the tankless.

One thing I see posted often as a con for a tankless is the tankless using over 100k BTU gas VS a tank type uses 40K BTUs. One can research this further if they like, I see the new direct vent TWH showing aprox 88% efficiency. Not sure what the efficiency is on a standard gas power vented tank type heater, but let's assume it's close to the same 88%. A BTU is a BTU. Even though the tankless is aprox 2.5 times the BTUs consumes of that of a tank type, at the end of heating the same amount of water to the same temperature, the BTUs of gas consumes would be the same in either unit.

Now for standby heat loss of a tank type heater, I've read that an average of 7 times per day, ones tank type heater will light up just to maintain that stored water temp. It seems this (to me) would indicate a 100% waste of gas just to have that amount of hot water stored up on hand.

Let's say you have this 50 gal tank full of hot water. You can open any number of outlets and dump 50 gal of hot water as fast as you wants. This is not possible with a tankless. You need to consider the GPM flow rate of the water heater. Perhaps some concessions there on the tankless. You may have a small learning curve in getting used to a tankless water heater, We had little issues getting used to our first tankless

Lance little

Subject: Tankless thankless

Well not only will your tankless water heater cost twice as much to install , you will also pay a plumber to come out to flush this unit out with a descaler every year. While you may not be using gas to keep a tank hot 24/7 , you will be using a heater that uses 200,000 btu's. V/s a unit that uses only 40,000 btu's . If you are using hot water for a family that tankless heater will be burning a lot of fuel . Think twice before letting some plumber who stands to make bucks by selling you a tankless . I am a plumber . Lance


Subject: Tankless nothing new

Saw one in German hotel (at bathroom sink) in 1969. Thought it was cool after I figured out what it was. Still have traditional in my house though. Over 20 years old and going strong.


Subject: Tankless heaters.

I lived in Germany from 1953 to 1956. Every apartment, hotel (and many homes) built after the war had tank less heaters. They were great. Plenty of hot water, no need to heat gallons of water that will cool as soon as the faucet is turned off.

Jim Coster

Subject: Tankless water heaters not good in cold climates

i work in the plumbing department at a "big box store" that you would reconize in pennsylvania. the associates and master plumber who works in this department does not recommend tankless water heaters. these heaters do not work well in cold climates because the water temperature of the ground water coming into the unit is around 35 degrees in the dead of winter. the unit that our store had for a while only had a temperature rise of 70 degrees which meant that you could only get around 100 degree water out of it in the winter. there are units that have a higher temp rise capability, however, they are at least $2000 plus installation costs. our store carries "high efficiency" conventional water heaters that if insulated properly, will not cycle the burner as much as older tanks. i did a rough calculation of an 80 degree tankless heater vers our best conventional heater and found that it would take about 7 years to amortize the high initial cost of the tankless unit verses operating costs of a conventional water tank. however, if an individual has a space limitation or requires a large amount of continuous hot water, a tankless heater is the only alturnative. further, for new construction a tankless heater may make sense. but in the majority of homes, replacing an older hot water heater wtih a very good new conventional water heater will make much more sense than a tankless heater.

William K. Lambie, M.D.

Subject: Tankless water heaters

Lots of comments from people who don't really know what they are talking about. I have owned a Bosch AE125 PowerStar for about 8 years now, I live in mid-coast Maine and my water heater produces almost scalding hot water in the shower all year round, even in January and February. It requires a great deal of electrical CAPACITY (120 amps) but not a great deal of ELECTRICITY. (Like having a big pipeline but very little flow.) I hardly noticed an increase in my electric bill when I installed it, maybe 10 dollars a month. I did not install it because I am a "friend of the earth" but because I was wasting thousands of dollars in heating oil. I cannot speak about other models, but Bosch does not make stuff that does not work. And yes, Europeans have been using them for decades for the same reason I installed mine, financial savings (because oil-based energy costs have been several times higher in Europe than they were here for the last several decades , thus making tankless water heaters much more financially competitive). By the way, my local plumber retired and now works at a big box store and has always warned customers away from these units because of the 120 amp requirement. I tried to explain to him the difference between electrical capacity and electrical current usage. Not sure I convinced him. Change is hard.


Subject: Misleading article

Lots of unsupported information here. First, tankless water heaters have not been in the field for 25 years, so the life expectancy mentioned is a swag. I think someone threw that number out because there is no tank to rust and they probably are looking at furnace life expectancy. Tankless heaters are more like pool heaters so I doubt you will get close to 25 years. Modern high efficiency tank style heaters are more efficient then mentioned and you have hot water when the power is out. Even though my 80 gallon tank has electronics and a blower, I still got 2 days of hot water during a power outage. I also have a recirc pump on my water heater so I am not wasting gallons of water waiting for the hot water to start. With tankless, you usually need more then one and need to locate them near the bathrooms to avoid water waste. And if you do take baths or fill a whirlpool, the smaller ones can't keep up with demand. If multiple showers are going at once, all suffer immediately. The big thing is, you can't just replace a tank with tankless, there are many things to consider. Right now they are like electric cars, they make you feel good about the environment, but the ROI isn't there.

Marc Amberson

Subject: Tankless Water Heaters

Gee These type of water heaters were available in the early 1980's, so maybe you are misleading folks with your statement. See Wikipedia! Tankless water heaters were popular and used in Europe in 1870's and it is cold there.
I had a friend who installed tankless water heaters that were plumbed thru a tank in the basement ( the water temp rise was caused by no more than ambient air temp to about 55 degrees in Oregon) which made all of the hot water he
needed in a 3 bedroom/ 2 bath log cabin. Later he installed solar panels which worked for heating the water and the interior of the log cabin.

sonia macdonald

Subject: tankless water heater

I've used my tankless water heater for 23 years. It's an eemax. So far, I have had no problems and, being a totally ignorant plumbing type, have never touched or flushed it. Reading some of the problems others have had is scary, and I hope I never have them as I wouldn't know what to do. My husband installed it, and he's been dead 15 years.

Tom Jones

Subject: Tankless water heater?

I can see their utility, but the work I'd have to do to install them would offset any convenience.
As a plus for tank heaters, mine can provide 50 gallons of potable water in an emergency.

Mike Chevalier

Subject: I would have to disagree with

I would have to disagree with this paragraph:
"Life expectancy is another major difference between tank type and tankless water heaters. A conventional water heater will last seven to 14 years on average. A tankless water heater can last up to 20 to 25 years, twice to three times that of a tank type heater."
I am a remodeler and have done a lot of plumbing including installing a Paloma tankless in my house. You can install a $400 tank heater and do nothing to it and get 20 years out of it or more. My Paloma requires annual flushing with vinegar to keep it in good health. Tankless heaters are complicated and have switches, sensors and sensitive electronics that I can't imagine lasting all that long. The control board on mine failed after only 2 short years even though I had it plugged into a surge suppressor. The manufacturer replaced it free of charge, but still....
Also, the energy savings are debatable. I looked at my gas usage before and after and could not see a difference. Studies have shown that the efficiency of tankless heaters degrades a lot with mineral scale buildup although it does with tank heaters also but at a slower rate.
I could have replaced my old heater with a tank type for $450. Instead I installed a tankless. $1000 for the unit and $700 for the stainless steel pipe that it requires for venting. It was a move I regret and tell customers of my experience.

John Browne

Subject: tankless water heater

I bought a "used" Paloma from a friend who'd had it for 9 years (he got a bigger one) and installed it in 1989. It has NEVER been flushed with vinegar. The only 'problem' I've had in 24 years is that I've had to blow soot off the air intake screen for the pilot light... twice, now. Once I decided to clean the thermocouple that the pilot light heats up, which i did with an emery board in a couple of minutes. That's IT. 24 years...
Gas consumption, compared to our old tank model, is about 20% of what it was. Our local gas company leases the tank models... and I went in to ask them if they considered leasing "on-demand" units. They just looked at me... and I asked "you know what I'm talking about?" And the guy said "Oh, sure... we have a Paloma here, in the office."
I've seen one electric tank model that lasted 30 years, at our local Grange hall. All it ever needed in that time was heating elements- twice- in that time. When it "retired" we put in a $400. "on-demand" model (Made in USA!) and it's been there for 3 years, now. The electric savings will have paid for this thing by mid-2014. THAT'S how much less hot water heating we have needed there. Of course, an electric unit doesn't require stainless vent stack... although we finally added that at home, for the elbow and the first 2'... but we didn't do that until we had been using it for over 10 years, not "knowing" about that requirement. (I guess that's a danger of doing it yourself.)
If only HALF the people in this country got rid of their tanks and installed "on-demand" systems... gas or electric... it would cut national energy consumption by around 3%. Tanks came in when the REA was trying to get rural people to sign up for electricity, back in the 20s & 30s. They'd GIVE you a tank for free! (Remember hearing "the first one is always FREE''?)


Subject: The modern storage water

The modern storage water heater is not terribly inefficient (even the "regular" ones). Water is a pretty good insulator and the burner is at the bottom of the tank.

Storage losses can be significant if no hot water is users for LONG periods.

It's quite difficult to transfer enough heat to the flowing water to get it up to shower temp from tap temp.

All of these combine to show why the previous Federal Energy Upgrade Rebates excluded tankless WH's.

On the other hand, if you are not using hot water for long periods of time (like a vacation home, where no one turns down the WH on the way out), or need lots of hot water, or don't have space for a conventional WH, this may be the right choice.


Subject: Water is a good insulator?

Water is a horrible insulator. As a liquid it supports convection, which is its way of shedding heat from its top surface as quickly as possible. What makes modern water heaters efficient is the insulating jacket, not the water.


Subject: tough to instantly raise tap water temp to shower temp

It takes a lot of energy to instantaneously raise the tap water temp to that needed for a shower, and water is a pretty good insulator.

If you look at the energy use per year for an efficient (not necessarily highly efficient) conventional water heater vs tankless, you will see they aren't very different.

The federal government agrees as they excluded tankless heaters from previous energy efficient rebates.

However, for some applications they are appropriate: a vacation home where you can't reliably turn down/off the conventional WH, or where the hot water draw is greater than the size of the conventional heater that you can install.

In Europe they have tankless units which supply only one use: for instance, shower, and they are installed near the point of use.

US building code won't allow any gas fired appliances in the bathroom.


Subject: use in earthship

We are planning on building an earthship on our land in the mountains. Since we will be there only a few months of the year the tankless makes sense. However, we will be off the grid, using solar and wind power. Anyone used a tankless in this situation?


Subject: Tankless

I have solar electric, but am also tied to grid. Have had tankless, electric water for 4 years. NEVER a single problem. Awesome savings since my elec is free and endless hot water after a 5 sec draw from cool pipe.


Subject: Water Heater

Once I went on a long trip and turned my water heater to the pilot mode, the burner didn't come on but the pilot stayed lit.

When I returned I had enough hot water that I forgot to turn it back on. My gas bill went to almost zero.

Tip, you mist likely don't need the burner.

Jerry Cliver

Subject: Tankless

As an electrician I don't like the heavy load the electrical ones put on the service. I've seen several installed by "handymen" have to be removed because of overload. Worked till heat or cooking came on at same time. If you think you're going to save money you're right - about 10 to 20 cents a day. A long RMI. Point of use is better because it saves pipe loss. Heat pumps are better and work on existing wiring. Formula for tank heat loss = Area(water temp-air temp)/R value of Insulation. Typically 37.5*(120-60)/16 = 140.8 btu/hour. Divide by 3412 to get kW and get .0413 kW. Times 24 = .9912kw or about 10 cents. There are other factors but thats the jest.


Subject: Tankless

While it is a heavy load, installed by my electrician and the fact that I have free electric via my solar, it's a no brainer. This has never given an ounce of trouble in 5 years. Never.

Jay Cooke

Subject: Tankless (propane) water heater history

I converted my 2-bedroom, 1,100 sft house to propane about 16 years ago. One improvement was installing a Myson 325 tankless. My home is in a small rural high desert town at near 5,000' elevation. I've seen the temperature drop to -25 F and weather is extremely variable. If one allows for the somewhat different operating conditions of the tankless, and is patient for a few minutes while it gets going, it outperforms a standard tank system of either electric or gas operation. I have had ONE service call; a tiny bit of airborne fluff had snuffed out and choked the pilot light! My experience says "go tankless" with no caveats.


Subject: Tankless not ready for prime time

We installed a high-end Takagi tankless water heater 2006 and removed it in 2009 because:

1. Plumbers do not know how to service them. My heater developed a leak which Takagi's recommended plumber could not fix: Takagi had to send their own people out to make a simple fix.

2. It takes a minimum water (I think a quarter gallon per minute) flow to turn the heater on. Which means you cannot have a small stream, and it is not easy to tell how much to turn on the faucet.

3. If you use a recirculating pump, you need a big, powerful one which is very noisy.


Subject: When electricity went out for

When electricity went out for nearly 3 days I was able to take hot, or at least warm, showers every day off the heat remaining in my 80 gal water heaters tank. Neighbors had a tankless heater and it was cold showers for them. Tankless water heaters are fine as long as everything works, but are nearly worthless when power fails. No thanks!

J. R. Woolston

Subject: tankless on-demand water heaters

I've read all the preceding comments and I agree with most of them. One fact that was not mentioned is that there is a minimum flow rate needed to turn a TWH on. If you open a hot water tap minimally, as when brushing one's teeth, for instance the unit may not turn on - thus just cold water. I installed a TWH (myself) in a seasonal home in northern Maine in 2006, running on propane, and use it about three months each year. So far it has worked perfectly. I agree with the comment about the well pump pressure variation and its affect on the temperature, however. Also, proper venting may be difficult to achieve in some situations. Mine is in a well-insulated garage: it works fine when a door or window is open (OK in the summer) but doesn't vent as well with everything closed up. But my family (with kids who take at least one shower each day, sequentially) love it because it never runs out of hot water. So far, no maintenance problems.

Gary Maxwell

Subject: maintenance costs

One thing that is never mentioned in the argument for tankless water heaters is the lifespan cost of maintaining them. A conventional water heater will most likely never need a service call until it needs to be replaced. The tankless units are very complicated with circuit boards, sensors, and other components in them that can malfunction. A buddy of mine who bought one had a malfunction after his $2000 tankless heater was only a few years old and had to call a service technician to fix the problem. That probably canceled out several years of savings.

The other problem with tankless is that most units will not make hot water if the power is out. My standard gas hot water heater does not require electricity. It sure is nice having hot water when the electricity is out.

I prefer using simple, reliable technology.


Subject: Repairs?

I believe the repair history of most tankless heaters is about ten to one. Most tank heaters never need serviceing until they are replaced.



Subject: tankless

It should be mentioned that if one is going to use a tankless water heater for their home they should consider a water softener system. All too often I have seen tankless units fail early due to scaling. Just like a car's radiator a tankless unit has a smaller version within. It's this radiator that the water is instantly heated as it passes through which is prone to clogging. And of course the hard water scaling does the clogging. With that said the price for installing a tankless water heater rises up to at least $3,000 in the end. So is it cost effective? In the long, long, long, run..... Eventually. Also, there are so many components within these units that they do require precise adjustments, such as oxygen availability at elevation, in-coming gas pressure, exhaust performance, these are just a few named. I would not personally install one in my home unless all my hot water fixtures were within 10 feet of the unit as well. Why? Well it does take a lot of wasted water for the heat to arrive. And if one was to install a re-circulating pump to offset that wait period then that greatly reduces the life of the tankless unit. May this benefit those who are considering such unit.

running tankless

Subject: tankless

Why do you think it takes any more water to go through the same length of plumbing pipes from a tankless heater than it does from a tanked heater? Just another way to sell more tank heaters?

Bruce from DC

Subject: water heaters

Folks who still have hot water heat, with natural gas as the fuel, should consider an "indirect-fired" hot water heater along with a high-efficiency boiler. The HE boiler is about 90% efficient. An indirect fired water heater simply uses a closed loop of the same water that's in your radiators to heat water in an insulated 40 gallon storage tank, by running the heating system water through a coil inside the tank. The "hot water loop" is separate from the one or more thermostatically-controlled loops that heat your house, and is controlled by its own thermostat. This system is much more energy-efficient than a conventional gas-fired hot water heater and has a much faster "recovery rate." So, a 40 gallon tank works fine in a household of 2 adults and 3 children. The system is perfectly scalable: if you want more capacity, you just add another tank in a parallel feed with the existing tank. In our experience, even in cold weather, when the heating system was working hard, there was no noticeable effect on the availability of hot water. Just suggesting this as an alternative for people who have hot water heating systems. Reports are that tankless systems' savings over conventional heaters are often less than promised and, in any event, most of the saving is not due to the heat loss from the standing tank of hot water in a conventional system, but to the inefficiency of the conventional hot water heater as compared to the tankless. A high-efficiency gas boiler eliminates that disparity.


Subject: Indirect-fired -- great option

I agree -- if your house uses hot water heat (radiators) an indirect water heater is a great option. A high-efficiency boiler will convert 90+% of the energy to hot water, that circulates to the indirect fired water heater. The indirect fired tank in my house is super insulated as well -- very low heat loss from the tank. Further, an indirect-fired tank is never subject to being directly heated by gas flames -- so less temperature variation and high heat-low heat cycles means a longer life for the tank.

Trent Combs

Subject: Tankless is superb

When we built our current house, we went with a conventional unit. It wouldn't fill the roman tub full before running cold. When we needed to move the unit during a remodel five years ago, our contractor recommended a tankless. HUGE difference! We can run the shower, laundry, dishwasher, and fill the tub - all at the same time. When we're not using it - it's off. Best decision we've made in a long time.


Subject: Tankless water heaters

I have had one for 4 years now. I installed the unit myself. If a plumber has issues installing one of these, he should not be a plumber. I have never run out of hot water. My home is 5 bedroom and 5 bath.

B Woodman

Subject: ROI

Considering all the pros and cons of both tank and tankless hot water systems, and the ever-cheaper costs of natural gas, how many years before you see a Return On Investment of your tankless system? In dollars and cents, long term, is a tankless system really worth the costs?


Subject: Roi

I converted from an electric 80 galloon tank to a natural gas tankless Rinnai. On average my savings in electricity plus the added gas bill leaves me with a $40 a month savings. Winter months when the city water is freezing I see the biggest savings. If you convert from a gas tank to a gas tankless your savings will likely be less. After the federal tax credit I received full payback took almost three years. In this low interest rate environment energy efficiency upgrades can be a great investment.


Subject: Tankless water heater

These are essentially a "Mr. Coffee" machine without adding the coffee. HOW many coffee machines have we all tossed out when they just up and fail? (I keep a spare so I won't have to miss my morning coffee when it happens)
Another problem for me was all electric house, making my choice electric only. I was told the electric version required 3 circuits of the size your stove uses.
Too many minuses to offset any plusses.

Ahmed Al-Hujazi

Subject: Space and Money Saver, but...

The tankless water heater we had installed has been working fine for over five years. That being said, there are some things to consider: They cost twice as much as regular water heaters, and have half the warranty period. They reduce water pressure by about 5% to 10%, depending on your plumbing and water source. They do save space, so if you have a small basement area, they are off the floor, but they do require a means of exhausting to the outside. They burn 3 times as much gas heating water, but are not on continuously, so we have noticed a considerable drop in our gas bills (about 20%, but don't quote me). I'd say for a household that has a fair number of people who will use hot water in turn, then it's great, as long as they are not using hot water simultaneously.


Subject: Tankless Waterheater in both houses

Like all equipment, there are good and there are bad. Same with plumbers. This was absolutely the best investment in our homes. (i1999 each house $2,000 install / replace tanks - house 1: 2200sf 3 bath, house 2: 1340sf 1.5 bath) We frequently have family and friends visit and have never had a problem with these tankless systems. Two of our children were so impressed, they had them installed in their own homes.


Subject: Thanks to the tankless water heater

I had one in a prior house some years ago and never broke down. We moved to another house and two years later we had one installed. Same results: never broke down and we saw the $$ saved in our energy bills. We are working in the preliminary stage of building our last home (we are retiring) and we already told the contractor that we want a tankless water heater. Most of our friends are slowly switching to them and none has regretted it.

Daunna Minnich

Subject: tankless water heaters

We bought a new house 5 years ago with a Rinnai tankless heater. Works great. The only time we had a problem was after 2.5 years when an intermittant beeping started in the house — nothing like the usual beeps from our kitchen appliances, washer/dryer, and low batteries in smoke detectors. Once we figured out where the beeping was coming from, we opened our owner's manual and discovered we were supposed to have the tankless heater flushed annually to prevent gunky build-up. A plumber showed us the murky green water, and now we realize that if we want our water heater to have a long life and good, trustworthy performance, the annual flushing is a must — and cheaper than premature replacement.


Subject: Only a fool would install one

In May 2010 we installed a tankless water heater. Last week I threw it in the trash. Why? Simple. It was a piece of garbage. It was expensive to install and it never worked properly from day one. Without putting you to sleep with a complete list of what was defective, I will merely summarize - EVERYTHING was garbage.

What a piece of crap. Expensive crap. No quality, no service, no factory support, no nothing. My plumber refuses to install them anymore. The defects were making him crazy (me too). I have called 5 other plumbers to verify the frustration level, and all agree that these things are the devil. My plumber rips out three units per month now, and strips them of the copper to help defray costs. Interestingly, all plumbers I talked to agree that all brands are garbage.

Long story short, anyone thinking about installing one should be arrested for terminal stupidity. With the ever declining cost of natural gas, there is no way anyone should consider them.


Subject: I must be a fool

Our's was installed a year ago and it has been an unqualified success. One of the best home improvement investment we have made.

Mark Benson

Subject: I've used them for 14 years

Europe seems to be fine with them. I've used a natural gas fired Bosch 125 in two different houses and only had one service call--covered by a "maintenance contract." I installed both of them myself and have been very satisfied.

I agree there are some issues with them that make them unacceptable for some people. Mine "hiccups" after three minutes in the shower (briefly goes cold before restarting). Other than that, I'm happy with the energy savings--about 35% over what was here before.


Subject: R they the best for everyone...No

Sure a $3500.00 install vs a $900.00 change out, ( there is a room for an automatic storage tank in the home), then the prediction is 2 standard tanks vs one tankless. If the homeowner needs are like couples who travel months at a time, what reasons you need endless hot water for a period over 3/4 of an hour. Remember tankless gas inputs are 4 to 5 times more gas then standard, but burn 90%+. If you have constant pressure like city water then the machine will keep the water temp within a degree where well water it fluctuates pressure therefore over or under heating by 6 degrees, and makes the unit adjust more. Besides the wait time to get the water once the tankless stops, cold sandwich happens during a brief off/on or a short term use. Example, like a dishwasher will need u to waste water @ the sink to get the unit running then turn on the washer otherwise it will heat the water by electric element.
Although these units are all foreign, parts are available if you have a professional install it because their supply house purchased from will have parts unlike box stores purchases who won't have parts that homeowners don't know who to call for service and/or didn't install it correctly.
Efficiency is there just remember the 3 to 5 year De-scaling process that keeps it working efficient can cost the consumer $200 to 300 dollars or if its being to long these 95% eff. models will overheat and crack. All depends on water quality.
I say give it another 5 years when the gov't will outlaw natural draft storage tanks and you must purchase a high eff. I like State Water Heater hybrid design or my 50 gallon 95% eff. tank that gives 160 gallons of water first hr. then 129 gallons there after with only 1.5 times more input gas with the same size gas line the old had. Quick five minute flush 4 times per yr is great maintenance for free. Because it is 95% burn and over 90% thermo eff. and I can use every fixture over 10 15 gallons a minute w/o a drop in pressure unlike the tankless stops usually @ 5.5 gallons due to the fact the water is not heated starting @ 50 55 degrees and can only raise it 70 degree therefore 200000 btu input of gas to achieve that.
Recap how great are they? If you use the exact same water volume I will say it can pay of itself if you buy a good one.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.