Hot Water Heater Advice

Max Goldman Posted By Max Goldman, Mar 31, 2008 at 4:18 AM

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  1. Max Goldman

    Max Goldman
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    May 16, 2007
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    I have an old fuel oil hot water heater and would like to replace it soon. Any advice on what to replace it with? I have a fuel oil boiler as my main source of heat. My debate thus far is between: 1. electricity 2. propane (get a tank and eventually convert the boiler to propane as well) or 3. possibly an indirect system (use the boiler to heat water too and year around). Natural gas is not an option and I have a Lopi Declaration as a supplemental heat source too. Any thoughts/info/advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. colebrookman

    colebrookman
    Minister of Fire

    Feb 7, 2008
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    I would look at the on - demand propane water heaters. Why keep 40 gals. or more hot until you need it. You could later tie it in with a solar heater for 3 seasons and use the propane as back up. Just make sure the on-demand can work properly with the solar. Just one man's opinion.
     
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    Dec 28, 2006
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    With the cost of propane fuel, the tank and plumbing, and the cost of the actual tankless heater I would really consider a plain old electric tank heater to replace your oil heater. I have an electric tank and cant justify an upgrade to tankless even if I did have propane onsite already. If NG was available I would have one right now since it is a cheap fuel in our area. If you must go gas then a tankless is a decent device that saves space.
     
  4. jebatty

    jebatty
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    Jan 1, 2008
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    Electric has two big advantages. 1) if you can get it, some utilities offer a cut rate for off-peak delivery of electricity. We have that, with 120 gallons of hot water, get electricity only after 11 pm and before 7 am. Never run out, even when all the kids/grandkids are here, and rate is about 5c/kwh. 2) install the electric hot water heater off the floor on a 2x6 frame, insulate under the heater, wrap the heater with 6" fiberglass on sides and top, install heat traps on both the cold and hot water lines, add foam insulation tubes to as much of the piping as you can get to, and you may realize about a 50% saving in electric use.

    Just the wife and me, but our monthly electric bill for hot water is about $4-5. That cost, plus low cost of electric hot water heater, is unbeatable based on current market for gas and oil.
     
  5. Redox

    Redox
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    Feb 23, 2008
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    I think it all depends on how much hot water you use. If it's just the two of you, the electric storage heater makes the most sense; lowest initial cost and manageable power demands. If you have teenagers who are used to that bottomless oil water heater, an indirect heater off the existing boiler would make the most sense. They last for a long time and the standby losses are minimal with good insulation. Propane would be my last choice, unless you are looking for an excuse to use it for something else, like cooking or drying clothes. Propane prices have been all over the place lately and it is only marginally cheaper than electricity in many cases.

    Chris
     
  6. jebatty

    jebatty
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    You could prepare the teenagers for their coming lives without water, get lo-flow showerheads (some even have timers) with shut-offs, and teach them the good ol' Navy conservation shower. Why spend money to pour down the drain, and then spend money to pay the sewer man to haul the drain water away?
     
  7. mjbrown

    mjbrown
    Feeling the Heat

    Jan 15, 2008
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    go to www.titantankless.com and check out these heaters. i put one in this past fall and for the month of march, i used 300 kilowatts less power than the month of march 2007. this heater is no bigger than a phone book, and the hot water is endless.my wife can do laudry and dishes at the same time as i shower and there is no end to the hot water.


    mike
     
  8. guy01

    guy01
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    Dec 16, 2007
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    northern PA
    I have a on demand tank (well not a tank) and its well over 20 years old they truly do pay for themselves . Most if not all my neighbors have replaced there tanks many times since we got this.
    I just looked it's even older I got it in 1973
     
  9. sylvestermcmonkey

    Mar 7, 2008
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    Whirlpool markets electric water heaters with something they call the "energy smart" feature. When you're not drawing hot water, it lets the temperature of the tank fall to 115 F. It increases the temperature to your setpoint on demand. Sounds like a good feature.

    Tankless gas heaters are best if you have natural gas. Propane could be cost-prohibitive these days. Tankless electric is an option to consider if your panel can take the load. The power requirements are large - similar to an electric range / oven.
     
  10. burntime

    burntime
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    Aug 18, 2006
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    Electric, quick and easy... If you have bad calcified or iron filled water you will not want to replace the tankless in 10 years. I have a nat gas and with the water heater, dryer, and stove the gas bill in winter is 30 bucks...if electric were 2xs as expensive (I doubt it) you are looking at 60 a month. Its gonna take a long time to break even with the propane. Of course gas type recover faster.
     
  11. dac122

    dac122
    Feeling the Heat

    Dec 11, 2007
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    I agree with some of the above.

    I am currently staring at the end of life of my Bradford and White Propane Direct Vent model, and have already done a substantial amount of research in this area. For me with propane $3.11 and electric $.15, electric is the way to go, and I already have the wiring in place. What really makes all the difference in efficiency are the heat traps and insulation thickness. Suprisingly, the Whirlpool EE3J40RD045V Energy Smart model, with builtin heat traps and 3" foam, has the same efficiency as on-demand units.

    Don't even waste your time with on-demand units. First off, you need 3/4" plumbing all around for you to not be frustrated. Plus since the efficiencies are about the same, why buy something so complicated. I can send you a spreadsheet if you like that will compare annual and 10 year cost of an on-demand propane tank, such as the Powerstar AE-125, to some electrics (Just send me a PM). Also, you will think twice about installing an on-demand electric once you see the power requirements of 40-80AMP circuits. That probably means on-demand electrics are no more efficient than tanks.
     
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    The current demand of a unit is not related to the unit's efficiency. 40 amps is a typical oven/range circuit and is on the very bottom end of the electric tankless heaters. 50-60 amps is the standard unit for a home. A 60 amp circuit can be fed with 8 gauge wire which cost nearly 3$ per foot at the HD. I used 8 gauge for 2 circuits in my home, a 60 amp hot tub and a 50 amp welder. Not a big deal really to run the wire but can get expensive if the run is long.
     
  13. James Gautsch

    James Gautsch
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    Apr 2, 2008
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    central susquehanna valley PA
  14. Redox

    Redox
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    Feb 23, 2008
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    Didn't Sears sell these a few years back? I thought they had a lot of problems with them. The idea of a plastic tank is a good one as it will never corrode.

    Chris
     
  15. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz
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    I have the Whirlpool Smart hot water heater. It has several settings to choose from. I use the energy smart setting. It also has a temperature setting knob on the control box. I have mine set max at 115 degrees.
    Can't tell the difference when showering etc. Supposed lifetime warranty also. It has a dent in the bottom casing, so I got 25% off the cost ;)
     
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