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"Insta Heat" 110 Or 220 V Instant Water Heaters ?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle, Oct 24, 2008.

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  1. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I was talking to my brother in OK, and he said that they are installing alot of them.

    That they work for heat & hot water? Available in 100 & 200 volt capacities? And that the 100V unit runs for about $60? plus hook fees, etc, natch.


    And that if the units were inoperable, that I could have installed a "ball valve" to revert to the oil burner, if needed?

    I mentioned that I have a well for water supply ( hard water), and he said that wasn't a problem, but then told me to install a filter system between the incoming in the basement from the well, and the new (for me, it's 3 years old, my metal tank at 15 years old is already making me nervous), fiberglass tank I am installing, and then another one from the tank to the main water line into the house (which I already have).

    He said I could be totally independant off of oil with this system, ( insert for main house), and that I could heat the apartment with a 220 unit for the baseboard? And that I'd need another 200 system for the main part of the house, to supply enough hot water? and get a quick return on my $$$$'s.


    I've researched "Insta Heat" but I don't think I'm finding what he's talking about.

    I might also add, I take anything my brother usually tells me with a grain of salt, or 2, or 3.


    Come at me easy with this....I hear electric, and the school teacher from Charlie Brown kicks in :bug:

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  2. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    You will get a lot of feedback on these things in the Boiler Room. They are known in the biz as a tankless water heater and they aren't necessarily all they are cracked up to be IMNSHO.

    The 120V ones are really only powerful enough for one sink and it won't be very hot at that. If you want to take a shower with one, you are going to need the larger unit. The 240 volt ones are more powerful, but consume a lot of amps. This may be a deal breaker if it forces you to rewire the house for more juice. Many have installed them on well water and had problems with scaling, but others have had no issues. A water filter will only catch particles and not do anything for your water hardness, and this hardness is what kills them. The larger ones are also a lot more expensive.

    Using one for space heating is also probably a lost cause as you will need about 120 amps for every 100,000 BTU of boiler capacity. The largest residential panels are only 200 amps and won't leave you with enough capacity for much else. If you have an electric kitchen, forget it. Electric baseboard would probably be a better way to go as there is less loss in the piping. OTOH, electric is the most expensive way to heat something, even at $4/gal for oil. I think I'd stick with the boiler, but consider installing an electric tank type heater for use in the summer. It will probably save you a few hundred in oil over the summer and pay for itself rather quickly. There's still a lot of bang for the buck in a regular water heater.

    Just my .02

    Chris
  3. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Sounds like you're getting some pretty wacky advice. Do you have endless and free electricity?

    There is just about no advantage to a tankless heater over a good tank heater. A well insulated tank heater uses very little energy to stay warm - about 1/2 of 1% per hour.

    A tankless offers an advantage when used as a spot heater at a place that is far from the main heater. That's about it.

    Disadvantages? Many. Tankless heaters cost a lot more, repair parts not easily found, installation can be very difficult - electric or gas. Also, the standard tankless has no thermostat - and it only works by a temperature rise. If you preheat water with wood or solar, and send it to the tankless, it still runs and wastes energy. Also, many tankless heaters will not work with low-flow water systems. There are exceptions, and if you pay more you can buy a low-flow, or thermostat controlled unit and pay even more dollars.

    You said you have well water. Here, my well water is around 48 degrees. That would not work well with a tankless unless you installed a preheat water tank. In fact, with any heater, having an 80 gallon pretank that allows well-water to reach room temp before sending to the heater, works very well.
  4. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    How about running an electric tank hot water heater then? I've got a boiler driven tank and its an unbeleivable energy pig. Maybe I need to wrap the living hell out of it and the pipes going in and out to try to reatin the heat more effeectively. My burner fires upfor about 10-12 minutes every few hours to maintain the tank at its lowest setting (I forget the temperature) and if you want to wash your hands with warm water, you can bet the boiler is going to fire if you use a cup of hot water or so.

    I figure I use about 300-400 gallins of oil per year for hot water. That just seems like too much to me. Maybe I've got a bum water tank?
  5. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    If you are using your central heating-system furnace/boiler to heat domestic water, it is one of the most inefficient ways to do it.

    Stick a tank heater in and you'll do better. I won't say which fuel since I don't know what you're paying. Here in New York, electricity comes to 18 cents per KWH when you add in all extra charges. Heating oil is $3.25 a gallon right now, and propane is $2.99. I can get natural gas.
    Keep in mind that with a tank heater, an electric is the only one you can safely fully insulate.
    An oil or propane tank heater usually runs around 80% efficiency, whereas an electric around 95%. I prefer using solar and firewood, but not everybody can.

    One KWH of electricity gives you 3400 BTUs of heat.
    One gallon of oil gives you 130,000 BTUs of heat.
    One gallon of propane gives you 84000 BTUs of heat.

    So, one dollar today buys:
    Electric - 18,888 BTUs of heat energy
    Oil - 40,000 BTUs of heat energy
    Propane - 28,000 BTUs of heat energy
    Firewood/hardwoood - 160,000 BTUs of energy (at $150 per full cord)
  6. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Precisely what I'm doing. Definitely inefficient...especially since when I wash my hands and it kicks on the boiler it first has to warm up the boiler before it can warm up the water. Horriblly inefficient...probably way below 80% when you factor in standby losses of a cold boiler.

    Please clarify this. Are you saying to modify my existing hot water tank by installing a tank heater that doesn't run on oil (not sure if this is possible) or ripping out what I have an installing a new tank?

    My fuel options are oil and electric. Propane is also available, but I don't have any other propane fired devices apart from my gas grill so I'm incliined to guess that the infrastructure setup would be cost prohibitive. Natural gas is not available in my area.

    My electric is about the same, around $0.18/kWH.

    Solar would be pretty ideal for me, but the cost of entry is still far too steep for me. I have a good S/SW exposure on my roof and a good surface area so I think I could do well with it, but I can't cover the cost to install.

    From my position it looks like a 110 element in my tank, or an equivalent replacement tank. Yes? No?
  7. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    What I would do it install a stand-alone electric hot water tank heater and hook it to all your domestic water. Use the central boiler for home-heating only. And, of course it can be done, and it is done often with many installations. Putting a furnace in and tying the heating water and the domestic water is the cheap way to do it. It wasn't so bad when oil was 60 cents a gallon, but not so good now. One of my sons bought a brand new house last year in a city with pipe natural gas. It had a gas boiler which also heated the domestic hot water. It was awful, and he was kind of amazed how expensive it was to run. He quickly installed a natural gas tank heater

    In regard to a 110 volt tank-heater - I don't think there is one made that will make enough water for a household. You need a 30 amp, 220 volt heater. An average household can do fine with a 40 gallon unit unless you've got three teenage daughers who take a lot of showers.. A cheap one new cost $200, and an expensive one cost $300-$400. For me, I'd buy cheap and then superinsulate it. Last one I bought was from Sears in 1976, and it still works fine (although I'm not using it - it's still full of water).

    On the subject of tank-heaters, for years, the best and cheapest to run were oil-fired tank heaters - the Cadillacs of hot water. But, they are expensive and who nows where the price of oil is going?

    Right now, with current prices, propane will heat your water a little cheaper than electric - but than can change fast if propane prices soar again. Electric, on the other hand, can slowly go up over time, but legally, it can't soar like the other fuels.

    I've got an electric tank heater and also a propane tank heater. All I have to do is turn a few valves, and I can run on either one. Right now, I'm still using propane, but . . . I preheat my water with the wood furnace so the fuel choice is not a big concern to me.

    One more note on propane. If you ever decide you want propane - you will probably be way ahead of you buy your own large tank. Most propane suppliers will charge you a high rate if they have to come to your house and fill a small tank often. If you buy your own large tank, and only get it filled maybe once a year, you get a much better rate - just like a high-end user. I own my own 1000 gallon tank and get it filled either once a year, or top it off if propane gets a big price drop. Most suppliers will give you the best rate even with a 300 gallon tank, but usually not anything smaller.
  8. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Wow, I've learned alot from reading these replies !! Thanks guys !!!

    Thanks, Chris, that was my feeling all along. LIPA's rates are one of the highest in the country, I believe.

    Like a said, taken with grains of salt.

    That's my set up, too. And my thought process as well.

    See, that's the issue. I also have to heat a 550 Sf accessory apartment, which is on it's own zone from the burner, and that zone includes the master bedroom of the house

    [​IMG]

    Apartment to right, master at the bottom of layout. Connecting door from master bedrrom, into OSE basement vestibule, then apartment fire door. My daughter lives in the apartment, so leaving the doors open is generally not a problem. Ceiling fans through out.

    I know I can heat the main house with the insert,anything going down stairs is a plus. I have taken out french doors on both sides of the fireplace (located in room marked "bedroom 19 x 12" or so) between the door openings, as well as the door to the master bedroom. I figured what ever heat I can migrate down stairs to the lower level, is less oil burning.

    I also figure that for the heat in the apartment, and the hot water for the whole house, that the oil burner right now is my best bet. I do turn the burner off when the outside temps are above 45, figuring the house will hold heat to atleast 65-70, and we're both at work during the day. Under 45, it's the heat on in the lower lever (set @62), under 40, I run the insert. and leave the downstairs set at 62 just incase. Main house thermostat always off.

    Propane for both stoves, no access to natural gas.

    I was wondering if I could cut the bills down. I know I got a big time load a manure :coolmad:

    So, any thoughts on some energy saving?
  9. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Short of adding more stoves to the house, I'd say you are probably doing good. What is your annual oil consumption?

    It sounds like you have relatively low hot water needs, so I'd seriously consider the electric tank heater. As mentioned, an oil boiler with a domestic coil is a very inefficient way to generate hot water, especially in the summer when you are not using it for heating the house. If you had younger kids and needed a lot of hot water, an indirect heater can make a big difference. An indirect heater is a tank with a heat exchanger piped like another zone to your boiler and is very efficient, but not cheap to buy. They can make boatloads of hot water using the boiler and when they shut off, they stay off because they are so well insulated.

    I don't see many direct fired oil water heaters anymore in residences. If you were running a B&B;or had other big demands for hot water, they might make sense. I've been told they are expensive and short lived, but if you really need a lot of hot water...

    Chris
  10. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Hot water usage is very low. Laundry in cold water, usually. Showers in the AM. This past summer (well April to October). I turned the burner off during the day, and unless we needed heat ( I was just using the FP), it stayed off. I turned the burner on for 2 hours in the AM, to accomodate the showers, then turned it off. We really have no need for hot water at night, but if we did the burner went on as needed. In the summer, the pipes were warm enough to suffice for warm water needs in the evening when the burner was off.

    If I had to run the dishwasher, I started it after I turned the burner off, to use the last of the heated water. Or, if the laundry needed it, I timed a warm water wash to run before I left the house. Laundry gets hung outside, or if the insert is on, I have a metal expandable dryer. Stuffs dry in the AM, if hung at night.

    Hot water pipes were insulated this summer (it's so inexpensive, and such a pay back !!!), as well as the floor under the crawl space portion of the house. And new windows ...replaced 6 32 YO Andersons that were leaky, not locking, etc. I have 3 more to do, but they are in the den, with the insert, so I said let's stop for now, and a new insulated front door. I stuffed insulation into those windows like you wouldn't believe. There is already 8-10" of insulation in the walls. Tyveking and reshingling before Turkey Day.

    I used 50 gallons of oil from April to October 1st.

    Just got 100 gallons of oil to tide me over as I see what happens with using the insert for the first time this year. Right now, I ponder the expense of putting in an electric water heater, with the amount of oil I am using. I know it's going to be less, I anticipate way, way, less. I usually ran through 200 gallons a month in the cold weather before (Dec-March).

    I figured the investment in insulation, windows, the insert, etc would give me the biggest bang for my buck.

    A smallish stove in the apartment, we've already figured out where, is on the time frame of next year. Maybe.
  11. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Not bad at all, Hon! Live through the winter and let's all see what happens to the price of oil. If you can keep your 6 month consumption down to 50 gallons, I'd wait on the water heater and put it on next year's wish list. You might find a good deal on a scratch and dent or something!

    Chris
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