Tankless Water Heaters verses Regular

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by reviekat, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. reviekat

    reviekat Well-Known Member

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    Let me start by saying that I have gone back and read previous threads and we need more advice than those offered.

    As some of you may recall we have the hot water tank that takes up to nine minutes to deliver hot water to the upstairs bathroom.

    It is time to replace that albatross.

    Here are my DH's questions about tankless versus regular:

    First, some facts: our current tank is in our attic (we live in a two-story home);
    our do have gas for our stove and heating; three bathrooms (usually two showers a day); and we know absolutely nothing about tankless water heaters.

    1. How does tankless work?
    2. How often does the system need to be replaced?
    3. Is maintenance and repairs costly?
    4. Could this be installed in the attic?
    5. What are potential problems?

    That's all I can remember. DH gave me the list of questions last night at about midnight when he came to bed, so I'm sure I'll more!

    Thanks for the help!
    Revee
     
  2. dwcraft

    dwcraft New Member

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    I had a tankless water heater installed nearly three years ago. I think they are wonderful. I have absolutely no problems with mine. As you may know you can get them in electric, natural gas and propane. They are new around here where I live so it was a little hard to find someone who would install it. It has to be installed by a licensed plumber in order for the warranty to be valid.
    As for where to install it. It can be put any where. Mine is in the mud room and takes up very little room. Mine runs off of propane so mine had to be vented through the roof.
    I have never run out of hot water. As long as there is water and either gas or electric there will be hot water. They are very efficieint cost wise in the long run. No huge tank of water having to be heated constantly.
    I would highly recommend getting one. If you have any other questions or if I didnt answer all of your questions feel free to email me.

    Don Craft
    Centerville, Tx
     

  3. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    1. How does tankless work? It heats the water as it passes through the heater. It only heats when water is flowing through, i.e. when you have turned on a hot water faucet or the shower, etc. When you aren't running hot water, it's off.
    2. How often does the system need to be replaced? We have had ours close to ten years. I love it. I don't think you need to think about replacement. Nothing to wear out.
    3. Is maintenance and repairs costly? Never have had either.
    4. Could this be installed in the attic? I have no info on this. Ours is in the utility room next to the washing machine.
    5. What are potential problems? If everyone wants to shower while the dishwasher is running, there is a demand problem, but that was true when we had a conventional heater, too.
     
  4. painterswife

    painterswife Sock puppet reinstated Supporter

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    We have had a propane tankless going on three years. I would never go back! Endless hot water for my long showers.

    We have very hard water so we do descale it once a year( running and acid solution through it with a small pump) This keeps the scale from building up on the tubes inside the heater.

    Our tankless heats all our hot water and the radiant floor heating as well.

    Vented through the wall.
     
  5. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    Just a thought---if your albatross takes 9 minutes to deliver hotwater to it's furthest point of delivery, maybe it isn't so much the heater as the long range of unsulated water pipes? That is our problem, anyway, even after wrapping all exposed pipes, it takes forever for hot water to reach our kitchen. The previous owners installed an under-sink tankless heater in the kitchen to address that problem. We could use another in the upstairs BR. You might consider installing at-location heaters??
     
  6. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was very interested in a tankless water heater till I talked to a gal who works at an appl,iance repair shop. She said the tankless seem to be nothing but problems always needing repair which mean you are without hot water till the part arrives.

    I asked her which brands seemed to be the worst and she said they had incountered many differant brands.

    Some of the tankless places was a horse barn, housing for seniors.


    On-demand hot water really does appleal to me but the thought of not having hotwater is not a nice one


    Someday I hope to have radient floor heat and I think we will be going with a oil hotwater heater.


    Mrs Whodunit
     
  7. Well my wife and I are remodeling our newly purchased building that we are turning into a Bakery business and the man from the county health department recommended that we use a regular 40 gallon hot water tank instead of a tankless hot water heater. According to him the tankless are not very reliable.
     
  8. reviekat

    reviekat Well-Known Member

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    For those who have heard bad reports on the tankless, DH would like to know if anything about why they were not reliable or if there was a common repair having to be made?

    Thanks!

    Revee
     
  9. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Ours is a Bosh. It has been perfect. These type water heaters are in use in Europe and have been for YEARS. We had them in our house there in 1973. In 1974, in Indonesia, the house had small on demand heaters at every use point.

    The U.S. is behind on this!!!!!!!
     
  10. owhn

    owhn Well-Known Member

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    hi revie:

    there are really two basic points in the tank/tankless debate. both involve money.

    I am sure you can buy good and bad tanks and a good and bad tankless.

    As for the money:

    The tank type is basically cheaper ... you get storage of hot water made over time .... so though you buy a larger tank, the thermal element is smaller.. it just runs longer ... and the key is that the tank can feed many locations in the house.. as opposed to having tankless ones in each bathroom, kitchen etc.

    now the tankless does not lose energy over the hours of no demand like a tank will which is GOOD .... BUT it uses energy whenever you want hot water... so if you are using electricity anyways, you are ineligible to get a much lower off peak energy rate.

    You could talk to your electric utility folks ... they have specialists who can give you the good free advice .. certainly on electric tankless vs tank types...

    let me now if you need more info

    marc/owhn
     
  11. I recommend the AutoCirc from Laing (www.lainginc.com). We've been quite happy w/ours for the 4 years we've had it. Our master bath is at the far end of the house from the w/h. It used to take about a minute to get hot water back to the shower, now it is about 7 seconds (time it takes to get from sink where pump is located). All the other faucets in the house get hot water almost instantaneously.

    I am using more gas to keep hot water in the line, but the convienience and water savings make up for it...at least in my mind! :)

    Kent M.
     
  12. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My parents have had a tankless system for nearly 30 years (they live in England). The first unit ran for well over 20 years, never needed repair and saw my sister and I through our teenaged years. It was replaced because my parents remodelled, not because it had stopped working. The new unit it in the attic, so yes, you can do that.
    When I first set up house we too had tankless and it was an ancient beast. If the pilot light went out it could be difficult to get it lit again, but even with babies and cloth diapers I don't even remember any problems with supply.
    I would have tankless again in a heartbeat - these tanks seem so antiquated to me and if I weren't so frugal I wouldn't even be waiting until one or other stopped working to replace them.
    I do take shorter showers now, so I'm not sure about tankless saving energy. With endless hot water you don't get that wake-up blast of freezing water to tell you your shower has been long enough! lol
     
  13. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure the tankless heater would shorten the delivery time too much. But the autocirc. recirculation pump will definitely do that. You can often find them on ebay for about half of what Lowe's or Home Depot sells them for. And they are very simple to install; you just have to have a plug near the sink.
     
  14. missyinohio

    missyinohio Well-Known Member

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    We had one installed about three years ago and love it. It's propane. Got it from Lowes. We have a water softner, so not worried about scale buildup. Now my folks tried a 110 electric model and it was worthless. Lukewarm water.
     
  15. pgmr

    pgmr Member

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    Here I go quoting myself! :)

    You can use a recirculating system and a tankless heater. The Autocirc probably doesn't have enough flow to activate a tankless, however. I tested ours and got a flow of .4 GPM (the Takagi's I've looked at need .75 GPM to start and .6 GPM to stay on). Grundfos makes a unit that uses the cold line for a return. The pump mounts near the w/h and the crossover valve under the farthest sink. It has a 1/25th hp pump vs. 1/150th for the Autocirc and the flowrate chart looks like it should work for most installations.

    Kent M.
     
  16. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Since it seems to be the upstairs that is the problem, why not look into solar units as well?

    Also, everything that I've read about tankless heaters says that you need to install them at "point of use" (in the particular bathroom or kitchen) for them to do the best job. They do take up some amount of space, so factor that into your decision.
     
  17. mamabear

    mamabear Well-Known Member

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    I am so HAPPY! I had ran in to Lowes yesterday to pick up some paint and saw a Bosch tankless water heater marked down from 498.00 to 392.00. By the time I got back home, I had forgotten it. It was late in the evening before I remembered and I mentioned it to my husband. He called to ask some questions, found it was a special order that folks had returned because they needed a natural gas heater and got a propane one. The manager said that we could have it for 150.00 if we picked it up that evening. My husband said yes and while they were talking, someone else was trying to cart it off. Anyway, we now have a 500.00 heater for 150.00.
    So you might want to check at your local building store to see if they have anything marked down.
    Have a great evening.
    mamabear
     
  18. missyinohio

    missyinohio Well-Known Member

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    This is EXACTLY what happened with the one we got. Someone ordered natural and they delivered a propane one. And from Lowes as well.
     
  19. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

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    oops, somehow I thought there were only two posts...sorry...
     
  20. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    I did some research into this when planning an addition. Here's my take.

    1. How does tankless work? - The device heats water as it is flowing through the heater instead of heating up a storage tank full of water. The main benefit is endless hot(or warm, maybe, keep reading) water, and energy savings from not maintaining a mass of hot water during idle times.

    2. How often does the system need to be replaced? - from what I've read, they last somewhat longer to substantially longer than a storage tank heater.

    3. Is maintenance and repairs costly? - should be little/no maintainence, but expect repairs to cost more. This could be compounded if you are on hard or contaminated well water that could create buildups in the heater element.

    4. Could this be installed in the attic? - consult the manufacturer

    5. What are potential problems? - Here's where I can write a bit...

    The way that tankless heaters operate is completely different from storage tank heaters. In a tank heater the BTUs of the heater isn't that important, because it has lots of time to heat up the water. After the heater recovers, you'll always have the same quantity of same-temperature hot water available. If you turn on the dishwasher, shower, and clothes washer at the same time, they'll all share the same reserve of hot water. More BTUs would just let the water heater recover faster. A typical tank water heater has a BTU rating in the range of 20,000-40,000.

    In a tankless heater, the heaters only has a few seconds to heat the water that you're using. This means that it has to put out much more heat than a tank unit, to get the water up to temperature in those few seconds compared to maybe a half hour recovery on a tank heater. The big deal here is that if you draw more flow of hot water, the hot water temperature decreases as the flow increases, because of the fixed input power. You may have a heater that gives you a great hot 3gpm shower, but if you fill the tub at 8gpm, the water is only warm. And have someone filling the clothes washer at the same time, and the water is now only lukewarm.

    When you're shopping for tankless heaters they will give you a table of water temperature increases at different flow rates. You need to use these tables to properly size your heater. If you are okay with only using one hot-water thing at a time, then a moderatly sized heater may be adequate. If you have a large family and need to run two showers and a sink and a dishwasher at the same time, you'll need a much larger heater. Tankless heaters are popular in europe because they're installed as point of use heaters, they put a small one in each bathroom and one in the kitchen. This works well in small apartments. In the US with our larger houses, it makes more sense to have a central heater.

    To compound this, you need to evaluate the energy source supply coming into your house, electric or gas. If you decide you need a large tankless heater, you have to make sure that your electric supply or gas line is large enough to supply the additional load/flow. A large tankless water heater will be sized 100,000-150,000 btu. A normal residential natural gas furnace is around 80,000-100,000. A normal residential gas line cannot usually support 250,000 btu of gas while maintaining adequate pressure. Same goes for electric. The big heaters draw in the neighborhood of 120 amps at 240v. This requires at least 200 amp service to the home. And if you have other large power users, central air, dryer, stove, etc, you'll really need 400 amp service. These upgrades are big money.

    The conclusion I came to was that it's not worth it to upgrade to a tankless heater if you're just replacing your current storage tank heater. In new construction or a major renovation where you're making other utility changes, it's probably worth it for the energy savings and convienence, but you have to get a big enough heater.