Tell me about water heaters. on demand or "regular"?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by TxCloverAngel, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. TxCloverAngel

    TxCloverAngel Happiness is Homemade

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    we are going to be getting a new water heater.
    with 7 people we use a LOT of hot water.
    Our old traditional style heater is old old old and just terrible on our elec bill.

    Have been advised to think about an 'On Demand Hot Water heater"
    can you tell me the pros and cons?
    which is more energy efficient?
    like em love em hate em?

    I gotta tell ya.. the thought of not running outta hot water after the boys showers sure sounds nice!

    Hubby thinks they wont heat water hot enough.

    whats your thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I was advised by the water heater company and my gas company not to buy one due to clogging from our poor quality water. We can't keep a coffee maker working much less a water heater with small tubes.
     

  3. MooseHeadRider

    MooseHeadRider Member

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    Mine will heat the water to 165, that's a little hotter than you want for a shower. :) The one I have can also be used for radiant floor heat. I believe that most of the brands can do this so they will heat the water plenty hot.

    I like mine. It's only the 2 of us so we have a small one. I would recommend that you look at the Rinnai brand. http://www.foreverhotwater.com/

    If for some reason I ever have to replace mine I will be getting one of these.

    As for energy efficiency, you are only heating the water when you need it.

    You mention that your current water heater is electric. When you get a new one you should really get one that uses propane. It heats better and will not cost as much as electric.

    Good luck,
    Bob
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Storing hot water is expensive, with 7 people you're not storing hot water enough to worry about that loss. The most efficient way to heat water is with an oil fired water heater, followed by gas and then wood or solid fuels but onlu accounting for the effort needed to keep the fire burning (otherwise they are better than oil.) On demand machines are fickle critters I wouldn't have one...... yet. They're bound to get better, and maybe they have.
     
  5. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    If you get another electric one, get a timer and use it. I have day/night rates, and only turn my water heater on early in the morning or later at night when the lower rates are in effect. It is also low all weekend. If you have circuit breakers, you could use those effectively also...although a lot of people don't recommend that.
    Ann
     
  6. Alice In TX/MO

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

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    I have a natural gas on demand water heater in my home. Absolutely love it.
    We also have a water softener, so I don't have to worry about hard water issues. We have had this unit for more than ten years, and we have NEVER had a single problem with it. Yes, the savings on the gas bill was obvious.

    I have an electric on demand water heater in the little house that is my office. Love it, too.

    My friend who spends the winters here in S. Texas says when his tank water heater in Missouri goes out, he's putting in on demand.
     
  7. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ideally, solar hot water, supplemented by wood in the heating season, with propane on-demand would be the way to go. Solar water heating will pay for itself in Wisconsin in 5 or 6 years in most cases, so it would probably be an even faster payback in Texas.

    I'd recommend an on-demand unit, though, no matter what else you might do.
     
  8. neolady

    neolady Well-Known Member

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    I had propane hot water, and was very glad to get rid of it. It was costing us more than double what electric ended up costing us. It also failed regularly with regulator freeze-ups (we live on the seacoast and regulators are very very failure prone here). The high efficiency propane highter did not make it through the 2 year warranty period before it failed and replacement cost of the heater was about double the cost of an electric one. As far as I am concerned I wasted a lot of money on a gas furnace and gas water heater and wish I had not spent a dime on either. Just my experience....
     
  9. nappy

    nappy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    :shrug:

    I've never understood why our country has been so slow to use energy saving devices/products. Seventeen years ago I used an on demand gas water heater in Brazil, and you know how some believe that Brazil is not as forward thinking as the US but this sure seemed like a modern idea. Perhaps the gas or electric companies feel threatened by the loss of an energy guzzling consumer when the subject comes up so they downplay the value.

    Nappy
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Around here the REA electric coops have programs where they sell you a lifetime water heater (electric of course) for about 10 cents on the dollar installed, & they put it on radio control & use it to manage their peak loads. Typivcally they set it to operate overnight, off during the day. It is oversized so it stores enough water for the 12 hours it is off. In your case, they can set it up to cycle on & off during the day as well if you need. The one I got is very nice, well insulated, top of the line water heater.

    You might wish to look at any programs your power supplier has - if any.

    --->Paul
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I have an off peak hot water heater and I pay 1/2 of the normal rate for the power to heat the water. I also have an 85 gallon water heater and I never have a problem with insufficient hot water. Do as Rambler suggest and contact your utility company to see if they have a promotion that would benefit you. Additionally, the on demand electric heaters require a dedicated high amp supply and there own breaker which are not existent in most homes at the point where you would want to install the unit so this would be a major cost adder.
     
  12. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    If you are on electric, you'll need to do some expensive rewiring to install an electric tankless heater and may not even have enough power coming into the house for one. The larger ones like you'd need for a family of 7 draw over 100 amps.
     
  13. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    Thanks Annie...I hadn't thought about timers...I'm gonna look into it. I'm heating 50 gallons by electric.
     
  14. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    We have on-demand propane heaters in our house and camp. It's efficient and clean. We've had one service call to have the house heater cleaned in nine years. We use enough hot water for a minimum of three showers a day and five loads of laundry a week. Clothes are always washed in "warm" water because the well water is so cold. Our stove and oven are propane. Our propane bill is $20-$22 a month.
     
  15. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

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    we looked at the Rinnai brand and it was so much more expensive than the Bosch. we have a Bosch Aqua star. all the hot water you want. you'll have running hot water all day if need be.
     
  16. arbutus

    arbutus Well-Known Member

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    I found that I could buy FIVE 40 gallon electric water heaters for the price of ONE 200k btu (2 fixture) on demand gas heater. The on demand also required an expensive flue that wasn't factored in. It also didn't make sense when propane was at $2/gallon and electricity with all taxes and fees is $0.085/kwh

    I purchased a 40 gallon electric, turned the temperature up to 145F, and installed a $20 temperature limiting valve that is set to 125 degrees. That makes for a hot yet scald free shower and endless hot water for my wife and I. It should do OK if we have kids too, and I can always install another hot water heater in parallel if required.


    If you are worried about the capacity of the tankless heater, get the thermometer out and measure the temperature of your desired dishwashing water and shower. Then figure out the flow for each device you will be using simultaneously (2 showers?) and add them up. ALL the tankless models have temperature rise vs flow charts.
     
  17. Shinsan

    Shinsan Keeping the Dream Alive

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    WisJim is right on the mark with his suggestion: Solar Hot Water with a wood-chip heater as a booster for the winter plus an 'on demand' system. I'd recommend gas rather than electric if possible. If you're not able to install a solar system just now, keep it in mind for the future and plan your plumbing accordingly, as in the future there will be enormous hikes in the cost of energy.

    At present we have an off-peak electric water heater that cuts in at night, (about 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.), and all day Sunday. I'm trying to get a couple of power outlets on the same circuit so that we can run the washing machine and dishwasher, and possibly the big freezer, during the off-peak periods.
     
  18. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We love our Aquastar on demand water heater. Our only problem is when we get extreme cold (-30F) it has twice frozen up unless we position a small fan to blow the cold air back up the flue. We had the one with a pilot light, but traded up for the one that has the flywheel that lights itself.
     
  19. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    We bought a Marathon brand water heater (made by ream (sp) which looks like a plastic bullet or space capsule. inside is the water tank of plastic, then insulation and then the outer shell. There is no anode rod to get messed up and they are the most efficient electric water heaters you can buy. They are expensive, but are guaranteed for the life of us in this house.

    Also we have geo-thermal heat/cool system with pipes (i forget the exact name) so that it cycles through and heats/assists our water heater. In the summer we have actually turned the breaker/electric power OFF on our water heater because we had the ac going and in the winter, it will do mostly assisting i believe (i'll have to ask hubby if it will heat it completely in the winter also). It's new for us as we just built 51/2 months ago.


    Hubby wanted the marathon water heater so bad, when the builder wouldn't open an account as the plumbing place in a nearby city, hubby went on-line and had it drop-shipped from half way across the country. It did cost more because of the shipping, but he was dead set on this particular heater.
     
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The 80 gallon unit is exactly what the REA coop sold & installed for us for $120 total. Not sure what they retail for, but seemed like a good deal to me. :)

    --->Paul