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Tankless Waterheaters


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Kathlyn's Forum Posts: 46
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By Kathlyn in Orlando, FL on 12/14/2005


David,

Have you researched tankless water heaters? I got the business card for tanklesshotwater.com at the builders show. They are in Florida, so I thought I would use them unless there is something cheaper or better.

Lyn


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 12/14/2005


Lyn,

On water heaters:

Be careful not to undersize your tankless water heater in an effort to save costs. You will end up with warm rather than hot water when you wash clothes or dishes or two people take a shower at the same time. Average price should be between $600 to $800, depending upon the size. Your plumber and electrician will install it. 

Tankless water heaters save energy and space. They are also virtually leakproof. I like the SETS tankless water heater, as the flow valve (a critical component of the heater) was developed in cooperation with a special program with NASA.  e-tankless.com. Go to this website for more info. 

Also, if you have a water softener, it will keep the calcium and magnesium minerals in the water from corroding the electrodes in the water heater. This translates into lower long-term energy costs, as the calcium and magnesium eventually act as an insulator around the electrodes and wastes energy. You can use a whole-house water softener, or use it only for the cold water pipe that goes into your water heater. A word of caution on water softeners. Water softeners drop the pH of the water slightly. So when you install one, make sure to do a pH test on the water to determine if you need to take remedial action to correct the pH, although it is rare that you will need to do anything.

Hope this helps.

David


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By Kathlyn in Orlando, FL on 12/14/2005


If I understand the tanklesshotwater.com website, it is $375 for a unit and $275 to install. I was going to get more than one unit because my bathrooms are far apart and I don't like wasting the water going a long distance in addition to the heat.

We do have a water softener.

Thanks, will let you know how things work out.

Also, we put Icynene in a 1,200 sq ft apt. over a 720 sq ft apt. and it was only $4,000 in 2000. (Batts were $2,500) We love it. I haven't gotten quotes for our new 2,100 sq ft house yet, but the other people on this website are getting really high quotes. Unless I run out of money, I will use it again.


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By Kristy in Saint Lucie, FL on 3/24/2006


The one downfall we've experienced with our tankless water heater was during the the past two seasons of hurricanes... we were without power for long lengths of time. Once for three weeks then followed by 10 days (we live in a rural part of the county). Unfortunately, one must have a very LARGE and POWERFUL generator to power up this tankless heater. Those showers were COLD!! Because of this reason we probably will not go with another tankless in our next home. So if you are in an area where hurricanes are a potential threat, you may want to reconsider. One option, if you don't mind baths, add a pot of boiling water to cold bath water and it becomes tolerable.

Good luck.


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By Kathlyn in Orlando, FL on 3/25/2006


Other than the hurricane situation, were you happy with the tankless?

1. Did you get enough hot water?

2. What was the maximum temp?

3. Did you estimate or calculate your savings?

4. Did one unit suffice?

Thanks,

Lyn


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 3/25/2006


Lyn,

With a tankless water heater, running out of hot water is impossible, unless your power goes out for whatever reason. Tankless water heaters come in 1, 2, or 3 element models. You choose the model you need based on what you are trying to accomplish with it.  If you were using one unit for the entire house, I would consider nothing less than the 3-element model. Each successive element is activated on an as-needed basis, so it will be energy efficient no matter what the water flow is.  As far as temperature, things to consider would be: are there children in the household that could possibly be scalded, what is recommended temp setting for your dish washer, etc.

A word to all of you folks that are pushing the "Build whatever you want, and to hell with good design" philosophy. I hope you fall into one of these two categories:

1. You got it right and ended up with a good design that is pleasing to most folks, or

2. Your house looks like the side of a barn, but it does not matter because you are sure that you will never need to sell it anyway (not that you would be able to at market value).  

I have seen Jason’s house plans. He falls squarely into category 1 in my opinion. But remember folks, Jason is used to designing, building and installing cabinetry in high-end homes. He knows what he is doing because he is exposed to good design on a daily basis. Word to the wise: don’t live in a barn.


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By Kristy in Saint Lucie, FL on 3/25/2006


Lyn,

1. Yes we get enough hot water; it will make hot water forever. I will note that we have a whole house unit and the only thing I am not happy with is I have a bit of flow and pressure drop when using the hot water, this is due to the restrictive flow meter on my unit (other brands may be better), in other words when I have the faucet on cold I have high pressure and high flow. If I switch to full hot, I get a reduced flow and lower pressure. It is working for us, but I wish it wasn't that way. I guess the only way to solve it would be to maybe have two smaller units that each service a particular part of the house.

2. Max temp depends on the inlet temp of the water, but in Florida it is not an issue. I can get 140-degree water if I wish to set it that high.

3. I have no way to know the savings, since we built the house with the heater from the beginning, but in theory it should be saving enough to make it worth the cost.

4. One unit is working for us, but I think maybe 2 units would have worked better for our house. 3,500 sq feet and 2.5 bath, Jacuzzi in master bath

Don't forget when you use an electric tankless heater that you will need to upgrade the electrical service to your home. Our unit has a 125-amp breaker off the main panel. Also there was a little additional cost for a sub breaker panel that is dedicated to the heater. My two cents.

Jamie


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By Kathlyn in Orlando, FL on 3/25/2006


Jamie,

Your two cents get five stars. That is exactly what I wanted to know.

I am going to put a unit in this house and see how it goes, so I know whether to put any or some in my new house. I will let everyone know if I see a measurable cost savings.

Lyn


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 3/25/2006


Electric Tankless Water Heater

Just to add something here. It is good to be more efficient. A tankless electric water heater is better than the traditional.

Jamie stated a 125-amp breaker plus subpanel, plus extras to make it work. This is a considerable install expense. More so if you already have existing electrical because the cost of the electrician will be substantial for this work considering economies of scale.

I will go out on a limb and say that your costs on top of the unit itself installed will be an additional $800. Correct me if I am wrong here.

SO yes, you will certainly save money, but how long will it take to break even with your ROI? Also don't forget to add a small inline heater to get instant hot water when you need it for no pressure drop.

Let me know what you find out. I am not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic. I could be way off on my install number, but I think I am close.

-Jason


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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 2/9/2007


I was just looking for more info on tankless, as I am planning on installing a tankless unit. My thinking is to run cold water only (3/4" PEX) to each bathroom sink and to the kitchen sink and split the line just before the sinks and install separate tankless units on each. Then use a larger unit for the rest of the house with a hot water manifold for the PEX. My thinking is that even though the units create water on demand, most times hot water usage for the sinks is very short term, which results in wasted water unless there is a recirculation pump and wasted hot water sitting in the pipes. Showers, washing machine, dishwasher on the other hand utilize a longer overall duration per use and could take advantage of the larger unit.

I also plan to preheat the water for the main unit with a passive solar system. This idea may be an expensive overkill to reduce water usage and minimize the heating of the water, but I am just not sure as the primary demand system with PEX would have multiple 20 to 40-foot plumbing runs in many instances. In that small units can be purchased for a few hundred dollars each and wiring pre construction would mean simply adding a few extra circuit breakers, I would think that the long-term savings could recover and perhaps surpass the initial outlay. 

I really would welcome any comments or criticism of my thinking on this.

Joe H


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/9/2007


There is a thread in the Green Building section which will answer many of the questions you are seeking answers to regarding hot water distribution.

Thread in Green Building.

I would recommend a combination of d'mand hot water and structured plumbing. I would not advocate installing water heaters at each location.


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 2/12/2007


Joe:

Keep in mind that if you install a whole-house tankless water heater within a very short distance of your MANABLOC, you really only need to flush the line from the MANABLOC to the fixture in order to get hot water.

3/8" PEX holds 0.0050 GPF (gallons per foot). 1/2" PEX holds 0.0098 GPF. Therefore, even with a 100 foot tubing run of 3/8" PEX from MANABLOC to fixture, if the fixture flows 1 GPM, it will only take 30 seconds to flush the line. At that is worst case scenario! Most fixtures will flow more than 2.5 GPM and few runs, if any, should be 100' long. If you have a 2 GPM fixture and only 50' of line, a more typical scenario, it would only take 7 seconds.

Phillip


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/12/2007


Phillip,

You are correct in the basic volume, but according to California D.O.E. studies the volume is closer to 2 times water volume for hot water to a fixture because of turbulence at bends and fittings and because the tubing absorbs a certain amount of energy.

Regardless of how much water you use to flush without a recycle system of some sort you are pouring water and energy down the drain which can be captured to some degree.

I would figure capture cost vs flush costs based upon 1) embodied energy in the water (pumping and heating) 2) volume of water, 3) sewer costs (usually figured 60% of water through the meter). Not all of this will apply if on a septic, but the more water you run thru the septic the bacteria is diluted more and the sooner the leach field needs to be replaced.

dale

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By David in Ocoee, FL on 2/13/2007


Dale,

The system that you are proposing seems as if it will take a very long time to pay for itself. I have heard figures of a ROI of 3 years for a whole house gas tankless water heater for areas of very high energy costs, such as southern California. Do you have any ROI calculations for these systems?

You mentioned the dilaterious effects that the added water will have on the leach field (drain field in Florida). Unless something is seriously wrong with your leach field, any bacteria that enters it is eventually broken down into nitrogen gas by bacteria. It is only when the septic tank is neglected (not pumped out) that solids make their way into the leach field. In fact, the septic tank that I just got actually has a filter in it that prevents any solids from making it into the leach field.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/13/2007


Septic filters only keep the large chunks out of the leach lines. And they clog with hair. Actually, a healthy septic system is a very lively bacterial culture. As should be the leach field. And if the proper balance of bacterias and other micro-organisms are doing their job, pumping the tank isn't necessary except every 15+ years. What the local vegetation does to your lines and tank are another matter.

But back to the tankless, demand, structured plumbing question. CA D.O.E. if I remember correctly, can't find the figures at the moment, was for a retro-fit the ROI was 2-5 years and on new construction 1-3 years based on local water, energy, and sewer fees. Of course the price you pay for the equipment has some  impact also. Especially if you were planning on buying that $89 special at BORG vs. a $749 tankless.

Had a plumber tell me a few months ago that a demand system wasn't worth putting in compared to a full-time circulation system. He was basing it solely on his cost of installation. The project we were discussing was an older home where the recirc pump had died. And the a/c bill went down as did the gas water heater bill. But the water and sewer bill jumped considerably. When the recirc pump was running the floor was actually too hot to stand on over the line.

I guess in the end it comes down to, "do I spend an extra $500 on the cost of construction at $0.50/month for the mortgage" or "do I skip the added value to my home and pay a few extra bucks every month for utilities"?

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By Frank in Orlando, FL on 2/16/2007


I was wondering if anyone, specifically in Florida, had reseached a solar hot water heater vs. tankless gas hot water heater.  I ran across this site which had some information. solardirect.com/water-heaters

There is a section that educates on ROI, dream homes and of federal and Florida State rebates for solar products.  There is a tax credit for  solar electric generators and hot water heaters that equals to about a $24,000 dollar tax credit.... not a tax deduction (you make $100,000 last year and are in the 20% tax bracket.... you owe $20,000 to Uncle Sam.  With a $3,000  tax credit you owe $17,000...  with a tax deduction you owe $19,400.

solardirect.com/rebates

If anyone can give an opinion as to why use electric or gas.  I sort of thought that more people didn't take advantage of using the solar heaters because either they didn't work very well or had some technical problems. 

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Frank


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By Richard in Eustis, FL on 3/19/2007


I installed a Bosch whole house tankless system ( three heater elements and the largest one they sold), about three years ago. After one year I had a small leak problem and the unit was replaced under warranty. Now, two years later I am having another problem- heat loss.

I believe an element is not working. This unit was made for northern homes, not Florida.  I am not sure if our poor water or temp is fouling my system.

When it works, it works great. My garden spa tub has plenty of hot water, and it looks like my electric bill dropped $15-$20, but our rates increased. It is hard to get exact dollar figures.

Space saving is nice. Briefcase size and mounts on wall. Downside: I had to install three, 40amp breakers. This can be a problem for space in the breaker box and it's location in reference to the heater. I have an electrician friend who cut me a break on installation costs and materials used.

I thought this may be helpful. I like the concept, and it's been used in Europe for twenty years. I need to find a good unit with good track record. Look at the warranty info.

I intend to install two units in my OB house. I can use the small units, that way hot water runs are shorter.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/19/2007


What most don't consider when their water heater dies is the quality of water supply. Water has many variations.

Water physics and chemistry (which are different) determine what happens inside you water heater more than how much passes through.

I would get the water tested  before determining what system(s) to buy. There may be a need for whole house filtration or simple magnetic structuring.

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