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Since some of the wisest people in the world ride a BMW (or used to), I figured this would be a great place to get more information...

My present propane gas hot water heater is going on 12 years old and will probably need to be replaced in the next year or so.

I'm looking at a tankless system and leaning to the electric model, even though my present system is gas. Propane is very expensive and going up and I can't get natural gas.

The following GE GeoSpring, electric heat pump, hot water heater, will also possible cool my garage and seems to be a good way to go.

http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater/

What do the experts think?
 

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The only drawback I have seen is the "hot" water only last a short time.

Soon as the hot water in the tank is gone it becomes a warm water tank..

Still hot enough for a shower or laundry and such but not "hot".

Have had ours for about 7 years now with no problems...
 

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I have the Rinnai tankless water heater. Propane.

Works very well, and never runs out of hot water. Takes about 10 seconds to reach full heat; delivers up to 130 degree water. Has a really cool (wired) remote control console that you can mount anywhere (was easy for me to pick a spot, as it was new construction). The remote is usefull for changing water temp. on demand..... Say teenage daughter just won't get out of the shower :D , or you need "extra hot" water for some reason. We keep ours at 120.

My advice would be to check into it, because even though it's propane, it is very efficient. Literally only uses gas when you need the hot water. We were on the cutting edge when we got ours - it'll be 9 years old in January, and have not had a single issue.
 

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Hot water heaters are very inefficient, consider you are heating 50 gallons of water 24 hours a day
The most efficient way is a tank less hot water heater it only heats the water you are using
....however

If you are considering electric tank less water heater
check first the required amperage
most Florida homes only have 100 to 150 amp service

when I checked into doing this 6-8 years ago a tank
less w/h needed 200 amp service

for me that meant not only upgrading my breaker box
but also upgrading the wires from the pole to my house
FL power quoted me $3000 for that service which was a deal breaker

propane may still be your best option.
 

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I'm no expert but if my hot water heaters were installed in my garage I would give this a serious look to not only save money but cool down my garage which gets pretty hot in the summer. Plus it looks like a cool gadget to play with.
 

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Some personal experience on tankless water heaters.

I have had a Bosch natural gas tankless heater since 2006. It is the B vent type without any electronics, so we still have hot water even if the power is out. About the only maintenance thing is to slide the cover off once or twice a year and clean out any dust that gets in there. There is a small fine screen in there on the burner control valve. If it gets much dust on it you won't get full heat, and a bit more and it won't start at all.

Another is to consider the incoming water temp. A tankless can only raise the temp so much as the water passes through the coils. You make have very hot water in the summer, but barely hot enough in the winter. A bigger unit can offset that difference when you are not running at full capacity flow.

The only real limit to the hot water source is how many thing at the same time you want to run, that will dictate how big of a unit you will need.

I know of some people at horse farms that use them to warm a large flow of water to fill 300 gallon "bathtubs" for the horses. What else can supply a non-stop flow of warn water? Well OK a hot spring maybe.

You will probably require a bigger gas line to run a on demand heater that a tank type has. The little Bosch 125 requires a 5/8" connection, some of the bigger ones require 3/4 or larger. Electric on demand requires a 100Amp connection all by itself, thus a minimum of a 200A service for the home.

The fixed monthly fee on my gas bill throughout the spring summer and fall is usually more than the amount of gas used, and we have a gas on-demand water heater, a gas stove, and a gas barbeque.

Just consider that there are a few other factors to work into the overall cost of the change, but in the long term it still may be worth it. Also consider that tankless heaters typically outlast tank type by at least 1.5:1, although some say 2:1.

Another thing to consider is: is the plumbing in your house copper? if so, how old is it, and it may be due to be replaced. Expected life is around 30 years, unless you have lots of minerals in your water, then it may not last as long. Some of the newer synthetic lines are designed to last much longer and may be worth considering.
 

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Hard water and hotwater heaters are a bad combo , on demand heaters it is a deal breaker due to verry short life. They will last maybe 2 years here in SW MO.
When the garage is hot you will likely be wanting a cool shower, not be using enough hot water to "cool" the garage , same thing but backwards in the winter.
Nat gas is best value , propane is next but can have wild seasonal cost.
Elect. Is 100% efficient for heating water, one needs to crunch the $ an figure it out .

Bob G
 

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Since you do not want to use Propane, then I would be pretty serious about the new Heat Pump units. They are not as efficient as gas tankless (even propane), but a lot better than straight electric.

I have been doing quite a bit of research the past few months, since I recently had natural gas run to my home. I had propane before, but only used it for my outside grill and a fireplace that was rarely used. Once natural gas became available, I put in a new Dual Fuel HVAC system (18 SEER heat pump and 96% condensing gas furnace), Gas cooktop, and Gas dryer. The only reason I have not replaced my water heater is because about two years ago I had to replace my electric water heater, and replaced it with another electric, 12 year unit.

Electric Tankless water heaters require a high amperage circuit, you may need to install a new panel, at worst have larger drop to your home.

Electric tankless are not as efficient as gas.

Most tankless heaters have two problems:

1- Cold water "sandwich". Example, your wife is washing her hair, turns off the water while soaping up, turns the water back on to rinse. Since the water heater starts and stops with water flow, and takes a couple seconds to get the water up to temp, she will have hot water for a few seconds, then the "slug" of cold water in the pipe that was produced while waiting for the temp to rise again. (there are some units now that have a small "buffer" tank in them to reduce this problem, but the unit keeps the buffer hot, reducing the efficiency a little bit).

2- Most gas tankless need electrical power to operate, so when you have a power failure, there will be NO hot water, same with an electric tankless. With a tank heater, you have 40+ gallons of hot water to use .

I personally would probably not get tankless, but instead a high efficiency tank type, such as a condensing gas one, or the heat pump units.

When I plumbed my gas lines I used 1-1/4" pipe and the gas company installed the larger meter, so that I would have enough supply should I install a condensing gas water heater in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As usual, a lot of good well thought out answers.

Since we presently have propane (gas stove, dryer, hot water) and the hot water tank is in the garage, propane might be the best solution. I just hate spending $5.00 a gallen. It's a big 3 car garage so the cooling of the heat pump is not a real factor. Living in FL incoming water temp is pretty consistent.

I like this Dave, and was hoping for a reply from you. "I personally would probably not get tankless, but instead a high efficiency tank type, such as a condensing gas one, or the heat pump units." I'll check out both.

Solar is another solution, but commercial units are around $4,000 and are hard to cost justified. I did build one years ago for less than $1,000 and that included the controller, tank and 4X8 solar panel.

This link seems to have some good food for though. (I googled Dave's suggestion)

http://www.aceee.org/consumer/water-heating


Thanks for all of the helpful information.
 

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Sorry to be late to your party Dan...
We installed a tank-less water heater about 4 years ago and love it.
I recuperated some precious garage space with the new heater about the size of a carry-on luggage.
We never run out of hot water, and our gas bill actually went down.
Also we did get some tax credits, which made a deal even sweeter!
FWIW I grew up in France where everyone use tank-less heaters, in fact I have never seen a system with a tank until I moved to the US.
 

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I have the Rinnai tankless water heater. Propane.
It's on my to-do list to replace my 55-gallon tank this winter. Looks like I'll be going with a Rinnai. Thanks for the post, Brian. :)


Since some of the wisest people in the world ride a BMW (or used to)...
:wave :D

Thanks for the thread, Dan. Just the info I was looking for...
 

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Electric tankless are not as efficient as gas.
As usual Dave is (almost) spot on. The only "problem" I have is with the above statement. In fact quite the opposite is true. Electric water heater dump near 100% of the energy used in the form of heat into the water. Since you need a decent chimney top temp, that cannot be the case with any gas heaters.
That said, it is easier to create more concentrated heat with gas than it is with electric. You may need a bigger drop and what not. Just the efficiency of electric heaters cannot (should not) be questioned.
 

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Since some of the wisest people in the world ride a BMW (or used to), I figured this would be a great place to get more information...

My present propane gas hot water heater is going on 12 years old and will probably need to be replaced in the next year or so.

I'm looking at a tankless system and leaning to the electric model, even though my present system is gas. Propane is very expensive and going up and I can't get natural gas.

The following GE GeoSpring, electric heat pump, hot water heater, will also possible cool my garage and seems to be a good way to go.

http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater/

What do the experts think?
I have had tankless for many years, it is Natural Gas.
It is great and never runs out of hot water, 5 showers then dishes and clothes no problem. I is on demand hot water.
I would use propane since these use no gas at all when the water is not flowing, cheaper to run that tank hot water.

I have a bosch and after 10 years needed some parts on mine, o rings and one other part. Altogether $140 to make it work better than ever.

Make sure you get one with high enough flow rate for your use, we have a small one and when in shower cannot use another hot water device, pressure is low in my house.

My sister in Maine got a tankless propane system last year, works great.

Good luck!
 

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Hard water and hotwater heaters are a bad combo
I live in the Los Angeles area and we have very hard water.
I did a quick search on Google about maintenance on my tank-less water heater and ended up buying a small pump on Amazon, a 5 gallon bucket from Lowe's, a few gallons of white vinegar from Smart and Final that I ran through the system for 90 minutes to clear all the build-up.
Just like our bikes our water heaters needs a little maintenance every now and then...:D
 

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As usual Dave is (almost) spot on. The only "problem" I have is with the above statement. In fact quite the opposite is true. Electric water heater dump near 100% of the energy used in the form of heat into the water. Since you need a decent chimney top temp, that cannot be the case with any gas heaters.
That said, it is easier to create more concentrated heat with gas than it is with electric. You may need a bigger drop and what not. Just the efficiency of electric heaters cannot (should not) be questioned.
I was speaking of efficiency as a cost, not energy used. Gas is so much cheaper per unit/energy than electric that even though nearly 100% of the electricity is converted to heat, the wasted heat of the gas unit still does not bring it up to the cost of the electricity to heat the same amount of water. If you look at condensing gas water heaters, they are in the mid 90% efficiency range, making them far more efficient cost wise.

I should have used "more economical" instead of "more efficient"
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's on my to-do list to replace my 55-gallon tank this winter. Looks like I'll be going with a Rinnai. Thanks for the post, Brian. :)

At the local aquarium where I dive, they recently replaced 4 hot water tanks with natural gas, Rinnai commercial units that seem to be working very well. It would be my choice if I were to go with a tankless unit. Luckily I got some time before I have to decide. I hope!
 

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Economically, tankless are better for small households. If it's just you and the wife, it may be a good solution. Tankless are very inefficient when they are running, they use huge amounts of gas or electricity because of the large temperature rise they have to generate. That's why a gas tankless needs a 5" flue compared to a 3" flue on a tank type. Most tank type heaters run a 30,000 or 40,000 BTU burner. Most tankless use 80,000 and up to 180,000. On the electric side, a tank type uses 9,000 watts where a tankless can consume 24,000 watts or more. They are only cost effective in households that consume relatively small amounts of hot water. While we're on the subject, replacing the anode in the top of a tank type every five years can get you 20 or more years of service out of the heater. On the other hand, if you have a water softener, plan on a new one about every five years. I've lost count of the number I've had to install at my place.
 

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While we're on the subject, replacing the anode in the top of a tank type every five years can get you 20 or more years of service out of the heater. On the other hand, if you have a water softener, plan on a new one about every five years. I've lost count of the number I've had to install at my place.
What an education... My tank was installed almost 14 years ago. Changing out the anode is probably a great idea except that there is only about 18" of ceiling clearance. Not going to be easy, unless there are flexible anodes.

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Lightning-Magnesium-Flexible-Anode/dp/B007ZI385E

guess there are!
 

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Dan, this isn't really relative to your original question, but I have a very small electric on-demand water heater in my pole barn. We don't have natural gas in our area, and while I do now have propane at the house, that is a recent development and it isn't run down to the barn. Having even a smaller quantity of hot water available for clean-up is what made us look into this.
 
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