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Old 01-22-2008, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
624 posts, read 2,791,044 times
Reputation: 329
Default Should I convert to a tankless water heater?

My tank gas water heater is about 14 years old, so I figure it will die soon...trying to weigh my options...

1. Is electric generally cheaper now than gas-should I stick with a gas operated unit or switch over to an electric now?
2. Should I go to a tankless or keep the tank? It would be nice to have the extra space by nixing the tank, but I'm reading that it can get pricey to install one and they can be "quirky".

I've been doing some research and am getting some conflicting information about my options....anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:33 AM
 
13,779 posts, read 25,160,968 times
Reputation: 7987
Gas in many areas is still the better value... it depends on where you live.

Personally, I would not convert to a tank less heater unless you have a need for uninterrupted hot water.

I ran the numbers recently, and it would have cost 4 times more to convert as to simply replacing my tank type heater.

I did a tank less at a cabin where space was limited and you either needed a lot of water at one time or none for extended periods.
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:52 AM
 
563 posts, read 2,527,002 times
Reputation: 288
Looked at solar water heaters?
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Old 01-22-2008, 12:36 PM
 
Location: GA
2,579 posts, read 6,496,362 times
Reputation: 881
I would consider it, depending on where it's located in my home.
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Old 01-23-2008, 09:47 AM
 
Location: White Rock Valley - Dallas
197 posts, read 847,167 times
Reputation: 77
In order to install a tankless, you will need a stainless steel vent stack to the outside. Class B stacks used for a tank water heater will not pass code. So, that is retrofit expense #1. Secondly, you will very likely need a 3/4in gas line to supply it. Most older homes only have a 1/2in gas line in. So, there's expense #2.

And, gas is far cheaper and far more efficient than electricity with these things. We have had one for 2.5 years and love it, but it was new construction and was planned for.
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Old 01-23-2008, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Oz
2,238 posts, read 6,347,736 times
Reputation: 1293
I wouldn't consider tankless for the reasons posted above, and also unless I was intending to live in the house in question long enough that I'd come close or surpass my costs. Now...if I were doing new construction, I'd seriously consider it.
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Old 01-23-2008, 10:45 AM
 
618 posts, read 2,169,845 times
Reputation: 285
Maybe you can get an efficient traditional HWH.

I have a Bradford White regular water heater and it is VERY efficient. It reallt seems like a tankless heater because it never really goes on until hot water is used. I absolutely love it. The initial cost was $800-$900 for it, but it has shown to be a good purchase over the years.

btw It's a direct vent (or power vent?) model. You don't need a chimney for it. It just exhausts out the side wall whenever it goes on. Maybe that's why it was a little pricier than the regular vented HWH.

good luck
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Old 01-23-2008, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 30,869,110 times
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Depends in part on where you live and how big is your family. We had Takagi tankless in CA. It was mounted outside so venting was a minor issue. We installed it ourselves. It worked great. It paid for itself in a few years if you do not count the water softener that we had to buy to protect the Takagi from calcium.

We went with a Rennai in Michigan. Had to have it installed. installation was costy and they did it wrong. OUtput is not as good as the Takagi and it seems less efficient.

On the other hand, I am sick right now. I can just let the shower run and fill my bedroom with steam and it helps the pain in my checkt a great deal. Tankless is alsmost a necessity with our family of 7. We have three people showiwering at a time int he morning.

If you go tankless and have a large family, get the biggest size available or get two. Ignore the people who tell you that a smaller size is enough. You lose pressure with multiple showers unless you go with a very large unit or use two of them.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:51 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
62 posts, read 286,354 times
Reputation: 51
Find local plumbing companies that install and service tankless and have them give you estimates so you have real numbers vs. speculation. A lot of companies, at least in our area, give free estimates. Get several. Don't forget to ask your gas company if they carry tankless heaters. Our gas company ended up being 30% cheaper for the install.
Our tankless ended up being about $1k more than installing another tank in the attic. With the $300 tax credit, more like $700. It cost more to relocate the tank to the garage than to install a tankless in the crawlspace. My main concern was getting the tank out of the attic not putting another one in the same place. The gas savings and extra floor space in the attic is a bonus.
If your main concern is trying to save money on your gas bill, it might take you a while to recoup the difference.
Make sure the installer you choose also services them and has a done a fair number of installs. I think our installer said they did 200+ last year, refits, not including new constructions.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:31 PM
 
3,701 posts, read 5,885,540 times
Reputation: 1338
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottv View Post
My tank gas water heater is about 14 years old, so I figure it will die soon...trying to weigh my options...

1. Is electric generally cheaper now than gas-should I stick with a gas operated unit or switch over to an electric now?
2. Should I go to a tankless or keep the tank? It would be nice to have the extra space by nixing the tank, but I'm reading that it can get pricey to install one and they can be "quirky".

I've been doing some research and am getting some conflicting information about my options....anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
It depends on where you live, what your needs are, what the winter weather is like, cost of installation - a lot of things. The first one I ever saw was a wood-fired Paloma, and it worked fine, but the people got tired of the wood thing and switched to a gas-fired one. Several years later I bought a trailer as a rental with an electric Paloma, and it was [unfortunately] installed in the space for the regular tank heater, accessible from the outside and not very well insulated. The tenants refused to believe that they had to leave the hot water trickling all night during the coldest weather and they turned it off. Bingo - all those little pipes froze, and it was toast. Part of the rental contract was that if, through their fault, they damaged anything major, they would replace it. No problem, they were all set to do so, and once it was too late, they were believers that it needed to be left running - then they found out just how expensive it would be. Around 1,200.00 to replace it, vs 150.00 for a tank type. They moved in the middle of the night. I eventually sold the place to a friend who'd wanted it in the first place, and he rebuilt the thing, but he was capable of doing so and not very many people are.

The system I like best and would choose would be a combination boiler/furnace. We had a place built with one years ago, and we never ran out of hot water, and the hot water baseboard heat was great, too.

I should also mention that all this was in Alaska, so if you don't live in an area that gets super cold, you shouldn't have any problems with freezing.
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