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LawMan Mark, SASS #57095L

@%@#! Got to buy a new water heater *&^&%^

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Bought our house in 2012.  Current water heater was made in 2008.  This last weekend, I saw a trickle of water at the bottom of the unit.  Pulled a side cover and the internal insulation is saturated.  Which most often means a crack in the tank.

 

So, for three days I've been comparing new units.  My usual go to plumber recommends the cheapest one available (50 gallon, short height...$359 plus an expansion tank and tax).

I like the looks of the next level up, which has higher wattage elements, and is more efficient to the tune of almost a hundred dollars per year ($619 plus an expansion tank and tax).  

But the hybrid models with a heat pump are really efficient in our climate.  They estimate a savings of $300 per year on the electric bill, which means in 4 years, the savings would pay for the unit.  The only issue is the hybrid model won't fit where the current one is, which would require a little remodeling in the basement.  

 

Anybody had experience with the hybrid water heaters?

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We installed a tank-less gas water heater a few months ago.  It was "pricey", about $1,500.  But, because we needed a side-venting regular water heater, if we had just replaced the current unit, it was about the same price.  Our old water heater was about 10 years also when it crapped out.  With the kids out of the house we didn't need a huge tank of hot water just sitting there.

 

The electric tank-less water heaters are cheaper, but they cannot produce as much hot water, if your demand is high.  So far we are happy with our decision.  The unit is very compact and works well.  Our only complaint is that it takes a few minutes for the hot water to kick in.  You also have to have the pipes in the unit professionally cleaned every year, or two, depending on the brand. 

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The heat pump water heaters are a semi-new technology with its own set of pros and cons. 

 

Pros

- Uses less energy to maintain hot water in the tank, and to provide small amounts of hot water to a sink. 

 

Cons

- Higher first cost. 

- Cost of repairing a compressor and refrigerant system if it goes down. 

- Sound of a compressor running in your basement or utility closet. 

- Unit must switch from heat pump to resistance heat for a shower, load of laundry, or other high demand for hot water. 

 

I have a gas water heater, but if gas isn’t available, a quality electric resistance heater with an extra insulating blanket is what I recommend. 

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I replace a few water heaters annually. I'd stick with the simple model. The "hybrid" model probably has more insulation, that's why it's fatter than the less expensive model. If you install a holding tank on the upside of the water heater it will allow the water to warm up to ambient temp before entering the water heater. You'll be heating 70 degree water vs. 50 degree water that come out of the ground or city water line.  20 degrees doesn't sound like much, percentage wise it's quite the savings. 

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We put in a tankless gas water heater 11 yrs ago.  We had routine maintenance done on it this morning.  It needed a filter replacement and one new O-ring.  That's it.

We had it installed on an outside wall of the house, so everything is easy to get to and service if needed.  The controls are in the pantry, so we can change the water temperature at the push of a button, should we ever desire to do so.  Quite a nifty system, no more leaking tanks.

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I replace a few water heaters annually. I'd stick with the simple model. The "hybrid" model probably has more insulation, that's why it's fatter than the less expensive model. If you install a holding tank on the upside of the water heater it will allow the water to warm up to ambient temp before entering the water heater. You'll be heating 70 degree water vs. 50 degree water that come out of the ground or city water line.  20 degrees doesn't sound like much, percentage wise it's quite the savings. 

Except in Alabama you’re not getting 50° water out of the pipes, more like 70 or more.

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If you are anywhere near mechanically inclined, you can replace an electric water heater yourself. Sharkbite fittings, teflon tape, phillips head, tubing cutter, emory cloth, cheap voltage tester and wirenuts is all you need, YouTube has good videos on how to do it. 

 

As far as saving money yearly, get the cheaper one and put a water heater blanket on it. To really save money on the electrical usage, put a timer or switch on the circuit going to the heater. This works good if you're household is limited to less than four people. When you want hot water, you just turn on the switch or timer override about 1/2 hour before needed. It also helps lengthen the life of the water heater because it doesn't keep cycling on and off. Although I don't like water softeners, they help also to lengthen the life by removing impurities in the water. I just replaced my water heater, it had lasted 34 years. Not bad for a electric water heater with city water.

 

As an electrician, I do not recommend tankless water heaters. They use huge amounts of power. I've never seen one that is under 30 amps @ 240 volt. Many of them are 50 amp or more. Every time a hot water valve is opened, the unit immediately starts consuming that power and continues for the entire time until the valve is turned off. 

 

Also, keep in mind that the so called energy savings listed on the labels is under best conditions and were tested that way. You can expect 1/2 that savings, maybe.

 

I know this post has nothing to do with hybrid water heaters but if you're looking to save money (who isn't), doing it yourself is the way to go. The blanket and timer/switch saves you money in the long run.

 

Hope this helps.

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I seem to think if your plumber is going to supply the unit 2 reasons he might be recommending it. First would be he has worked with them for a long time and is comfortable with how to install them. Second his profit margin might be higher. I'm not saying he is trying to take advantage of you. Research of your own and choose on what you think will be best for you.

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Except in Alabama you’re not getting 50° water out of the pipes, more like 70 or more.

It's probably still cooler than ambient. Depends on well or city water. My well water is about 45 degrees. Replacing an electric water heater is pretty basic. Two pipes, wire connection, and the pipe on the relief valve. Hardest part is draining the water out of the old unit. One hour job.

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I seem to think if your plumber is going to supply the unit 2 reasons he might be recommending it. First would be he has worked with them for a long time and is comfortable with how to install them. Second his profit margin might be higher. I'm not saying he is trying to take advantage of you. Research of your own and choose on what you think will be best for you.

 

I had already told him I would supply the water heater.  So he's not making anything off selling me one.  

 

The cheapest one is the simplest to install.  From online videos, the hybrid is more labor and part intensive.  

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The advantage of a conventional hot water heater is that in an emergency a conventional hot water heater will supply you with X amount of gallons of drinkable water.

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Electric tankless requires 50 amp circuit and heavier wire. 

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For us, the gas tankless worked the best. 

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