Tankless Water Heater Install

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Tankless Water Heater Install

Postby johnnyapollo » Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:28 pm

I spent the last few days helping a neighbor install a Tankless Water Heater and am doing a writeup on one of my blogs. I thought some would find it interesting.

http://modusmodern.blogspot.com/2009/12 ... art-1.html

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Postby Joe » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:15 pm

cool, my next water heater will be a rinnai tankless, but I will pay a pro to install it

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Postby Stephen » Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:19 pm

I'm also budgeting for this in the future. One consideration of the Rinnai's is that they cannot be mounted horizontally (only vertically). I don't know if this universal to these things but in my location it is vastly more convenient to mount it horizontally.

The guy who contracted my wall and miscellaneous landscape grunt work is a certified Rinnai installer. One thing he mentioned is that the units have a lot of extra sensors inside of them so they show "fault codes" for self-diagnosis when issues arise. He quoted me $2500, installed, for the model appropriate for SoCal climate and 3bed/2bath home.

Oh yeah, installing of those looks scary (frankly, anything involving rerouting gas pipes scares me). I would say this is a job for either a pro or someone with a lot of experience in plumbing.
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Postby turboblown » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:17 pm

For the price of these units and their anticipated lifespan, what is the possibility that these units will never pay for themselves on gas savings over the tank-style standard units? It seems that for $2500 installed vs. about $600-$800 installed for a tank style appears to maybe never pay for itself even if the unit does last for many years.

If a tankless unit would last for, let's say 7 years and costs $1800 over a standard style heater, that means $1800 divided by 84 months = $21.42 a month it must produce in gas savings for 7 years straight to break even and justify its purchase over a standard unit. With these realistic figures, do you think it can save at least $21 a month in gas to pay for the additional $21 a month you are paying over 7 years of it service? If it didn't save at least this amount, it would have been cheaper to just use a standard heater. These units have been around for years, but are just finally starting to make it mainstream so it's still uncertain how long they really will last in service regardless of what the manufacturer says they'll do. We'll know in the next 5-10 years after some fail and some last.

I assume if you use a lot of hot water, it would save you enough gas to pay for itself, but it seems that a small family would never benefit from these units. Besides....standard units don't need electricity nor do they contain computers that fail just like high-efficiency furnaces do...and some of them quite frequently. Tank style units are so simple that they have an almost zero failure rate until their life finally comes to an end 7-10 years later. Most tank style units are touched only two times in their life- the day they are installed and the day they are replaced. That's something the tankless industry will never, ever be able to claim. The 300 components on its printed circuit board along with the other high-tech items of technical-masturbation are responsibe for this. After a few years, we may find that these units don't last as long as a tank style or maybe they'll even last longer but right now nobody can say with any accuracy. Oh...and when the power goes out, the tank style units still provide (but I'm royally screwed with my electric powered water heaters until the 12.5KW backup generator project is completed in the spring).

Tank style: Mechanical valve & thermocouple + burner = hot water.

Tankless style: Valve + burner + 7 sensors + 2 PC boards + power supply + electric gas valve + exhaust blower + MUX databus between boards + AC power feed + new plumbing= hot water. Wow.

Here in the Northeast, everyone has been rushing out to buy 90+% efficiency furnaces to save gas, only to find they spend big $$$$ that will never be returned by the savings in gas as proven by their gas bill. They'll also tell you how many more quirks and failures their new high efficiency unit has compared to the old style furnace with a basic gas valve and thermocouple. I know quite a few people that plunked down over $3K for a high-efficiency furnace to save only $8 a month on their gas bill. It doesn't always add up. As for the government tax credit, how much do you really think that tax rebate incentive translates to in real cash received at tax return time? Not much.

I'm quite certain I'll get flamed over this but all I'm saying is do your math to make sure these units make financial sense for your individual application. These aren't bullshit numbers. They are reality. Certain parts of the country have very different gas prices that may justify these units in some areas but in others, not. After doing the numbers several different ways, I can't see a tankless unit ever paying for itself here in SW Pennsylvania where gas is cheap and that's even assuming the unit lasts for 10 years with a zero failure rate. This all comes down to what many have figured out about their Toyota Prius they paid $35K for two years ago- it will never pay for itself in the fuel it saved over the comparable straight-gasoline conterpart.

I have dual 40-gallon electric units in my ranch and when one of them fails, I am eliminating both of them and installing a single 60-gallon gas unit with return lines & recirculator pump for instant hot water at any location....and I can do it three times over for the same price as a tankless.

For you folks in other parts of the country.... I'd be curious to see what kind of numbers you come up with based on your local price of gas. Try it with a 5, 7 and 10 year lifespan.

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Postby Stephen » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:51 pm

There are reasons other than energy efficiency that people install tankless water heaters. Out here in CA, it would take eons to earn back the higher purchase cost. However, there are several main advantages to tankless:

- Size (for those of us without basements, this can be a big deal)
- Catastrophic water damage (tank-based units are known for sudden flooding
- Sound (tankless units are noticeably quieter)

Depending on your application, those above items may not be that pertinent. But in my particular installation these are all concerns.

On the furnace, I understand your frustration. Out here in SoCal, our winters are fairly mild. There is no reason to install a 90% or 95% AFUE furnace here (from an energy use standpoint). However, the tax credit (NOT a deduction) is valid for just about anyone who has any federal tax liability. The actual installed cost is less for 90% than an 80% unit.
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Postby egads » Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:55 pm

In Stephen and my little houses, that cabinet space taken up by a hot water heater looks pretty inviting. Even with a tankless in the existing space, there would be room for the vacuum and other broom closet items. (those of us with VCT require lots of floor care) The units themselves are only (?) $1000. plus: special exhaust piping, a 120v outlet and likely need for an increased size gas line. While it is an advanced dyi project, it is doable for some. The tax credit, I think, does require professional installation. Some brands also require that for warranty. And some won't sell direct to a homeowner. The life span of all units is longer then 7 years. Ten is usually quoted, perhaps more with regular maintenance. Despite the Luddite view, electronic controls are the future. My last three cars have gotten increasingly complex and yet break much less.

Out here where it's warm, you have to spend extra for an efficient A/C compressor to get a tax credit. A super efficient furnace is a waste. Although most of them are very quiet, something else folks in a little house appreciate. My old unit sounds like a freight train.

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Postby johnnyapollo » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:14 pm

As with anything, the price will come down as adoption goes up. Gone are the days of super cheap energy - if anything energy costs will continue to rise in the US, just as it did in Europe and other parts of the world in the past. The real reason adoption for these units is so high everywhere but here is that energy cost so much more elsewhere - that changed in the US within the last two years and I don't see it going back to the way it was anytime soon (we're currently experiencing a windfall that won't last). Just my opinion anyway.

I broke down costs a bit in my first blog post - if you do the install yourself and use the 30% tax credit there isn't that much to make up - I think for most it's very doable within the life of the unit. Also, these tankless units are componetized so that individual parts that fail can be replaced - you're more likely to replace a part than the entire unit. Just my opinion though and I'm glad an alternative view has been posted. The additional benefits have already been mentioned.

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Postby egads » Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:22 am

I plan to install one of these when I do my tankless, maybe before.

http://www.gothotwater.com/d'mand/

Unlike a traditional circulation pump, these can be used without a return line and only operate "on demand" Traditional pumps run all the time. (or for timed periods) These units save a lot of water. That is very important in parts of the country.

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Postby Stephen » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:39 am

Stephen Meade

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http://www.CliffMaySocal.com

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Postby Scott Clarke » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:54 am

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Postby Scott Clarke » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:37 am

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Postby Joe » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:53 am


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Postby Scott Clarke » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:57 am

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Postby Stephen » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:57 am

Stephen Meade

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http://www.CliffMaySocal.com

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Cliff May Homeowner

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Postby egads » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:08 pm

My hot water heater is indeed a mere 15' away. However, hot water does not come quickly. Sure if you are working in the kitchen and constantly using the hot water it may be all right, however the amount of waste running to get hot water initially is too much for the drought we are in. Also, and this is the most important reason for me, is that the dishwasher does not get any hot water on subsequent fills. And all those times one runs the hot water, and never actually getting any just means that hot water is drawn from the tank only to be cooled underground.

I have never had a plumber discourage the use of circulation pumps. In fact every large house in the OC has one. If it were that much of an issue, I'd know about it. But all those return style units should be on a timer.

The kind I linked only works when you call for it. They can be used with tankless. It's a no wait no waste story.

Now Steven, I know you like to do things your own way, but please explain the "mount horizontally" comment.

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Postby Joe » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:45 pm


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Postby Joe » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:49 pm


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Postby egads » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:03 pm


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Postby Stephen » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:15 pm

Stephen Meade

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Postby egads » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:06 am

Unfortunately for me, for some reason, my hot water takes much longer. I never tested by time, but I can fill a 10 qt pasta pot before any hot water comes. Really hot water, like I need for filling the dishwasher is even longer. The pipes that run underground just seem to suck the heat right out. I'm sure the low flow nature of the newer kitchen faucet may contribute. The kitchen, and running water down the drain trying to get hot (really hot) water is the only place it seems to bother me. The master shower is fast enough right now with the original faucet. that could turn into a problem once that shower is redone with new faucet technology.

I'm much too much of a gardener to ever think or use automated sprinklers. The entirety of southern California is over watered as far as I'm concerned. Plants need soil, not just dirt. Soil is made up of, among other things, air. soaked soil doesn't have any. Folks pay for fertilizers and soil amendments and then wash away all of it. Unless we are having Santa Ana winds, I barely water. (newly planted areas excepted)

The tankless units need to be mounted upright. There are flames at the bottom, they just heat a copper heat exchanger instead of a tank. So I do not think you will gain that precious closet space. I will be happy just to have the broom closet. Furnaces are in fact bigger not smaller now days. and all conventional furnaces have the same depth.
We do have a homeowner here in the Long Beach Ranchos that installed a Spacepack system that uses one tankless water heater for both water and circulating through a small air handler for heat. I'm pretty sure they have A/C as well. Spacepack is a high velocity system that uses small 3" ducts.
It is also apparently very quiet. And twice as expensive. Maybe more than twice. Dankin is another manufacturer of the same type of systems. Both can be incredibly energy efficient. But like a Pruis or many other "green" choices, they often do not "pencil out" You spend for reasons of your own.

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Postby Stephen » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:34 am

Stephen Meade

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Part 2 of the Install

Postby johnnyapollo » Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:26 am

I had time to post the second part of the install:

http://modusmodern.blogspot.com/2009/12 ... art-2.html

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Postby rockland » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:04 pm

A very thoughtful debate.
I do appreciate how the numbers work out.
I also had decided on a tankless. My tank died late summer, leaked
a bit and would not hold the pilot. By some miracle and a busy work
load it came back for a second wind. We contacted a local rennai installer
through their site. You know the drill. Fill out the on-line form for a
consultation. No response. Way too busy to care but obviously the wrong
company for the job.
The extra cost somehow isn't an issue with me.
It is the power outages living in an elder forest neighborhood.
A monster snow storm last week and extremely high winds today...
I am fence sitting. Falling towards...

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Postby scowsa » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:39 pm

We have 22 solar panels on our new house so we elected to go with an electric tankless from these folks


Works fine and a lot cheaper than gas ones.
scowsa

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Postby egads » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:51 pm

There are gas models that do not require power.

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Postby greenmod » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:53 am

We had a gas tankless (with recirculating) put in last month, along with a new gas furnace (old one was original to the house). We are very pleased with it. Just got our gas/electric bill and it is $120 less than same month last year, that is with rates going up and it being much colder this year. I won't be able to tell how much of that savings is water heater until summer when we aren't heating the house.

We got $1100 instant rebate from our power company for switching to gas hot water and tankless (and another $500 for upgrading our furnace), plus the federal credit still to be used.

Pay-off wasn't our bottom line though - energy usage was. I think different areas of the country have different needs. We live where water is plentiful, solar and wind power are not. If I lived somewhere like Phoenix, I'd have looked into solar hot water.
Allison

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Postby johnnyapollo » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:12 pm

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