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wombosi 02-10-2009 04:47 PM

Having a hard time deciding which kind of water heater to buy:

Cheapo electric with tank
Cheap propane with tank
propane tankless?

The last tech who serviced my boiler recommended the cheapest electric unit I could find, piped through boiler. Said Home Depot, $200, should do it. Just to be able to shut the boiler off in the summer.
However, the boiler is so old that who knows when it will crack. I'm also considering switching to natural gas, getting a wall mounted direct vent unit for that with an indirect water heater. So if I do that in a few years, maybe electric is the way to go?
However, I hate getting so mething just because it's the cheapest option.
If getting a $1,000 tankless on demand unit means I've just added a grand to the value of my home, then I wouldn't hesitate to do that, unless you guys give me reason to.

Someone was saying I couldn't get a "decent" tankless for less than $1200.
Is this true? Just saw a nice Rinnai on ebay for $700, with max 5gpm flow rate. aultDomain_0?hash=item200300589268&_trksid=p3286.c 0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|24 0%3A1318|301%3A0|293%3A1|294%3A50

Any more than 700-800 in cost and I can't justify the price over a $200 electric model. Or can I?

Can a tankless still be piped through my boiler? Is that question as dumb as it sounds?

Any point in getting tankless if my boiler is running all winter anyway to make heat?

Just trying to make the best decision for my house, for comfort, for efficiency, for resale value.


yuri 02-10-2009 05:12 PM

KISS. Keep it simple stup*d is my motto. The tankless direct fired units are going to a problem in 10 yrs with getting expensive parts for, corrosion etc. Any fuel savings may be eaten up in repairs. Wholesalers are notorious for switching brands and not always having ALL the parts for what they sold. I like the basic el cheapo 60 gallon electric and a 80% efficient Weil Mclain nat gas boiler combo for your house. Best bang for the buck/less to repair/lower operating costs/more dependable overall IMO. Buyers never give you credit for the furnace etc, usually the fancy kitchen fixtures/lighting is what I hear gets the value in resale.

Winchester 02-10-2009 06:10 PM

This was taken from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy website....


The most efficient systems available are generally gas-fired. If you currently have an oil-fired boiler, your best options are to purchase in indirect tank that connects to your boiler (best if your boiler is relatively new), or an integrated unit that provides space heat and hot water in one. Electric water heaters are not recommended.

If you currently have an electric water heater and natural gas is available in your area, a switch might save you a lot of money. Even though electric models have a higher energy factor than fuel-burning models, electric resistance is a very expensive way to generate heat. It does not have great environmental benefits either, since electricity is only as clean and efficient as the fuel (often coal) that generates it. Before you rule out electricity, though, check with your utility company. It may offer special off-peak rates or options for purchasing renewable power that may make electricity a more attractive option for you.
Check out

Also consider this years Tax Credits!

yuri 02-10-2009 06:26 PM

Lots depends on your electricity costs. Fairly cheap where I am as we have Hydro generated power.

Leah Frances 02-10-2009 08:03 PM

search this topic on this forum. LOTS has been written about this topic.

dac122 02-11-2009 07:34 AM

Not clear from your post if you need just a seasonal auxiliary water heater or one for the entire year, but IMHO tankless is not the way to go. Their initial cost, installation plumbing remediation, questionable efficiency, high potential repair costs and unknown support make them less than ideal option.

I generally recommend folks go with the cheapest conventional tank (ie non-power vented) with the thickest insulation and factory heat traps. Since you have various fuel sources available you can balance initial cost with lifetime operating costs by using a this operating cost spreadsheet. Don't forget to include the various taxes in your utility costs.

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