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jgregory 08-02-2008 03:25 PM

Tankless water heater
I want to install a tankless heater in my home, but I'm on the fence whether to buy gas or electric. I know gas is less costly to operate, however initial installation costs will be much greater (my house was built in 1952 and all my gas lines are black pipe, which I'm sure will have to be brought up to code). I live in Ft. Worth Texas, so ground water temperature should be fairly warm. Any opinions, advice, recommendations?

fungku 08-02-2008 03:41 PM

Why not get a few estimates?

The gasfitter/plumber should know whether or not you can do it without having to replace all existing pipe and you'll at least get an idea on how much your options will cost as well.

jgregory 08-02-2008 03:51 PM

I was hoping to do the install myself, and as far as the gas lines go, my parents had a similar situation at their house. I guess what I'm trying to decide is does long term savings outweigh the initial costs. I can install an electric model myself.

Marlin 08-02-2008 03:54 PM

Black pipe is still the standard for indoor gas lines. Poly is for burial and that thin flexible stainless pipe just sucks. So they are not out dated. The problem is tank less units use a lot more gas then a tank unit does. Resultingly you may have to install new larger gas lines.
Electric ones have the same problem. They use a lot of power. If you want one capable of running two large fixtures at the same time (showers and washing machines mainly) it needs a 120 amp breaker. A smaller one needs an 80 amp breaker. I'm sure living in Texas you have AC. Unless you have a 200amp service running a tank less unit, your AC, and a few other appliances at the same time could trip your main breaker. Talk about annoying while in the shower.

fungku 08-02-2008 03:57 PM

I'd go for the long term savings, if it were myself. That's more of a personal preference than something people on a forum can answer. How long do you plan on staying in the house, etc?

Around here you don't need to upgrade existing stuff unless you're tampering with it. If a new line can be run you may not need to worry about replacing everything.

If you don't want to get estimates can't you talk to your municipality to find out whether or not all the pipe would need to bed replaced?
Someone else on here familiar with US regulations may be able to help you, though.

edit: Marlin answered! People on these forums are quick

Marlin 08-02-2008 04:02 PM

Why do you want to install a tank less anyway? On a new house, a gas conversion, or a complete remodel I can see installing one. They really don't save enough energy to be worth the switch though. The energy saving statistics you see are mostly pulled out of the air or are done by the tank less companies that test them in unrealistic situations.
Put your hand on your hot water tank and feel it, it shouldn't feel the slightest bit warm. That's because they are so well insulated heat loss is minimal. If you're not using your hot water that heater might turn itself on for ten minutes a day using a quarter or so worth of gas. If you really want you could get a tank blanket which further insulates the tank. Most of the heat from your water heater is lost in the hot water line on top of the tank. You can install a heat trap to minimize that.
Saving ten or twenty bucks a month on your gas bill sounds nice on paper. How many years will it take to recover the thousands you just spend converting to a tank less unit though?

fungku 08-02-2008 04:17 PM

I'm considering getting a tankless in my own house. I never actually thought about it that way Marlin. Glad you brought that up. Now I've got a lot more balanced pros and cons list and makes the decision a little more difficult.

The main appeal of the tankless though is not running out of hot water. There are three females in this house. :whistling2:

jgregory 08-02-2008 04:38 PM

I talked to a plumber who told me the lines will need to be upgraded, and a larger gas line will need to be run direct from the meter to the heater. My existing heater is pushing 15 years old, and is located in a closet in the center of the house where I intend to install the evaporator for the new AC unit I plan to install (the old one is in the attic, and I want to move it). With the vent kit, a gas heater would run about $1000.00 (plus upgrade of the gas lines), and I could install an electric for a little over half that. I do have a 200 amp service panel, I recently upgraded that.

clasact 08-03-2008 07:23 AM

I have tank less,for now I have two small Titan units run together that feed the bath ,kitchen ,washer,and utility sink.I did not look at a the specs before I installed them mine are electric and you can crunch the numbers all day if you want but the only way to know for sure is when the utility bills start coming in. had a gas water heater and when I compared the gas bill to the electric bill the saving were more like 80 to 100 dollars a month.I have been through this discussion on a couple of other threads on here and all I can tell you is what my bills showed.So when taking into account the easy installation,the space savings and most of all the savings on my bills it was well worth it but others will disagree with me and thats OK

Marlin 08-03-2008 07:28 AM

Remember their will be a difference in water heating costs between winter and summer. in the winter water is coming in at 40 degrees or so. In summer it's coming in about 25 degrees warmer. Also how old is the tank you replaced? Did you ever flush it or replace the elements? Tanks loose efficiency as deposits build up on the elements and/or the bottom of the tank.

clasact 08-03-2008 07:44 AM

One of these tanks raised the temp about 50 degrees that is one reason for running two together for the winter months it raised it about 100 degree so neither are being over worked either.I bought this house about 4 years ago and replace the WH a year later the tag on it said it was 5 years old but it was completely filled with sediment.We have well water with alot of sediment.I wanted to change to city water when we moved in but at that time the water company would not approve poly pipe to run to the house now they do.The tank less have not clogged up at all in the three years I have had them in and work great.In FT Worth all of the problems with my water and summer to winter temps should not be much of a problem

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