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Old 02-08-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Right now I have an 82 gallon electric water heater that is several years old. I dont want to come home from work and 82 gallon are on the floor. This being very old but in working order is it RUNNING UP MY ELECTRIC BILL? In replacing this item what brand name do you recommend and how many gallons would be enough for three people (more than enough) I dont want to run out. Thanks

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Old 02-08-2008, 09:32 AM   #2
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


I think 50 gals. should be plenty. I like Bradford White, stay away from the big box brands, and buy from a local plumbing supply.

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Old 02-08-2008, 10:15 AM   #3
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


What does big box brands mean? Do you think this may be the cause of a hihgher electric bill? Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:04 AM   #4
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


I meant the stores like Home Depot, Sears and Lowes. I think the they offer brands like GE and Whirlpool. From the local plumbing supply you would likely find Bradford White or AO Smith, which I think is another good brand. Try calling the plumbing supply in your area and see what they have to offer.

The longer the warranty on the units usually mean much better insulation and maybe even stainless steel heating elements, which help in hard water areas.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-08-2008, 12:11 PM   #5
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Thank you again. I got to get rid of that monster maybe big cause of high electric bill.
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:40 PM   #6
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Have you ever flushed the tank?
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:51 PM   #7
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Switch to gas while you're at it. I agree that 50g should be plenty.
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:37 PM   #8
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


-It really doesn't matter what size water heater you have. Especially electric, since no matter what brand you purchase, they'll all insulated to the hilt. An AO Smith electric water heater will not cost one penny less to operate than a box store model. a 4500 watt heating element is a 4500 watt heating element. 40 gallons used to shower is 40 gallons used to shower. And all electric water heaters have very small standby losses. The main factor in electricity use will be actual hot water use. If you want to spend less on heating water - then use less hot water.

-An electric water heater takes a lot longer to heat than a gas model. Because of this, if a 40 gallon gas is considered adequate, you'd have to double to an 80 gallon for an electric model. If 3 family members shower in the AM, you'd better stick with an 80 gallon model if you don't want to run out of hot water.

-How old is your refrigerator? Don't let the small plug fool you. They run a long time and if they're leaking cold air, or the defrost timer is stuck in the ON position, or the seals are worn, or the unit is over 10 years old, THAT is where the energy is going. While electric water heaters, clothes dryers and electric ranges consume a lot of power, they only do so when they're ON.

-How do you heat? Electric Baseboard? Heat pump? If so, there's your culprit.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:26 PM   #9
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


I have a 50 gallon electric and it's no problem for three people taking showers in a row provided they aren't those long hot "soothing my aching back" showers.

In some areas electric rates are very favorable to gas. Don't switch to gas thinking you'll save money before checking out the numbers for your area.
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:04 PM   #10
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


People can buy the cheaper box store water heaters if they want. We'll see how far that $50 saved goes when you're replacing parts every couple years and they refuse to make good on warranties. Then we'll see how far it goes when you're paying a $1000 deductable and fighting your insurance company to have the damage a ruptured tank caused repaird since the thing was made by the lowest bidder with the cheapest material in China.
The water heaters are the same story as the faucet. It looks exactly the same as one from a plumbing supply. However it's chromed plastic, not brass, the cartridges are inferior and only available from the store of purchase, and they're just not going to last as long or perform as well as the faucet from the pluming supply.

That said I'd say a 50 gallon water heater is plenty for you unless you have a Whirlpool tub, run laundry while showers, take multiple back to back showers, or have some other special situation. 82 gallons is probably overkill.

As for your electric bill don't expect any miracles. It is possible the thing is literally full of sediment and running up your bill. In most cases you stand to save only a few dollars a month buying a newer water heater. You may get a couple more going to a smaller unit.

You do not have to double the size because you have an electric unit. The recovery rate is probably 75% that of a similarly sized gas unit. So long as you aren't taking back to back showers, or doing laundry, dishes, etc at the same time you will be fine. If anything go up to a 75 gallon. I still think it's overkill though. I have two people in my house, and two tenants on a 50 gallon with laundry. Rarely a problem with hot water, and when their is a problem it's because I took a 45 minute shower.

Good point about the refrigerator. That's the appliance to replace if you want to save on power.

Last edited by Marlin; 02-08-2008 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:17 PM   #11
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


A. O. SMITH & BRADFORD WHITE both make good water heaters "BUT" they are sold to the trade only !

the big box and hardware stores are all made by the same big "MFG'S" that make them for plumbers and you can buy any electric elements you want to in them the "BEST" elements are the sandhog or life long elements they give you the best bang for the buck $ $
you " DO NOT WANT TO UNDER SIZE " your
electric water heater it was sized for the most
demands for your size house !
it may ? look like overkill now but it was sized for max demand if you go to sell the buyers may not like and come back on you ?
it takes a lot longer for electric heaters to recover then gas those extra gals give you draw down while heater recovers ! !

MACPLUMB MASTERPLUMBER PH.D WATER HEATEROLGY
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:01 AM   #12
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Thanks for the help much appreciated. Ill start the ball rolling today and keep you up to date with how things are going...hopefully down meaning electric bill.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:12 AM   #13
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


Nate how much would something like that cost? To switch from electric to gas? Thousands?
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Old 02-09-2008, 02:55 PM   #14
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


It depends. Do you have gas in your house now? Do you even have a gas utility available?
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:58 PM   #15
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What size water heater is big enough for my family?


NO gas lines to the house. Unfortionately, it would be all new.

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