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Old 11-01-2014, 05:15 PM   #1
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Shopping for New Electric Water Heater Lots of Questions


So Im shopping around for a new water heater and I have lots of questions.
  • Are Rheem water heaters any good?
  • Can I install a water heater by myself?
  • If I have a medium height water heater, is it worthwhile to buy a more efficient tall water heater and redo some of the piping so I can save some electricity or should I just replace a water heater with one of the same height?
  • How much does Home Depot charge to deliver and install a water heater? (price estimate for your area is ok)
  • If power goes off, will the settings on this my proposed Rheem water heater reset? (note, I also have a thing where the electric company shuts off my water heater on occasion. For this they give me $3 per month)
  • Is this water heater compatible with my wiring?
  • What do I do with my old water heater?
  • Where in Hawaii can I buy a water heater other than Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears?
Sorry to bombard ya'll with questions, feel free to answer one or a few at your leisure.

My situation:
My current water heater is 15 years old. It is an electric 40 gallon State Industries brand. Specs are 49 gallons for the first hour, 4500 watts, 4952 kwh per year (according to the energy guide sticker on the outside). Im looking to get a new water heater because this one is getting old and more people live in my house than fifteen years ago. Basically, in the morning, there is only enough water for about 2 1/3 showers. So the third person has to shower fast.

I have three adults and an infant, maybe a second infant in 5 years, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

I have solar panels on my roof, which produce more electricity than I can currently use (about 1500 kwh extra per year), so energy efficiency isnt super important now, but if my family grows and uses more electricity, I may begin worrying about that.

Ive been leaning toward the Rheem 50 gallon, medium height, 12 year warranty. Specs are 68 gallons in the first hour and 4721 KWH/yr. Im considering this over the tall model (which is more efficient) because the height and pipe connections match my current water heater.

Below are pictures of the water heater label and a chart of other 50 gallon water heaters. The Rheem ones have better specifications.

Thanks for any advice you can provide.



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Old 11-01-2014, 07:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeakyHawaiiRoof View Post
So I’m shopping around for a new water heater and I have lots of questions.
[LIST]

[*] Are Rheem water heaters any good? Yes, imo.

[*] Can I install a water heater by myself? Maybe, don't know about Hawaii or your specific location. In my location, electric and gas hwh's can only be installed by a lincensed plumber with permit. Each municipality has there own code enforcement department, check with your's first and see if you are allowed to.

[*] If I have a medium height water heater, is it worthwhile to buy a more efficient tall water heater and redo some of the piping so I can save some electricity or should I just replace a water heater with one of the same height? In your case with a growing family it may be worth it. However, as you mentioned, you do have solar panels that help greatly with the power bill. Keep in mind, if you replace it with the same type, it will be an easy swapout. If more piping or re-plumbing is required the labor cost will go up.

[*] How much does Home Depot charge to deliver and install a water heater? (price estimate for your area is ok) In my location about a 800- thousand dollars (includes hwh fully installed, depending on what is needed, plumbing wise) for a 40-50 gallon hwh. Judging by your list, it appears you're bugeting around 500-600 dollars for a hwh.

[*] If power goes off, will the settings on this my proposed Rheem water heater reset? (note, I also have a thing where the electric company shuts off my water heater on occasion. For this they give me $3 per month) If power goes out, it should reset when power comes back on, idk. Best to check the owners manual on this as all models differ. You can pull up the owners manual online.

[*]Is this water heater compatible with my wiring? Should be, check with the owners manual available online to make sure you have the proper requirements. If not, you may have to hire a lincensed electrician to get you up to code. Keep in mind, your current electric hwh is over 15 years old.

[*] What do I do with my old water heater? The installer usually will dispose of it for you, as per your request, all included in price. You also can recycle it at your local recycle center if you have one nearby. Up to you.

[*] Where in Hawaii can I buy a water heater other than Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears? Try a local appliance or plumbing supply store. Some have just as good of deals as the big box stores.
Just my personal opinion and suggestions. Others will be along shortly with more advice/suggestions. Thanks.

Last edited by jmon; 11-01-2014 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:50 PM   #3
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If you do get a new gas or electric water heater, you can make a solar hot water "pre-heater" for very little cost. Works great in warm climates such as Hawaii, where you don't have to worry about frozen pipes.

Here's how it works in broad terms.

Take the water tank out of the old water heater,
Enclosed it in a plywood box, sized to hold the tank, and a double-paned glass cover, such as an old sliding patio door.
Paint the water tank flat black and paint the inside of the box a reflective aluminum color.
Run the plumbing from cold water supply that runs into your house into the solar water tank, then run it down to the cold intake on the new electric gas or hot water heater. Insulate that pipe
Thus, the water coming into the heater is coming in at roughly 120-150 degrees instead of a cold 60 or whatever as it comes out of the ground. Saves a ton of energy.

If this interests you, search around, detailed plans are out there on the internet.
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:18 AM   #4
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You currently have a 4500 watt water heater, this means your wiring should be 10 AWG or thicker, on a 30 amp double pole breaker (240 volts).

If that's not the case, then consult with a qualified electrician. Let's assume for the moment that there is a properly installed 30 Amp double pole breaker and this means you could go up to about 5500 watts water heater before you'd need to touch the electrical wiring.

From what I understand Rheem, Bradford White, and AO smith are all good brands.

If you are handy, and your local code allows self-install (you may need a permit, check with your city, county, or state), you can probably do a 1:1 replacement yourself. If not, hire a qualified professional, they'll come in and do it right the first time.

You'll have to look at the manual for any water heater you purchase to see what settings will/will not be retained after a power loss.

Disposal: Call your town/city solid waste department and see what they say. You may be able to take it to a scrap metal recycling facility.

If you have it professionally installed, then it is likely that the installer may remove the old tank. Ask as it will vary from contractor to contractor.

Purchasing options: From your plumber. From a plumbing or building supply company in your area. Online (shipping may be cost prohibitive).

It sounds like energy efficiency and cost are important to you. There are two costs. The first cost is the initial purchase and installation, this is a one time cost and can vary from installation to installation. Then there is the cost of actually running the water heater. This cost is a recurring cost.

If it were me, I'd be looking at a unit that would reduce my recurring costs (energy efficiency and energy/fuel choice).

Alternatives to a traditional water heater:
1) Natural Gas or Propane, if available at a reasonable cost and install a tankless water heater. This will provide your household with a lot of hot water on demand, no cold showers. I had one at my last house and it was great and problem free. Stay away from electric tankless heaters, from what I understand (no first hand experience) they are not as good as the gas/propane units.

2) A hybrid water heater that uses a heat pump to help heat the water along with a heating element. This is an option if you don't heat your home or you have an unheated/non-conditioned space like a garage or unfinished basement.

If you have Propane or Natural gas at reasonable cost, take a look at a tankless on demand water heaters. With an on-demand unit you'll never run out of hot water. I had a Triangle Tube branded tankless heater/boiler installed one at my last place and had zero problems. We always had hot water for both heating (It was in New England) and domestic use.

If you have a non-conditioned space in your home or you don't heat your home take a look at hybrid water heaters, they use a heat pump as well as a heating element to heat the water and use way less energy as a traditional water heater.

I've seen both Rheem (model HB50ES) and GE branded hybrid water heaters, but others may be out there. They are the only electric water heater type that is energy star rated. Check with your utility, they may even offer a rebate for a hybrid electric water heater. The downside is that they cost around $1000 to obtain, plus installation. One of the side benefits (at least that I read in one of the reviews) is that it may cool the space it is in since it is using the heat in the air to help warm the water, think of it like an air conditioner that is exchanging heat.

Now, I've never used one, I started researching them until I came across a note about not using them in conditioned spaces. If you heat your home, that makes sense. If a home is heated in the cooler months, your furnace will have to work harder since the heat pump on the hybrid unit is pulling the heat into the water and cooling the air outside the water heater. You also need to leave the air circulation around it. There is a minimum sized room (cubic space) they require to work effectively, so if it's in a closet, then you'd need to leave the door open all the time.

Anyway, hopefully this is somewhat useful information for you.

Last edited by b4bhomeowner; 11-02-2014 at 01:23 AM.
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