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Discussion Starter #1
I just picked up an 80 gallon electric hot water tank... :)

What's the difference between a copper element and a stainless element? (besides they type of metal... ha)
 

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Can you describe the water heater in more detail, explaining what the "element" is and where it is located and what (literature?) called your attention to it?

The two rod-like units that heat the water and which are screwed into the side of the tank are generally not made of either copper or stainless steel.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
general question

Hi, it's just a general question really. It seems the industry uses copper and or stainless steel heating elements in their water heaters. Typically stainless steel appears to cost about 25% more and I was curious why. For all that goes into a heater it seems weird that a relatively small heating element would drive up the cost so much...
 

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water heater elements

I just picked up an 80 gallon electric hot water tank... :)

What's the difference between a copper element and a stainless element? (besides they type of metal... ha)
Copper are the low end type, and will corrode and fail faster, the more so with harder water. Stainless/alloy last longer and cost more, thought like a lot of things one wonders how the difference in price can be so great for the consumer. I found a good explanation at http://www.grimwoodheating.com.au/DomesticWaterHeatingElements.htm
I have 2 electric water heaters, both with 5500 watt elements. The 'same' model now has 4500 watt elements, so when replacement becomes necessary I will face slightly slower ( about 18% slower) recovery. Manufacturer saves a few bucks, and avoids having their units installed where the wiring isn't heavy enough for 5500 watts, probably a real liability on the part of the manufacturer and the installer if they fail to check that the house wiring is adequate. I also note that the new model has a copper upper element, and a stainless lower element. Only one element is ever on at a time, and the lower element is on the most, so it will tend to burn out sooner just from use (if they are both copper), so they shaved out another buck or two in profit by using the cheaper upper copper element while making the harder working lower element of longer-lasting stainless. Read the short article - it is most informative
 
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