Oh What do I do!!! Eternal, Tankless, etc...

Discussion in 'Tankless Water Heater Forum' started by gjorda, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    Help! I have 2 daughters (11 and 8 yrs old)...so they will be taking forever in the shower in a couple of years.
    I currently have a 50 gal electric water heater...just sprung a leak!! It was 7 years old.(Bradford White)

    Had plumber over and 4 options.
    1) 50 gal electric Bradford White..same as now and hope it lasts longer ($850-ish)
    2) 80 gal electric Bradfrd White...if we do electric I think I want bigger than a 50 gal ($1100-ish)
    3) 50 gal Natural gas...($1600-ish)
    4) model GU145 Eternal Hybrid tankless ...(3500-ish) rebate of 1/3 next tax year

    what are your thoughts!!
  2. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    I would recommend that you install a 50 gallon Bradford White with either 4500w or 5500w elements and, I would test & see what your water pressure is; and, see if you are possibly in need of a pressure reducing valve. If you already have one be sure that you have an expansion tank with a proper precharge. Being that you live in a cold climate and probably not knowing what your incoming water temperature is during the winter & how hard your water is, I would stay away from the tankless. 850 for a Bradford White installed seems to me like a fair price.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  3. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    So you would stick to electric and NOT gas?...I am thinking gas would maybe be the best wat to go.
  4. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    In Nebraska, everyone I know has a gas WH - I suppose it depends on the relative cost of electricity vs. natural gas in your area.

    I imagine others with experience and data will chime in to help you make this decision.
  5. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    Yeah, a few plumbers I have talked to say that gas is by far the best efficiency.

    Has anyone an opinion on the Eternal Hybrid?????
  6. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    There were 6000 tankless sold in Minnesota last year, no reason not to go tankless.
    The eternal is too new and already being redesigned, made in Taiwan and unproven IMO
  7. Scott D. Plumber

    Scott D. Plumber In the Trades

    Messages:
    67
    Rinnai R94LSi or Rinnai RC98HPi (condensing)
    No-Brainer
    With the Fed Tax credit, you will spend a little more but you are going to cave a fortune over the electric tank. I hear stories all the time of $50-$75/mo energy savings over the old electric tank! PLus with a 20+ year life expectancy, it will outlive the tank 2:1! What's another tank going to cost you 10-12 years from now? Find the "Tankless 101" article and read it. Once you have a (good) tankless water heater, you'll never own another home without one.
  8. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    I think my water pressure is too low for the tankless models. At least it seems that's what people are saying. and with the electric that we have had for 8 years, the pressure isn't real high to begin with.

    I have checked reviews on the Bradford and White and the Rinnai and neither one seems to be "all that", if you know what I mean.

    C'mon! can't you just all agree so my decision is easier!! kidding!

    really, thanks for all the input and keep it coming.

    As of now we are LEANING to the Brad and white 50 gas....

    but that could change at any moment.
  9. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    But BEFORE you make the swap to gas, put in a drainwater heat recovery system (most electric water heating customers get a rebate in MN, but IIRC it's not available to those who heat water with NG.). It'll more than double your "infinite shower" capacity (and save fuel at the same time.) A 0.60EF tank + drainwater heat recovery costs less than a condensing tankless, but uses less fuel in a heavy showering household. It'll work with any type of hot water heater.

    See: http://www.mnpower.com/powerofone/one_home/waterheating/dwhr/dwhr_video.htm

    Another option: If your heating system is hydronic (forced hot water, baseboards radiators, radiant floor, etc) an indirect-fired HW heater running as a zone off the boiler will give you endless hot water while raising the operating efficiency of the boiler in most cases. It'll outlast (an usually outperform by most measures) a tankless, and run at much higher annual efficiency as a tank. If that's the type of heating system you have, this is by far your best option. (And combining it with drainwater heat recovery makes it more efficient as a system than a condensing tankless.)
  10. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    Okay, Update!

    we are thinking about going with the Eternal Hybrid...for a few reasons.

    1) the 2 plumbers I use/have used both like to install the Bradford White...but that is the unit we have now and after 7 years, went bad...not sure if I want to give them another chance..
    2) the cost of the Hybrid about 3500-ish and the rebate of $100 or so back equals total cost of 2500 -ish...Our other choice was going to be the 50 gal gas and that cost is $1600-ish. I am not one to go the cheap route and for an extra $900 I am
    thinking of stepping up to the hybrid. Both plumbers seem to like it (although, as a painter I like the more expensive paints too) One of the guys just saw one yesterday for the first time and he called me back and raved about it...not sure what I think of him seeing it for the first time and then turning around and installing for me, but...

    as for the drain recovery system...one of the plumbers said that he is not too keen on installing something that is from a company that he does not deal with and now much about...this is the same plumber that has never heard or seen the Hybrid until yesterday...

    I don't know, now I think I am trying to talk my way out of it again.
    Aren't life's decisions grand? However, I am glad that these simple decisions are the ones I have to make instead of the life changing ones.
    any other inputs? I do actually have to make my decision sometime soon...
    thanks
  11. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    thanks for the questions!!! thanks alot!!

    That is one of the things that worries me about the Hybrid. One of the plumbers just saw it yesterday... the other guy is the one that brought it to my attention in the first place.
    we have copper piping, not sure what the water temp is in the winter.

    I will pose some of these ?'s to them and see what they have to say.

    I know that these units are relatively new and that there may be some draw backs...OH what to do....
  12. gjorda

    gjorda New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    MN
    Opps, no, not the drains...I assume they are cast iron...read it wrong

    our house was built in '69
  13. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    Your average incoming water temp will be pretty close to the deep well groundwater temp, but may be as much as 5-6F below that temp at it's coldest. For a rough guess, find yourself on the map, subtract 5F:

    [​IMG]

    Drainwater heat recovery systems are stupid-on-a-stick devices to install and maintain. (They're ZERO maintainance!) EFI is the distributor for PowerPipe and their warehouse is close by you in WI. Retherm and most others will sell direct. To do a price/performance anlysis, Natural Resources Canada has them 3rd party tested to a standard an maintains a model & performance list here.

    If you're a long-showering family you'll get a far better ROI with drainwater heat recovery than going with a condensing tank, and the showering time capacity approaches infinity with a standard tank + 50%+ recovery at standard single shower flows. If you're willing to spring an extra $900 to go for a HW heater that only scores a 0.86 on an EF test (barely more than a bottom-of-the-line 0.82 tankless) I can't imagine NOT also going for the drainwater heat recovery for similar money, unless there is some installation obstacle, since it can bring the as-used effective EF to over 1.0 (more than 100% efficiency) by not throwing those BTUs literally down the drain during showers, which is likely by far the lion's share of your hot water volume. Most homes with a full basement can accomodate a 4" x 4-foot in-line vertical heat exchanger. Many can handle 6-footers. The installation cost of small vs. large units are pretty much the same, only the incremental cost of the heat exchanger itself increases with size, but the increased efficiency of going larger is cost effective in a net-present-value analysis. (Basically, buy the biggest-fattest version that fits to get the best payback.)

    Any decent plumber can install these- the key is to get them as perfectly vertical as possible, and to plumb the output of the heat exchanger to both the cold side of the shower as well as the cold feed to the water heater (any water heater). When you do that instead of mixing 40-45F water with the water heater's output to make nice 105F water at the showerhead you're mixing in 70-75F water, which means you have lower flow out of the water heater. And instead of the water heater having to heat the water from 40-45F to 120-140F (or whatever you've set the water heater to), it now has to only raise the temp from 70-75F. The net result is that at ~2gpm a 35kbtu 80% efficiency burner (typical standard tank size/efficiency) pretty much keeps up with a 105F shower, and you burn only about half the fuel, and have a very short recovery time should combined laundry/dishwashing/other flows + shower actually draws down the stored heat in the tank to below showering temp. You can run back-to-back 20 minute showers all day long even with 30 gallon tank- the tank only needs to be big enough to fill your tubs.

    During showers the condensing hybrid will also keep up with the flow, but will be burning at ~98% steady-state efficiency compared to a standard tank's ~80%. With drainwater heat recovery that 80% burner is getting an effective ~120% efficiency- well above what a condensing heater alone can deliver. But since it only delivers that performance during simulatneous shower & drain flows, the average as-used efficiency depends on the fraction shower-flows are of the total volume used. With Energy Star appliances and 4 showering people the water for showers will usually be well over half the total. The rest of the efficiency game is managing the standby losses (insulating the pipes, etc.)

    But if you can heat water with the heating system boiler using an indirect tank you'd usually be using comparable annual fuel for hot water as going with the condensing hybrid (probably less in your case, if combined with drainwater heat recovery.)
  14. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,812
    Location:
    01609
    There are many many places where that will be the case. If you're on a municipal water system with surface reservoirs and shallowly buried mains it can be MUCH more than 5F colder than the map would indicate. Altitude, and water sources other than wells also play a large role. The temps indicated are average annual groundwater temps, which will vary seasonally, but not by more than 20F from highest to lowest, typically. The map can only be used as a rough guess, and even it's dotted lines are "inferred", not actual data points from multiple wells.

    But in the absence of an actual measurement the map gives a starting point to work from.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,522
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Gas water heaters typically last longer than electric ones, are less expensive to operate, and produce hot water faster. Have the installer place a "jumper" wire between the hot and cold water lines where they come out of the wall. It may.or may not, lengthen the life of the water, but since it is cheap and easy to do and cannot CAUSE any problems it is a worthwhile investment. As you have
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,522
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Gas water heaters typically last longer, cost less to operate, and produce more hot water than electric ones. As far as longevity, have the installer place a jumper wire between the hot and cold water lines where they come out of the wall. This sometimes increases the life of the water heater, regardless of whether it is gas or electric. The difference between a 50 gallon and 80 gallon water heater is 30 gallons, period. Everything else is exactly the same in both of them so if you think getting 30 more gallons of hot water during a single use is worth the money then spend it. With gas heaters there is a big difference between a 50 gallon and 75 gallon water heater.
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