one condensing heater versus two cheaper power vented heaters

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Hal J, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Hal J

    Hal J New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Minnneapolis MN
    I own a duplex (live upstairs and rent out downstairs) and currently have two power-vented water heaters. One needs replacing now, and the other won't last much longer. The building no longer has a usable chimney, so atmospherically vented heaters are out. My question is, should I spend $750-800 each for two non-condensing, relatively inefficient power-vented water heaters, or should I buy one condensing heater, such as a Vertex GDHE-50 from A.O. Smith, or a Polaris from American Water Heaters?

    I'm tempted to go with one condensing heater. From what I've read, it seems as though one of the condensing heaters would supply enough hot water to meet both units' needs. It would save space, and my understanding is that it would be cheaper to run than two lower-end heaters. On the other hand, with one unit all my eggs would be in one basket.

    Am I overlooking important considerations? Thanks for everyone's opinions.
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Its your call on whether the condensing unit will have a fast enough payback...
    Make sure you figure the tax credit and check for any state and utility rebates that may be available.
    http://www.energysavers.gov/financial/70020.html

    However, as far as AO Smith & American Water Heaters...
    I'm not a fan of either brand...
  3. Hal J

    Hal J New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Minnneapolis MN
    Redwood,

    Thanks for mentioning the tax credit and rebates. I will include those factors in my decision.

    Are there other brands you would recommend?
  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Bradford White & Heat Transfer Products (Phoenix)
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  5. Gsalet

    Gsalet George the Plumber

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    San Francisco
    who pays for the gas on each unit? How many people in each unit?, how many bathrooms in each unit? If the neighbor uses all the hot water will one of you wind up in Jail?<grin>
  6. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    If each of the two are 1% likely to fail over some period of years, the one unit would have to be 0.01% likely to fail during that same period to equal the reliability of the two.
    They probably don't make units that reliable.

    The problem is that the companies will probably not tell you their calculated reliability value, but it is linked to the warranty length.

    Another consideration is the current price of replacement parts, which is something you can find out ahead of time.
  7. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Polaris is a good unit, I have installed several, but a bit pricy.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Polaris, AO Smith, and American Water heaters are all divisions of the same company...
    I do like to avoid them...
  9. BPI Rob

    BPI Rob BPI Building Analyst

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Phladelphia, PA
    I am looking to upgrade to a Condensing Storage Water Heater. What brand-model would anyone recommend to a family of six> We have a conventional gas WH but want to upgrade. Let me explain:

    One of our offerings as a company is Solar Thermal systems. I figured that I would install one on my home as part of a larger project. But we need to abandon our chimney because the HWH is orphaned and does not vent too well and we are about to re-roof and I'd like to get rid of the chimney all together. So I looked at the cost of a condensing WH and the solar thermal and I think, after the condensing unit is installed, the savings of going solar (with or without the polaris solar-gas all in one tank) is fairly small and would not pay back for 15-20 years. That is a stretch for me, so I am probably not going solar. All this leads me to the following question:

    In your opinions, which condensing WH offers the best value and what size would best suit our family of six> We have 2 full bathrooms (only one tub) DW, & Washing machine.
    Many Thanks!
  10. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/p...er-Heaters-google_pr&infoParam.campaignId=T9F

    I do not "know" this unit, but ONE should do 2 units, and for the cost be the best value.

    Polaris are SS tanks and have had some issues, but seem to be at least a 20 year heater with a few igniter changes. The Polaris is way overkill for just hot water heating in a SFR, but if you heat with it also, it makes great sense. Or use it for a few units +

    Here is another interesting unit. have not found a cost yet:
    http://www.sensibletechnologies.net/HydronicTimes/JTG/HT_JTG_PGETestPhoenixNumber1.html

    http://www.htproducts.com/phoenix.html
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011
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