Would you go tankless in this case?

Discussion in 'Tankless Water Heater Forum' started by roygbiv, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. roygbiv

    roygbiv New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    California
    I have a 14 year old 40 gal Rheem tanked gas water heater in a hall closet. I want to move it out of the house. The estimate to move it 50 feet away into the garage is $2500 (also gas). The estimate to install a gas tankless on an exterior wall 20 feet away averages $4000. So taking into the account the fed tax credit, the tankless install is only slightly more at $2800.

    btw - I'm in No Cal where the prices seem to be a bit higher than the rest of the country - so don't faint at these prices. The tankless units I've been quoted are the Noritz 751 and the Rinnai 94LSE.

    Many people ding tankless because it takes years to recoup the high installation costs. But, if I'm forking out that kind of money either way (tanked or tankless), should I just go tankless?

    So I wouldn't be asking this question if I was 100% sold on tankless. All the negatives that have been discussed agnosium on many other threads concern me (descaling every year, cold water sandwiches, longevity of the units, etc). Just seems like a lot of fiddling around to get things just right.

    But I have to give it some thought because I need to fork out almost the same amount of dough whether I go tanked or tankless.

    What do y'all think? Also, is 50 feet too far away from the bathrooms? One plumber said it wasn't worth it to move the tanked to the garage because it was too far away to heat the bathrooms.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  2. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    Texas
    The simple answer, you won't be happy

    Aside from existing piping, additional energy loss, etc., assuming your shower head is 2.5 GPM with pressure drop estimated, tankless startup lag-time, and the 50' of additional pipe it will take upwards of 45 seconds more than before to get hot water at that shower.
  3. Scott D. Plumber

    Scott D. Plumber In the Trades

    Messages:
    67
    YES! I think you will be happy. Your lag time is going up anyway (Tank or Tankless) due to the longer run. If it is a problem you can install a metlund pump and solve that problem. Try this link for more info on tankless unless you’ve found it already. http://www.profitableplumbing.com/id5.html

    You need to consider that a Rinnai or Noritz is expected to live 20+ years where a tank average is about 12. So what will another tank cost you 12 years from now? Energy savings are variable based on usage, needs and what was pulled out. In your case energy savings may not be extreme by any means but should be measurable. Unlimited hot water is also a very nice thing.

    Most “naysayers” either don’t know as much about them as they portray or simply don’t want to do anything different. There is a difference with people who really know what they are doing with any product.
    Both Noritz and Rinnai are great products. They are the best of the best. I’m partial to Rinnai primarily due to service. Find a Platinum dealer if you can from their website to do the job. (I have sold and installed both for going into my 8th year now!)

    As far as the price, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. Depending on the work it might not be that bad. As you said, with the tax credits, I think it’s not only reasonable but a no brainer if you are replacing anyway.
  4. roygbiv

    roygbiv New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    California
    Hi zl700, thanks for the response. The tankless will actually be 20 feet away but a tanked unit in the garage would be 50 feet away. Do you think the tanked unit 50 feet away will be an issue in terms of getting hot water to the bathrooms? Will the 20 feet impact the tankless performance?

    My regular plumber won't even discuss tankless with me. But he also thinks I should leave the tanked unit where it is in the house because he thinks moving it (tanked or tankless) is not worth the expense. But I still really want to move it out because I've heard too many stories of water heaters failing and flooding the house. Plus I want to regain closet space because we have very little storage space as it is.
  5. roygbiv

    roygbiv New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    California
    Thanks Scott! I have found this issue to be a very polarizing one. As in my reply to zl700, my trusty plumber won't even discuss it with me. The only thing that bothers me is that the tankless experienced install base is small and they seem to charge a premium for what they do. I wish I had the luxury of waiting a few more years in hopes that the installer base opens up and the prices come down due to advances in technology and more open competition.

    The installer who really likes the Noritiz recommended an upstream inline filter (also made by Noritz) to catch debris. He says this is another $200, but do I really need it? He also said he really likes the Noritz's throttling ability to adjust the btu's based on flow (less btu's for smaller flows).

    The installer who likes the Rinnai touted the company for being on the forefront of technology advances. He said they were the first with the remotes (but I think Nortiz has these now) and they can be installed w/in 1 ft of windows while the other units need to be installed farther away due to the exhaust. So incidentally the Noritz install is slightly higher since a 1" gas line needs to be run while the Rinnai can use a 3/4". That's because the Rinnai can be installed closer to the gas meter so can get away with the smaller line.

    Thanks for the tip on the metlund pump. I have not seen this before.
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    3,024
    Location:
    01609
    A tankless 20' away will be fine. A tank 50' away would induce less patient people to go for a recirculation pump, but for most, that would also be fine. With either, when you install it, insulate the distribution plumbing with 3/4" wall closed cell foam pipe insulation (not the cheezy 3/8" stuff you fine in big box stores.) If you can't find it locally go online (Grainger sells it too.) After the first draw of the day you'll spend a lot less time waiting for hot water, since it'll extend the cooling off time for several 10s of minutes.

    The only real downside to going tankless is peak flow. Do you have some monster shower with multiple side sprays? Do you need run three showers while someone else is doing laundry? If not, a tankless won't be a problem for you. (And if yes, you'd need a heluva tank!)

    If you have (or are contemplating) a big spa/soaking-tub to fill, a tankless would be preferred, since you'd otherwise need a lot of tank to not run cold.

    Noritz is something of the industry leader on tightness of temperature control, but Rinnai is right up there too- it's a moving target, and they're both near the top of the industry by many measures. They all modulate the flame to maintain the output temperature constant, but low-end vendors do it less well than Rinnai or Noritz. Temp control issues tend to show up only at very low flow/fire rates, but as long as the unit modulates down to 20KBTU/hr or lower it'll be fine. DO use any available filter options- it's easier & cheaper to prevent issues than it is to fix 'em. Particulates end up in the water mains all the time for any number of reasons, but that doesn't mean they need to end up in your tankless heat exchanger.
  7. roygbiv

    roygbiv New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    California
    haha - oh how we wish we had those luxuries in our house. We just have a standard 1960's CA ranch with small bathrooms (remodeled, but with no room for anything but the basic fixtures). We are not a water guzzling family. We typically have no more than 2 appliances going at the same time but we do want to make sure we can handle 3 simultaneous if need be.

    Thanks for the advice and the comments about the filter!

    Sounds like tankless will be fine for us.
  8. Scott D. Plumber

    Scott D. Plumber In the Trades

    Messages:
    67
    Either THe Noritz or Rinnai will handle your 3 shower situation although it will most likely be very rare that you need it. Both are fine products. I think Rinnai does a much better training job especially for service (At least around here) You are right about the venting too. THe Noritz has a model that can vent to 1' from a window but it's a two-pipe vent system and more expensive. Another upside of the rinnai vent is it brings air for combustion from outside always. (Won't get sucked full of cat hair, lint form your closet, etc)

    As far as the inlet filter, depends on your water. If you are on city water, I don't see why you would need it. ON a well?...maybe. If you are getting junk in your fixtures now, yes.

    Don't forget, you are going to get your whole closet back too. That space also has a value. What is the value of your home in square feet? You are about to get about 9 sf back.
  9. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    3,024
    Location:
    01609
    City water in my neck of the woods OFTEN contains subtantial particulates. If the water mains & tanks upstream of you are 50+ years old, the odds of never getting gunk in your water are pretty small. Water main breaks resulting short periods of very muddy/rusty/cruddy water are common in places with 100+ year old water mains. Steel & iron mains service drops were pretty common in CA in the 1940s & 50s, with their own habit of shedding rust at inopportune moments. Earthquakes, anyone? Many things can stir up particulates in otherwise safe water systems.
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