Electric or indirect?

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pete c

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When I bought my house, about 20 years ago, I installed a new Smiths boiler and an indirect water heater.

The water heater developed a leak in the coil after about 3 years. It was replaced under warranty. The replacement did the same. Used the tankless coil that the boiler came with for a few years....till it leaked.

Did I mention my well water is like battery acid?

Found another like new indirect on CL for a steal and enjoyed it for another 3 or 4 years until it suffered the same fate.

Around this time I started thinking about water treatment systems. Yeah, a little late.

Anyhoo, went with an electric WH at the time and not too long after, installed a much overdue softener/ph balance system. Thanks to Skip for that, who I met on this forum.

Well, the basement floor under this water heater is getting a bit damp. I assume this WH is on the way out.

Now that I have good water, I am thinking of going back to an indirect. Most of the plumbing is already there. I do believe I will need a new circulator pump.

Is it worth it?

I understand that heating oil makes BTUs cheaper than electricity does, but using an indirect does mean year around boiler use. With the EWH, I am able to give the boiler a break, usually from around early april until maybe early-mid october, when I finally give into cries of "I'm cold, turn the f-ing heat on you cheap bastard" from my better half.

My question is does the energy saved by not heating a boiler close to half the year, make up for the extra cost of heating via electricity when the boiler is on and would do it cheaper?

Now that we are empty nesters our water use isn't what it used to be, which has me thinking maybe we should just stick with electric. Also worth considering that at some point I might put a solar panel system in, but that is far from a sure thing.
 

fitter30

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Marathon electric water heater has fiberglass tank should last forever. If your only getting three years out of a indirect coil why are they failing ( lime). Cost of replacement coil probably make up for the difference in electric to oil. Also theres heat pump wh energy efficient but still have a glass lined tank.
https://www.rheem.com/innovations/innovation_residential/marathon/
 

Reach4

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You should get a cheap pH meter and packets to make buffer solution for calibration.

Also, note that your media in the acid neutralizing media will need replenishment. If you have a natural tan-colored tank, you can shine a bright light through the tank to check the level of calcite.

Whether to use an indirect or electric WH, I don't know. But if you go electric, consider a hybrid water heater. That uses a heat pump for most of the heating, so it uses less electricity.
 
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Dana

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What Reach4 said.

At CT style electric rates it would probably pay to go with a 40-50 gallon heat pump water heater, especially if you need to use mechanical dehumidifiers in the basement to keep the "musty basement smell" at bay in summer (like most homes in CT.) It will use less than 1/3 the electricity of a plain old electric tank, and if located in the boiler room it would "harvest" the standby & distribution of the (always oversized) oil boiler during the heating season, lowering the temperature in the boiler room (usually the warmest room in the house during the coldest weather), lowering the amount of heat loss to the outdoors. Since you're already using electricity to heat the domestic hot water there is a high likelihood that you would qualify for a state &/or utility subsidy to take the sting off the cost of the water heater.

A 40 gallon Rheem ProTerra XE40T10HS45UO (with all the bells & whistles including leak detection) runs about $1400 at the big orange box store, the 40 gallon Rheem Performance Platinum XE40T10H45UO (which still has substantial smarts, if you have a utility program that pays you to turn it up/down/off for periods of time to stabilize the grid, but no leak detector) runs a bit under $1200. There are others.

The water heater itself could use the pre-existing wiring, but you'd also need to install a condensate pump (like those on central AC) to dispose of the dehumidification moisture that it's pulling out of the air.


 
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