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Thread: Which are the most efficient storage water heaters (gas)?

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    Default Which are the most efficient storage water heaters (gas)?

    This may have been discussed numerous times, but I did not find anything on point in my search. I would like to find the most efficient 50 gallon water heater that uses natural gas. I do not need special side venting. A normal flue would work. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Most manufacturers make a series of "good-better-best" models, and one of the featues is often more insulation. But the difference is not huge.

    A basic gas WH might have an energy factor of .58 where the best one might be .62

    Gas WH have a somewhat lower energy factor than electric because heat is lost up the flue pipe when the burner is running, and also to some extent by convection during standby.

    You have to go to a power vent to get better numbers.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The most efficient water heater is an indirectly heated one with a high efficiency boiler. Some of the boilers are over 95%. But, if you don't have a boiler, then...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades GoTanklessToday's Avatar
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    If you are talking about standard tank style water heaters, they do have models that come with whats called a "super efficient" rating. What does that mean? Besides having more insulation, sometimes more warranty, and costing more, the super is not much different. It's marketing hype. Like someone mentioned, its the "good, better, best" mentality that they are catering to. Now there are exceptions, but few. If you lived in an area where you have subzero temperatures often, a Super may be a good option, but then only if the heater is installed in the garage or other unheated space. For us, a super is usually used when possible so the customer can get a rebate from the energy company. I always laugh inside when someone wants to pay the $50.00 difference for a super to get a $50.00 rebate.

    Tankless is the way to go for many. The average tankless owner saves about 30% when comparing it to a tank style heater. While 30 % sounds great, it really isn't that much. Gas is already a very efficient means of heating water.

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    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoTanklessToday
    It's marketing hype. Like someone mentioned, its the "good, better, best" mentality that they are catering to. Now there are exceptions, but few.


    I know what you mean there.


    New Year's Day I got a call from a customer who just had a house built, his thankless tankless by state industries would not work. He said that all he wanted was hot water.

    I already know that I can't help him; that new of a unit shouldn't be "not" operating to begin with but I referred him to the state's website to run him through all the troubleshooting points to see if the unit was in lockout or something.

    He stated the plumber who installed it wouldn't work on it, and was calling down the list of plumbers to find someone to get it back in operation. I referred him to the only company in the tristate that works on PowerVent water heaters mostly, and "hopefully" I've sent him to someone who can work on them.

    4 days later,

    I get a call, same guy, now this guy is pissed at all plumbers of the world because the plumber convinced him this was the way to go and you can take a 4 hour shower.....but why would you want to???

    He tells me that they don't work on those units, stated only an authorized rep CAN since it is under warranty.

    4 days later, no hot water, no one in the tri-state with the knowledge to fix it. You KNOW it's a part, but which part? I told him that you are probably on your own with the luxury of 1-800 numbers and the tell-tale head scratching waiting for the UPS guy to show up with what "may" be the right part to fix the problem.

    I could hear his heart sink even lower when I divulged that somewhere in that literature of that thankless tankless that in order to keep the warranty in tact, you have to break it down and delime/decalcify the compartment to keep it operating at the efficiency that it was the day it was installed. Otherwise the buildup will make it much more difficult to heat that water at the rate it passes through it.


    I'm not picking on you, I'm picking on the product and the fact I have a customer that will probably never use my services because he was victimized by the marketing hype that these tankless units are foolproof, their not.

    And the "what ifs" pop up after the sale which puts the consumer at a disadvantage completely. I'm pretty sure he went more than 4 days without hot water.

    If it was a tank unit, he'd have hot water for him and his family due to the vast majority of trained hands to fix it without delay.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  6. #6
    In the Trades GoTanklessToday's Avatar
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    The problem that you describe is that someone sold and installed something that they know nothing about. I've had tank customers without hot water for days because the nit-wit plumber put the heat traps in backwards and no water would flow. He said "sorry, I dont do warranty work" and drove away. It is as likely that the plumber who installed that tankless heater installed it wrong. That has nothing to do with the product being inferior. Remember, tankless technology is not new technology. Noritz has been making and selling tankless water heaters worldwide for 50 years. Just not here in the USA.

    I agree that tankless water heaters are not for everyone. Ive said that before, and I believe it to be true. But if you want one, and you hire a professional that knows about them, and who can work on them, they are BY FAR superior to tank heaters in every way, with one exception. They can't provide high volumes of water in a short period of time.

    We have 50 customers a month here that buy tankless heaters, and 5 times that many more who buy them from other contractors. They work very well here. The only customers without hot water for 4 days around here are those who haven't called us.
    Last edited by GoTanklessToday; 01-25-2007 at 09:38 PM.

  7. #7
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    I gather that you've read my response,


    and you are avoiding the jist of my reply.


    Not enough trained monkeys in the area to service those when they go down. Licensed plumbers are "supposed" to be the only nit-wits to install them. You are quick to blame the plumber and not fault the product.

    The simplicity of repairs of electric/gas type tank water heaters are much easier to resolve than a 1-800 number because no knowledgeable or qualified techs are available to service.


    I know you are open-minded enough to understand that the customer that called me was left hanging out to dry with his purchase. If he's smart and doesn't want that consistent situation to plague him, he probably put a tank in like he should of.

    HD quit selling PowerVent water heaters in my area because of service issues/callbacks on the those units operating properly within the warrranty guidelines. Something, sensor/hot surface ignitor/cracked vaccum tube always hits those units within the first 6 years. I get calls all the time for them. Blower goes out.....or gas valve circuity malfunctions........BIG BUCKS.

    Gas water heater? Thermocouple........tops

    Electric water heater? Thermostats.....maybe elements

    Both of which is minimal money spent to repair as opposed to PowerVent units where everythings starts around $150 and climbs. Tankless falls under this same paralells since the technology is basically the same; compartment instead of a tank. Same safety devices.

    jadnashua hit the head of the nail; there is no equal to any better efficiency of heating water indirect from a boiler. That, is a insulated tank.
    Last edited by Dunbar Plumbing; 01-25-2007 at 10:14 PM.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

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