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Thread: Electric water heater for barn

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  1. #1
    DIY Member DVMSteve's Avatar
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    Default Electric water heater for barn

    Greetings, guys and gals; long time no post!

    After finishing my house late last year, I've had no questions until now. Many of you were very helpful when I did every scrap of plumbing, start to finish, on my little 5400 sq ft "log cabin". It turned out wonderful, by the way, many thanks!

    Now, on to the barn...

    No good options for gas here. I'm in eastern NC, and have great county water, coming in at ~55 degrees. I'm just now planning a 4-horse barn, with bathroom, utility sink, and horse wash rack. (My wife is an equine veterinarian.)

    I have 400 amp service at the house; the barn subpanel will be about 150' from the house's main panels. Also about 150' away from the utility company's transformer, in case I want to go straight from there. This is sounding like I need to post this on the electric forum, sorry, but to the main point and question:

    I was thinking of going tankless for this, as it will be infrequently used, and a low demand system. I've read the posts on electric tankless units, and they certainly don't sound ideal for a residence. What about this type of application?

    Thanks for any input,
    Steve

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Is this only to wash your hands on occasion, or will there be a shower/tub or something else it needs to supply? You need a significant amount of power to heat water quickly. If it is really rare, maybe a small tank on a timer, or maybe even a switch if you have enough time to let it get warm. A small tank won't take very long.
    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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    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    I think that I would go for a propane gas tankless for this application. It would be much less expensive than installing electricity to the barn for just minimal water heating.
    Mike (also in eastern NC)

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    You can get point of use tankless electric that will supply enough hot water to wash hands with that will run on 50A.

    You can get the units on that famous auction site for around $60-70.00

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    DIY Member DVMSteve's Avatar
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    Thanks, folks:

    This will be to wash hands on occasion, wash equipment in the utility sink on occasion, and to wash horses on occasion; none of these activities on even a daily basis.

    Gas is not an option. Small tank on a timer would work, I think. Space is a bit of an issue. Cost isn't a huge factor ($2500 for the four stall waterers and feeders alone ).

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    DIY Member DVMSteve's Avatar
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    Just ruminating a bit...(why, when the cow's first stomach is the rumen, is it not spelled 'rumenate'?) Anyway, that's more up my wife's alley. Dogs and cats only have one stomach, as do horses. She does treat cows, sheep, llamas, and goats now and then.

    Mike, I have to run electric to the barn anyway for lights and fans. With tankless, obviously a much larger wire and breaker, etc....

    I said before that gas is not an option, but maybe it could be... I haven't researched tiny gas tankless units. If there was one that runs off of the small portable gas grill type tanks, then maybe. Can't get a truck over there to refill, you see.

    Steve

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    DIY Senior Member Marlin336's Avatar
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    If you want to wash horses with hot water you're going to need a gas tank less. I'd just go with an electric tank. Putting it on a timer isn't going to save anything. Basically heating the cool water is going to be as much as maintaining the hot water as far as energy goes, that is unless you're going to turn it off for more than a day or two.
    Also is your barn heated? Most I've been in aren't. With a tank you could probably enclose all your plumbing in a small insulated room and the tank or hot water would be enough to keep it above freezing in all but the coldest temperatures.
    Last edited by Marlin336; 09-14-2007 at 05:10 PM.

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    DIY Member DVMSteve's Avatar
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    Thanks, folks:

    What you say makes sense. Correct, the barn will not be heated, although I'm considering anyway an insulated prep and sitting area that I can insulate and keep warm with a small heater. I'll probably box off a utility closet here and put in a small tank-type water heater.

    I appreciate everybody's input, as usual.

    Steve

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    DIY Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    A propane tankless would certainly work. I've got a 6.9M Noritz mounted on the outside wall of my house which only require a stainless vent cap. A small propane tank (max 10 gal) would heat a lot of hot water and would be fine if you kept a spare tank.

    In my barn I've got a 30 gallon electric WH that we turn on the day before we're washing the horses for a show (or first thing in the am). One big advantage to electric tank water heaters is that you can insulte them bottom, top and sides and keep energy loss to an absolute minimum. Much cheaper than a tankless if you're running electricity anyway. Either would work fine in your application, but I do love the fact that the tankless just keeps chugging along producing 120 deg (or whatever temp you want) water.

    Rick

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    DIY Senior Member Marlin336's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVMSteve
    Thanks, folks:

    What you say makes sense. Correct, the barn will not be heated, although I'm considering anyway an insulated prep and sitting area that I can insulate and keep warm with a small heater. I'll probably box off a utility closet here and put in a small tank-type water heater.

    I appreciate everybody's input, as usual.

    Steve
    That sounds like the best idea to me. Just use a small piece of electric baseboard to heat a small room that contains all your plumbing, then you don't have to worry about pipes freezing unless of course you loose power.






    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki
    A propane tankless would certainly work. I've got a 6.9M Noritz mounted on the outside wall of my house which only require a stainless vent cap. A small propane tank (max 10 gal) would heat a lot of hot water and would be fine if you kept a spare tank.

    In my barn I've got a 30 gallon electric WH that we turn on the day before we're washing the horses for a show (or first thing in the am). One big advantage to electric tank water heaters is that you can insulte them bottom, top and sides and keep energy loss to an absolute minimum. Much cheaper than a tankless if you're running electricity anyway. Either would work fine in your application, but I do love the fact that the tankless just keeps chugging along producing 120 deg (or whatever temp you want) water.

    Rick
    Problem with that is I've never heard of an electric tank less that large. If their was one (which their probably is) it would require a massive amount of electricity and a very large service to the barn.

  11. #11
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking 30 gallon electric tank type heater

    I know of a horse barn that has a 30 gallon
    110 volt electric tank type heater in it....


    they have it wired into the light switch so when
    they turn on the main lights in the barn it starts
    to re-heat the water ......
    which they need water
    to wash horses, or whatever....
    they claim that 30 gallons is more than enough


    you would have to literally spend a fortune
    for a electric tannkless heater plus maintaince....

    you can buy a 30 gallon tank type 110 volt for 250 bucks.
    and it wil most likely work for 15 years or more.......


    why must you try to re-invent the wheel for
    10 -30 times the price.....????

    keep it simple ....grasshopper........

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    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Mark, you're gonna hate me.
    Just got a request for an electric tankless, the prices aren't that bad.
    SETS is the "creme de la creme" for electric tankless and their highest output whole home unit is under $800, 240 volt, no hidden accessories like the gas ones.
    I'm still researching the cost-worthiness of them though, I don't think eletric tank types are very expensive on standby time.
    More to be revealed....others feel free to jump in.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  13. #13
    DIY Member DVMSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark

    why must you try to re-invent the wheel for
    10 -30 times the price.....????

    keep it simple ....grasshopper........
    I think that's good advice here, and you've (all) convinced me. I ran this option by the boss, and she said that that would work fine for her. I think I'll have a separate switch next to the light switch, as Jim suggested.

    BTW, I've been following the thread with your experiment with tankless. We could talk about high maintenance!

    Also, how is it that some of you seem to respond to EVERY thread? And at least one of you (Jim) have helped me on the tile forum too! How much time IS there in a day in your universes? Or do none of you need sleep?

    Steve

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