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Thread: Tankless/Boiler what's the difference?

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Cyndical's Avatar
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    Default Tankless/Boiler what's the difference?

    Right now, I have an oil-fired water heater with a tank. It has sprung a leak in the tank, so this question is of some urgency as I have to replace it ASAP.

    Due to where I live in Ontario, CA, I don't have gas, I also have hard water. I've installed a softener and while that's helped a lot, it has not completely eliminated the calcium-buildup problem.

    I thought that maybe it would be worth it to get a tankless oil-fired hot water heater as that would reduce the amount of scale that accumulates. However, the only model I can find available for purchase here is the Toyotomi OM-148/OM-180. The one place that sells them, doesn't install them and can't recommend an installer locally because that's not part of their service. Every oil installer guy I've talked to has said that tankless oil-fired hot water heaters "don't exist" except one guy who said, when told the name and model "Oh, that's a boiler, you don't want that, that's old technology" In other words, no matter who I ask, no one knows anything about this and they're all trying to sell me whatever it is they've got, which isn't helpful, or they are slagging the competition (which also isn't helpful). None of my neighbours have one of these, and the few that have gone tankless have propane already installed, while I am still (obviously) on oil.

    So, can anyone give my any rave reviews about this product (or horrifying cautionary tales)? Is there something "better" or equal or that I haven't considered yet? I am truly in the dark here and chasing my tail in circles.

    My current options are: to replace the tank (least expensive option but would likely be back in this same position in another 7 years), or just go for it and get this fancy tankless/boiler or similar but I know nothing about them and don't know if it's worth the risk because they sure ain't cheap. Please keep in mind that if there is another alternative, we in Canada often don't have the same access to products that you people in the States do, so a link would be helpful to find out if they have local distributors or ship internationally.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
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    go with a 40 gallon electric. it's the cheapest option.

  3. #3
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    My concern for someone in Ontario is the 148KBTU/h-in firing rate of the Toyotomi, which which will be barely enough to run more than the shower in mid-late winter. If you & your family are easily trained to not run other hot water taps when someone's in the shower you'd manage though. Filling tub could take awhile too. Move 600 miles south to warm-water country and it's plenty though.

    The OM-148 and it's higher temp (but identical BTU) cousin are technology-wise just high-mass fire-tube boilers, but with more sophisticated controls. There's 5 gallons of water in the (stainless) heat exchanger, and I THINK it modulates it's output temp by cycling the burner on/off with some hysteresis to allow for minimum burn times, and the thermal mass of the water allows that hysteresis to be reasonably small. This isn't nearly as tight a temperature control as the fully modulating gas/propane heater (which are copper water-tube boiler technology, with more sophisticated controls.) The constant on/off cycling of the burner has to take it's toll on the ignition setup though- not sure how long it lasts in the real world.

    In Ontario Toyotomi is handled by DigelAir HVAC supply See: http://www.digelair.com/manufacturers-links.asp (Scroll on down or search the page for "Toyotomi"- it's on there.)

    If it's cheaper to go with a standard oil-fired tank, it'll probably be your better option though due to the output limitations of the Toyotomi. I'm not sure how Everhot TFI stacks up against Bock, but they've both been out there for awhile. Plumb it with isolating ball valves to ease the occasional de-liming rinse at the time you install it. Seven years is on the young side for it to develop a leak though- I suspect most last considerably longer.

    If you're heating system uses forced hot water or steam, odds are pretty good that your annual fuel use will be lower if you used an indirect-fired tank running as a zone off the boiler, or a "reverse indirect", (TurboMax), installed as a heating-system buffer/heat-exchanger. (The latter will cost more, but offers greater fuel economy in most cases.)

  4. #4

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    If it's not too late, this opinion will surprise some folks who know me, but not surprise some folks who have known me on these threas for long. If you have oil and you wish to stay with oil, I recomend you get a BOCK tank water heater and take care of it. It is the Cadilac of tanks, the Best made, best designed and best oil fired tank heater I have ever met and are darn near bullet proof. It is really more like a upright single pass turbulated oil hot water boiler, than a tank water heater. THey cost more money than most ana are worth it. It should last 2 or 3 times as long, more if you flush it out a couple times a year. a 20+ year old Bock is "normal".

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Cyndical's Avatar
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    Well, it is too late! With the leak, I didn't have the luxury of time to mull a decision over, so I hired the guy who said he would replace the tank only, which was the only damaged part. He installed an Aero from Bradford White which looks exactly like this Bock only flipped. And with the drain plug a little further away from the burner. I've never heard of this Bock brand, so maybe it's not available up here in Canada. But then again, I'm also not a plumber nor do I play one on TV, so what the hell do I know?

    Another problem is that I have really hard water and only got a softener a couple of years ago, so the previous one was subjected to that. It'll be easier to maintain this one now. I just have to fix the drain so that I can put a bucket under it easily. You'd think that something like this, which consumers are supposed to service themselves, would come with a tap that has a handle and easy access drain system but you'd be wrong. And yes, I know, I could get a piece of garden hose and stick that on there but I don't have an old broken hose that I can cut down for the purpose and I don't want 25' of hose on my basement floor all the time.

  6. #6
    Plumber Plumbermurrieta's Avatar
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    Boilers in general, have a long, reliable, and highly efficient service life. When combined with an Indirect Water Heater, are an EXCELLENT source of hot water for household use.

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