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Thread: water heater choices and thanks

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member danix's Avatar
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    Default water heater choices and thanks

    First off, thanks for this forum. I appreciate that people with experience (especially professionals) take the time to share their knowledge and experience.

    I recently bought a late 50s "mid century modern" home (detailed here. You will notice a very nice installation of a Triangle Tube boiler in one of the early entries.

    As part of the boiler install, I decided to remove the still working but made in 1985 (!) water heater and the boiler tech ran a cold line for me to the garage, where I intended to install a standard water heater.
    I am on the fence with what to do.

    Choices:
    a) Standard water heater. Cheap, easy to install, but you'll run out of water eventually, and takes up a ton of space. Have to vent through the roof. GE 50 gallon sold at Home Depot seems to be a fine choice.
    b) Tankless heater. Lots of "religion" out there about these, most people tell me not to do it. Biggest complaint seems to be upgrading the gas line, next biggest is failing control boards, last is "hot water is not instant on". But you have endless hot water, it will save space, and I can PVC vent through the side wall.
    c) Eternal Hybrid. Great concept, very little info out there. I've read the entries on these boards, seems like a long shot/crapshoot.

    My needs: 2 bathrooms, 2 adults, 3 kids (oldest two are girls 9 and 11).
    Heater will be installed in a non-heated garage, milder Northern CA climate but winters are cold (min 32) and summers are hot (max 105).

    If you were to install tankless, what would you recommend? How would you size it? I think I need around 10gpm at most.

    Thanks.
    Dan
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    Last edited by Terry; 03-23-2011 at 11:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    At 10gpm, you'd likely need two tankless units in series at very significant cost. With the boiler upgrade, I would seriously have considered an indirect. There are many direct vent gas WH available that don't need a flue through the roof. How cold does the garage get in the winter (ever leave the door open for awhile?) and how cold does the incoming water get in the coldest part of the winter. These all play in what size you need, and whether a garage is a good idea for water lines in the first place.
    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 Junior Member danix's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. The climate here is very moderate, there's basically 1 month of cold, 1 month of hot, and the rest is in between.
    Pipes don't freeze (outdoor faucets) so water temp is probably 40 deg at worst by my guess.
    We're not yet living there so I don't know how cold the garage gets, but I would say 45 degrees would be the worst, especially since I plan on insulating the garage walls.

    The 10gpm is just my estimate from what I've read. At worst, two showers going, and maybe the washer and a faucet or two, that's worst case.

    The direct vent water heaters seem to be around 2x the cost of the traditional, so close to the cost of tankless.

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    DIY Junior Member danix's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. The climate here is very moderate, there's basically 1 month of cold, 1 month of hot, and the rest is in between.
    Pipes don't freeze (outdoor faucets) so water temp is probably 40 deg at worst by my guess.
    We're not yet living there so I don't know how cold the garage gets, but I would say 45 degrees would be the worst, especially since I plan on insulating the garage walls.

    The 10gpm is just my estimate from what I've read. At worst, two showers going, and maybe the washer and a faucet or two, that's worst case.

    The direct vent water heaters seem to be around 2x the cost of the traditional, so close to the cost of tankless.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    A power vent uses PVC or ABS through an outside wall. These are more costly than a through the roof vent type, but not twice as much. I recently installed a new GE/Rheem Power Vent and as I recall, it was around $700. I believe the Direct Vent type is somewhat different and perhaps it is more expensive.

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    DIY Junior Member danix's Avatar
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    OK, here's a useful tidbit. I called the makers of Eternal and asked about the warranty. Apparently the warranty is not honored if it's installed or maintained by a DIY, only a licensed contractor.
    I think this will push me back to a traditional unit and call it a day, I'm not paying $3k for someone to hook up 2 water lines and gas.

  7. #7
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Default dont be stupid

    get yourself a 50 or 75 gallon power vent and just be happy

    why would you want to shell out all that coin 3500 or more for something that may never break even on the pay back......

    keep it simple

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    All this talk about mild northern California weather, makes me think we are close,
    I'm in Sacramento....
    I like the tankless,
    As for the worst case flow conditions, at some point you may realize that you don't need to do laundry and take a shower at the same time.
    Brushing your teeth while the wife is showering is valid.
    Michael

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    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    A power vent uses PVC or ABS through an outside wall. These are more costly than a through the roof vent type, but not twice as much. I recently installed a new GE/Rheem Power Vent and as I recall, it was around $700. .
    Uhm, a "standard" gas-fired water heater is about $350 so the $700 you paid for the power vent IS twice as much as a standard gas-fired water heater.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member danix's Avatar
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    SacCity - I'm in Walnut Creek, so a little less hot/cold than you experience, but not too far away. My sister lives in Davis.

    I had my electrician over doing stuff and was telling him the story, he referred me to a plumber buddy of his who happens to have an older model Eternal and loves it.
    He educated me on sizing the gas line - that Triangle Tube Solo 110 use 110k input BTU. He measured off the distance between the meter and where I want to put the water heater, added up the BTU for the Prestige, a gas range, and said that even if I do a regular water heater, I'd be wise to upgrade the line.
    So, he's proposing upgrading the main line from 3/4" to 1 1/4" then branching off to 3/4" for the other devices.

    I have yet to see his estimate, but I will keep you posted.

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