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Thread: Hybrid v. tankless v. electric

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member stick man's Avatar
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    Unhappy Hybrid v. tankless v. electric

    Hey everyone.

    I've got a time bomb on my hands. An electric hot water heater that is 30 years old and obviously in need of replacement. My thoughts have gone from installation of an on demand tankless (would have to be propane, as I am very rural), to hybrid heat pump tank style, to simply replacing my electric tank with another electric tank heater.

    What has caused the waffling has been the lack of proof that an on demand tankless propane system would be any more efficient than a hybrid. The cause for pause on the hybrid model is the lack of track record that the hybrid will not give me headaches 2-3 years down the road. And that leaves me with the old stand by electric tank replacement.

    Any thoughts on a tankless lp system?

    How about durability of hybrid systems?

    Electric Tank Mfr/Models that are supperior?

    I've a family of 5 (3 tweenage daughters = many showers on the horizon) with 2 baths.

    Let's hear it.

    Thanks
    stickman

  2. #2
    Homeowner
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    With 3 daughters that age I would go with LP tankless...maybe 2 of um. And a big lp tank.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    In Idaho, your wintertime cold water temps are likely near freezing. To get a decent rise, you may need two of the things in series especially if there would be more than one shower at the same time going on. They also require periodic maintenance to remove built-up minerals like cleaning up your teakettle or coffee pot after awhile. A hybrid is essentially a heat pump. May not need maintenance often, but it's mechanical with moving parts, so yes, it will need maintenance periodically as well. Depending on your electric rates, the hybrid gives you more heat per Kw than a straight electric, but a straight electric is basically no maintenance for a very long time. When you add the cost of installation of tankless, along with a propane tank, if you don't already have one, it may never pay off in the end. A hybrid might pay off before it dies. By far, the simplest is to just replace the electric tank with a new one. Depends on what your power costs are.
    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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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    why not make it easy on yourself and just install another 50 gallon electric water heater
    itwill probably be good for another 30 yearsa... what more could you ask??/

  5. #5
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    A man living with 4 women......3 daughter and I assume a wife. You better go with somthing that can provide alot of Hot H2O.

    IF you know whats good for you. LOL

  6. #6
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark View Post
    why not make it easy on yourself and just install another 50 gallon electric water heater
    itwill probably be good for another 30 yearsa... what more could you ask??/
    Absolutely true and your hands down life cost effective solution. The tankless are bad jokes. The hybrids are unproven but proven to be over mechanized which means big repairs.

    What Dana said, ELECTRIC, and with or with out the drain job heat grabber.

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    50 gal electric is not large enough for 5 grown people.

  8. #8
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stick man View Post
    Hey everyone.

    I've got a time bomb on my hands. An electric hot water heater that is 30 years old and obviously in need of replacement. My thoughts have gone from installation of an on demand tankless (would have to be propane, as I am very rural), to hybrid heat pump tank style, to simply replacing my electric tank with another electric tank heater.

    What has caused the waffling has been the lack of proof that an on demand tankless propane system would be any more efficient than a hybrid. The cause for pause on the hybrid model is the lack of track record that the hybrid will not give me headaches 2-3 years down the road. And that leaves me with the old stand by electric tank replacement.

    Any thoughts on a tankless lp system?

    How about durability of hybrid systems?

    Electric Tank Mfr/Models that are supperior?

    I've a family of 5 (3 tweenage daughters = many showers on the horizon) with 2 baths.

    Let's hear it.

    Thanks
    stickman

    Efficiency is one thing, cost of operation is another. At current pacific northwest prices propane burned in a 0.90EF tankless is roughly equivalent in operating cost to heating water in a 0.90EF electric tank with 12 cent/kwh electricity. If you're power is cheaper than that, odds are you'd be spending more money to heat water with propane.

    The hybrid electric tanks with the tanktop heat pumps are not a great option in heating dominated climates, since they draw half the heat for the hot water from the room-air, representing a very real load on the heating system. That's fine if you're heating with a relatively cheap fuel, not so much otherwise. They also revert to resistance-electricity for more rapid recovery, so in high hot-water use situtations they're not much more efficient than any other electric tank heater.

    With the prospect many showers on the horizon, there is real cash payback in drainwater heat recovery heat exchangers, given your HW heating fuel options, and extends the showering time available from any tank heater considerably. They raise the temperature of the incoming cold water about half-way to showerhead temp, and when plumbed so that the output goes to both the cold side of the shower AND the cold side of the hot water heater you get maximum function & efficiency out of them. It would turn any propane-fired tank with a 40KBTU/hr burner into an endless shower situation just like a tankless, and it would cut the recovery time for an electric time roughly in half, while extending the initial showering time by a significant fraction.



    Natural Resources Canada maintains a third-party tested apples-to-apples efficiency comparison between different vendors & models at 2.5gpm shower flows.

    Most of the vendors are in Canada, but will ship to US addresses. EFI is the US distributor for PowerPipe, and ships from their facility in WI. (They will open an account for you with a cc # and will ship them quantity 1.) There are efficiency rebates available to those who currently heat hot water with electric tanks, but SFAIK not in ID (but next door in OR, yes.).

    Whichever way you go on this, the payback is going to be there for you, if not for a 2 person family heating water with cheap natural gas. The taller and fatter the better- the enhanced efficiency of the bigger units makes them pay back sooner than with smaller, lower efficiency units, despite the increased upfront cost. A 50% efficiency unit turns an 0.90EF water heater into a 1.4EF unit, at least for showering draws (which will probably be at least half your hot water use when you have teens in the house.)
    Last edited by Dana; 03-23-2012 at 10:53 AM.

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