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Thread: Electric vs. Propane 50 Gallon Water Heater for Small Cottage

  1. #1
    sea-bee chuck b's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Electric vs. Propane 50 Gallon Water Heater for Small Cottage

    Cottage is being renovated and plumbed from scratch. Natural gas not available, but propane is. However, would prefer electric fired water heater.

    Cottage to serve my wife and I in retirement years primarily and occassional weekends beforehand. Will have dishwasher, washing machine, but also a whirlpool/shower (just a little larger than a standard tub), kitchen and bath sinks for hot water needs. The whirlpool has an inline heater that keeps the water at a constant 104 degrees so no additonal hot water demands will be required after the initial filling of the tub.

    Considering a 5500 watt element electric water heater - GE/Rheem. What in general is the recovery time difference (%) between this 50-gallon electric larger element water heater, vs. a propane gas fired model? Not comfortable with propane and would prefer electric. I realize electric water heaters take longer than gas to recover, but how bad is the difference roughly?

    Thanks.

    The cottage is on a nice fishing lake a few miles south of the Mackinac Bridge connecting Michigan's two peninsula's. Gets very cold there in winter and we expect to stay there between mid April and Mid October shutting it down for the cold months if that matters. Also are water heater blankets worth the bulkiness aesthetically?

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
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    Default

    5500W is 18,767BTU. A propane WH is probably at least 40,000BTU (and many have bigger burners), or about double. Since the gas isn't as efficient, you don't heat water with all of those BTUs. Gas will still recover quicker.

    Adding insulation can help, but the newer greener WH have more and better insulation than the older ones.
    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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