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Thread: Short gas water heater, lowboy?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Edward Jockers's Avatar
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    Default Short gas water heater, lowboy?

    I'm looking for a gas hot water heater to fit into a four foot high crawl space, the height being an issue, for venting purposes, i'm looking possibly for a low boy, forty or fifty gallons.any ideas? Thanx
    Last edited by Terry; 11-15-2012 at 09:28 AM.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Lowboys are getting harder to find. As an aside, if your water was hot, why would you need a heater? Now, maybe calling it a cold water heater might be more appropriate, since cold water getting heated is a nice idea, but it's really just a water heater. It's one of those English teacher things that just throws up a red flag and almost hurts...

    The codes now require (nearly?) all residential water heaters to protect against vapor combustion - i.e., it will prevent flamable vapors that might be around the WH from igniting, or if it does, restricts it so the flame doesn't get outside of the WH. This is to prevent you from blowing up the house if you happen to store some flamable liquids near the WH. This means that for the same volume WH tank, it will be taller since the new stuff has to enclose the burner assembly. Electric low-boys are likely more readily available, but your cost to heat will often be 3-4x what gas costs. So, your choices are likely to be really restricted, if they exist at all. Big diameter, low height is less efficient when heating the water, too, and recovery times would likely be slow. On a gas WH, the length of the heat exchanger (and flue in the thing) determines how efficient it can be...make that short, and it may not be able to meet the minimum federal efficiency standards or it becomes MUCH more complicated to manufacture and design.
    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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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    You could also go with a tankless water heater if space is an issue.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    What kind of space heating do you have? If you have a boiler, verses a furnace and hot air, there are LOTS of indirect WH that would fit.

    Tankless can work, but depending on where in NY you live, your incoming cold winter water temperatures may approach freezing (mine does in Southern NH). This means you have a choice of low volume hot water in the winter, or a fairly big unit(s)...you can only raise the temperature of water flowing by so much with a fixed amount of heat - think hand through the flame of a candle...it only hurts if you go slow, same with the water passing by the heater. You either need a blowtorch (big unit(s)) or settle for a lower max volume. You may also need to upgrade your gas line, or at least the line feeding the thing. Then, they have an annual maintenance that generally must be done, or their performance drops as they accumulate mineral deposits (think teapot or coffee pot - mineral deposits happen when you have high temps and hard water). It can get much worse on the insides of a WH. They do work, are generally much smaller, but to set one up right with few or minimal inconveniences, does cost more than a tank, sometimes, lots more.
    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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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; Now, maybe calling it a cold water heater might be more appropriate, since cold water getting heated is a nice idea, but it's really just a water heater. I

    it is ONLY a "cold water heater" for a few minutes, then it becomes a "tepid water heater", then a "warm water heater", then a "warmer water heater", then a "hot water heater", and depending on the thermostat setting it then become a "very hot water heater". IF the thermostat fails then it becomes a "steam heater" and finally a "house demolition/improvised explosive device". The heaters are not always taller, because some companies have eliminated the legs to reduce the height. Because the flue ALWAYS comes off the top of the heater, it would have to be about 36" high in order for the draft diverter and an elbow to fit on top of it. Take away about 12" for the burner chamber an you wind up with a tank about 24" tall. Doing the math, you would have a tank about 40" wide, allowing for insulation by 36" high. If you had a single flue passage, it would be very inefficient, considering the short heat transfer time and the small percentage of the water in contact with the flue. The shortest 40 gallon heater I know of is 50" high by 20" in diameter.
    Last edited by hj; 11-15-2012 at 03:25 PM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    it is ONLY a "cold water heater" for a few minutes, then it becomes a "tepid water heater", then a "warm water heater", then a "warmer water heater", then a "hot water heater", and depending on the thermostat setting it then become a "very hot water heater"...
    Why not just call it a water heater without all the superfluous stuff?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Well, is it a 'hot' water heater if it's off? Tongue in cheek...it's a water heater if it's doing its job - making water hot. It's all about where the adjective is and what it is describing.
    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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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    The plumbers call the "water heaters"

    Bradford White’s expertise in residential water heaters includes gas, electric, oil, solar and indirectly powered models.
    The Rheem Residential Product Catalog is the best and the quickest source for specs on our extensive line of quality residential water heaters.
    So like.........what was the question?
    Last edited by Terry; 11-15-2012 at 05:40 PM.

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