Tankless Water Heaters (On Demand) for the home - Defender Source
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 10:17 AM
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Tankless Water Heaters (On Demand) for the home

I'm seriously considering replacing my natural gas water heater (75gal AO Smith) with a Rinnai Tankless unit. Curious if anyone else has replace their traditional hot water heater with a tankless unit. What has your experience been with it and what brand did you go with?

So far, my take away has been...
1.) Make sure to size it right.
2.) Make sure it's installed correctly
- Right size gas pipe
- Correct venting for indoor installs, separated not shared with the furnace
3.) Gas units are far more effective then the electrics units
4.) Expensive


I like the idea of never running out of hot water during a shower, but that also means more time spent in the shower. I'm hoping it reducing my utility costs!
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Here in my area you are not allowed to install one yourself. Hiring a plumber to do the job makes it a non-starter. I would never earn back the installation cost in savings.
I have seriously considered one for the Bay house as having 50 gallons of hot water loafing around for up to a month is somewhat silly. So even there, I just turn the tank down to "Vacation" setting and it isn't much of a gas hog.
If these things ever become crazy cheap like a tank heater, I'd do it.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:16 AM
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Hey Bill, I've had several estimates for the install...ranging from $3400 up t0 $6200. I even had a guy come out and tell me it couldn't be done. The quote that I received to put in a traditional 75gal water heater was $2200. My coworker had his Rinnai tankless installed a few years ago, (lives in Austin) he supposedly only paid $2200... Pricing is all over the place.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:24 AM
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Oh yeah I didn't notice that you are in MoCo. It's a job I could do myself, but really cannot get motivated or excited to go forward with. When my tank heater dies I'll just pop in another of the same for cheap.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:30 AM
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My parents decided to go tanless for their home in NC since the water heater was non-repairable when they bought the house. It was installed in 2006 I want to say - sorry, I don't know the make. It's very compact, and I think it's mounted on the wall(?) in their "basement". To give you an idea of the application: the house was built around 1890 and is just under 5k sq feet and has 4 bathrooms and showers. We've had up to 15 people stay there (and shower the next day) when I and a bunch of my friends stayed there before taking over an OBX house for the week.

Aside from the first users having to wait 30-60 seconds or so for the water to get hot (more to do with the cold pipes and the distance the water travelled probably), the rest of us all showered/shaved, etc. without any perceivable change in the temperature.

Can you get energy credits by switching to tankless? My parents had applied for energy credits for work done to the house when they bought it, and this tankless water may have been on that list, making it an easier pill to swallow.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:34 AM
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We installed one in our cabin in Boone, I mean Boone Town utility installed it for free and it came with a bunch of tax rebates as well. Our energy bill was cut by around 20% a month. They also financed everything, its like $60 a month if i remember for five years so it basically pays for itself. That is huge bc we use the cabin as a rental property, the town was/is really pushing these new units? It's great, takes a minute for the hot water to start but then it doesn't stop, we had issues bc our cabin sleeps 10 so we would always run out of hot water on game weekends!
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:36 AM
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Saw on this "This Old House" about a year ago so that is a new type of tank-less water heater, suppose to be even better. As I understand it you also need to look at what water outlets are the furthest from the water heater because you will need a "boaster" (lack of a better word). Most people don't know about that little part. Because it is on demand and has to travel farther is takes longer for water that is heated to reach that faucet, so you will wait for the hot water then you would with a tank water heater.

Theres a formula that is used to figure that out.

As Josh was saying about his folks getting tax credit for the purchase and install. The gov't was really big on giving those out around that time. I think most of those credits have since stopped. But you should still get some sort of credit for it though.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:45 AM
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I think it's worth it. I've had two systems in the past and the biggest concern was the hardness of the water and it's effect on the heater. It's a long term player kind of thing...the highest returns are realized in the 2+ year range IMO, of course that depends on how you pay for it! Good Luck!
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaxx View Post
Hey Bill, I've had several estimates for the install...ranging from $3400 up t0 $6200. I even had a guy come out and tell me it couldn't be done. The quote that I received to put in a traditional 75gal water heater was $2200. My coworker had his Rinnai tankless installed a few years ago, (lives in Austin) he supposedly only paid $2200... Pricing is all over the place.
I had 75 gallon boiler installed at the house for $1300 this past winter. They plumber said that either unit last about the same time (10 years) and the gas savings from the tankless won't come close of the added cost to the tankless model even with the government rebate (redistribution of your tax dollars).
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 01:30 PM
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I have a Rinnai and love it, but would warn you to make sure it's properly sized because it actually has a minimum flow requirement. If you are using less than the minumum, i.e. one person in the shower, it will shut off and you get cold water. The manual advises you to adjust the output temperature to ensure you are using mostly hot and not mixing in much cold. I did that and haven't had a problem except the wife complaining that she can't get the water hot enough... Like I said, I like it but the minimum flow issue is something to keep in mind.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
They are around $1500 and not a big deal to install. Im putting 2 in in a couple months.

In addition to Rinnai, take a look at Noritz and Navien as well to compare.

-Jeff
Jeff makes it sound easy, truth is he's Mr. Home Improvement so I'd be hiring a plumber!
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 01:34 PM
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I investigated one of these for my home. The payoff was about 20 years out which was just about the time it would have to be replaced, if not sooner. A traditional water heater is still a good deal. The only advantage I see is if there is no space to install a traditional water heater or the tankless is servicing a location far away as in a detached garage/apartment. I've swapped out my gas water heater for about $600 and carried the carcass to the metal recycler to keep the inspectors away from my front door. I can actually do the job without burning down or blowing up the house.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 02:07 PM
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The payoff isn't only in monetary terms, it's in how highly you value the ability to "service" multiple showers/bathrooms at once and for a significantly longer period of time without getting cold. To others (although I don't know the specific specs for comparison from tank vs. tankless) there may be an environmental payoff in not having to constantly heat so many gallons of water in a tank. And it's a great solution for those who don't have basements where a tank would otherwise take up an entire closet on a main level.

Even with a large tank growing up, with all of my brothers and parents having to take individual showers in the AM right around the same time, we ran out of hot water pretty quickly. It would be a no-brainer decision for me to go tankless if I had multiple kids or was entertaining guests and extended family overnight on a fairly frequent basis.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 02:12 PM
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It consumes gallons of water to get hot enough to wash my hands. Ive been to a few houses with them and have not been very impressed.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
They are around $1500 and not a big deal to install. Im putting 2 in in a couple months.

In addition to Rinnai, take a look at Noritz and Navien as well to compare.

-Jeff
I'm about to install one also in a rental and it appears to be pretty straight forwards, you just have to make sure you have 3/4 inch gas line comming in from the meter and seperate dedicated 120 volt circuit.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
Aside from the first users having to wait 30-60 seconds or so for the water to get hot (more to do with the cold pipes and the distance the water travelled probably), the rest of us all showered/shaved, etc. without any perceivable change in the temperature.

Can you get energy credits by switching to tankless? My parents had applied for energy credits for work done to the house when they bought it, and this tankless water may have been on that list, making it an easier pill to swallow.
I've heard this can be an issue, and there is a great way to remedy it without wasting water. Have your parents do a search on Metlund D'mand recirculating pumps. Mounts to the bottom of your farthest sink. Can add a wireless or motion detection part. When they get up in the AM, they can push the wireless button to activate and it circulates the water in your pipes. They won't have to waste a drop of water.

Yes, there are a bunch of energy credits from Maryland, (not enough to weigh in though). They have some great incentives for Solar panel installs.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Larson View Post
I think it's worth it. I've had two systems in the past and the biggest concern was the hardness of the water and it's effect on the heater. It's a long term player kind of thing...the highest returns are realized in the 2+ year range IMO, of course that depends on how you pay for it! Good Luck!
I was also concerned about the water hardening issue...causing scaling, etc. I was told that it's recommended with traditional water heaters to drain them at least once a year. It helps lengthen it's life. Apparently not many people actually do this....even one of the plumbers that gave me the estimate says he never does, but should.

With the tankless units, it's recommended that the system is flushed out yearly, putting a cap full of vinegar through it. Of course you can go as far as installing a water softener, but seems like a big hassles, I'm not interested in lugging bags of salt. From what I've read, you're now consuming salt water.

In preparations for the tankless install, I decided to give a Scaleblaster a try. The reviews that I could find were all over the place. It doesn't "soften" the water, it "conditions" it. Supposedly the slimy feeling of a water softener is nonexistent. It minimizes scaling through, electrical charges (or something like that). You're suppose to notice a difference in how the soaps lathers up, less scaling deposits left to clean up in showers (glass doors), no more build up in pipes and faucets. It suppose to even help with eczema for those that suffer from it. They say you need to give it roughly 3 months, I read reviews saying they noticed a difference right away. Since I could purchase it through Home Depot, I figured I would just return it if it turns out to be snake oil! I've had it in about a month now and I'm actually seeing every positive result. My skin isn't as dry, my wife's eczema is almost gone, and when I do laundry the soap is VERY frothy....I've reduced the amount of detergent from a full cup to half. The unit is pricey, and can be got for a lot less on eBay.

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:24 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
They are around $1500 and not a big deal to install. Im putting 2 in in a couple months.

In addition to Rinnai, take a look at Noritz and Navien as well to compare.

-Jeff
I wish I had the know how! How about I fly you to DC and put you up for a few days? it would probably be cheaper than the quotes I've gotten. You can hangout with the NOVA crew while your here as well.

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:27 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by javelinadave View Post
I had 75 gallon boiler installed at the house for $1300 this past winter. They plumber said that either unit last about the same time (10 years) and the gas savings from the tankless won't come close of the added cost to the tankless model even with the government rebate (redistribution of your tax dollars).
That's interesting, seems like the life span of these things are all over the map. I've been told 20yrs no problem.

Some plumbers I called weren't interested...said it wasn't worth it to them to install.

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:28 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewie212 View Post
We installed one in our cabin in Boone, I mean Boone Town utility installed it for free and it came with a bunch of tax rebates as well. Our energy bill was cut by around 20% a month. They also financed everything, its like $60 a month if i remember for five years so it basically pays for itself. That is huge bc we use the cabin as a rental property, the town was/is really pushing these new units? It's great, takes a minute for the hot water to start but then it doesn't stop, we had issues bc our cabin sleeps 10 so we would always run out of hot water on game weekends!
Wow, that's awesome!

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:29 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiftRover View Post
I have a Rinnai and love it, but would warn you to make sure it's properly sized because it actually has a minimum flow requirement. If you are using less than the minumum, i.e. one person in the shower, it will shut off and you get cold water. The manual advises you to adjust the output temperature to ensure you are using mostly hot and not mixing in much cold. I did that and haven't had a problem except the wife complaining that she can't get the water hot enough... Like I said, I like it but the minimum flow issue is something to keep in mind.
I have read and was told exactly that, a minor lifestyle change.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Neil McCauley View Post
I'm about to install one also in a rental and it appears to be pretty straight forwards, you just have to make sure you have 3/4 inch gas line comming in from the meter and seperate dedicated 120 volt circuit.
You didn't mention the venting, is this an outdoor unit?

They other thing that has to happen at my home...they are upgrading the gas meter and adding a dedicated gas line to the tankless. I was told with the fireplace, and other gas appliances the Rinnai couldn't share the same line.

Lowers is carrying the Rinnai rebranded as Jacuzzi. They stressed the importance of using a professional plumber but then didn't have any on their list as a suggestion until I called Rinnai directly. They weren't too thrilled with Lowes, apparently it's been a big learning curve for them.

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:38 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by rover4x4 View Post
It consumes gallons of water to get hot enough to wash my hands. Ive been to a few houses with them and have not been very impressed.
Have them look into the Metland D'mand pump.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by themaxx View Post
You didn't mention the venting, is this an outdoor unit?

They other thing that has to happen at my home...they are upgrading the gas meter and adding a dedicated gas line to the tankless. I was told with the fireplace, and other gas appliances the Rinnai couldn't share the same line.

Lowers is carrying the Rinnai rebranded as Jacuzzi. They stressed the importance of using a professional plumber but then didn't have any on their list as a suggestion until I called Rinnai directly. They weren't too thrilled with Lowes, apparently it's been a big learning curve for them.
Cant you just have a gas manifold put in?
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaxx View Post
You didn't mention the venting, is this an outdoor unit?

They other thing that has to happen at my home...they are upgrading the gas meter and adding a dedicated gas line to the tankless. I was told with the fireplace, and other gas appliances the Rinnai couldn't share the same line.

Lowers is carrying the Rinnai rebranded as Jacuzzi. They stressed the importance of using a professional plumber but then didn't have any on their list as a suggestion until I called Rinnai directly. They weren't too thrilled with Lowes, apparently it's been a big learning curve for them.

------ Follow up post added June 3rd, 2013 04:38 PM ------



Have them look into the Metland D'mand pump.
I bought the outdoor unit, I don't like putting water heaters inside of the property due to risk for leak and damage, plus I'd rather it vent outside rather than installing ducts and making more holes. Plus I feel safer mounting that emergency blow out valve outside. The only real bad I see with mounting a tankless is that you don't get 55+ gallons of emergency water during an earthquake. Other than that, it saves a lot of space and your keeping up with the future of water heating. Plus you can control the temperature on a digitial pad.
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