Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 02-11-2008, 12:58 PM   #1
Pro
 
robertc65's Avatar
 
Trade: Former Electrician
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Finksburg, MD
Posts: 312
Rewards Points: 250

Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


I know this has been discussed before, but in the light of higher prices for both electricity and propane, which is the better way to go now? In my area electric is about 11 cents /KWH and propane is 2.29/gal. Currently I have a 50 gallon electric and I have to yell at my 7 year old daughter because she thinks her shower is not done until the water starts to run cold. Then minutes later my wife will start a load of laundry on Hot/Hot, not knowing there is no Hot to be had. I assume in this situation the water runs through the water heater never having a chance to get hot, but the elements of course are still drawing lots of current that is being wasted. I have tried a few online calculators and they pretty much say that Propane is still cheaper, but I am not sure if there are other factors that may come into play.

Thanks

Rob
robertc65 is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   
 

Old 02-11-2008, 02:10 PM   #2
Moderator
 
Double-A's Avatar
 
Trade: GC - Remodeling Specialists
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 4,617
Rewards Points: 2,000
Send a message via ICQ to Double-A

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


There are. Standby heat loss for one. You can buy a better insulated tank in an electric model than in gas, but in a gas model, you can get a higher effeciency.

Recovery on the gas unit will be better as well. As far as which is better, consider that your daughter may not live with you long enough to really make payback based on her usage viable. In other words, once she moves out, your usage will go down. Payback on increased efficiency can take several years. But the upside is, its keeps on paying you back, even if at a reduced amount.

Have you considered a tank less unit?

__________________
"My clients’ wishes are the center of my attention." -- David Guido, a contractor in Woodstock, N.Y.
New York Times, July 20, 2006
Double-A is offline  
Old 02-11-2008, 03:22 PM   #3
Pro
 
robertc65's Avatar
 
Trade: Former Electrician
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Finksburg, MD
Posts: 312
Rewards Points: 250

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Double-A View Post
There are. Standby heat loss for one. You can buy a better insulated tank in an electric model than in gas, but in a gas model, you can get a higher effeciency.

Recovery on the gas unit will be better as well. As far as which is better, consider that your daughter may not live with you long enough to really make payback based on her usage viable. In other words, once she moves out, your usage will go down. Payback on increased efficiency can take several years. But the upside is, its keeps on paying you back, even if at a reduced amount.

Have you considered a tank less unit?
Thanks for the response Double-A. I understand that it will take quite some time to break even, but I expect my 7 year old Daughter to be around for a minimum of 11 or 12 years and I have a 3 year old son who may become a larger consumer. As far as tankless goes, I'm not totally sold yet. Are standby losses really that high? What about a condensing hot water heater like the Polaris? I kind of like the idea of having some hot water on standby in case of a power outage or whatever. I also hear that the tankless units can have trouble keeping up if you are say taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time. I'm 42 and for the 1st time I now live in a house that when someone flushes the toilet you don't hear screams from the shower, I don't want to go backwards. I could be wrong, I have no 1st hand experience with tankless. I'm just repeating things I've heard others say.

Thanks again

Rob
robertc65 is offline  
Old 02-11-2008, 04:51 PM   #4
The Grand Wazoo
 
KillerToiletSpider's Avatar
 
Trade: It blowed up real good!
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,683
Rewards Points: 1,390

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Quote:
Originally Posted by robertc65 View Post
Thanks for the response Double-A. I understand that it will take quite some time to break even, but I expect my 7 year old Daughter to be around for a minimum of 11 or 12 years and I have a 3 year old son who may become a larger consumer. As far as tankless goes, I'm not totally sold yet. Are standby losses really that high? What about a condensing hot water heater like the Polaris? I kind of like the idea of having some hot water on standby in case of a power outage or whatever. I also hear that the tankless units can have trouble keeping up if you are say taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time. I'm 42 and for the 1st time I now live in a house that when someone flushes the toilet you don't hear screams from the shower, I don't want to go backwards. I could be wrong, I have no 1st hand experience with tankless. I'm just repeating things I've heard others say.

Thanks again

Rob
With a properly sized tankless you will never run out of hot water, I have installed them in restaurants that have multiple commercial dishwashers running on them and have no issues with lack of hot water. If you go tankless you will want to go propane over electric though.
__________________
A flush is better than a full house.
KillerToiletSpider is offline  
Old 02-11-2008, 07:49 PM   #5
Moderator
 
Double-A's Avatar
 
Trade: GC - Remodeling Specialists
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 4,617
Rewards Points: 2,000
Send a message via ICQ to Double-A

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


The Polaris is a wonderful unit in my opinion. Quiet, efficient, but condensing. You must have someplace to put that water. They are expensive, but any fully condensing heater will be.

Biggest drawback? Price. But, I would prefer the Polaris over a tank less. Just personal preference.

I didn't realize your daughter was so young. That changes the outlook. Now is a great time to upgrade efficiency. You'll get your payback and some benefit.

Killer is spot on. If you decide on tank less, make sure to get one that is properly sized for your growing family. Remember, your as your daughter ages, she'll get into that bath mode again, then back to shower. If you have a garden tub, be sure to take into consideration it might get used once a day by her for a couple of years and get the capacity to support that. Or, run her off to the kids tub. Personally, fighting with a child that wants to take a bath is not a fight for me. I cave in every time, as long as no one gets hurt.
__________________
"My clients’ wishes are the center of my attention." -- David Guido, a contractor in Woodstock, N.Y.
New York Times, July 20, 2006
Double-A is offline  
Old 02-11-2008, 09:53 PM   #6
Pro
 
JamesNLA's Avatar
 
Trade: Plumbing & Electrical
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,197
Rewards Points: 500

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Few things to consider as I am a self proclaimed expert on Tankless HWH's!!!!

What is the layout of the home (1 story - 2 story) Where are the bathrooms and what's in them?
What is the temp of the incomming water in the winter AND in the summer time?
What size is the service at the entrance. What size is the pipes at the existing HWH? What kind of pipping do you have in the home, and what is the liveable SF?
Do you have a water softener or any kind of whole house filter?
Do you have any kind of recirc system installed or abandoned?

Going tankless is hands down the best option for an active family. They are on the pricy side but with proper maintenance can and should out last at least 2 tanked heaters. Average cost for average HO to have tanked units replaced is usually in the 700-1000 range. The $$ you save is not HUGE amounts, I have been seeing on average of 25-50% savings on the NG bill. Mt area is mostly NG...few have LP...savings equate the same.
Standby losses is where you are making your money back. Understand, buying a tankless is not really an investment per-say. It's a cost of living. However in the big picture of things you can and most likley will make your money back.....eventually. Average cost for a tankless installed could be between 2500 to 4000. It just depends on what is needed to PROPERLY install the correctly sized unit. Gas is usually where most will cheat, meaning HO or "plumbers" will under size the gas line either to keep the cost down or sell the job at a lower price. Average plumbers are usually well below average in properly installing tankless heaters. As for electric or gas....I have only done gas units. Electric is far more expensive than gas in my parts. Now, here is some info you will not read about in a reviw or a manual so listen up:
With respect to the Noritz units that I choose to primarly install; the job of these heaters is to deliver you water at the temp you have selected on the remote controller (average is 120 -125) Do not go over 120 with small children in the home, you are a prime canidate for the temp block I leave intact with small kids running around. Anyhow, the unit only cares about the temp of the water it gives you, not the volume. This is important....This is the main difference in a quility heater vs. china crap and box store junk.
When the unit is PROPERLY installed meaning the gas has been accuratly sized to not only the unit but ALL the gas burning appliances in the home running at full blast at the same time (hence properly gassing the unit). When the demand for water has gone to MAX...or the draw is at the capicity of the heater, the heater will actually restrict the flow of water leaving the unit to maintain the choosen temp. Should you have a crappy tankless unit the temp will fall as the unit cannot keep up with the demand and now you have tempered water NOT at the desired temp. Point is, if the unit is once again installed correctly you should be able to max out the capacity and NOT have tempered water being restricted.

Should you undersize the unit, you can and most often will max the unit out with 2-3 fixtures on at the same time. Here is where you need to do your homework and understand what you are buying:
Noritz MDL 0751M (ng) lp is almost the exact same, You will not get 7.51 GPM of hot water with this unit. There is something called a temperture rise. In my parts average city water temp is 60 F. Average temp desired is 120 F. Therefore you have a 60 degree rise in temp (this rise WILL vary in different parts of the country). There is a graph chart that shows the actual delivered volume of tempered water, off the top I think it's around 5.5 GPM at a 60 degree rise. That number falls when you have a higher amount of temp rise. As well as the efficiency goes down when one needs to do for example 80 degrees of rise. There are units that perform better than others. Simply because you have 2 showers in your home doesn't mean you ONLY need the smaller capacity unit (7.51).

I can probablly give you my best guess if you answer all the above questions. For average residential, it's usually the 7.51 or the 9.31
Cost difference is about 600 bucks.

As for power outtages, that is a rare event in my parts. Heating a tub of water for the sake of having a little hot water if and when the power goes out is very inefficient, but I live in SoCal...so It's inefficiant in my parts (IMHO).

If it was really an issue for a customer, they can buy a deep cell battery (marine) and a DC- AC Converter. Tankless use about 125 Watts of power to operate.

With respect to other heaters I have actually switched my opinion after seeing the new models come out. The Takagi has gone down the toilet (no pun intended). They licensed their technology from Noritz to be a compeditor in the market, they have now gotten their own design and it's crap. It's almost mechanical.
The Bosch is still on the bottom of my list, I am no longer installing them and if I cannot get a client to switch.....have a nice day. I don't want the headachs later on. The box stores I think mainly bum depot is selling the Paloma brand, which is only a Rheem. I actually did take a good look at the new Rheem's (not the Palomas) and they seem to be using more technology in their units. NONE of them compare to the Noritz. Not even close. After installing about 200 of these units and maybe 50 of them are other brands I can only give my experienced opinion. Noritz is easily #1 and Rheem is #2, I don't care about the others. Again, just my opinion. Alot of guys think they like Rheems simply because alot of supply houses stock them, but to understand the inner workings and see the differences in technology inside, it is a clear choice. At least for me and all my happy clients. To this day I still have not had one single issue when it comes time to power up. So there you have it. My $.02 hopefully this long but rather brief writing will help.
__________________
"....And then we all switch places when I ring the bell"
-Adrock
JamesNLA is offline  
Old 02-12-2008, 09:25 AM   #7
Pro
 
robertc65's Avatar
 
Trade: Former Electrician
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Finksburg, MD
Posts: 312
Rewards Points: 250

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesNLA View Post
Few things to consider as I am a self proclaimed expert on Tankless HWH's!!!!

What is the layout of the home (1 story - 2 story) Where are the bathrooms and what's in them?
What is the temp of the incomming water in the winter AND in the summer time?
What size is the service at the entrance. What size is the pipes at the existing HWH? What kind of pipping do you have in the home, and what is the liveable SF?
Do you have a water softener or any kind of whole house filter?
Do you have any kind of recirc system installed or abandoned?

Going tankless is hands down the best option for an active family. They are on the pricy side but with proper maintenance can and should out last at least 2 tanked heaters. Average cost for average HO to have tanked units replaced is usually in the 700-1000 range. The $$ you save is not HUGE amounts, I have been seeing on average of 25-50% savings on the NG bill. Mt area is mostly NG...few have LP...savings equate the same.
Standby losses is where you are making your money back. Understand, buying a tankless is not really an investment per-say. It's a cost of living. However in the big picture of things you can and most likley will make your money back.....eventually. Average cost for a tankless installed could be between 2500 to 4000. It just depends on what is needed to PROPERLY install the correctly sized unit. Gas is usually where most will cheat, meaning HO or "plumbers" will under size the gas line either to keep the cost down or sell the job at a lower price. Average plumbers are usually well below average in properly installing tankless heaters. As for electric or gas....I have only done gas units. Electric is far more expensive than gas in my parts. Now, here is some info you will not read about in a reviw or a manual so listen up:
With respect to the Noritz units that I choose to primarly install; the job of these heaters is to deliver you water at the temp you have selected on the remote controller (average is 120 -125) Do not go over 120 with small children in the home, you are a prime canidate for the temp block I leave intact with small kids running around. Anyhow, the unit only cares about the temp of the water it gives you, not the volume. This is important....This is the main difference in a quility heater vs. china crap and box store junk.
When the unit is PROPERLY installed meaning the gas has been accuratly sized to not only the unit but ALL the gas burning appliances in the home running at full blast at the same time (hence properly gassing the unit). When the demand for water has gone to MAX...or the draw is at the capicity of the heater, the heater will actually restrict the flow of water leaving the unit to maintain the choosen temp. Should you have a crappy tankless unit the temp will fall as the unit cannot keep up with the demand and now you have tempered water NOT at the desired temp. Point is, if the unit is once again installed correctly you should be able to max out the capacity and NOT have tempered water being restricted.

Should you undersize the unit, you can and most often will max the unit out with 2-3 fixtures on at the same time. Here is where you need to do your homework and understand what you are buying:
Noritz MDL 0751M (ng) lp is almost the exact same, You will not get 7.51 GPM of hot water with this unit. There is something called a temperture rise. In my parts average city water temp is 60 F. Average temp desired is 120 F. Therefore you have a 60 degree rise in temp (this rise WILL vary in different parts of the country). There is a graph chart that shows the actual delivered volume of tempered water, off the top I think it's around 5.5 GPM at a 60 degree rise. That number falls when you have a higher amount of temp rise. As well as the efficiency goes down when one needs to do for example 80 degrees of rise. There are units that perform better than others. Simply because you have 2 showers in your home doesn't mean you ONLY need the smaller capacity unit (7.51).

I can probablly give you my best guess if you answer all the above questions. For average residential, it's usually the 7.51 or the 9.31
Cost difference is about 600 bucks.

As for power outtages, that is a rare event in my parts. Heating a tub of water for the sake of having a little hot water if and when the power goes out is very inefficient, but I live in SoCal...so It's inefficiant in my parts (IMHO).

If it was really an issue for a customer, they can buy a deep cell battery (marine) and a DC- AC Converter. Tankless use about 125 Watts of power to operate.

With respect to other heaters I have actually switched my opinion after seeing the new models come out. The Takagi has gone down the toilet (no pun intended). They licensed their technology from Noritz to be a compeditor in the market, they have now gotten their own design and it's crap. It's almost mechanical.
The Bosch is still on the bottom of my list, I am no longer installing them and if I cannot get a client to switch.....have a nice day. I don't want the headachs later on. The box stores I think mainly bum depot is selling the Paloma brand, which is only a Rheem. I actually did take a good look at the new Rheem's (not the Palomas) and they seem to be using more technology in their units. NONE of them compare to the Noritz. Not even close. After installing about 200 of these units and maybe 50 of them are other brands I can only give my experienced opinion. Noritz is easily #1 and Rheem is #2, I don't care about the others. Again, just my opinion. Alot of guys think they like Rheems simply because alot of supply houses stock them, but to understand the inner workings and see the differences in technology inside, it is a clear choice. At least for me and all my happy clients. To this day I still have not had one single issue when it comes time to power up. So there you have it. My $.02 hopefully this long but rather brief writing will help.

James,

Thanks a lot for the response. There is a lot of info in this post. Since you asked my house is as follows.

2 Story Colonial built in 1996 (1200 square ft per level)
The basement is unfinished except for an office and a bath.

2nd level : Master bath with separate shower and a standard sized tub. Kids bathroom with standard tub and a shower in the tub.

1st level : Powder room and laundry room Washer, Dryer, dishwasher

Basement: Full bath with shower enclosure no tub.

I'm not sure of the incoming water temp, but it comes from a 180foot well. The main pipe into the house is a 1 ½ inch Pex, which then goes into a Well X troll water pump tank. From the tank runs ¾ CPVC through a GE whole house cartridge filter. All of the main trunk is ¾ CPVC with the same going in and out of the Hot water tank. Runs to individual fixtures are ½ CPVC. I have no water softener or circulator pump.

You have pretty much convinced me that if sized and installed properly that the Tankless unit can do the job and as far as working during a power outage, the 12V battery and power inverter is simple enough. As far as venting, there is easy access through the wall in many locations so that won't be a problem either.

Thanks again for your experience.

Rob
robertc65 is offline  
Old 02-16-2008, 04:09 AM   #8
Registered User
 
bubbagoes's Avatar
 
Trade: New Mexico General and Mechanical
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 11
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


I have limited experience with Tankless Water Heaters, but I'm boning up on them because I will be building a house for myself soon, and I want to have it as energy efficient as possible.
I have only installed one (don't remember the brand) but it was a gas fired unit, and very efficient. The only problem that I had with it was that I used it far away from a submersible pump, and when the pressure dropped it would stop heating water because of reduced flow. That could have been solved with a booster pump.
I also was dealing with hard water, probably over 20 grains, this would cause mineral build ups in the heater coils and again, reduce the flow, causing the flane to shut down. Thats probably why James asked if you had a water softener.
After figuring out all the extran costs that it would take me to save money I took the damn thing out and put in a tank.
My money was pretty limited at that time.
Another consideration was that with two pre teen daughters, well they just loved having hot water that NEVER stopped, sometimes I would sneak outside and turn off the gas or they would never get out.
bubbagoes is offline  
Old 02-17-2008, 08:33 PM   #9
Member
 
siberian's Avatar
 
Trade: Property mngt
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 77
Rewards Points: 85

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Lots of good info here. Just wondering if anyone up north uses them. Have heard that here in N.E Ohio they dont fare so well?
siberian is offline  
Old 02-17-2008, 10:35 PM   #10
Registered User
 
Big_Ben's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4
Rewards Points: 10

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


James,

What is your opinion of the Rinnai Tankless? I read your posts and value your opinion. I bought the 85i 2532 NG and now waiting for my plumber to get a break to install in my house. I wanted to get an opinion first hand before commenting to my customers. I had to replace my 2" well and upgraded to a constant pressure pump in a 5" well @ 110'. I have been told that water supply volume is key for correct operation as well as gas supply.

Any other installers using a Rinnai and any issues they ran into would be helpful to insure no mistakes.

Thanks,

Ben
Big_Ben is offline  
Old 02-18-2008, 04:42 PM   #11
The Grand Wazoo
 
KillerToiletSpider's Avatar
 
Trade: It blowed up real good!
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,683
Rewards Points: 1,390

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


Quote:
Originally Posted by siberian View Post
Lots of good info here. Just wondering if anyone up north uses them. Have heard that here in N.E Ohio they dont fare so well?
I live just south of Chicago and I have one, I have no issues with it.
__________________
A flush is better than a full house.
KillerToiletSpider is offline  
Old 02-18-2008, 11:15 PM   #12
Pro
 
JamesNLA's Avatar
 
Trade: Plumbing & Electrical
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,197
Rewards Points: 500

Re: Hot Water Heater Propane Or Electric?


I'll get back to you guys....I'm just slamed right now and exausted. I gotta research a new product for a while than will try and get back.

__________________
"....And then we all switch places when I ring the bell"
-Adrock
JamesNLA is offline  


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?