Water Heater Options in existing home
We have a natural gas water heater which we will soon have to replace. We also plan to remove any waterheater from its present location, and have thought to install instead an electric water heater inside a little lean-to a few feet from the electric meter and main power box outside the house; but there will be a common wall with the house. It will be located on the exterior wall of the kitchen, which is on the south side of the house. And a couple of feet forward of that spot is the kitchen window and then the outside portion of our heat pump.
Where the present gas supply to the water heater is located, I will be installing a small natural gas range. There is an empty 220 circuit in the breaker box, because I already ripped out the electric range which was disfunctional. I'm concerned that to have a gas water heater, I'd need my gas supply line upgraded, which could be done I guess, but want to explore solar, heatpump takeoff, and other options before launching such an upgrade. I am determined to have gas cooking as my priority.
We live in Mobile Alabama, latitude 30 North. We have ideas of using solar panels on the south side of the main house roof, and so will need a water storage tank anyway.
I want to be able to choose the option which gives us the MOST BENEFIT from our location, our environment, and our money. A "lifetime warranty" is not a requirement, since we are well into our 70s, if you know what I mean.
What could you recommend? Here is the picture outside of that area of the house. Not pretty in this view, we were renting it at the time.