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Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Posted by Chris2950 (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 10, 12 at 20:26

Hello all,
I am having a house built :) and they offer a 50 gallon electric. I know how to fix Gas water heaters, so that is a plus. Electric ones seem expensive/hard to fix.
There are 5 of us and use a lot of hot water.
We have the option to upgrade to either a 80 gallon electric for $340 or to upgrade to a 50 gallon gas for $950

I thought the price for the gas was a bit excesssive, but from what i understand gas is cheaper to run in Ohio, recovers faster, and I "think" its easier to fix(although I've never fixed an electric one so I could be wrong)

What are your guys thoughts on the prices for each upgrade, and the gas vs elec, and if any of you have similar stories on large families and what size water heater.

Thanks ~


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Gas requires a flue of some type.

Gas can be used to generate electricity, so that should tell you the relative costs for most areas.

Electric also tens to have slower recovery, requiring a larger tank for short time higher volume delivery.

Electric water heaters are even simpler than gas ones to service.
Thermostats and heating elements.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

There are web sites that help you calculate the relative costs of owing and operating different water heaters based on current energy costs. For the future, you'll need to consult your crystal ball. Try the US DOE or Energy Star web sites.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

When you say 'gas', do you mean propane or natural gas? Propane would cost as much or more than electricity.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Good point, weed. OP, how are you heating your house?


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Electric heaters difficult or expensive to repair? Not at all the case based on my experience. Gas? If the gas is propane, get the electric heater. If natural gas, get the gas heater.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Thanks for the Replies !
When I said gas I mean NG, would the 80gallon electric keep up with a 50gallon Natural Gas. I live in ohio, it seems natural gas is cheaper than electric, but its seems expensive to have gas installed. How much do they actually save in an environment such as ohio, ballpark figures would be nice .

Thanks again


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

So I am getting the 80 Gallon, and if Need to later will switch. I plan to compare my bills to a neighbor who has same size house and amount of people. If you guys are interested I will keep you up to date.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

If you are doing new construction here, there isn't anything to prevent you from choosing a gas tankless. That will be your most energy efficient choice and cheapest operating cost over the long term, and given that it's new construction it should be significantly above the "regular" gas choice.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

If you are doing new construction here, there isn't anything to prevent you from choosing a gas tankless. That will be your most energy efficient choice and cheapest operating cost over the long term, and given that it's new construction it should be significantly above the "regular" gas choice.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

If you are doing new construction here, there isn't anything to prevent you from choosing a gas tankless. That will be your most energy efficient choice and cheapest operating cost over the long term, and given that it's new construction it should be significantly above the "regular" gas choice.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

If you are doing new construction here, there isn't anything to prevent you from choosing a gas tankless. That will be your most energy efficient choice and cheapest operating cost over the long term, and given that it's new construction it should be significantly above the "regular" gas choice.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Sorry, about the multiple posts. GW was getting hung up and it didn't seem like it was going through. I LOVE my tankless, but not enough to post the same post 4x about it! LOL!


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

LoL, Well now I know you Love your Tankless, haha
How about the Cost of that thing ? the ones that I have seen that would suffice for a house of 5 are quite expensive. How big is your family and how much did it cost ? Gas tankless... now does that require special venting ? My plans were to hook into the furnace later, when I cringe at the electric bill


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

In new construction, the venting cost difference between the regular vent pipe and the double wall stainless will be the material costs alone. Maybe a couple of hundred dollars depending on how far the vent pipe has to go. (If you are in a warm climate, it can even go outdoors and skip the venting.)

The cost differences between tankless and a heat pump style efficient electric water heater are almost nonexistant. You'll pay more up front for either, but either will cost you much less in operating costs and will end up paying for itself plus additional cost savings over time.

If you have decent water, gas tankless can last pretty much the life of the home. I have a friend with one from 1970 that still works, and I think LWO has had hers for around 20 years. Electric doesn't have nearly as long a life span.

If you have bad water, nothing will have a long lifespan unless you treat the water before it's heated. Takagi and Rinnai are two respected brands that you should get quotes from plumbers for. Or you can keep buying a less efficient cheap tank water heater every 5-6 years at $700-$900 for the tank and install. If you do choose that, at least go gas as the operating costs are much cheaper and the recovery time is much much faster.

The initial expense of the item isn't it's whole cost. You have to have an eye on the bigger picture.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

thanks for the quick reply green designs,
Big builder has many rules that limit options
Not sure if its even an option to have the double wall installed. So I'll ask this, Can I replace the single wall with the double wall ? are they close to the same size OD? ( I was planning on y-piping the furnace is why i ask. )
I have hard water around here
I would go gas tankless if at all possible, NG is cheaper around here and the tankless sounds nice.
Is there a big price difference from NG-Tank and NG-tankless as far as gas Usage.
Have to talk to project manager and see if possible to replace with double wall
Thanks


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Ok so did a little reading on the takagi usa web site, and It Can't share the piping of another appliance, which is fine with me as long as I can somehow vent it out of the basement, I'm thinking that coming out of the basement up about 3 foot (from the ground outside)then outside through a 4" hole/vent


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

can I run three showers at once ?


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Why on earth would you need to run 3 showers at once? That just inefficient family logistics regardless if you plan to do that, even if you end up with a tanked heater.

What an appropriately sized tankless can do is allow you to run 2 15 minute showers simultaneously, followed by a third 15 minute shower at the same time a load of laundry is being run or the DW is being run. Or you can run a single shower plus another water use item for 30 minutes and 100 10 minute showers in succession with that same water use item. "Endless" hot water IS a reality here, as long as you treat that water before it's heated, just like you would with a tanked heater.

To be able to size the correct tankless for your application you need to know what your incoming water temperature is in the winter. It's obviously different in Duluth vs. Destin. That's the basis for all calculations. Once you know that, it's simple math to figure out how many BTU's you need at a certain flow rate to achieve warm enough water with which to shower.

And that's something that most people who are considering and calculating for tankless don't seem to get. You don't treat it like a standard tanked heater where you crank the temp up and then throttle the temp back with a mixer of cold water to something tolerable. All you need to do is get it to maybe 105 degrees for 2 2.5 gallon showers, not to 130. You'll need the 130 at a much lower flow rate for your DW or laundry machine, so you need to also see if you can get the water to that rate at a lower flow. It's all about the math. And it starts with your location.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

There are web sites with worksheets to help you calculate the lifetime costs of operating different types of water heaters. Unfortunately they require inputs that are sometimes difficult, like hot water usage, cost of DHW appliance and costs of energy. I'd start with the US DOE and Energy Star.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

It is all about the math -

Tankless water heaters are:

- more expensive to buy
- more expensive to install
- more expensive to operate (unless you can do the periodic maintenance yourself)

and as a result often don't save you enough money to provide a payback for the added costs.

A tank natural gas water heater is the least expensive way to go, in most locations, (and assuming you have NG service)


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

How many times do we who own tankless have to tell you that your prejudices are showing and you are full of bunkum?

If you compare the replacement costs with labor of 2-3 tanked gas heaters to the cost of a tankless install, the tankless will always come out ahead. My tankless is going on 18 years old. In that time with a conventional tank heater, I would have had to replace it at least 2, possibly 3 times. If I had chosen the higher warranty higher capacity tank, it would be in the $700-$900 range for the tank alone, plus install costs averaging $300-$400. If I had only replaced my tanked heater twice, that would have still been lower cost than a tankless unit and single install. Plus the savings from higher efficiency. If I had chosen a lower warranty and slightly smaller tank (NOT big enough for the home described above) then 3x a $500 plus 3 installs is also still cheaper than a single tankless plus original install.

The only "maintenance" that I've ever needed to perform in 18 years has been twice replacing a pressure sensing diaphragm, which is about a $7 part and took about 5 minutes to do. That's it. We have very high quality pure water here direct from the Memphis Sands Aquifer, which is bottled straight up and sold elsewhere as "premium" bottled water. Even if you don't have that high quality water available to you, if you put good quality treated water into the heater (of whatever variety) you won't have to "descale" anything either. If you put bad water into anything, you increase the service it needs and shorten it's life.


Tankless isn't for those who are into immediate gratification and are only looking for the cheapest initial up front costs. They DO pay you back over time, but you have to actually be interested in the long haul and not the short term. And you actually have to be able to do the math and understand it's implications.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

I'm glad you're happy with what you have.

My comments come from what I was told by a plumbing contractor who did a big remodel job for me. He said he stopped selling tankless units because he was losing too many cutomer relationships from people being dissatisfied with them after installation. He said he liked selling and installing them because there was much more profit to him, but it wasn't worth it. On the other hand, he also said that quality control of most tank units had plummeted and prices had risen, he wasn't happy with how many units fail shortly after installation and need to be replaced.

Descaling is not a theoretical possiblity, it's required in many locations. Add $150 to annual operating costs, it's something the average homeowner won't do themselves.

Lastly, he also told me that people were most dissatified with the slow reaction time (waiting for hot water) and low flow rates. You have any experience with that?


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

I need to run three showers at once because of teenagers and sunday morning church, plus holidays or any other day that multiple people get up at the same time. Shower in the basement(which by the way will have the best pressure) Kids bathroom shower, and Master shower. Needless to say my family is not going to be impressed by tankless if it cannot keep the water hot.
Treating the water would be an added expense (purchaseprice + cost to run).
My inlet temperature gets to about 40 or so in the winter. Thinking about it, maybe its worth it to get just a small tankless for the dishwasher... but that would be down the road because they are not the cheapest things in the world.
I think I'll be going with a hot water heater that is roughly 50 gal or more, Natural gas, and has 2" insulation and 12yr warranty.
Kinda having trouble deciding between the ones at the big box stores (hd lowes or sears(kenmore) or the bw brand that I heard is good.
btw
(thanks to all for the replys)
any suggestions ?


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

If I had 3 teenagers taking showers in the morning, a cloths washer and dishwasher, I would go for the 80gl tank over the 50. If you're still in the house after the kids move out (ha!), you can downsize the tank when it needs to be replaced in 12-15 years.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Generally Don't do clothes or dishes in the morning, but I guess I could see that being a problem after sunday dinner(ie the night before they go to school. The 50 gallon ng wh im looking at provide 80+ gallons before running out.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

Be careful, I'm not sure you understand what's called "recovery".

The normal residential 50 gal heater will cite a recovery stat, which might be 40 or 50 gallons in the first hour. That means if you have a tank of cold water, a 50 gal/hour recovery will give you a tank of hot water in an hour.

If you have a 50 gallon tank, and don't have flow restricted shower heads, 3 showers running at the same time will use up the hot water in less than 10 minutes, maybe closer to 5 minutes worth. Even with flow restricted heads, you'll get to about 10 minutes, not much longer. In such a short time, you'll have little recovery at all, maybe a few minutes worth more hot water at best. Certainly, nothing near 80 gallons.

If you want to have more than 50 gallons available for simultaneous showers, you need a larger tank or maybe even two connected together.


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

50 gallons is too small for your described situation. But, 3 showers at once or in succession is also not really necessary if you plan your timing better. I still think a tankless would suit you better. It will certainly cost you less over time versus buying a tank heater. It's the difference in buying a pair of cheap $50 shoes to wear to work that fail you after just a couple of months and need to be replaced 3 times during the year or a pair of $150 ones that will last you a year or more. Which actually costs you more?


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RE: Water heater: Gas vs Electric

It depends on the Wattage of the unit if it's the electric but for the gas is it might have some gas leak that might result to explosion.


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