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#1 of 29 Old 07-22-2008, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[I have no clue where to post this, so I'm posting it in a few places to hopefully get a discussion going somewhere. Feel free to move it, if necessary (moderators).]

We live in a townhome within an HOA. We like it. It seems as though we may need a new hot water heater pronto. DH had a less than hot shower early this morning, I had a lukewarm shower mid-morning, and DD just got home from the beach with grandpa and took a somewhat chilly shower. There was a plumbing company on the premises earlier today (concerning a gas leak...not in our unit), so I checked to see if our other gas appliances work and they do. The date on the hot water heater is August 1992. I also plan to call the gas & electric company to see if they will do a gas appliance check for us to rule out any other problems.

So... I am looking at possibly replacing the existing hot water heater (if it is truly broken) with a tankless water heater and/or something more energy efficient.

I know very little about tankless water heaters or other energy efficient options. Keep in mind our intake is in a very small closet that is just big enough to hold a traditional 40 gallon water heater tank. While I am at it, I would love to have some type of whole house filter to remove a lot of the minerals, etc we get here with our hard water (calcium is the main one).

Where do I start my research? Got any links? Got any personal experience?

Thanks!

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#2 of 29 Old 07-22-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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my DP is a plumber and he says those tankless ones are so so much more efficient. Think about how often you use hot water - a few showers and some dishes? then think about the fact that your hot water heater is keeping all that water at whatever hot temp it keeps it at 24 hours a day, every day.

with the tankless, only the hot water that you need at that minute gets heated by the gas flame, which is tiny when not being used, but then gets bigger the more hot water is needed, and then goes back down when not being used like a pilot light.
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#3 of 29 Old 07-22-2008, 11:37 PM
 
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My DH is in that line of work as well. He installs heating and renewable energy systems. He installed our tankless hot water heater in our home too! All we use our propane for is this appliance and it takes many many years to go thru a tank of propane. Insanely efficient! Mind you, they are expensive, but will save you $$$ in the long run; plus it's way better for the environment.

The downside is supposed to be that you can only use one water source at a time (i.e. dishes and laundry...), but we can it works out fine. I wouldn't do dishes while someone was in the shower, but that's mostly related to pressure.

The heater itself is really small and hangs on the wall. We used to have a regular hot water heater and it took up the entire closet in the bathroom. Now I have that whole closet for cleaning products and laundry.

Here is the brand we have: http://www.takagi-usa.com/

*Liz* : mountain mama to DS 12/04
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#4 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much both of you!!!

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#5 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 12:07 AM
 
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I just researched these as well, and talked to three plumbers about them. They are definitely more efficient, long term, but you have to be prepared to pay a lot up front for one that is large enough to keep up with your entire house.
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#6 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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MsElle07, thanks for your insight. Would you please elaborate how large it needs to be? Is this related to household size (number of people)? Or it is related to the size of the house? Or something I am missing entirely?

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#7 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 12:34 AM
 
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http://www.takagi-usa.com/index.php?...id=3&page_id=2

This is the model we have. It says for small apartments, but we have a 1200 sq ft home w/3 people, plus we've had 9 people total in our house for several nights and never had any issues.

*Liz* : mountain mama to DS 12/04
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#8 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 01:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacredmama View Post
http://www.takagi-usa.com/index.php?...id=3&page_id=2

This is the model we have. It says for small apartments, but we have a 1200 sq ft home w/3 people, plus we've had 9 people total in our house for several nights and never had any issues.
Thank you for the link! Our home is similar to yours: 1421 sq ft and three people. We have company often enough, but can send them down to my dad's, too. LOL

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#9 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 01:26 AM
 
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my dh is a plumber, and when our old water heater rusted out and fell over we replaced with a tankless gas water heater. He sings the praises of how much more efficient it is, noting that the gas ones are better then the electric (he told me to say that the electric ones suck.), but you have gas. I Love ours. It seems to do this thing where it kicks on a little, and then if you are going to have the hot water on longer it kicks it up a notch. Which I think is cool (i discovered this in the shower.)

It is more expensive up front, but usually you can get a rebate from the gas or electric company. I will ask dh what kind we got and what he likes best.

we have a takagi.

Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!

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#10 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacredmama View Post

The downside is supposed to be that you can only use one water source at a time (i.e. dishes and laundry...), but we can it works out fine. I wouldn't do dishes while someone was in the shower, but that's mostly related to pressure.
we don't have two showers, and DH is standing here saying if you wanted to take two showers at a time you would have to have two heaters. BUT we do our laundry or dishes at the same time as showers. (Not always hot water for the laundry, but sometimes with no problems.)

also it is small. Dh says you could probably hold the purification system and the tankless in the old water heater closet.

Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!

A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.

 

 

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#11 of 29 Old 07-23-2008, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Thursday Girl!

New information:

Our pilot light was out on our hot water heater and our furnace. Our stove/oven must have auto-lighting because it worked when I tested it. Our gas dryer also worked when I tested it. I didn't think to look for a pilot light.

Anyway, the gas and electric guy was here this evening and he said all the same great things about the tankless water heaters y'all are saying. He did mention that finding parts can be challenging since they (tankless units) are still rather new in this area. He also suggested I call and get a complimentary "energy check" and that those folks are more knowledgeable about the buying questions I had.

Meanwhile, I also got on the phone and found out a neighbor down the way has a tankless heater (good ol' phone tree!!!). Unfortunately, these people (husband and wife) were two sheets to the wind and had it installed by a different neighbor three years ago. The knowledge was sketchy, but I did learn about a few possible challenges we may face.

Maybe some of you (or the wonderful plumber husbands!) can help me out with this???

The homeowners I spoke with have a different townhome unit than we have. Their tank (then) and tankless (now) reside in an outdoor closet. The closet is part of the home, but has direct access only from the outside.

Our unit has the tank in an interior closet smack dab in the middle of our ground floor.

The issue the husband raised was ventilation. He said it would be cost-prohibitive for us to install a tankless in our unit due to the lack of proper ventilation. He didn't have a good (reasonable) answer for how it is possible we have a tank in this closet now. (It came this way, we didn't move it.) He is also on our HOA Board, so I asked about any rules and regs we might encounter and there are none. The only minor one is IF we were to need to increase the ventilation and it meant going through the exterior of the building, THEN we would be responsible for all future actions required in that area. Currently, the HOA is responsible for all exterior work. DH & I can live with that.

However, I am curious about how our current water heater (40-gallon tank) can be located in this interior closet and have passed multiple inspections over the years when the unit was sold from owner to owner. Our property (whole HOA) was built in the 70s in three phases. The people I spoke with (and my dad) live in the second phase. We (and all of our immediate neighbors) live in the third phase. The water heater location is not related to the phase, but rather to the location of the individual units. However, since our unit/phase was built last, it seems like it should be closer to current codes????

Any words of wisdom regarding ventilation???

Also, after reading through the links, it appears we will need electricity in the closet added. My dad is a skilled electrician, so the labor is covered. However, how does this complicate the process???

Our current water heater is run solely by natural gas. From what I read, the tankless (gas) ones require electricity AND gas in order to function. Currently, when our electricity goes out (rarely, thankfully) we can still shower and do dishes, etc. Has it been a problem for anyone in real life to not have hot water when the electricity goes out?

Thanks so much!

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#12 of 29 Old 07-24-2008, 02:45 AM
 
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subbing. Thanks to all who are taking the time to answer I want to replace our water heater with a more efficient unit when the time comes.
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#13 of 29 Old 07-25-2008, 04:33 PM
 
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I posted in the other one, but.....
One of the downsides with tankless is that you never run out of hot water. This means teens wil take even *longer* showers.
Also, water quality is a factor. Hard water or water with lots of sediment can degrade the element causing shorter life (same as a tank really, though). But you can put a small canister filter before the element. The filter carts are really easy to change also.

As far as ventilation, many state that no ventilation is required (think propane/gas "fire"places), although I probably would ventilate. You could also go totally electric rather than dual fuel. In that case, you can mount them under sinks, in cabinets, vanities, etc.
Single you have the electrician, it might be the way to go!
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#14 of 29 Old 07-30-2008, 12:14 PM
 
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One thing you do have to consider in sizing a unit is how cold it gets in the wninter, and for how long. I live in North Dakota, and by the end f the winter our tap water comes into the house at about 36°F. It takes a lot of energy to heat that up to 120°. In the summer our inlet water temp is more like 60°, so the energy required to heat it is a LOT less.

If you live in a very cold climate, you might need a very large tankless unit to bring your water up to temperature in the winter. Tankless units are great in warmer climates.

I have seen hybrid systems, where a standard water heater raises the temperature to 80° or so (which takes very little energy to maintain indoors), and a small tankless unit brings the final temperature up.

If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

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#15 of 29 Old 07-30-2008, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Very interesting news. Thanks! We live in a warm climate and our COLD water is barely cool in the summer/fall. Our winters are very mild.

Sounds like I just need to figure out the ventilation "issue" (if it IS an issue) soon and then pick a unit closer to when we want to purchase.

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#16 of 29 Old 07-31-2008, 05:23 PM
 
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I'm going to buck the trend and suggest that you get a boiler that Does have a tank.... We're on the other sort, and frankly we find that it eats gas, compared to previous tank-based systems we have owned. Atleast with a tank you get the choice of going over to solar hot water. To do that here we are looking at a huge *huge* plumbing cost to run pipes, get tank etc etc the panels will be the 'cheap' bit...

If you get one, make sure that it is *just* big enough so that it runs at most efficiency... I think that in many ways that is the problem with ours, but it came with the house and (according to the vendors, anyway ) is less than 2 years old so DP is refusing to even *think* about changing it....
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#17 of 29 Old 08-07-2008, 10:53 AM
 
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Tankless water heater. Ready for a book? (If not and skip to the ** at the bottom) What a nightmare that was for me last year. We went 6 months without hot water because we want to change our home over to be more "green."

We tried to buy one locally at our HomeDepot. We stood waiting an hour (with my cranky 3 yr old) for the sales associate to look in the back trying to find one because they we supposed to have 6 in stock and the shelf space on the sales floor was empty. He was hiding and hoping that we would just leave. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw us still there. The department manager got an earful from me the next day. The manager also told me that the tankless water heaters sprout legs and walk out of the store on their own :

So we order one from Homedepot.com. I check the requirements for the system (electric). It needs 3 (or was it 4?) double prong empty slots in the electrical box. Ok check; we have 5. And it sits in our house for forever as we try to get someone to insall the dang thing.

I call an electrian he says call a plumber. Plumber says to call an electrian. I call different electrians. I get 3 or 4 different companies out here plus an engineer from the utility company. None of them have ever installed one before. Those 4 empty slots at the top of the box?...dummies. Behind those slots are all of the cables that enter our house. We would need a second electical box. Plus overhaul the old one because its an old (1970's) 60/40 box (I think that is what they called it). Plus add a green box on the outside of our house (this is where the engineer would be needed). I think the lowest price estimate for all of this work was 6k with possible more for additional labor/hour charges, and not including the price of the tankless water system. Oh, yeah, it was to be installed in an unfinished basement (exposed joists, no drywall).

So we returned the tankless system and went with a $800 tank unit. My hope is to convert it over to solar power.

**My advice? If you really want one, see if you can install it somewhere else...like on the backside and outside of your house, like near/above your A/C unit. If its outside then you wouldn't have to worry about ventilation.
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#18 of 29 Old 01-22-2009, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Interesting new comments. Thanks!

Well, the time has come for me to get busy investigating the viable options. Our hot water heater (40 gal tank) is working, but it is 17 years old and we'd rather replace it proactively. I invited my dad over to come chat with me about it. LOL (He's a retired electrician.)

I need to figure out the electrical requirements for a natural gas tankless unit. We have a nearby (one wall between it and the water heater) 15 or 20 amp outlet that we can tap into OR we would need to do some major work to get to the circuit breaker (4-7 walls away, depending on routing).

The existing vent is to code for the existing water heater (duct goes from tank up to roof). I need to figure out what has changed in the codes and what is different for a gas tankless unit versus a gas tank.

Got any ideas for me on how to figure this all out???

Thanks for any assistance!!!

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#19 of 29 Old 01-22-2009, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I decided to call a local plumbing company. Retrofitting in our situation is a LOT of work! Getting the proper electrical requirements was what I was concerned about, but there are units that do not even require electricity at all now and most gas units can run on the regular house current (which we could access with a little effort).

The ventilation is a BIG DEAL. The tankless units run 4-5 times hotter than the traditional units and, therefore, require a whole different ventilation system. Our existing ventilation is not adequate at all and it is located in the center of our townhome on the ground floor. That is a whole lot of work!!!

So, we discussed the possibility of moving the water heater outside. Running the electricity outside isn't too bad due to the location of the circuit breaker and where the unit would need to be. Basically one wall would be ripped up and patched. Running new gas lines could be problematic due to property issues and digging underground, etc. However, the kicker is the water lines. All of our plumbing is in the interior core of our home and we have concrete under our floors on the ground floor (no basement or crawl space...common in CA), so new pipe would need to be run from the center of our home out to the outside which is a whole lot of walls and ceilings to be ripped out and replaced.

The guy was very knowledgeable on this topic and LIKES tankless units. He was personable, too. He feels they are best installed in complete remodels (down to studs in the affected areas) and in new construction. Retrofitting is more often than not cost-prohibitive, in his experiences. I'll say! He side-stepped the rough estimate for the interior retrofit, but said exterior retrofits typically START around $3500 and stated the interior location would be even higher. I am not interested in ripping out all these walls for either retrofit. Been there, done that and now our whole house is painted the way I want it and I want to leave it that way.

I wish tankless was a viable option for us. Maybe it'll work out in our next home!

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#20 of 29 Old 01-23-2009, 11:21 AM
 
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With a 40 or 50 gallon natural gas hot water heater, our summertime natural gas bill is for 13-15 ccf of gas. (less than $30 a month, part of that is the connection fee) We have looked at getting solar hot water heating ($10K from the expensive guy, with up to 50% tax credits) ... but the payback time on that installation would be huge.

I think tankless hot water (and especially solar hot water with tankless backup) is great for new construction. But it does not make sense to tear up your house for a small potential energy savings - maybe $10 or 15 a month at most.

There is also drainwater heat recovery:
http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-I...-heat-recovery
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consume.../mytopic=13040
The "power pipe" product, from efi.org, costs $559-$813.

You can make the same environmental benefit as tankless hot water (reduced natural gas use) with low flow shower heads, or a little more insulation.
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#21 of 29 Old 01-23-2009, 12:09 PM
 
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Wow! Great info guys! I was very interested in tankless too, but when we looked into it, it would be a hassle as well as very expensive. It's good to see other's thoughts on it. I thought maybe it was just our area...
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#22 of 29 Old 01-23-2009, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeplessMommy View Post
With a 40 or 50 gallon natural gas hot water heater, our summertime natural gas bill is for 13-15 ccf of gas. (less than $30 a month, part of that is the connection fee) We have looked at getting solar hot water heating ($10K from the expensive guy, with up to 50% tax credits) ... but the payback time on that installation would be huge.

I think tankless hot water (and especially solar hot water with tankless backup) is great for new construction. But it does not make sense to tear up your house for a small potential energy savings - maybe $10 or 15 a month at most.

There is also drainwater heat recovery:
http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-I...-heat-recovery
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consume.../mytopic=13040
The "power pipe" product, from efi.org, costs $559-$813.

You can make the same environmental benefit as tankless hot water (reduced natural gas use) with low flow shower heads, or a little more insulation.
Thank you for the links and information!

From what I read, we will have the same issues with installing a drain water heat recovery system. Tearing apart our house is just not worth it. Our gas & electric bills are not high and we live in a mild climate. We do have low flow showers and faucets. Our tank is in an interior closet and all walls have good insulation. Energy savings is not really my main goal (a potential perk, yes). I am more interested in supporting new technology in order to facilitate greater usage of such technology for the bigger picture. However, I am not willing to do so at great cost and upheaval. There is a balance.

In any case, I am still searching for other methods of heating water within the confines of our situation (small townhome within HOA, etc) and will check more in-depth on solar and DHR.

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#23 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 11:23 AM
 
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Have you thought about a Point of Use Water Heater?

Quote:
What are the advantages of a point-of-use water heater?

Point-of-use water heaters are usually used for one of two reasons. One is to supply hot water to a remote location that is not served by a larger water heater. The other is to eliminate the wait time for hot water you may have at a particular faucet. Both offer the advantage of not having to wait for hot water. You can install a point-of-use water heater right at the source, e.g., under a sink. Therefore, when you turn on the faucet you have hot water instantly available to you. This both eliminates your wait for the hot water and saves water, our most valuable resource, from being wasted down the drain as you wait for hot water to arrive.
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#24 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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Point of use is to similar to tankless. The disadvantage is the point-of-use will be electric heat, where her current system (and the proposed tankless) are natural gas. In my house we would have to buy (ouch!) 5 units for point of use.

I expect electric costs to increase substantially with deregulation - MD experienced a 75% increase in 07/08.

I am saving pennies for DHR, but it will be hard to justify based on energy savings.
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#25 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 12:50 PM
 
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Point of use units only cost about $100CDN each here. I am thinking about them a lot because they are only heating the water at the source as you use it. So even though it will use electricity, it will not be using a lot of it. Also you don't waste a lot of water waiting for the hot to get to you. One day as soon as it is affordable to us we are going to get solar panels and then the electricity will be free. So there's that too.

I researched tankless water heaters last year and was pretty disappointed with the overall reviews for them. And because they are somewhat new they are very expensive.

Just letting you know of other options.
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#26 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the information on point of use water heaters.

We are fortunate to have all 6 of our water faucets in the central core of our home and we live in a mild climate. Therefore, it takes mere seconds for any faucet in the house to run HOT water.

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#27 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 11:13 AM
 
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$100 ... wow, I was really expecting them to be more! This would be a great option for parts of the USA with significant water shortages ... great for people with a long plumbing run to the shower.
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#28 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 05:47 PM
 
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So happy to find this thread!

OUr current water heater is gas and two year ago we were told it was on it's last legs. We want to replace it with a gas tankless. I've just started looking around... anyone know anything about this one? http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100627481

Who would be the best to talk to in how about switching over?

Thanks!

treehugger.gif Alisaynovax.gif,intactlact.gifUsed to be a fly-by-nursing1.gifcd.giffamilybed2.gif, SAHM to three slinggirl.gif, all by ribboncesarean.gif, then they grew up. mecry.gif

Now I am a WOHM, college student, single mama. praying.gif to be belly.gifbfinfant.gifcd.giffamilybed1.gif, buddamomimg1.png, to a littlebabyf.gifagain someday. stillheart.gif 

Silvercrest79 is offline  
#29 of 29 Old 01-31-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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Location: Marion, Ohio
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We bought an electric tankless water heater last summer, we live in Ohio, so it's flipping freezing this time of year. We have not had any problems whatsoever with this unit. We are in love. We live in the country with well water so if we have no electric we have no water anyways. We paid about $500 for our unit, we found a website with free shipping. We did have to do some electrical panel changing around, but we were going to have to do that anyways.

This is the one we have, I don't know what size....

http://www.e-tankless.com/

Melissa-Mama to Allyson carrot.gif 1-22-07 and Katelyn homebirth.jpg 5-14-09 and Paul 1-2-12 my 10 lb 6oz. homebirthed baby boy.

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