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Thread: Water Heaters - Gas or Electric?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Water Heaters - Gas or Electric?

    OK. Finally back home and work begins in earnest on the house plans. Need to specify gas or electric water heater. I will have propane for the furnace and gas range top. (Electric oven).

    Which is more efficient? Power is very pricey in SoCal. But I can put the water heater on a timer. Propane ain't cheap either. Should point out that I plan on solar water heat in the near future.

    Thoughts?
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  2. #2
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    Dec 2007
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    I'm not going to offer an answer to your question, but back in the dark ages when I lived in California, PG&E wasn't all that bad... when I moved back to Texas my utilities actually went up over what I was paying in CA... but again that was way back... almost 40 years ago.

    Here in TN my house is all electric... cost runs right at or over $200 per month.

    Have you considered one of those machines that gives hot water on demand... doesn't continually keep a tank hot?
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  3. #3
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    The efficiency part I can't comment on. But, I do suggest any brand except GE. When I bought my current house the wh was almost brand new. Less than a year later the bottom fell out. It was still under warranty but the dealer could not do anything without GE approval and they denied it. Letters and stomping my feet changed nothing. I had the same experience with a GE electronic air filter. They denied even making or selling it even though I sent photos of the unit and the metal identification label. I ended up getting a Marathon plastic electric heater from my electric company. I pay an $11.00 a month lease but they fully maintain it and, being plastic, cannot rust through. Had it 14 years now with only one heater coil burn out which they replaced promptly at no charge. Buy the best, and that would not be GE.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
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    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
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    In your area, electricity is very high in cost. The advantages of a tankless heater are the small size. Disadvantages are the high initial cost (for a unit that will let you take a shower) and greater maintenance over the life of the device. In SDG&E's turf I would be surprised at anything other than gas making sense.

    I recently replaced a failed unit that had lasted years longer than normal. I went through my usual analysis of such things. Despite the brand I did notice that units with longer warranties (12 year versus 6 for example) were essentially the same unit made with more durable parts. Just a little more fuel for your decision engine.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 06-01-2015 at 02:59 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  5. #5
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    That is helpful, Glenn. Thanks.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  6. #6
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    You said propane. No natural gas piping in that area? I thought it was pretty much universally available in SoCal.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Austin, Texas
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    I installed my current propane water heater (Home Depot special) on 10/24/98 and it has worked flawlessly.

    If your use will be intermittent (long assignments elsewhere, lots of sunny days with a solar system) then the tank-less heaters make more sense. If your use will be more continuous, and you can locate your tank near where the hot water will be used (no long runs with wasted hot water), then the tank makes more sense.

    Gas vs. Electric... In terms of buying BTUs, generally natural gas is cheaper than propane is cheaper than electric, but a lot of the economics depend on the providers and competition. If natural gas is out, then a realtor probably has the best measure about which (propane vs. electric) is preferred in your area.

    Tankless heaters have gotten a lot better in the last 10-20 years (early units failed too often). According to Stuart Ablett, that is practically the only thing used in Japan, so the technology must have settled down. I have an early adopter friend who didn't know who to call for repair of his... the furnace man, the plumber, or the appliance (stove) repairman, since it seemed to cross technologies, and nobody had experience (then) in his area.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  8. #8
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    Jim, I know of no natural gas anywhere in the county. My lot is in the county. No 'municipal' utilities available, except for water.

    Does anyone know if I can use a timer with a gas hot water heater? I would think a pilot-less ignitor could be cut out of the temperature loop with a timer.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Plesums View Post
    Gas vs. Electric... In terms of buying BTUs, generally natural gas is cheaper than propane is cheaper than electric, but a lot of the economics depend on the providers and competition. If natural gas is out, then a realtor probably has the best measure about which (propane vs. electric) is preferred in your area.
    This ^^^

    You really care about cost per delivered BTU, which depends on the cost of the fuel source in your area.
    http://energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-c...ater-heaters-0 - the water heaters should list their energy factor so you can plug that in.
    http://energy.gov/energysaver/articl...-water-heaters

    I'm going to guess you won't have the ability to store a lot of propane space wise so its likely to be somewhat variable in price depending on regional demand/availability.

    A hybrid solar setup is probably the best payback in your area at a somewhat arbitrary guess.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    15,807
    Even if I moved back to Canada I'd replace whatever water heater we had with a Tankless unit when the time came.

    They just work, and they are dead easy to install, water in, water out, and plug it into an exterior wall outlet. Then pay the gas company to hook it up. The last unit that I did for an aparto reno was about $350 and the gas guys charged us about $100 to hook up the gas.

    Rinnai is the major brand here.


    You can see two of the units I installed, they just vent off the top, no need for any fancy above the roof line vent pipes.



    I think you guys are getting ripped off on the prices of the tankless units in the US, you NEVER see hot water tanks here in homes.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

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