(Topic ID: 256325)

Tell me about tankless water heaters; good for a 3 season cabin?


By Whysnow

13 days ago



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  • Latest reply 6 days ago by Oaken
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    There are 54 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 13 days ago

    Subject says it all.

    Our 3 season cabin is in need of a new water heater next spring.
    We have had a 40gal tank traditional natural gas heater.
    Problem is that since this is a 3 season cabin (we blow out the pipes and dont heat during the winter) the tank does not last more than 7/8 years due to this wear/tear.

    So, what do you say pinsiders?
    Is a tankless a good option for me?
    How easy to blow it out during the fall cabin closure?
    We are on natural spring water from the deep sand well which is not very hard and does not leave many deposits.

    Also worth note that the 40gal takes up too much damn room in the pump house.
    Cabin is ~750sqft and we use it primarily as an airbnb during summer months. One point of feedback is that people would like more hot water (cause you come in at end of the day and EVERYONE showers in succession before heading to the supper club)

    #2 13 days ago

    Is your 40 gal wh draft vented? With a gas tankless, you're looking at forced ventilation aren't you, so there's a noise factor and additional electrical load.

    #3 13 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    Subject says it all.
    Our 3 season cabin is in need of a new water heater next spring.
    We have had a 40gal tank traditional natural gas heater.
    Problem is that since this is a 3 season cabin (we blow out the pipes and dont heat during the winter) the tank does not last more than 7/8 years due to this wear/tear.
    So, what do you say pinsiders?
    Is a tankless a good option for me?
    How easy to blow it out during the fall cabin closure?
    We are on natural spring water from the deep sand well which is not very hard and does not leave many deposits.
    Also worth note that the 40gal takes up too much damn room in the pump house.
    Cabin is ~750sqft and we use it primarily as an airbnb during summer months. One point of feedback is that people would like more hot water (cause you come in at end of the day and EVERYONE showers in succession before heading to the supper club)

    We don’t have a tankless yet at our cabin... but the cabins on both side of us do. One is a widow and she goes to Florida every winter and seems to manage the winterization, so I’m guessing it can’t be too difficult. I wouldn’t think twice about it if were you. I hear nothing but positive things about the gas ones also... unfortunately we have an electric tank heater currently so we’ll take a bit more work to put a gas one in when this one fails.

    Also, IMHO, if you can get any traditional tank heater to last 10 years these day you’ve pulled off quite a feat... they’re all crap!!

    #4 13 days ago

    Electric tankless water heaters could require an electric upgrade and I've seen plenty of cases where they cause significant voltage drop/flicker issues. Gas ones seem decent.

    #6 13 days ago

    Just got rid of our 40 gallon standard tank water heater this summer. Went with a Rinnai Sensei Tankless RU199IN 199,000 BTU unit.
    Pros - endless hot water, no more standing pilot light, super efficient, super compact.
    Cons - slight noise when on and bit more noise for a minute when hot water is turned off (this will also be dependent on where the unit is located, cost of install and the unit was a lot.
    Should run a 3/4 gas line as close to the unit as possible and not a 1/2” line, and I added a vertical condensate neutralizer to the condensate drain line also.

    #7 13 days ago

    if you do not have gas dont waste your time. electric tankless suck

    #8 13 days ago

    Love our gas tankless, but no gas at our cabin so we went with the link above.
    Happy so far, picked it because the water out there is super hard.
    We went through two tanks in 8 years hopefully this thing works out if not: warranty.

    #10 13 days ago

    Water heater goes in the pump house which attaches to side of cabin (think small shed on side of house w mechanicals).

    This means no concern for noise. Also will be easy to vent three fee through pump house roof.

    We are on gas an recently upgraded to 200amp service also but figured I would stay with gas for water heater

    #11 13 days ago

    Would love to hear experience on winterizing a tankless???

    #12 13 days ago

    No experience winterizing, but another +1 for gas tankless. Have had it about a year, haven't had to do anything. Endless hot water, and it's no problem showering and doing dishes or laundry at the same time. (I haven't tested doing all three at once).

    My guess would be that it should be less work / wear winterizing a tankless than a normal tank.

    #13 13 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    Would love to hear experience on winterizing a tankless???

    Procedure is near identical. You'll have a service port on the inlet/outlet of the tankless unit to drain. Then you'll blow out the rest of the system like normal.

    I have a gas tankless unit in my beecher house. It also supplies hot water for the radiant heat. I love it, it's super efficient and just as quiet as a tank unit. Only downside I've experienced is a slightly longer wait for hot water for washing hands etc. But no issues for multiple back to back showers.

    #14 13 days ago

    Biggest issue I've come across is 36000 btu tank vs 200000 btu Rinnai. Proper gas line sizing is crucial.

    #15 13 days ago

    Have a gas tankless system now for 9 years , the endless hot water is great , plus the savings on my insurance for not having a possible flood issues has paid for itself 10 fold

    #16 12 days ago

    thanks for all the tips and info!

    Sounds like now I need to research tankless systems.
    We are 4 ft from gas meter so no problem upgrading to 3/4 line.

    Any tips on those? specific ones?

    Rinnaui sounds like the most popular.

    #17 12 days ago

    also, what should I expect for cost with install?

    #18 12 days ago

    Hybrid for the electric win?

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    #19 12 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    also, what should I expect for cost with install?

    $2500-$4000. I’d think your install would be on the lower end with the short gas line and possibly short intake/exhaust piping.

    #20 12 days ago

    Nope, burners burn out way too fast and cost for replacement is not cost effective. Hybrid is the way to go. Just my 2 cents....

    #21 12 days ago
    Quoted from eyeamred2u:

    Nope, burners burn out way too fast and cost for replacement is not cost effective. Hybrid is the way to go. Just my 2 cents....

    so a hybrid is on-demand for a portion? but also a tank?

    That seems to negate the whole idea of getting rid of the tank (no need to keep a tank warm means less fuel use)?

    #22 12 days ago

    My experience with tankless was not good.
    Installed 15years ago. Had to many problems with it. Switch to tank about 7 years ago n not one problem with it. Did not see any difference in cost. We have seasonal cottage with 20 gallon tank for last 2o years no problem. Everyone I know says they a long time because they get completely drain every year which gets all the sediment out of tank. Keep in mind with tankless you will use more hot water especially with kids and renters. So it will cost you more. My kids would never get out of shower if it dud not run out of hot water.

    #23 12 days ago

    Plumbers and HVAC guys hate them. Trying to find one to work on them is a challenge.

    #24 12 days ago
    Quoted from Methos:

    Plumbers and HVAC guys hate them. Trying to find one to work on them is a challenge.

    do you have one currently?

    What issues have you had?

    #25 12 days ago
    Quoted from Methos:

    Plumbers and HVAC guys hate them. Trying to find one to work on them is a challenge.

    Also if you have hard water it will destroy a point of use water heater.

    #26 12 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    do you have one currently?
    What issues have you had?

    So far the unit has worked, but one thing I was advised early on was that it has to be used. If they shut down and don't get used for a period of time, that is when issues come about. It might save you $ on the front end, but it could cost you more on the back end. I was actually going to take my tankless and have it moved from the spare building to our main house. I brought out 3 different companies and all of them told me it was a bad idea. They said with how efficient the tanks are nowadays, I wouldn't see any savings.

    #27 12 days ago

    U have a gas tankless in my 9 bedroom 4 bath house. Teenage daughters, I would never go back to a tank. Endless hot water no matter how many are using it

    #28 12 days ago
    Quoted from Methos:

    So far the unit has worked, but one thing I was advised early on was that it has to be used. If they shut down and don't get used for a period of time, that is when issues come about. It might save you $ on the front end, but it could cost you more on the back end. I was actually going to take my tankless and have it moved from the spare building to our main house. I brought out 3 different companies and all of them told me it was a bad idea. They said with how efficient the tanks are nowadays, I wouldn't see any savings.

    interesting. I wondered if newer tanked systems were more efficient now than even 10 years ago.

    One big plus for me would be the space savings. The pump house just barely fits the pump, pressure tank, and 40gal heater currently.

    #29 12 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    interesting. I wondered if newer tanked systems were more efficient now than even 10 years ago.
    One big plus for me would be the space savings. The pump house just barely fits the pump, pressure tank, and 40gal heater currently.

    Is it draft vented? Did not get an answer on that, curious about it..

    #30 12 days ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    Is it draft vented? Did not get an answer on that, curious about it..

    our current is a direct/chimney vent

    If I stuck with a standard tank, I would likely go power vent

    #31 12 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    our current is a direct/chimney vent
    If I stuck with a standard tank, I would likely go power vent

    Curious as to why you would go with a power vent over the draft venting you have. Appreciate any feedback...

    #32 12 days ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    Curious as to why you would go with a power vent over the draft venting you have. Appreciate any feedback...

    powervent are more efficient is my understanding.

    Also, I just put on a new 50yr metal roof and prefer not to put a hole through it when a power vennt would allow me to go through siding instead of roof

    #33 12 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    powervent are more efficient is my understanding.
    Also, I just put on a new 50yr metal roof and prefer not to put a hole through it when a power vennt would allow me to go through siding instead of roof

    Ok. Just curious, since I have draft venting. Does your cabin have a chimney to vent into? (Is the last question I promise..)

    #34 12 days ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    Ok. Just curious, since I have draft venting. Does your cabin have a chimney to vent into? (Is the last question I promise..)

    nope, no chimney.

    Current tanked water heater is just a draft vent that 'went' straight out of the pump house. I installed the new metal roof this past fall and removed the old pipe that went through the roof at that time, knowing that I would be installing a new hot water heater in the spring.

    #35 12 days ago

    The main pros of a tankless is that I presume I could vent out the side of the pump house rather than through roof (short run no matter what)
    Also that I could gain a bunch of space back in the pump house (so small now that it is a real PITA to do any work when dealing with any mechanical)
    Lats pro is for the efficiency and so renters never run out of hot water.

    The big cons are the added cost up front and the installation cost.

    The big question is how do the tankless hold up over time AND how easy to maintain/winterize/ do they do ok in a 3 seasons of use situation.

    #36 11 days ago

    Does a tankless have a zinc sacrificial corrosion rod like a full scale water tank has? If so, changing that on time could help extend its life.

    #37 11 days ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    Does a tankless have a zinc sacrificial corrosion rod like a full scale water tank has? If so, changing that on time could help extend its life.

    No

    #38 11 days ago

    "Storage water heaters contain an unsung hero: the anode rod. The anode rod sacrifices itself, taking on corrosion that would otherwise damage a water heater's steel tank. ... Instead, with the help of these little devices, a water heater may last 10 years or more. Tankless water heaters don't have or need an anode rod."

    That 'splains it.

    #39 11 days ago

    Check into the warranty info.
    I’ve heard that some brands warranty is void if not serviced yearly by a certified(by the MFG) licensed plumber.

    #40 11 days ago
    Quoted from ultimategameroom:

    Check into the warranty info.
    I’ve heard that some brands warranty is void if not serviced yearly by a certified(by the MFG) licensed plumber.

    That’s what I was quoted as well last year.

    #41 11 days ago

    A tank-less will work long as maintenance is followed and if water has mineral content is addressed. Need to descale heater depending on use once a year to every 3 years. At 10 years it likely a brick anyway cost of boards,blower motor,sensors that's assuming parts can be had. I wouldn't put 250$ + in parts in a 10 year old tank-less anyway. trash it and get new. figure this cycle every 10 to 12 years

    ((ALSO read the gpm gallon per minute flow rate specs you average shower head new no drilling out flow screen 1.2 to 2.5 gpm the ever so loved 6" to 8" round rain shower head everybody wants now 4 gpm if lucky more likely 5 to 6 gpm faucet uses 1.0 to 2.0 gpm. you add body sprays add 1.2 gpm per body spray.

    Pros limitless hot water as long as it works fine and maintained highest efficiency

    Cons Cost of tank-less and install seeing its a retro fit job, maintenance and yes the fuel bill

    The old tank type whats there already so shouldn't need to fuss with much in pipe work to change. Long as the gas and water continue it works.

    Pros simple install generally no fuss after install

    Cons takes up space limited hot water depends on tank size and water temperature. 10 to 12 years average life cycle always leaks at worst time and dies on weekend or day before.

    Power vent water heater you have storage of already heated water quicker heat up. Can side vent if needed.
    maintenance keep intake and output vents free of bird nests trees etc no air no hot water. Need to size/run venting as per installation guide.

    Pros faster recovery time for heating back up better operation cost

    Cons bigger then usual tank type adding blower and related controls, sensors costs more again likely rework of piping to make fit in current space. No power no hot water. sensor failure anywhere on heater ie blower motor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor or board/control. You didn't follow install instructions vent problems no hot water.

    To be fair you don't always get every problem possible with each heater type some get lucky beat 10+ yrs and then its gambling time.

    They all look over at me As a 5th generation plumber in family tree and was 4th generation in family business until 2008 i have seen ,heard every story about water heaters and there issues.

    #42 11 days ago
    Quoted from cp1610:

    A tank-less will work long as maintenance is followed and if water has mineral content is addressed. Need to descale heater depending on use once a year to every 3 years. At 10 years it likely a brick anyway cost of boards,blower motor,sensors that's assuming parts can be had. I wouldn't put 250$ + in parts in a 10 year old tank-less anyway. trash it and get new. figure this cycle every 10 to 12 years
    ((ALSO read the gpm gallon per minute flow rate specs you average shower head new no drilling out flow screen 1.2 to 2.5 gpm the ever so loved 6" to 8" round rain shower head everybody wants now 4 gpm if lucky more likely 5 to 6 gpm faucet uses 1.0 to 2.0 gpm. you add body sprays add 1.2 gpm per body spray.
    Pros limitless hot water as long as it works fine and maintained highest efficiency
    Cons Cost of tank-less and install seeing its a retro fit job, maintenance and yes the fuel bill
    The old tank type whats there already so shouldn't need to fuss with much in pipe work to change. Long as the gas and water continue it works.
    Pros simple install generally no fuss after install
    Cons takes up space limited hot water depends on tank size and water temperature. 10 to 12 years average life cycle always leaks at worst time and dies on weekend or day before.
    Power vent water heater you have storage of already heated water quicker heat up. Can side vent if needed.
    maintenance keep intake and output vents free of bird nests trees etc no air no hot water. Need to size/run venting as per installation guide.
    Pros faster recovery time for heating back up better operation cost
    Cons bigger then usual tank type adding blower and related controls, sensors costs more again likely rework of piping to make fit in current space. No power no hot water. sensor failure anywhere on heater ie blower motor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor or board/control. You didn't follow install instructions vent problems no hot water.
    They all look over at me As a 5th generation plumber in family tree and was 4th generation in family business until 2008 i have seen ,heard every story about water heaters and there issues.

    ...on second thought, screw it, it’s a cabin! Cold water showers is all part of the charm.

    #43 10 days ago

    You may ask what am i using to heat water plain Jane tank type water. But added extra anode rod but went with high btu model for faster recovery. The last heater i did this with made 19 yrs and two water controls. Only pulled it because temperature wouldn't maintain. sorry i am not putting a 3rd control on almost 20 yr old heater. Replaced heater with same type newer model and just year at 7yrs old replaced control due it not maintaing temperature warranty part.

    If money wasn't always the key in any project i would go solar panel heat with heat transfer loop setup up with small boiler used for secondary heat source.

    #44 10 days ago
    Quoted from cp1610:

    You may ask what am i using to heat water plain Jane tank type water. But added extra anode rod but went with high btu model for faster recovery. The last heater i did this with made 19 yrs and two water controls. Only pulled it because temperature wouldn't maintain. sorry i am not putting a 3rd control on almost 20 yr old heater. Replaced heater with same type newer model and just year at 7yrs old replaced control due it not maintaing temperature warranty part.
    If money wasn't always the key in any project i would go solar panel heat with heat transfer loop setup up with small boiler used for secondary heat source.

    what brands do you rec?

    #45 10 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    what brands do you rec?

    Go with the Rannia, worth the extra couple of bucks. Rannia comes with the flush valves that are required, other brands don’t include the valves and they cost 80-100 extra. I have a RU-98i and it’s been flawless, I’ve installed dozens of Rannia tankless and not one issue, make sure your installer puts a surge protection device on the electric feed, these units are computer controlled and power surges will cause issues, 60.00 additional but saves the electronics in case. Unit come with a strainer on the cold feed side, but not a bad idea to have a main line filter if you don’t have one already. Very easy to winterize.

    #46 7 days ago

    We have 2 Rinnai tankless units that were installed 10 years ago when we redid our house, so gas was upgraded at the same time. There’s one for the front kitchen and bath and one for the back baths and laundry, before that we had a 50 gal tank type.

    The tankless have been trouble free with endless hot water as others have mentioned, and I bought a submersible pump and a couple hoses to flush them out with vinegar every couple years as maintenance for calcium buildup. They are mounted to the side of the house, and produce a low rumble noise when they fire which can be heard faintly inside the house. There’s also something that sounds like a printer once in a while, so we joke that it’s printing hot water.

    I would have liked to install a hot water recirculating pump in the house to not wait for hot water, but that’s not really feasible with tankless. The distance between the tankless units and their points of use is pretty short though, which is why there’s 2 of them, so the wait is short anyways and not an issue.

    I can’t advise on winter preparation as we don’t have that season in CA lol.

    #47 7 days ago

    Went with the Rinnai and love it. Primarily did it for space as well as how infrequently we use hot water so boiling 50 gallons 24/7/365 just didn’t make sense for our usage. I also believe these (some models) can even be mounted outside the house for simple installation. In a really large house (not mine) I could see waiting for hot water (without a loop system) on the third floor being an issue for some but in a ranch like ours this is a perfect simple solution. We have a gas unit if that matters. Purging the unit takes only a minute.

    #48 7 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    The main pros of a tankless is that I presume I could vent out the side of the pump house rather than through roof (short run no matter what)
    Also that I could gain a bunch of space back in the pump house (so small now that it is a real PITA to do any work when dealing with any mechanical)
    Lats pro is for the efficiency and so renters never run out of hot water.
    The big cons are the added cost up front and the installation cost.
    The big question is how do the tankless hold up over time AND how easy to maintain/winterize/ do they do ok in a 3 seasons of use situation.

    All the pros and cons you mention are spot on. I've had mine for 7 years w zero problems, in a 3 story, 4500sqft house with a family of 6 (dwindling as time moves). Yes, it takes a minute to get the hot water to the furthest bathroom, but not that big of a deal. Rinnai for the win.

    #49 7 days ago

    The new Rannia tankless have recirculating pumps built in

    #50 7 days ago
    Quoted from Colehvac1:

    The new Rannia tankless have recirculating pumps built in

    He would need the house plumbed for a recirculation line or add a bypass crossover at a far bathroom for that to work. In the OP's scenario its a rather small property so recirculating would never be a worry.

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