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Hot Water Heater Options With Solar

Discussion in 'TUG Lounge' started by CalGalTraveler, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. CalGalTraveler

    CalGalTraveler TUG Member

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    We need to replace our gas 75 gal tank water heater soon. We have solar installed on our home with plenty of capacity so electricity is free.

    Would love experiences you have had with the following options.

    For the electric options how much of a drain has this been on electricity?

    1) Electric Tankless - how well does this work servicing a large home and separate garage/office? Does hot water get out to distant parts of the home? We are in California but water from the Sierras can be 40 - 50 degrees in winter.

    2) Electric Tank

    3) Hybrid (????)

    4) Replacing what we have - Gas tank

    I have read older threads. My instant thought was to replace what we have but wondering how solar should figure into our selection.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  2. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    What else besides the water heater is fueled by natural gas? How much is your gas bill? I say this because heating water is the most efficient use of gas. Electricity (even free electricity) is very inefficient. Just curious.
     
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  3. CalGalTraveler

    CalGalTraveler TUG Member

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    @Passepartout Good question. Our furnace, stove, dryer (and water heater) are gas. Main driver is furnace in winter which can run several hundred. Summer for the rest runs $20 - $35 / month. Hmm not much to save...
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  4. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Aha! THAT's how you are getting so much $$ benefit from the solar. Your big power hogs are running on gas. The furnace, water heat and clothes dryer. You're just running lights, electronics and the furnace & a/c fans on the solar. Whatever of the power hogs you put on the solar system will reduce your gas bill, but it will also reduce the power your solar system feeds into the grid, extending the payoff time.
     
  5. CalGalTraveler

    CalGalTraveler TUG Member

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    We are in a hotter inland part of California so our AC bill on electricity would run high in the summer with several hundred $ a month in electricity. We are currently saving this $.

    Why would sending less electricity back to grid extend our payoff time? We have plenty of excess capacity and can even power our EV. Utility pays us almost nothing for excess so might as well use it and shorten our payoff time.
     
  6. geist1223

    geist1223 Guest

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    We had a natural gas tankless hot water heater in our last house and we loved it. It took a little longer to get the hot water to the second floor bathroom but once it was there you never ran out. The house had a 4 foot crawl space underneath. The tankless hot water heater was mounted to the inside of the cement wall in the crawl space. There was no pilot light. But an electronic ignition. The Exhaust Flume can be expensive. So you want as short of one as possible.
     
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  7. dioxide45

    dioxide45 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    If you have excess capacity from solar, I would then switch to an electric tank water heater. I suppose you could do the math to determine if you will lose more from the amount of electricity you put back in to the system vs the savings on gas, but wouldn't it be better to be less dependant on the utility and more self sufficient long term?
     
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  8. tompalm

    tompalm TUG Member

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    I was a consultant for a solar company and very familiar with it. There are a few things to think about.

    1. Do you have a 220 volt circuit breaker to hook up an electric heater? If not, how much will it cost to add that?

    2. How many people are in your house. In Hawaii, each person adds about $20 per month to your electric bill. So if you have 5-8 people, get a 120 gallon tank and save a lot of money. I think natural gas in CA cost about as much as electricity, so you can save a lot on your natural gas bill. The tank will use electrify on rainy days, so it is good that you have a surplus.

    3. If you have two people or less in the house, don’t buy solar water. You don’t save enough savings to cover the extra cost. Just get a timer and turn the tank off and leave it off until you need hot water.

    4. Tax credits in Hawaii are 35 percent for the state and 30 percent for the Fed. If you are not getting those, don’t buy solar water.

    Consumer Reports just ran an article on the cost of solar and tankless heaters. You should take a look at that.

    Pm me if you have any questions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  9. Tank

    Tank TUG Member

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    I'm in Ohio , so I'm taking back my ideas
    Our best choice is gas if it's available , we don't have the sun like you do.

    One word of caution , you have a 75 gal tank you would need 2 50 gal electric tanks to replace the 75 gal tank if you need the capacity.

    Might want to think about the high efficiency instant tankless gas Hot water tanks.

    I would think you would have a heat pump for furnace vs gas to utilize your grid.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  10. Nolte

    Nolte TUG Member

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    If you want to feel more like you are in self supply, get an ETS storage water heater. That excess solar energy that is being pumped on the grid can be used to keep your water hot. Its basically the same idea as having a storage battery for that excess solar except it is being stored in the water. Might not be cheaper at this moment with gas prices but that may change. The value is really dependent on your local utilities prices for gas and electricity.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
     
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  11. CalGalTraveler

    CalGalTraveler TUG Member

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    @Nolte Never heard of an ETS storage system but sounds interesting. Will add this to our research.
     
  12. PigsDad

    PigsDad TUG Member

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    Since I haven't seen it here yet, I just have to ask: Per your thread title, why do you need a "hot water heater"? If the water is already hot, why do you need to heat it?

    Or do you mean a "water heater"? :p

    Ok, ok -- 20 lashes with a wet noodle for me. (I do have a good friend who is a HVAC guy that will make this correction every time he hears it...).

    Kurt
     
  13. Nolte

    Nolte TUG Member

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    The ETS systems are fairly common in the midwest, since they can use cheap energy in the overnight hours from wind (or other generating sources) and then be off during system peaks during the late afternoon evening hours. The water heaters are large, think mine is a marathon nad holds 85 gallons but they are really insulated so they hold the water temp for a long time. They are also somewhat expensive but seem to last a long time. There are also storage heat systems that heat up bricks over night and then hold that heat until the next day when a fan will disperse it. If you want to check out this type of technology, look up a company called steffes, they are one company that offers these types of systems. It might work well to pair your solar with something they offer instead of selling it back to the grid.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
     
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  14. PamMo

    PamMo Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    EZ-ED and CalGalTraveler like this.
  15. isisdave

    isisdave TUG Member

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    It's hard to beat natural gas for heating in CA. Our non-winter bills are about $15 (two people, hot water and range) and have never been more than $80 in winter (pretty mild here).

    Replacing a gas water heater costs $1200 nowadays. If an electric one was cheaper, and you have a time-of-use meter that will let you run it mostly off-peak, it might be cost-effective. But if you have a gas heater now, you surely won't have a 220v circuit where it needs to be, unless you happen to have a nearby clothes dryer circuit you're not using.

    At my office, we have three 220-volt instant heaters, and two of them have failed. I'm thinking of going with a "mini tank water heater" -- put that into Amazon or Lowes website. These are small units, tanks of maybe 3-10 gallons, usually run on 110, about $150 each. You put them under the sink or in the overhead attic or crawl space. The downside for you is that the initial cost will be high and servicing tubs and showers might need creative re-plumbing. The upside is that there's no single point of failure.
     

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