Author Topic: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?  (Read 4440 times)

KaizenSoze

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New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« on: December 05, 2014, 07:46:56 AM »
Our water heater is dying. It's more than 15 years old and has served us well. Tried replacing the dead element ourselves but it's so old it's wedged into the unit.

Now the other element is starting to die.  So it's time.

A few questions about modern water heaters. We are going to replace ours with another tanked electric. We do not have gas.

1. Are the high end units worth it? Energy savings vs initial cost.
2. I live in Northern Virginia so I expect high labour costs. One plumber wanted $1650 to install in a State(brand name) heater. Not sure of the model. The premium models from the website are self cleaning and very energy efficient.
http://www.statewaterheaters.com/prod/res-elec.html
3. Has anyone had experience with this brand?
4. Interested in any comments about any brands you have used.

neo von retorch

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 07:48:54 AM »
Wow! I spent $650 for a brand new, installed 50 gallon tank. (I think it was 50, but I also remember kind of wanting a larger tank because having three adults in a house, it's can be hard to maintain hot water for all the showers.)

KaizenSoze

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 08:18:08 AM »
A few more details. We want a 65 gallon tank, it's a direct replacement. Which appears to cost between 500-600$ at Home Depot. I can't find a straight price on the State heaters.

Guses

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 09:57:21 AM »
It is my understanding that the more expensives ones, within a same product line, are just better insulated. You would get the same result (possibly even better) for less money by wrapping a batt of r20 insulation on the unit with a blanket.

Do check that the other features are the same though as there can be differences in tank composition or anode that would affect durability.

I paid to have mine switched from gas to electrical since I needed an electrician to install the 220V circuit, but there is no way I would pay again for a straight replacement. It is a simple install, probably less than 30 minutes if you are a bit handy.

I paid about 900$ for a 60 gallon tank, including the install. 

rmendpara

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 10:09:26 AM »
Check out the "tankless" heaters. They're in the same range, and seem to solve the whole capacity problem. They simply heat water as needed rather than heating it and storing it.

I don't know all the details, but it's worth researching if that's a possibility for your home.

Spork

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 10:12:02 AM »
I might also mention... there is another variable here.  Code for water heaters has changed.  I don't know the exact dates, but possibly in the 15 year window you are talking about.  New code will require some sort of catch pan (or sensor and auto shut off valve) that disables a leak should you have one.  It also requires gas heaters (yeah, I know: you're electric) to be elevated to a certain level off the ground.

These are good things you probably want.  But if you don't have them, you're also paying for the code upgrade.  A licensed plumber can't install it without bringing it up to code.  Just bear that in mind if you are comparing prices.  If someone says they got it for $500 (and didn't do or require a code upgrade) you can't directly compare it to $1600 (if you do require a code upgrade.)

Spork

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 10:14:45 AM »
Check out the "tankless" heaters. They're in the same range, and seem to solve the whole capacity problem. They simply heat water as needed rather than heating it and storing it.

I don't know all the details, but it's worth researching if that's a possibility for your home.

I don't think you want tankless with all electric.  It generally requires something along the lines of 120amps for the heater alone.  This will often require a 400 amp panel.  I have a tankless... and they work fine.  But I use gas.  I'm on propane... so I'd also doubt with the cost of propane I really get much savings.  I have run rough guesstimate numbers and it's about an even trade for me: tank vs tankless.  YMMV.

kaizen soze

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 11:34:17 AM »
Tankless might be a good choice (even for electric) if you don't use that much hot water in the first place. 

Longwaytogo

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 01:08:15 PM »
I would run from tank-less, as a professional remodeler with some plumbing friends the maintenance/warranty issues do not make it worth it. Especially the electric ones. They also usually have a higher install expense making the pay back even longer.

I personally have had great success with the GE Geospring hybrid hot water heater. It's all electric but uses the warmth in the air to heat the water instead of pure electricity. (similar to the way an electric heat pump heats your house). They run about $1,000 but when I got mine I got a $350 tax credit and a $350 rebate from my energy supplier bringing my net cost to $300 (half the cost of a quality "regular" electric heater. I believe the Federal tax credit is over but BGE has raised theirs to $500. Go to GE website and type in your zip code and it will tell you if any rebate exist in your area. I also installed a couple AOsmith hybrid ones for clients and they seemed to like them.

I was using a horrible oil boiler to heat my water costing me $60- $70 a month. Since switching to this I have seen NO increase in my electric bill. Granted I made the switch after finding MMM so have been watching my other usage so it's obviously costing something but defintley not much. We do run ours on the most efficient mode meaning you have to watch timing of showers/dishwasher a bit. But they have a high-recovery mode if you have guests in or everyone's showering on a Saturday night to go out or something; of course it uses a lot more electric.

As for installation, not sure if you need the new pan per code or not. If it's in a unfinished basement or something I personally would not worry about it. But if you want that it will obviously cost more money. I would think you could get it installed for like $250-$350 but I don't know for sure. I'm in MoCo MD so our labor costs are similar.

I personally installed mine myself in under an hour including running a new electric line from panel (since old one was oil). I spent more time driving to pick it up and waiting at loading dock.

Gimesalot

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2014, 01:13:59 PM »
I thought it was worth mentioning that you can put a timer on an electric heater to improve theenergy efficiency.  You just have to get everyone in the house to agree to shower at the same time!

TrulyStashin

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2014, 01:23:38 PM »
1) Why do you want a 65-gallon water heater?   Are you a family of 8 people or something?   I had a 40-gallon for my family of 4 which served us just fine -- even with two teenagers showering multiple times a day.

2) Search Craigslist.  I replaced my water heater last year via CL.  I moved to a 50-gallon one (added a tenant in basement and wanted to be sure of hot water) and found a brand new, never used water heater for $200.  The guy had bought several of them back in 2011 for various properties he owned and never used all of them.  The one I bought had a dent in the side, but it was small, and who cares?  One year later, it's chugging along with no problems.

3) Don't hire a plumber.   You don't need a plumber unless you have gas.  You can probably change it out yourself with some YouTube video guidance on installing an electric water heater.  But if not, then hire a handyman.

Spork

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Re: New water heater. Are the higher end units worth it?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2014, 01:44:20 PM »
Tankless might be a good choice (even for electric) if you don't use that much hot water in the first place.

I've had both plumbers and electricians advise against this.  120 amps is huge.  (That is amps, not volts).  I've had houses that had 100amp panels FOR THE WHOLE HOUSE.  Most houses of normal size built recently may have 200amp panels.  You'll likely have to have a 400 amp panel to cover it.   This is a significant expense if you don't already have one.