Tank or Tankless Hot Water Heater? - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Tank or Tankless Hot Water Heater?

Hello,
I would like to set up a propane tank or tankless water heater inside my camp for shower. What product is out there which will allow me to drain (I realize I’ll have to drain the water, but I don’t want to have use compressed air to do it. I just want to unhook the fittings and let the water out) it as it does not remain heated during the winter months. What setup do you guys have?
Thank you…
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:26 PM
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If you are looking for occasional use hot water from a tankless HW it isn't worth the cost and maintenance.
I have one at the shore but I have a flush kit on it and also have a water softener and still need to flush the unit occasionally to maintain the cleanliness to keep the high water pressure through small apertures. I also keep the heat on 50 during the off season.
You can drain the system by shutting off the cold water inlet line and the hot supply vulvae and using the flush kit to empty the heater but there will still be water in the system if you do not use compressed air to blow the system out.

JMO, I would go with a 40 gal tank WH that runs off propane. It is easier to drain, cheaper to buy and install and will not have as much maintenance issues.

Good Luck
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:33 PM
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Just go with the hot water tank. Then you can hook a fitting on the drain valve and run it through the wall and when you leave you turn off the breaker open the drain valve, prop open the pressure valve on top and drive away. That is what we do at my buddies duck and fish camp in MD.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:39 PM
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Tankless. Endless hot water. Each cabin has one and my own house too. The one is portable and gas. I just unhook the line and tilt it.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:40 PM
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A standard tank water heater is much less expensive and can be set up to drain out by gravity. I strongly suggest replacing the factory drain with a 3/4 nipple and full port ball valve. You can put a hose thread adapter in the valve so that a hose can still be attached. With limescale and/or sediment, this will greatly aid in draining. Newer Rheem heaters have a straight port drain valve but I would still suggest replacing with a full port valve. Depending on the rest of the plumbing, you may want to add drain valves to the hot and cold lines on the top of the heater to facilitate better and quicker drainage.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:52 PM
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With the water on, open the drain valve. Then turn the water off. Open the two valves at the top and let it drain.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 03:56 PM
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Our new sportsmen's club building has a Rinnai tankless heater (propane). Four bathrooms, two kitchens located in the two story building. It takes 15 minutes or more to get hot water in the kitchen on the first floor where the heater is.

Ten minutes to get hot water in the closest bathroom to the heater, maybe 20 feet from it? Double that to get hot water upstairs. It is going to be replaced with a 30 gallon tank heater, when we get around to it.

When I found out the plumbing contractor was installing this thing, I asked them to take it back and get us a tank heater. They refused, because the Rinnai was called for in the contract and assured me it would do the job. Well, it doesn't.

The 30 gallon electric water heater at camp provides instant hot water. Easy to drain, because I have a piece of hose going from the drain valve, down thru the floor and into the septic tank line in the crawl space. Drain the pipes with the water shut off, open faucets (to vent the system), open heater drain and walk away.

That 30 gallon tank heater cost me around $200 back in the mid 80s. 50 some days at camp this year, REC electric runs around $28 per month - for lights, some electric baseboard heat, fridge that runs from April until the end of deer season, now and then, some summer A/C.

Have replaced both thermos and the bottom element n all that time. Hard water, no surprise the bottom element gave up the ghost. Replaced it with a low watt density "sand hog" element probably 15 years ago. All the top element does is maintain water temp, still original.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 04:07 PM
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Actually, the bottom element maintains the water temp. The top element always get priority but is typically satisfied unless starting from cold or during high usage. Top elements are energized far less than the bottom but key to fried lower elements is limescale, as you mentioned.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 04:57 PM
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Had my camp for almost 40 yrs on my 4th water heater. Had 2 new and 2 used . I agree with Denny F.They are easy to maintain and I have replaced a couple elements when someone turned the breaker on before the tank was full. I looked at the tankless heaters and checked with plumbers and everyone said easier and cheaper to go with the Hot Water Tank.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 07:11 PM
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Actually, the bottom element maintains the water temp. The top element always get priority but is typically satisfied unless starting from cold or during high usage. Top elements are energized far less than the bottom but key to fried lower elements is limescale, as you mentioned.


Unless elec. water heater technology has changed since I retired, it's the opposite. But yes, tops come on frequently to maintain temps. Both in static condition, or when water is being drawn off.

Water heaters "refill" from the bottom up, as hot water is drawn from the top of the tank and the cold water introduced to replace it, comes in at the bottom of the tank vis a tube that goes almost to the bottom.

So it's the bottom element that heats the cold water as it comes into the tank. They can "run" for quite some time to reheat cold water coming in, which is why they typically fail first.

Replacement of top vs bottom elements runs about 90% bottom elements, to top elements. Any bottom element was replaced with a low watt density part. Or a sand hog, if the water was really hard?

Had two water heaters in my house over the 25 year period from building it, to selling it. The first one was slightly used and free, but bigger than I needed. It last about 6 years and rusted out, put a new 52 gallon in. Never replaced either top element during that time span.

Not a guess on my part, as I've probably installed a coupla hundred new ones and repaired far more than that, building houses/town houses and maintaining rental units, over a 40+ year period.

State water heaters were once fairly good units and I installed quite a few in the 70s and 80s. Then they went to hades back in the early 90s. Junk thermos/elements, often didn't make it a year. Some tanks never made it to the worthless 5 year rust out warranty. Because the free replacement was only warranted for the balance of the original unit.

After that, mostly used AO Smith or whatever units Lowe's had, for inexpensive water heaters in rentals. All of the Lowe's water heaters were still in use, some after 20 years, when I retired.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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