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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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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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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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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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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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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.
 

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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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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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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.
 

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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.
I was reading the reviews on the Rinnai tankless heater and they weren't very impressive. Maybe you need a different brand.
 

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The reason it takes long for a tank-less is the time it takes to heat the water from the normal water temp to what you have it set for then getting it to where you want it. With a normal tank the water is to temp and it just takes the time to where you want it. Mine takes just about 2 minutes to heat. If you want to pay to keep water hot and ready then go with a normal one. Have to look at cost to keep hot versus cost to purchase the tank less type. Other thing is sizing it for what you will need the less GPM needed the lower the cost. Unless you are doing a lot at the same time you can go with a small unit.

Water chemistry makes a big difference on eather unit. Iron seems to be why in my area plumbers do not want to install them. They are to be cleaned at least once a year. But then you should do the same with a normal tank. ( 90% + do not do)
 

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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.
The technology on a basic electric water heater hasn't changed.

When a cold water heater is first energized the upper thermostat powers the upper element. When this thermostat is satisfied power is sent to the lower thermostat. When that thermostat is satisfied neither element is energized.

Now hot water is used. As you said, the cold water comes into the bottom of the tank and hot water is drawn from the top. This water stays stratified with the hottest at the top and the bottom becoming increasing colder. The upper thermostat remains satisfied but the lower thermostat calls for heat. If enough hot water is used the upper thermostat will call for heat. It has priority and will run until satisfied at which point the lower thermostat will again energize the lower element.

In a static condition, the water stratifies as it cools. The top is always hotter than the bottom so the bottom calls for heat first. As the bottom heats, the heat rises. This keeps the upper thermostat from calling for heat. The bottom element does most of the work and deals with limescale. The top element has it easy. The only way you will see top elements come on frequently to maintain a static hot water heater is if the upper thermostat is set higher than the lower.

All of this is neither here nor there in terms of the original question but it is how they work. I'm not guessing either. I can probably see you and raise you a couple hundred in terms of water heaters installed and serviced, though I can't say I've kept count. The vast majority of my experience is with Rheem but they are all basically the same.
 

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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.
There is something wrong with that heater or installation. I'm no fan of tankless for most applications but something isn't right and it isn't just because it is a tankless.
 

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There is something wrong with that heater or installation.

Given the general discontent I had with the plumbing/heating sub during construction, that's very possible the Rinnai wasn't properly installed? Although once the hot water finally reaches its destination, all is fairly well. The primary issue is the delay in getting it there.

My view, entirely too much "plumbing" involved to be served by a tank less heater. Although it is run thru a "manifold-type" distribution system to serve the end uses. It's all 3/4 and 1/2 inch PEX.

Which is why I wanted at least a 30 gallon tank heater in the first place. The water is already hot.

We have an outside bath house that is used for some events. That has its own 30 gallon electric water heater that provides plenty of hot water for showers. It's seasonal in use. Tank is filled in the spring, drained in the fall and the bath house is winterized. Heater only gets turned on for a few weekends.

Your description of how elec. water heaters work isn't much different than mine.

You just included more details of how they function.

Installed a top of the line Rheem years ago, that a customer bought. At the time it cost about three times what a basic water heater did. IIRC, it was back around the time they started using foam insulation between the tank and jacket?

For what it cost, it didn't last any longer than the basic ones did. But water quality often has a lot to do with heater life.

A neighbor had well water that was hard and acidic (common in our neighborhood). They never got more than six or eight years from a water heater, regardless of the cost. I had a water softener, some had that and a manganese filtration system.

Put a new water heater in for them and suggested they get a treatment system but they refused. When they finally hooked up to city water, solved that problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok... Currently I have a 120volt 12 gallon tank that I run off my generator. You have to wait 30-40 minutes before it gets to the peak temp, which is 120 as I have it set at the lowest setting. It's more then a plenty of hot water for me, but I like to just be able to take a shower when I want and not plan it out. I have it all set to drain and that is not a big deal. I would like to get a propane tank so when I arrive at camp I can just fire it up and leave it on while I'm there so I can get a shower whenever needed, but I cannot find any that are short and slim in stature like my 12 gallon electric tank.
 

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Ok... Currently I have a 120volt 12 gallon tank that I run off my generator. You have to wait 30-40 minutes before it gets to the peak temp, which is 120 as I have it set at the lowest setting. It's more then a plenty of hot water for me, but I like to just be able to take a shower when I want and not plan it out. I have it all set to drain and that is not a big deal. I would like to get a propane tank so when I arrive at camp I can just fire it up and leave it on while I'm there so I can get a shower whenever needed, but I cannot find any that are short and slim in stature like my 12 gallon electric tank.
You can put a propane RV water tank in. I'm trying out the tankless propane this year (cheap one from ebay), but if that doesn't work out I'm going to have to go the RV tank route because of space....both RV and residential tanks are expensive. The tankless propane job I'm trying is cheap. There are electric tankless heaters too that might work for you....I don't know if anyone makes a 120V though.
 

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I thought about putting in a tankless water heater. My plumbing and heating people told me not to do it with electric, they told me they are not efficient enough and I didn't want the paraphernalia on my wall for a propane so I didn't put one in.
 

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Ok... Currently I have a 120volt 12 gallon tank that I run off my generator. You have to wait 30-40 minutes before it gets to the peak temp, which is 120 as I have it set at the lowest setting. It's more then a plenty of hot water for me, but I like to just be able to take a shower when I want and not plan it out. I have it all set to drain and that is not a big deal. I would like to get a propane tank so when I arrive at camp I can just fire it up and leave it on while I'm there so I can get a shower whenever needed, but I cannot find any that are short and slim in stature like my 12 gallon electric tank.
Electric tankless is mainly for point of use applications. The current draw gets outrageous in a hurry if you are trying to meet the hot water demands for general domestic hot water use. The amount of water you could heat with a 120 v model capable of being run on a portable generator would be in the realm of 1/2-1 gpm at around 100 degrees.

For propane tankless you will need to evaluate whether or not the propane tanks needed will make sense. A hundred pound tank is likely to be the minimum to be able to use a smaller (150,000 btu) tankless heater. I don't size propane tanks but you'd need to look into vaporization rates.

It doesn't sound like you have the space for a residential sized tank water heater (propane) so I think the RV heater may be what you should look into. I know nothing about them but I imagine they would be designed to function most closely to your application.
 
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