Heat Pump Water heater
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Thread: Heat Pump Water heater

  1. #1
    1988gmc355 is offline [OP]
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    Question Heat Pump Water heater

    Hi Guys,

    My house is all electric. I live in MO so Midwest weather. I have a 1300 sq ft ranch house. my water heater is 24 yrs old and I am thinking I want to replace.
    I have been doing a lot of research on heat pump water heaters. a 50 gallon unit to be exact. I can get $800 in rebates in my state with Ameren UE/Federal credit
    My basement is 1000 sq ft finished and the water heater is in the utility room next to a crawlspace that is mostly insulated, but still a dirt floor so moisture is present.

    I have a wood stove in the basement I use in winter, electric boiler and radiant heat baseboards is my main source of heat.

    Pros:

    much cheaper operating cost
    cool the basement in summer
    no need to run the de-humidifier in summer
    keep moisture in check coming from crawlspace year round

    Cons:

    more upfront cost
    more electronics to fail
    will pull heat from already chilly basement in winter time


    Thoughts?
    Avg cost to install and haul old one out?
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  2. #2
    Off-Road Champion Eddy Cruze's Avatar
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    Take me for example, I just got a new Electric water heater last week as my manager noticed it was leaking. I am in a 100% Electric apartment so gas isn't even an option. I prefer Gas cooking but I believe electric might save money overall and is safer.

  3. #3
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    Heat Pump Water heater

    I hate my regular electric hot water heater. 4500 watt elements (pretty standard), 30 gallons...very slow to recover...about an hour for a full tank again. I can't imagine how long it would take to make a whole tank with a heat pump; water isn't easy to change temperature.

    My heat pump maintains temperature fine, but it struggles to recover from a lower set point, and really struggles on cold days.

    How much would it actually save you in electric costs vs a standard (and more efficient than your old one) electric water heater?
    Last edited by jblackburn; 01-07-2017 at 02:43 PM.
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    Handbrake Released theonlypheonix's Avatar
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    my thoughts would be to go with the newer highly insulated high efficiency electric combined with a large tempering tank or even adding a solar collector to get the boost you are looking for. I thought about the hybrids(heat pump/conventional resistant electric) myself in the past however everything I read about them was that they are very problematic so personally the basis for my choice to stay away from them.
    Last edited by theonlypheonix; 01-07-2017 at 07:25 PM.
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  5. #5
    1988gmc355 is offline [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by jblackburn View Post
    I hate my regular electric hot water heater. 4500 watt elements (pretty standard), 30 gallons...very slow to recover...about an hour for a full tank again. I can't imagine how long it would take to make a whole tank with a heat pump; water isn't easy to change temperature.

    My heat pump maintains temperature fine, but it struggles to recover from a lower set point, and really struggles on cold days.

    How much would it actually save you in electric costs vs a standard (and more efficient than your old one) electric water heater?
    So the heat pump water heaters all have electric elements as back up if it senses that recovery needs to come faster under high use times, so that I am not worried about.

    Based on what I have read, what my analysis shows on my Ameren website of how much money each month it costs to heat water, and my calculations I am looking at about $150 a year.

    I talked to the local plumbing supply guys this weekend. A Bradford White heat pump unit is about $1100. I would get $800 in rebates after install. I don't know what a plumbers markup us, but they are guys I know, then install of the new one. I figure that I can get it as cheap or cheaper than a regular new efficient one.

    Quote Originally Posted by theonlypheonix View Post
    my thoughts would be to go with the newer highly insulated high efficiency electric combined with a large tempering tank or even adding a solar collector to get the boost you are looking for. I thought about the hybrids(heat pump/conventional resistant electric) myself in the past however everything I read about them was that they are very problematic so personally the basis for my choice to stay away from them.
    I don't have room for a tempering tank and I am one guy in my house, so I don't need more capacity. I don't have the money for solar, even though that is such a cool setup and with rebates is not horrible, just not for me in my stage of life. That is a large concern of mine. The electrical issues. The Bradford-White I mentioned above is 10 yr warranty and I would pay a reputable plumbing company to handle

    I am fine with cleaning the filter that is on them.

    The other thing is I use so little hot water that it probably doesn't matter much, the drive is the fact I can get a very efficient one for the same cost or less than one that is rated at .95 EF.
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  6. #6
    Handbrake Released theonlypheonix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1988gmc355 View Post
    the drive is the fact I can get a very efficient one for the same cost or less than one that is rated at .95 EF.
    The lesson learned here relies on the KISS principal. Ill be the first to say I love technology, after all I made my living in it for over 40 years but...

    Think about all the electronics that goes into the controls . This can all be defeated with the failure of a $0.10 resistor.
    Just had my 11 year old HIGH efficiency electronic controlled furnace quit on a 20F night with forecasts of highs of 7F and lows of -2F for the next several days. I troubleshooted the problem down to the electronic control board, called around all the next day and found one 60 miles away at a furnace supply house for the cost of $255 because it was 2 years out of warranty. If I wanted to freeze in the house for a day or two I could have diagnosed the board but the projected temp would be to cold to risk freezing the pipes and my family. Subsequent I did find the defective resistor and now have a spare board ...for next time. The moral of the story is as the complexity increases the reliability and chances for failure goes up esp on consumer products (these are not aerospace grade products).

    A water heater is not as critical as the home heating system but can you go to work without a shower the next day should the controller fail due to a cheap electronic part which costs hundreds $$ to replace? And you are, in your described situation, saving how much in electric costs?? The simpler water heaters one could get the basic parts (heating element, thermostat, etc) at just about any home store. I think I'll stay with the older proven technology so I can sleep at night. Just my .
    Last edited by theonlypheonix; 01-09-2017 at 04:36 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonlypheonix View Post
    The lesson learned here relies on the KISS principal. Ill be the first to say I love technology, after all I made my living in it for over 40 years but...

    Think about all the electronics that goes into the controls . This can all be defeated with the failure of a $0.10 resistor.
    Just had my 11 year old HIGH efficiency electronic controlled furnace quit on a 20F night with forecasts of highs of 7F and lows of -2F for the next several days. I troubleshooted the problem down to the electronic control board, called around all the next day and found one locally at a furnace supply house for the cost of $255 because it was 2 years out of warranty. If I wanted to freeze in the house for a day or two I could have diagnosed the board but the projected temp would be to cold to risk freezing the pipes and my family. Subsequent I did find the defective resistor and now have a spare board ...for next time. The moral of the story is as the complexity increases the reliability and chances for failure goes up esp on consumer products (these are not aerospace grade products).

    A water heater is not as critical as the home heating system but can you go to work without a shower the next day should the controller fail due to a cheap electronic part which costs hundreds $$ to replace? The simpler water heaters one could get the basic parts (heating element, thermostat, etc) at just about any home store. I think I'll stay with the older proven technology so I can sleep at night. Just my .
    NickD?!?

    Yeah, I'd still be inclined to stick with a traditional electric water heater, which would already save you quite a bit of money over your old, less-efficient one. Sounds like you could probably even down-size over your old one to a 40 gal tank and be fine.

    OTOH, IF the heat pump water heater's backup doesn't rely on a complicated control circuit and can just kick in an element heater like a traditional water heater would, that may work well if the heat pump portion develops a fault. I'd investigate any fail-safes built into the system quite thoroughly before going through with it.

    But this is something we've been making for many years without serious issues. I don't think I'd want something that could leave me completely without hot water in my home - I'd go to work very grumpy that day. Living without a washing machine while waiting on a warranty company was bad enough.
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  8. #8
    1988gmc355 is offline [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonlypheonix View Post
    The lesson learned here relies on the KISS principal. Ill be the first to say I love technology, after all I made my living in it for over 40 years but...

    Think about all the electronics that goes into the controls . This can all be defeated with the failure of a $0.10 resistor.
    Just had my 11 year old HIGH efficiency electronic controlled furnace quit on a 20F night with forecasts of highs of 7F and lows of -2F for the next several days. I troubleshooted the problem down to the electronic control board, called around all the next day and found one 60 miles away at a furnace supply house for the cost of $255 because it was 2 years out of warranty. If I wanted to freeze in the house for a day or two I could have diagnosed the board but the projected temp would be to cold to risk freezing the pipes and my family. Subsequent I did find the defective resistor and now have a spare board ...for next time. The moral of the story is as the complexity increases the reliability and chances for failure goes up esp on consumer products (these are not aerospace grade products).

    A water heater is not as critical as the home heating system but can you go to work without a shower the next day should the controller fail due to a cheap electronic part which costs hundreds $$ to replace? And you are, in your described situation, saving how much in electric costs?? The simpler water heaters one could get the basic parts (heating element, thermostat, etc) at just about any home store. I think I'll stay with the older proven technology so I can sleep at night. Just my .
    Quote Originally Posted by jblackburn View Post
    NickD?!?

    Yeah, I'd still be inclined to stick with a traditional electric water heater, which would already save you quite a bit of money over your old, less-efficient one. Sounds like you could probably even down-size over your old one to a 40 gal tank and be fine.

    OTOH, IF the heat pump water heater's backup doesn't rely on a complicated control circuit and can just kick in an element heater like a traditional water heater would, that may work well if the heat pump portion develops a fault. I'd investigate any fail-safes built into the system quite thoroughly before going through with it.

    But this is something we've been making for many years without serious issues. I don't think I'd want something that could leave me completely without hot water in my home - I'd go to work very grumpy that day. Living without a washing machine while waiting on a warranty company was bad enough.
    This is my largest concern, the electronics and potential issues. I expect the company and installer to stand behind the 10 yr warranty. I will definitely ask about the fail safe, because if the elements still work if something goes bad then that makes sense and makes me much happier. I understand my thirst to save money could hurt in the long run. They only thing is by what I can calculate I can get it for the same price as a traditional one. While a new traditional will still be way better than my current one, I could save a ton of money with the heat pump unit, pay back in 3-4 years, even if I need parts after the 10 yr warranty is up I have saved so much money it may not matter. Although a $25 heat element is no $255 circuit board or a .10C resistor and a 1 hr service call.

    So some really good points here. I am fully capable of replacing an element myself or easy work on a traditional unit. I think the biggest driver is cost for the units installed will be so similar that the savings will out weigh. Now if you take $800 in rebates out then no way.
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  9. #9
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    I would stick with a basic electric model, but if it is still working just keep it. I have lived in my ranch which is 1825 sq ft for 18 years, house was built in 85. I was going to replace my propane water heater like 10 years ago, it has a small leak on the inlet water pipe, which is ugly with this blue stuff growing on it, it was doing that when I bought house in 98, I had it redone and it just came back, well the hot water heater still works fine even today.

    this evening I discovered I have no water pressure, on a well and went in my crawl space and my water pressure tank was leaking badly, so shut power off to the water pump as I am getting water under there, guess I will call a plumber to get a new pressure tank installed.

    older I get I sometimes get caught up in new tech stuff, but sometimes the basic stuff works for a very long time

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1988gmc355 View Post
    I am one guy in my house, so I don't need more capacity.
    In that case, I'd question if anything fancy will give you a decent payback period. One person (I assume one shower a day) is far different from a family of 4 (two showers and a couple of baths.)

    If you can, you might want to pick up a monitoring system just so you can know what you are paying for hot water. Newer heaters are probably better insulated, so you wont have as many cycles to keep the water warm, but the basic recovery will be the same for all heaters. Find out what that costs and you'll have better numbers to base you decision on.

    As for me (also a only guy at home) my old refrigerator if a bigger drain on the electric meter. Hot water isn't that big a thing. It's significant, but it's not the biggest.
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