Archive for February, 2010
My electric water heater was very old so I decided to replace it with a new one. I had heard about tankless water heaters before and they sounded pretty good: unlimited hot water, no tank to break, energy efficient, space saving. With the recent tax credits I figured I’d try one out.
I ended up buying the Rinnai tankless water heater. The Rinnai is made in Japan and has a good reputation so I figured it would be a good choice. Brennan Heating had the best price of the companies that I contacted and seemed like a good company so I setup an install date with them.
The old electric heater was in the garage near the center of the house. Unfortunately Brennan said that the new Rinnai couldn’t be installed there because the vent to the outside was right next to the front door. So instead they installed the water heater on the other side of the garage to vent it and then ran water pipes back to the other side.
Unfortunately this extra pipe makes it take longer to get hot water to the faucets because the water has to travel through the longer pipe. I didn’t think it would add all that much time but it added a significant amount of time.
The second problem is that if you turn the hot water on and off frequently the water does not heat up consistently. Once the water starts flowing the burners cannot fire up fast enough, so cold water gets into the pipe. So for example, if you’re washing dishes and turn the hot water on for a few seconds at a time then the water will never get really hot. So you have to learn to wash dishes in a different manner by combining all your hot water in larger batches.
For things like showers the Rinnai has no problems. Since the hot water is used consistently during a shower the heater has no problem keeping the shower nice and warm. Plus since all the heating is done on demand it is handy when you have guests staying over. People can take showers back to back all day long and nobody has to worry about running out of hot water and being force to take a cold shower.
The Rinnai is a nice hot water heater, but there are some downsides to it. I’m not sure if the benefits outweight the drawbacks. If you are really into having the latest technology and energy efficiency then go ahead and get a tankless heater. If all you really want is just hot water then it might just make sense to stick with the old tank style.
My 35 year old Ruud furnace had been working ok, but it was getting pretty old and was really inefficient compared to newer models. So I decided to look into getting a new high efficiency furnace with the $1500 tax credit that is available. Here is my review:
I ended up getting a Coleman Echelon Furnace with a 97.5% efficiency rating. I was somewhat unsure about getting a Coleman at first since I was only aware of them making low end camping equipment and coolers. But after more research I found that Coleman is actually the same furnace as the York brand, just with the Coleman badge attached.
The Echelon is Coleman’s top model. It has a fully modulating burner and blower which in theory should output the exact amount of heat required. Instead of being either off or 100% on, the Coleman can output only say 40% of the maximum heat if that is all that is needed. The Echelon costs more than their other models, but I plan on keeping it for 30 years like the old one so I may as well have a good one.
In theory Coleman’s modulation sounds great. Instead of a non-modulating furnace cycling on and off all the time, the Coleman is supposed to run more often at a lower setting. This should keep the temperature in the house at a more constant temperature. Unfortunately the furnace doesn’t really seem to do this. It might do it a little because I hear it come on at a lower speed and then ramp up after a few minutes. But it doesn’t really perform like their description says.
From what I have read the best furnace is the Rheem modulating furnace. The Rheem has a special thermostat which can tell the furnace the exact temperature of the house. If the house is at 65 degrees but the thermostat is set for 70 then the Rheem furnace knows that it will need to output a lot of heat so it outputs 100%. The Coleman only knows that it needs to be warmer so it doesn’t know how much heat to output. I probably would have gotten the Rheem, but the Rheem barely missed the efficiency cut off for the tax credit so I didn’t get it.
The Coleman furnace was installed by PPS Heating and Air Conditioning. Their install seems to be pretty good. But they couldn’t get a new thermostat wire run. They were supposed to go do some research and then call me back to get it fixed. But of course they never bothered to call back. I guess once they have their money they don’t care about doing the things that they said they would do.