Short-Term & Vacation Rental Discussions

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Courtney Murphy
  • SF East Bay
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Tankless vs 2 water heaters

Courtney Murphy
  • SF East Bay
Posted Oct 4 2022, 14:32

Hello,

We purchased our first STR and the water heater is not adequate for the amount of people who will be staying in the house all at once. Also it is at the end of its life expectancy. It is a 5 bedroom 2 level house built in 1881. Should we go tankless or get 2 water heaters? We have tankless in our vacation home and it takes FOREVER to heat up unless we increase the heat and then possibly risk someone burning themselves.

Thank you!

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Carolyn Fuller
  • Cambridge, MA
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Carolyn Fuller
  • Cambridge, MA
Replied Oct 4 2022, 16:01

I LOVE the tankless system we have. It is the only system that allows me to wash my very long hair without running out of hot water ever. 

It takes 1 to 2 minutes to heat up on the 2nd floor in a 3 level 1868 New England home - gutted and remodeled in 2010. 

Tankless systems are about pressure and distance from the source. So the 1st floor sinks & shower heat up in 1 minute, the 2nd floor sinks and shower 1 - 2 minutes and the 3rd floor non-utilitarian but very pretty waterfall faucet 3 - 5 minutes (no pressure, very far from source). 

I'm thinking there is something wrong with your tankless system or the water pressure.

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Michael Baum#5 All Forums Contributor
  • Olympia, WA
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Michael Baum#5 All Forums Contributor
  • Olympia, WA
Replied Oct 4 2022, 18:35

I agree with @Carolyn Fuller. There is an issue depending on what "forever" means. We have a 199k btu NG unit in our primary home. At the faucet farthest from the unit it takes about 45 seconds to get hot water to it. We have a 4700sqft home. At the shower in our master bath, takes 15 seconds to start getting hot. Full hot in 20 seconds.

A large home would need a 199k btu unit. That is the biggest you can put in a residential home. I mean you can get bigger, but it usually means an increase in service size to the home.

I do have our heater set at 135 degrees.

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Matt Mertz
  • Leander TX
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Matt Mertz
  • Leander TX
Replied Oct 4 2022, 20:29

We installed a 100 gallon, electric water heater in our 4 bedroom / 5.5 bath cabin that sleeps 16.  It has a recirculating pump that pushes hot water to the furthest bath every few minutes.  The result is that you get hot water within just a few seconds on any faucet.

We have a similar setup at our primary residence except with a tankless gas water heater.  The pump works great in this application, too.

The only issue we ever experienced was our first cold winter at the cabin.  We had to get the handyman over to bump up the temperature in the water heater.  I think the incoming water was colder than normal due to the weather.

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JD Martin
  • Rock Star Extraordinaire
  • Northeast, TN
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JD Martin
  • Rock Star Extraordinaire
  • Northeast, TN
ModeratorReplied Oct 4 2022, 22:00

Tankless is great for being green but you rarely can make them pay for themselves. Traditional water heaters have become a lot more efficient and insulated, they're virtually trouble free, and that's what I would go with for a vacation home. 

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Natalia Barriuso
  • Investor
  • Lafayette, IN
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Natalia Barriuso
  • Investor
  • Lafayette, IN
Replied Oct 5 2022, 03:16
I have had tankless water heaters for years, both gas and electric. I love them. They are more energy efficient, give you infinite hot water and you never have to worry about a water leak from the water tank. 

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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
ModeratorReplied Oct 5 2022, 05:51

Tankless water heaters don't seem to pencil out, they sometimes have trouble keeping up, and I've seen a lot of them require repairs. I would go with two traditional water heaters. Cheaper, reliable, and you can keep operating if one of them dies.

  • Property Manager Wyoming (#12599)

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Matt Mertz
  • Leander TX
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Matt Mertz
  • Leander TX
Replied Oct 5 2022, 06:27

Going back to @Courtney Murphy's original question.  I'd go with regular water heaters.  

We looked at tankless for our 5.5 bath and decided they wouldn't keep up.

Also, check with your plumber.  He's the expert.  :)

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Kevin Escobar
  • Investor
  • NY/GA/FL
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Kevin Escobar
  • Investor
  • NY/GA/FL
Replied Oct 5 2022, 07:05

I agree that the new traditional water heaters have become very efficient and they don't cost you an arm and a leg!

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Dan Maciejewski
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  • PInellas County Largo, FL
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Dan Maciejewski
  • Realtor
  • PInellas County Largo, FL
Replied Oct 5 2022, 07:11

I'm with @Nathan Gesner and @Matt Mertz.  I'd go with 2 regular water heaters.  Tankless seems to draw a lot of power when in use and you'd probably need a monster for your house.  Also, like Matt says, ask a few local plumbers for their opinions.  They know what they fix more locally.   

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Nick Coons
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Nick Coons
  • Investor
  • Tempe, AZ
Replied Oct 5 2022, 07:56

Another consideration would be to install multiple smaller tankless units at the point of use, like in each bathroom and in the kitchen, rather than a central unit (easier with electric than gas). Then you have hot water anywhere you'd use it within seconds, and you'd have no single point of failure (if the heater broke at one sink or shower, you still have hot water elsewhere).

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Mike Wood
  • Developer
  • New Orleans, LA
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Mike Wood
  • Developer
  • New Orleans, LA
Replied Oct 5 2022, 08:12

@Courtney Murphy With 5 bedrooms, you will not likely find one tankless that can handle the demand of the entire house, so you will likely need 2 tankless units. I prefer tank water heaters. I have a 4 bedroom house that was built with 2 tankless heaters, nothing but problems, and eventually replaced with one tank.

With tankless, you are flow limited, as the tankless heater can only heat up so much flow (gpm), after that flow it starts to get cold until the flow is reduced. With tank water heaters, you are total used limited, they will stay hot until you use xx gallons, then take go cold. But you can run everything hot till you reach that xx gallons.

You can also got very large tanked water heaters, so no need to get 2.

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Bruce Woodruff#3 All Forums Contributor
  • Contractor
  • Arizona
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Bruce Woodruff#3 All Forums Contributor
  • Contractor
  • Arizona
Replied Oct 5 2022, 08:18

No on tankless. Do a search and check out the negatives. People like them because they're green but that's about it.

I'd go with regular tank water heater(s) with recirc pump.

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Michael Baum#5 All Forums Contributor
  • Olympia, WA
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Michael Baum#5 All Forums Contributor
  • Olympia, WA
Replied Oct 5 2022, 16:40

Well I guess we are out of the norm. Ours is a Takagi unit. It has been heating away for over 5 years with zero issues. I can run several things at once and it never fails to keep up. All I do is flush it once a year with some vinegar solution and I am done.

I got the unit on clearance for just over 500 bucks. It is a condensing unit at 92% efficient.

Our intake water temp in the winter is just about 44 degrees. It heats it to 135 and is rated for 5.9gpm at that delta.

Our house is 4700sqft and we have had 10 people here on holidays staying and it never fails to provide hot water.