Tankless water heater info?

by Michael Alderete on 1/31/2005 · 27 comments

Our water heater tank has sprung a slow leak, and today the plumber said it would need to be replaced. We’re lucky, usually when a water heater goes, it goes fast, failing catastrophically, lots of water everywhere. You have to replace it immediately, no time for research.

In our case, it’s a slow enough leak (from the top, no less) that we can take a couple days to figure out what to do. And one thing we’re considering is getting a tankless water heater, probably the Bosch AquaStar 250SX.

Searching the blogosphere, I don’t see anyone writing about meaningful experiences with this or any of the alternatives. Anyone know someone with a tankless water heater, especially if they are very happy or very sad with it?

Terri February 22, 2005 at 10:59 am

Thaine and I selected that one during our remodel — now 6 months overdue and $100,000 over budget. unfortunately it’s a little tricky to install correctly. Make sure you get someone who knows how to get it in right. Also remember to draw up the ventilation plan and get the correct amount of z-flex — the plain galvanized vent pipes won’t do.

Alderete February 22, 2005 at 11:33 am

Terri, thanks. Besides the install trickiness, how has it worked out for you?

We ended up just getting a new tank. Couldn’t find any recommendations for the Bosch that we trusted, and it turned out the ventilation issue was going to be a killer, anyway. Tight little room, and the existing ventilation probably was not going to be adequate…

Terri March 7, 2005 at 4:32 pm

Still not working right. And this double comment section is displaying one on top of the other.

Richard August 10, 2005 at 10:11 am

Wow, those tanks sure do develop leaks, sooner or later. We replaced our tank with a tankless water heater, Titan SCR2 N-120. We live in FL, where the temp isn’t terribly cold and the unit works perfectly, it performs beyond every expectation.

http://www.titanheater.com

I understand that folks in the northern states where the weather is considerably colder during the winter months can use two units for more heating power.

Hope this info is helpful to ya.

Tankless Water Heater September 9, 2005 at 4:19 am

The house we moved into about 6 months ago had a tankless water heater made by titan. After we remodeled our bedroom and put in a roman bathtub, the plumber suggested we install a second unit dedicated to the bath tub only. I thought at first, hey, but I’m going to be spending double the electricity for two tankless heaters. It was then explained that the tankless water heater would consume energy ONLY when the hot water for the tub was in use. If there was not hot water for the tub, the unit would not use any electricity, it would just sit there ready for use. I think that’s great.

Steven.

Ralph October 7, 2005 at 6:40 am

Last winter, we had our plumber install a gas fired tankless water heater made by Paloma Industries. The model number is PH-28RO. It runs our 3 showers in the morning with no problems. What I liked about this product vs. other models is that it is truly a whole house tankless water heater. The ones that are sold at Home Depot & Lowes are not. It comes with a didgital remote temp. controller and other unique features. Plus, we relocated it to the outside of our house and it doesn’t require venting. It vents from the front of the cabinet. They do make an indoor unit that does require the stainless steel 4” venting.

rich April 23, 2006 at 3:55 pm

I’m an lp service tech and have to tell you that a tankless is definetly the way to go.If you use a lot of hot water such as having a large family,and are running hot water pretty much all day for three to five people showering twice a day,dishes and laundry,then you will notice a slight savings in energy costs over a tank.The real advantage is that you’ll never run out of hot water,you turn on the faucet you’ll have it till you turn it off.In my opinion,the two best hwh’s for the price and ease of install would be a RINNAI or a NORITZ.I’ve installed the bosch and did’nt care much for the unit.Usually to operate ok you need to turn the hot faucet on all the way,then blend it with the cold side.Good way for a kid to get burned.The other units have a remote unit you can adjust the temp. from about 90-120 degrees.So they can be set lower to prevent scalding and if more is needed just press the keypad to increase the heat.

K. Cottle June 27, 2006 at 6:32 pm

We are having a bit of trouble with our installation. We went with a Twin Titan Tankless system (because we live in Idaho) - but I think our real problem with not getting the water hot enough has to do with either the location of the tanks and/or that we have a well water system. My husband is outside at the pump right now trying to adjust the psi to just the right level. Too high and it will kick off the outside release valve (75 psi) too low and we are not staying within the 60-80 psi with no more than 20 psi variance the system requires. This thing is tempermental. I hope it is going to be worth the trouble. We have already had to convert most of our inside pipes to copper and are now planning to change our shower heads.

K.Pearce July 3, 2006 at 4:17 pm

I have an Aqua Star 250 NG from Bosch, It’s a peice of expencive junk as far as I’m concerned. Had it about a month now and still have yet to get a nice even temp shower. Too hot too cold or it kicks off on safety something to do with Ionization. I’m pulling it out and going back to the old gas waster.

M. Ciot July 26, 2006 at 5:00 pm

I bought the Titan SCR N-120 unit and it when i first installed i went directly by their specs in their website for wiring and amperage breakers and was constantly blowing breakers. Finally I checked and the unit was using more than 60 amps when it is rated at only a max of 54 AMPS. When the unit is working it is great but i am still trying to find out why the excess draw.

P Lee August 6, 2006 at 4:33 pm

Any comments about Ruud?

How big of one do I need for 2 bathrooms, washing machine, laundry tub and kitchen sink and dishwasher?

I am used to having at least a 40 gallon water heater and live in New Orleans. I wash and cook a lot.

David Swanson September 16, 2006 at 2:29 pm

We installed a Titan Tankless N-120 last November. We are not satisfied with it. The ads claim that it will heat 5 gal. of water per minute. As close as I can estimate, it will heat about 1.5 gal. which will run 1 water-saver showerhead as long as no one else is using any hot water. In a Middle TN winter, the shower is the right temperature with no cold water on. Now it is starting to cut out for about 30 seconds in the middle of a shower. To get it repaired under warranty, we have to take it out and send it back to the company, leaving us with no hot water for who knows how long. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it looks like now — less than one year later — we will have to go out and buy a conventional water tank. We have already bought a 2.5 gal hot water tank and put it in under the kitchen sink for adequate hot water for the kitchen sink and dishwasher. We wasted our money in buying the Titan Tankless Water Heater.

Tom October 30, 2006 at 8:57 am

I installed a Paloma 199K BTU Natural Gas Outdoor tankless heater from Home Depot in my home to replace the 40 Gal. conventional heater that was on the verge of catastrophic failure. I live on the Gulf Coast, so the winters are very mild. We really use very little hot water, because the ground water isn’t very cold, so washing hands, etc. with cold water is perfectly comfortable even in the winter. Because of this I figured I could save a lot on the gas bill by not keeping 40 gallons of water hot 24/7. The space savings by removing the huge tank from the inside of the house is wonderful. I now have a nice oak pantry in it’s place! As far as performance, here’s what I can tell you. The water heats up rather quickly, but does take a few seconds longer than the old tank. I keep the temp set at 120 (no kids yet) and it’s plenty hot with several faucets running at the same time. In climates with colder ground water you may get different results, but here it’s just as good as the old tank.

Problems I have encountered so far: 1. I have had intermittent problems when trying to start the shower or bath, the water will get hot quickly, but then go cold about 5 seconds later. You then have to turn the hot water off and wait a few seconds then turn it back on. This seems to happen most often when you crank the hot water all the way on right away. If you turn it on about 1/4-1/2 on until it’s good and hot, it will stay on. This is annoying to say the least. Especially when you have guests in town and you have to explain the little quirks of getting a successful hot bath/shower. “OK, turn the hot water on first about 1/4 turn. Wait about 20 seconds until it’s real hot. Then mix in the cold.”
2. If you blow a breaker or have a power failure, the unit will not turn on automatically when power is restored. This is a pain in the butt. You have to press the “Power” button on the remote temperature adjustment thing in order to get hot water again.

Otherwise this unit works perfectly and I would highly recommend it.  The funny thing is that now my gas bill is literally $5 a month!  There's a service charge of about $5 from the gas company that I pay, and I don't even use enough gas to get billed for it!  I imagine it won't take long to get my return-on-investment from this baby...  Plus, when I ran the gas line outside, I put a "T" in it and bought a new gas grill to tie into it.  Talk about dual purpose!

Tom October 30, 2006 at 9:04 am

One more thing… If you can’t do the install yourself, expect it to cost a fortune. I was quoted $900 from a plumber just for installation! Using the Outside mounted unit, I didn’t need to buy the vent kit, which is expensive (about $250). The whole install cost me about $75 in materials and took about 6 hours. I have a brick house, so I had to drill holes through the brick for the gas pipe and 2 water pipes. In a frame house, the install would be MUCH easier/faster.

TP November 26, 2006 at 9:24 pm

I have had great luck with the Titan N-120. Just so happened the connection at the top of the element blew up last week. No warranty left, and there is no exact repalcements. I will have to replumb to use the newer style Titan N120. The old one has inlet and outlet at the bottum and the newer style has the inlet and outleats across from each other. Any suggestions how to locate a new (older style) replacement?

Carll December 16, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Finished installing the Titan N120 tonight, I am an electrician and can do some plumbing so i did it myself over a week or so when I felt like it. Well, the wtaer to the sinks is great but when I went to take that shower … cool … then cold … then cool … so i turned the water off and then back on and got a short burst of warm and then back to cool to cold. It works at all faucets fine but so far no good luck in the shower. Might try to get a different shower head to see if that helps and maybe take the advice of the above writer who said to turn it on slowly, we shall see, I will update when I learn more and try it out longer … good luck to you guys and to me :)

Greg Campbell June 15, 2007 at 4:41 am

I’m planning on installing a tankless water heater, probably the Paloma 199K Outdoor unit. I hope it works well.

One suggestion for people who still have tank style water heaters: you can eliminate most corrosion and tank failures by following two simple maintenance items on your tank water heater.

The tanks have a sacraficial “anode rod” in the top of the tank. This is a consumable item that is meant to corrode before the tank does. Depending on the hardness of your water, it can be consumed sooner. As soon as it’s “gone”, then the tank starts to rust. Replace the anode every few years ($25) and the tank could last forever!

The other advice is to drain a few gallons of water out of the bottom of the tank every month or two.

Greg

Charles Hancock July 3, 2007 at 7:06 pm

We have a Titan Tankless Water Heater that just stopped producing hot water. The unit has a light lit on it with “standby” written below it. I don’t remember this “standby” light ever being lit before. Can anyone tell what the problem might be &/or how to fix it? Thanks

Todd July 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Charles, any luck? I just ran into the exact same thing tonight with the Titan N-120. I came across your post in trying to at least find a troubleshooting guide somewhere. Unfortunately there is none to be found it seems. I do know that the unit was running fine (as long as nobody took a shower while the dishwasher was running or it would trip the breaker). I just bought one of those high efficiency front loading washers and my wife ran the shower at the same time, it seems to be dead now except for the standby light.

Mike August 5, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Not sure about the electric models, but I have a Rheem RTG53 DVN direct vent natural gas model, which is basically a rebadged Paloma ph20. I installed it myself 6 months ago and am very happy with it! I have had no problems at all with it, and with 7 people in my household, I needed this unit. This unit operates no different than my old tank heater, EXCEPT it doesn’t run out of hot water! It has the remote digital controller which I leave set at 120 all the time. The horizontal vent kit (made by Heat Fab) was kind of pricey, plus I needed an additional 3ft strait section, but I think it was well worth it. The direct vent uses a pipe within a pipe, 3” exhaust in the center, intake air around that which is 5” in overall diameter, so you’ll need a fairly large hole to run out the wall(or roof if you go vertical). This is the way to go if not much combustion air in the space is available or if you have a tight house. I removed a small basement window and replaced with 3/4” treated plywood, so it wasn’t too bad. All in all, install was a little difficult, but well worth it. Also plan on using 3/4” gas pipe that can handle 141,000 btu as well as the feeder branch being large enough to support any other gas appliance on the line. Water fitting are also at the bottom of the unit, but I had to redo 85% of my plumbing anyway(old rusty galvanized pipe). I also was quoted $900.00 to install, so I did some research and decided to do it myself. Many of the websites have installation manuals you can view. I’d say I have about $1000.00 invested in the unit, stainless venting, gas pipe, and various water fittings. But, I would do it again. Hope this helps.

Toni October 6, 2007 at 3:59 pm

I bought the Titan N-120 in Fed. 07 for my new home. It worked fine for 5 months. Then, came home one day and no hot water. Got the builder to check everything and it was fine. Sent off for a new one and had it installed. One week later same thing, washing hands in hot water then nothing. Can reset the reset button sometimes. Has anyone else been having this problems.

Brian October 8, 2007 at 5:21 pm

I have purchased two of the Titan N-120 in the last four years. The first was in August of 2003 and the second was in November 2005. I am now looking at the third and this is October 2007. It is evident to me that the life span of this junk is +/- 2 years. The reason I bought the second one and not brining the original one in for service is the same reason someone mentioned above, you have to remove it, send it in and wait for them to repair it. In the mean time you are left with not only no hot water but no water at all. I figured what the heck, what are the chances that the second one would be a lemon as well and never thought to bring the first one in for service. I gambled and lost. Now I am looking at buying the third. I guess I will take the other two in for warranty repair and have two for back up when the third piece of junk fails. Another problem is I already utilized the space I saved by going tankless. The only thing I can suggest if you are going to buy one, make it two because you will be sorry if you didn’t in about 2 years….

Theresa Polly October 9, 2007 at 11:15 am

Last year my husband and I bought a Titan tankless and i am very disappointed. Not even a year later and one morning the thing blew up (literally ) while i was taking a bath. We had to send for another one since we no longer had space for the larger hot water heater. This new one I have had since April 07 and it constantly trips the breaker after maybe five mins of hot water. I have had the plumber/electrician in and he thinks I need a water softener since our town water is too hard for the heater. I say, why didn’t they mention that could be a problem when we bought it? Whats even worse is my husband (The plumber who talked me into this) is now the X husband and I can’t afford to buy a regular hot water heater much less have it installed and I have two little boys to consider. Definitely don’t let anyone talk you into buying this piece of junk ladies.

MARIA HOPKINS October 20, 2007 at 10:30 am

Wow…. Those of us with Titans have the same thing goin on after ayear or so. I have to shut our water off and on at the heater till the two red lights come on and stand by goes off. Don’t understand and my husband has taken two cold showers in the lastthree months:(

Ian November 4, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Hi, Is it worth me buying one of these gas tankless heaters from anyones experience???? Bottom line I need to replace my heater no matter what and would rather not put myself in a position to have to replace the water heater and then find out I invested in a piece of crap. Please help advise……..Thanks

yvette November 17, 2007 at 6:47 pm

I have a titan bought new in July of 03…….its only 4 yrs old………..I cannot seem to get hot water out of it………it used to produce really hot water , now I can barely get a lukewarm shower in my master bath on the east side of the house….the tank is on the west side…..however, tonight I used the west bath/shower and got a much hotter shower there……….any suggestions?………I cannot stand not having a hot shower!!!, thank you

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