I'm having a barn built (so excited!) and it's time to decide which hot water heater to buy. I'm looking at the tankless hot water heaters from Lowes. Is the PowerStar 2.0 Point of Use tankless heater sufficient? Or do I need something larger? Any suggestions? It needs to be electric and preferably 240V. I will be using it for the vary rare chance that I use the washing machine on hot/warm, warm water to wash my hands, warm water for tail washing... nothing too excessive.
They're great. If you only need occasional small volumes of warm water, you are probably OK with a fairly small/inexpensive one. If you look at the specs for the one you're buying, it should list how many gallons of water it can heat to how many degrees over baseline per minute. This is called the "delta T" measurement (change in temperature) and you have to think about how many gallons per minute you need, for how long, and about how cold your water is coming out of the tap.
We have a moderately hefty one that heats the water to 40 degrees above baseline, at the pace of a wide-open hose, indefinitely. Perfect for giving warm/hot baths to horse after horse after horse, but the water is not PIPING hot. If I need TRULY hot-hot water, I still use my old bucket heater.
OK, it looks like the one I was looking at will heat 2 gallons per minute to 40* over baseline per minute...hmmm...I'm thinking that probably isn't enough. I'll shop around some more. Thanks for the advice! You are a wealth of knowledge Deltawave! (p.s. I love my electrobraid fencing that you helped me with)
Depending on how cold your tap/well water is, a delta T of 40 degrees/minute at a flow rate of 2 gpm might be perfectly fine for what you are describing: the occasional load of laundry, etc. But since they're so energy efficient and don't cost anything to run when you don't need them, you may as well shoot for more than you think you need. Also pay attention to the amperage demands, because they can be high.
We upgraded to a tankless Rinai in the house a few years ago. Best move we ever made! Takes a few moments to warm, but once it's there, endless hot water. We were using hot water off the oil furnace (which we also replaced) After installation of both units, our first bill for fuel oil the next winter was 1/4 of what it had been!
Thanks guys! The barn will be on it's own electric service (not attached to the house) so limited amperage shouldn't be an issue. I believe most of them call for two 60 amp breakers? That is high. I'll keep shopping around and try to find something a little higher than the 2 GPM that is affordable. Since we're building this barn from scratch I'm trying to do everything right the first time :0)
I am going to be very interested in how this topic develops. We too are building a barn, from scratch, and I would like more info. on these tankless heaters as well. Sounds very energy efficient, and energy conscious! Let us know how things progress.
We are in the process of building a barn also, our first.
We were all set to use tankless hot water system and our plumber, who is also a horse person, talked us out of it. He put one in his barn and then replaced it with regular water heater. I can't remember the specific reasons, but it made sense at the time.
I also started a thread on ductless heat pump if you are looking for info on heating/cooling tack room.
Last edited by springplainsfarm; Aug. 15, 2010 at 08:31 AM.
Reason: additional info
We have a tankless in the house which I LOVE. We also have a Eemax tankless in the barn. It's a much smaller unit. I believe the kind you'd have for a small apartment. The water takes a while to get hot and from the sink, a few feet away from the unit, it does actually get hot. The wash stall is about 20 feet away and the water gets very warm, not actually hot.
We just replaced our barn hot water heater with a standard unitl. I seriously considered a tankless model, but after quite a bit of research decided against it. Cost was a significant factor. A unit capable of making enough to flow to wash a horse was at the higher end of the range. Most electric units are quite limited in how much they can raise water temp over ambient (gas units do MUCH better in this regard). After I "pencil whipped" the numbers I bought a higher efficiency small tank unit. The "delta" in costs would have taken me more than seven years to recover. That's too long a time horizon for me.
I asked my plumbers about an electric tankless for the barn about a yr ago and they said the electric units just weren't that efficient so I dropped it. They are coming out soon I hope as my hydrant at the barn is dead and I'm going to talk to them about a smaller regular tank. Most of the time the only time I use it is in winter to give the horses warm water, to clean sheaths, the first spring bath and last fall bath of the year.
What I'd like to know is if I can turn the tank off when I don't need to use it, which would be most of the spring, summer and fall months, and just turn it back on a couple of hrs before I need to use it. I don't know if I'd have to drain it or not between uses. Anyone else out there have an idea about that?
I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.
Ours is electric, moderately powerful (don't have the stats at hand) and for what I need it for, it's fine. I might give a horse a bath once or twice a month using other than just regular cold water, I like to have warm water for the vet if he's out doing stuff, and when I scrub things in the winter it's nice to have warm water. Only once in a blue moon have I needed to bathe a horse when it's really cold out, and there the hot water is very handy, and my unit is more than up to the job. But since I don't do laundry in the barn, I can honestly say the thing just sits there idle 99% of the time. I can't see keeping a traditional tank heater plugged in or hooked up 24/7/365 to supply warm/hot water for a few hours a year. There is also the potential for leaks with a tank heater.
They're not for everyone, obviously, but I also did some very crude math and the way I see it there's more to it than just "how long to pay for itself"--there's also the intangible of not wasting natural resources, the convenience of having hot water RIGHT NOW when I need it, and not taking up space in my tack room with a tank, too.
I think when planning, one really needs to honestly assess how much hot water they're going to use. If I weren't spoiled by my water heater, had just a little more patience, and could get used to giving baths with buckets instead of the hose, I could really just get by with the old electric bucket heater.
I just had a contractor out to get a bid on having one installed in my barn. They sound like a great option. He said to get the biggest one I thought I'd need and not to go too small.
He strongly recommended staying away from an electric one, which is a problem for me since I don't have a gas line run to the barn. The solution to this is we're going to install a very small propane tank outside my barn to run the water heater.
Everyone I've talked to says it's worth doing. I'm tired of washing my backyard horses in freezing cold water, and so are they!
Skip the electric and just get a propane one - you can put a propane tank outside and run the gas line in. Propane is super cheap compared to electricity. I have a propane on demand hot water in my house and it is fab!!! I got a big unit so we could do laundry, run the dishwasher, take a shower all at the same time and have hot water forever! AND when we built a new detached barn/garage (prop 100 ft away from the on demand hot water heater) we just ran a line out there so my husband has hot and cold water in his car barn. It does take a quite a while for the hot water to get there, though. But if your barn is close to your house, maybe you could kill two birds with one stone so to speak