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Do you sell your GAS customers on Indirect or tankless?

heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
{Sorry I added this to another thread by accident meant for this to be anew thread}

I am curious about what other contractors recommend to their customers...

I install a lot of indirects {mostly TT Phase 3 smart tanks {I keep a 40, 50, and 60 in stock at all times}, but I always try to sell the customer on a condensing Tankless unit {also stock a couple each of the ru98s, ru80's and r75i's}.

The installs for the most part cost around the same and consume around the same amount of time, the profit is around the same, but the tankless is a little easier of a sell...

The only times I don't push towards tankless is when there is no gas {If the oil boiler is old, I will recommend propane but that is a hard sell}, if the venting is going to be a real problem {doesn't happen often but some houses are nearly impossible with windows and walkways everywhere and no closets to go up, also if they are replacing an existing indirect with warranty left or one that is still in production and doesn't need much retrofitting I will recommend an indirect...

I also show the customers that is all I now use in my own properties, although in my house I am going to use a hybrid for the summers now, since the rebates make the unit free and it will cool the basement at the same time... But most customers aren't going to go with dual DHW systems...

So what do you lean your customers too and why?

Steamhead replied-

Do you take

venting clearances- windows, doors, snow line- into account for those condensing units?

Not sure where you are, but here in Baltimore when we have a real winter we've been known to get up to three feet of snow. Yet I frequently see PVC vent pipes sticking out maybe a foot above grade. If these things get blocked and the unit doesn't shut down, the results could be tragic. You can't fix stupid............

My reply to Steamhead- Yes we have to pull permits and do the job to code obviously, or we would be putting people in danger and I'm sure the result would be a lot of civil and wrongfull death suits...

I have seen units "snowed over" and some of which I have installed {this was the first year of that}, but with the blizzard that just passed through here we had drifts that were 8ft high so that is inevitable, BUT that being said 5 minutes with a shovel and the unit is back up and running, I have seen far more chimney failures lead to property damage than "snowed over" direct vent systems.. I have also never seen a clogged driect vent system not shut off, even if the safeties fail, the intake and exhaust being clogged will stop combustion pretty fast, the units are sealed on the combustion side, so unless the pipe is broken off in the building you won't get co, and the chances of a pipe breaking off and venting in the building is just as if not more likely with a natural draft system than a 90+ {since 90+ are sched 40 and ND systems are 26g sheetmetal with screwed fittings}...

I know the new systems have there downfalls the biggest one being- having not been around long, but we have to embrace the future technology at some point or we would all be shoveling coal or worse "freezing"... That being said, the new systems are going to lead to more work for us the contractors because the DIY and shade-tree guys are {or should be} afraid to touch the stuff... So I don't mind it...


  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    as usual, it depends

    mostly on DHW demand and expectations.

    With a single big DHW load (rainforest shower or monster tub) I find that a hybrid design can work very well.  Indirect for the full house plus a dedicated tankless on the branch feeding the large load.  Warm water leaving the exhausted indirect decreases the rise on the tankless, but increased flow rates mean you have to watch that pressure drop.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    Hybrids around here tend to cost more to run than a tankless, they just aren't catching on very fast, plus I can tell you from other contractors experience they have their problems, a friend of mine used to sell the GE models, and he said 90% of the ones he installed failed in the first year, then after looking into it on the internet I was amazed to see it is very true!!!  I have installed a few but they get the basements cold, and kick on an external heater when the temps are too low making the gained eff. a wash if not a negative...   I have an ao smith for my home but I am only going to use it in the warm months to take advantage of the air cooling effect in my mechanical room...

    As for adding a tankless after the indirect, I had some bad luck with this, undoubtably my own fault, a third  floor bathroom with a delta body jet system {8 jets}, I installed a 9.8 rinnai with the indirect and when I went to fire up the shower the jets wouldnt even mist, my pressure was gone.  I ended up installing the tankless on the third floor in the bathroom closet just feeding that bathroom, which also has a monster tub with a roman faucet that probably flows 6gpm...   But they were so happy with the rinnai, they had me replace the indirect about 3 months later...  {A note for anyone that ever needs to install dhw to one of them deltas they are around 1gpm per HEAD...   I thought it was .75 per pair since they are in pairs, nope after calling the delta rep he said most need about 1gpm each!!!   The 9.8 does it fine, but I had to set it at 140 and mix down, where when I install tanklesses I like to set them around 110-115 and tell the customers to use full hot and not mix, in this case I would have needed 2 to accomplish that...

    I set my Rinnai at 115 in the winter and 110 in the summer, and never mix it down, I know to install double valve fixture everywhere {except in the shower 2 valve shower sets are getting harder and harder to find}...

    Another issue with the Rinnai units is the efficiency drops like a stone when you feed it warm water, they want a 50* delta or they will not be happy, propane units will actually soot rite up...  So you want to stay away from them as a booster...

    My thinking is WHY heat up 50 gallons of water to 140* all day and night, and WHY heat up your boiler to 180 and the tank to 140 all summer, WHY run your boiler at all in the summer..  my basement has 4 cooled rooms {all but the mechanical room} so running the boiler just makes the a/c work harder....   When you can just heat what you use to the temp you use 110-120... 

    To me it doens't make sense why heat water your entire life when you don't use hot water for 97.92% of it... Even a family of 4 only uses the hot water 12.5% of a 24 hour day so why heat it for 100% ?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328
    One indirect job we did

    involved a 75-gallon Jacuzzi, three other showers, laundry etc. The original boiler was a tankless model, which was completely inadequate. System was early FHW with radiators.

    We installed a 6-section Solaia with HeatWise gas burner and two 60-gallon TT Phase 3 indirects. The owner loves it.

    This is the only picture I can find quickly.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Nice work

    So you are definitely an indirect guy', I would have installed a boiler to match the houses needs exactly {with odr} and an ru98i, if there was any doubt about the single keeping up I would put a second. I have a customer that I installed an ru98i and an ru80i in, they have 3.5 bathrooms, but the problem is they seem to all shower a once, they have 3 daughters all under 16 {I think none of them drive so Im guessing}. They had an 80 gallon electric becuase gas wasnt available in their area, as soon as it became available I got the phone call to go look at the job, they called me after a week to say it was the best decision they ever made, no more arguing about hot water...

    Nice job on that install nice and neat with straight pipes, can't ask for much more than that..
  • Robert O'BrienRobert O'Brien Member Posts: 2,931

    I don't "sell" them anything, they buy for their reasons. I usually recommend a mod/con and indirect. Venting one appliance is a pain,two is almost impossible. The local utility had rebates for indirects but not tankless,I'm guessing they feel as I do,no payback at current gas rates. How about solar? After tax credits,it's a much better deal than a tankless in NYS
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    We have still have rebates for tankless and they get the $300 tax credit still, plus the $1500 30% rebate....

    I don't have too many venting issues, but it does require a lot of thought sometimes, I just did 3 Rinnai units, in a multi family that already had a mod/con I installed about a year ago, so they now have 4 appliances vented out the sidewalls...
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