2008 - Volume #32, Issue #4, Page #13[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"BestBuy" Plastic Water Heater
"It's energy efficient and maintenance-free, and it won't rust," says Mathews.
The electric-operated heater is made by the Howard Harris Builders, Inc., Nashville, Tenn. It combines features from on-demand water heaters - which heat water as it's needed - and conventional water heaters which store heated water. The 23-in. dia. plastic tank stands 37 1/2 in. tall and is equipped with a pop-out heating element. It has 2 1/2 in. of insulation and weighs 58 lbs. empty.
Upon installation you manually fill the holding tank with 31 1/2 gal. of water which never leaves the tank. This water is kept heated by a 5,500-watt element. Heat from the water in the holding tank is transferred to a 45-ft. finned copper coil, which holds 6 tenths of a gallon of water. This is the water you actually use. By transferring heat from the water in the holding tank, you heat only the water you use.
According to the company, the unit will recover the water temperature in half the time of a standard electric water heater. This is because of the smaller tank size and larger element, and because the minimum tank temperature doesn't drop as rapidly as a standard tank.
"I found this unit on the internet about a year ago and have never been more impressed with a product in my life," says Mathews. "I had never seen it advertised anywhere before. I called the company and talked to the guy who started the company. He's a large scale home builder who was fed up with the expensive water heaters on the market. I rent out a duplex and ordered two units. Two days later they arrived on a truck. I paid $300 apiece for them plus $100 for shipping.
"It has most of the benefits of a tankless water heater without the drawbacks. There's not much on it that can go wrong. The copper tubes are bigger than the ones in a tankless water heater so mineral buildup shouldn't be as much of a problem. Also, the tube is located inside a non-pressurized water container so there's no need for pressure overflow or for a release valve like on a conventional tank. Because the tube is made from copper it should last a long time, and the plastic tank can't rust. And because it uses only one electric element there's no need for a bigger electric line - I can use a 30-amp breaker to operate it.
"The operating cost is about the same as for a natural gas water heater, and far less than an electric-operated water heater of similar capacity."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Howard Harris Builders, Inc., 3427 Ambrose Ave., Nashville, Tenn. 37207 (ph 877 840-9165 or 615 226-3700; fax 615 226-3701; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.howard harrisbuilders.com).
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