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Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

I currently make hot water through my oil fired boiler and would like to install an electric hot water heater.

Would this be a cost effective decision, considering the price of heating oil?

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

An electric hot water heater would cost you much more in expenses---an indirect hot water heater is the way to go.

Click onto the links below to read up on how efficient indirect Hw heaters are for those who already have a boiler.

The end of the link lists recommended indirects, their price, & additional info.

The IHWH is essentially a storage tank that is connected to the boiler by a piped zone that circulates hot boiler water as a way to heat up the domestic supply--they are typically 40 gallon capacity for an average family---since the boiler water is already hot, the oil burner only occasionally needs to come on to keep your domestic hot water hot.

If oil gets too expensive, you can talk to your oil dealer about possibly installing a gas-fired burner if you have natural gas service in your area.


Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

Thanks for the Info Jack!

I got a price for a IHWH from my oil company about a year ago and the price was $2700 installed. I thought that was expensive.

I didn't get any other prices.

I checked the Triangle and Megastor unit you mentioned in other posts and found that they can be purchased for around $800 - $1000. How much should installation be?

I am trying to save on fuel oil ( like everyone else )and I am looking at any alternatives. Natural Gas is not available.

Would I reduce oil usage with an IHWH?

I am in Middletown,CT. I noticed that you were in New England.

Any chance that you are nearby to do an install?


Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water


$2700 for an indirect install is way too high---the unit costs ~$700 at a wholesaler or at Home Depot (Amtrol Boilermate)--tack on another $300 for parts & installation & you have a fair price for the install.

Call as many fuel oil dealers as you have to until you get an estimate as close to the $1k as possible.

I'm no where near your area---but call around (Yellow Pages under "Fuel oil dealers", "Heating Equipment Dealers") to get a more equitable estimate.

The Amtrol Boilermate is a very good unit for $700---I would prefer you put in a Triangle Tube, or any other unit that has a stainless steel inner shell, as they are slightly more efficient--but tend to be a little more costly.

If you're handy, it's not that hard to do the install yourself--it would require shutting down the boiler, draining several gallons, soldering copper pipe skills & electrical hookup to a zone valve or circulator---the instruction booklet is usually clear, straightforward & detailed.

These units weigh ~70 lbs & can be carried into the boiler room by one person.

I don't know that you would SAVE any money on oil with an indirect--but it wouldn't cost you any more than the use of the domestic coil that you're using now--the great things about indirects is that they burn little extra oil & the large amount of hot water available, even for multiple uses at the same time---I've had an Amtrol Boilermate for the past 10 years & love it.

Some homeowners are tempted to modify their boiler once they stop using the boiler's domestic coil---the DC is controlled by a boiler triple aquastat that fires the low limit control to keep the boiler water at a minimum level---usually 140-160 degrees.

It may be possible to modify this to a "cold start" aquastat on your particular boiler---this would save some oil during the summer--but most techs feel it's not worth the risk of having the boiler develop corrosion by firing only when the indirect calls for heat---this is especially true with "pin-type" cast iron boilers.

You can save some oil in the summer very easily by turning down the aquastat settings from the winter settings of 160 low limit/180 high limit---to 140 low/160 high.

Indirects also require a footprint of ~2.5 to 3 feet---usually right next to the boiler---but should also try to be installed in the boiler room as close as possible directly below the living space hot water taps---that way you would save lot of $$$ by not wasting water & heating cost waiting for the hot water to arrive at the tap.

In other words, don't install the indirect in one end of the cellar if the bath/shower/washer/kitchen taps are all on the other side of the house---the 30' of cellar piping will spurt out a lot of cold water before the hot water comes out of the faucets.

Let us know how you make out on this project.

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

I also am in search of the holy grail. It is my belief that a tanked electric hot water heater could provide sufficient hot water for a hydronic system and be cost effective, with $4 oil. Hot water heaters gennerally take in 45 degree cold water in the winter.If we use this in a closed loop hydronic system like baseboard heating the incoming water returned from the baseboard would I assume be over 100 degrees and the electric elements would not have to work as hard to bring the water up to temperature.
No I am not a heating professional and all the heating experts say the recovery rate is toooo slow and that the residential hot water heaters have a 160 degree high setting that is insuffecient for space heating of 180 degrees.

So manufacturers and heating experts take note and get on board this quest, I think an electric boiler should have a tank of 40 gallons or so.I have calculated that on my 3 zone system only 9 gallons are in circulation leaving the balance of hot water in the tank to heat the returning 100 degree water.

Who will take the challenge??? The demand is there.
[email protected]

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

frank that sounds like a great idea did you ever find out if electric hot water heater would work

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

all the experts say there is not enough recoverable btu power in an electric water heater, but I'm going to try it anyway, it will only cost me $400 to give it a try

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

keep us in formed i think it sounds great an 80 gallon heater like you say would theretically have plenty capacity i will look forward to here back how you made out when we start heating again

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water


Been following this thread and I am curious as well. Just bought an older home (1965) which has been refurbed including an oil-fired boiler (Burnham V8 series) which feeds into a closed loop IHWH system. This boiler has a AFUE rating of 82.6 out of 88.7.

In my area, oil is $2.66/gal average (North Maryland). I just refilled my 275 gal tank on Dec 23rd and it is now Jan 2nd and its already consumed down to 3/4ths of tank. That means I've already consumed roughly $182 in 10 days.

Some background first: I have a programmed thermostat which operates always at maximum of 65 degrees or below. House is well insulated for exception of a sun room that could have a bit of improvement. Mondays through Friday the thermostat is set below 63 deg (for the dog and cat..) between 7am and 7pm. We believe our heat consumption is very light to moderate being that it is only myself and my wife.

I am trying to push the efficiency of this boiler unit (and my home) as far as I can but I am running out of ideas. I've insulated every exposed pipe for this system, including putting a thermal blanket around the hot water tank. At this rate, I am questioning if this oil boiler is a pit of money and should I invest in alternate energy source (e.g. switching back to electric). Do note that we love the hydronics baseboard heating, and maybe this is the price to pay :)

Any suggestion is greatly appreciated.


Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

Water heating is a thermodynamic process using an energy source to heat water above its initial temperature. Typical domestic uses of hot water are for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and space heating. In industry, both hot water and water heated to steam have many uses.
Domestically, water is traditionally heated in vessels known as water heaters, kettles, cauldrons, pots, or coppers. These metal vessels heat a batch of water but do not produce a continual supply of heated water at a preset temperature. The temperature will vary based on the consumption rate of hot water, use more and the water becomes cooler.

Re: Electric Hot Water Heater vs. Oil Burner Hot Water

I am a new apartment owner and many of my buildings have different setups. I have actually chosen electric vs. indirect on one building because it allowed the tenants to pay their own HW (ie. one oil furnance but two elec. hw heaters each going to the tenant's elec. panel) -- now on another building, (7 unit apart. bldg) we just had a oil fired hw heater go...i agonized and agonized and ended up going with TWO elec. hw heaters vs. adding a boilermate to our brand new pensottie direct vent oil furnace. Did I make a mistake do you think? My logic was that it was a little cheapr for the elec. but it ended up NOT. We needed two, there were tons of upgrades that needed to be done electrically, etc. and it ended up being 2,400 vs. probably 1,300-1,500 for indirect.

My thought was "diversification" -- by having elec. HW and oil furnace, I'm splitting my eggs ... if elec. gets outrageous at least my heat is oil, and vice versa. I guess what I really need to find out is "how much does it cost to heat x gallons of water with elec. vs. oil based on knowable factors such as cost/kwhr and cost/gall

thanks for any answers to my rambling!!


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