Open Forum

New Hot Water System

  • 1.  New Hot Water System

    Posted 16 days ago
    Edited by Marcus Yono 16 days ago
    Friends,

    I'm looking to replace my boiler and tank and would like to hear from some experienced owners.

    I'm a large store (4500 sq ft) and currently operating on a Hamilton V-Tube 399,000 ---- 799,000 BTU /hr ( not sure what BTU mine is as sticker has corroded)
    with a 350 gallon tank. They both work fine but I'd like get a head of any potential problems as they both have some age.

    What are you all operating on and what would you recommend?

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    Marcus Yono
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Monroe MI
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  • 2.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    Bock

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    Linh Nguyen
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Mobile AL
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  • 3.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    Here is my opinion.  There are many options available for water heating. Since 1/2 of your natural gas bill is a function of heating your hot water, your decision will impact your bottom line.

    First, if your tank or heater core are not leaking, most owners will not replace their water heating system just to benefit from utility savings. When a system leaks or fails, that's the time to replace.

    Second, your tank seems to be too large.  A 100 to 200 gallon tank should be enough since current washers do rinses in cold water. New washers use less total water including hot water.

    Third, before you address the size of your heater, you need to consider the temperature you're comfortable delivering to your customers. The number ranges from 110 to 140. A popular setting is 115 degrees.

    Fourh, check with your water district to determine the hardness of your water. A high mineral content might make small diameter heater cores a questionable choice, Lime and mineral content could make frequent deliming a part of your routine maintenance.

    Fifth, consider the volume of customer use of your store. Busy stores might want slightly larger systems. A $40,000 a month store will install larger heaters than a $10,000 a month store.

    Sixth, ignore the advice of factory supplied or architect supplied water heater calculations. They always oversize and you'll pay every month for wasted capacity. I estimate that 75% of current water heating systems are oversized.

    Seventh, determine the amount of money you want to throw at your water heating system. For a store your size, a complete new system will run from $8,000 to $25,000 depending on brand, model and installation cost.

    Eighth, review all the brochures and articles on tankless versus tank based solutions. Do not hesitate calling the manufacturers to discuss their products or talking with a local distributor. Some distributors know water heating issues, others not so much. Select a brand and model.

    Ninth, determine the average yearly temperature of the ground water at your location. Again information available from your water district.

    Tenth, find a licensed plumber who knows about installation of large water heaters. Negotiate a reasonable price for the installation.  Install to local codes with a permit.

    Eleventh, negotiate a good price on the system by calling several distributors. Water heaters are an auxiliary item and heater companies do not normally grant exclusive territories.

    I will leave brand selection up to you. I don't think there is any premier brand for Laundromat use. I think proper sizing and installation is more important than brand. Hope this helps.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
    Cell: (714) 390-9969
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  • 4.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    Larry L,

    Great post.  Full of useful and critical information for everyone.

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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 5.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 12 days ago
    Hi,

    I have a couple of general thoughts in response to some things mentioned above.

    Percentage of Gas Bill Devoted to Hot Water

    The figure of 50% of natural gas used for hot water figure was reasonable when heaters were less efficient, people heated water to 140F or higher, washers had mechanical timers, and washers used multiple hot or warm fills during hot cycles. With current machines, and hot water setpoint temperatures around 120F, a figure of 25% is more reasonable. Variation around that figure will, of course, depend upon your customers, as well as your incoming water and air temperatures.

    Hot Water Temperature Setpoints

    Unless you have a high-efficiency or condensing water heating system, you should not set your water heating system to less than 120F degrees. The reason is that a lower setpoint could cause the heater to condense, and this will damage water heaters not designed to condense.

    Best,

    Dan

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    Dan Orr
    Manufacturer Employee
    National Combustion/NATCO
    Jamaica NY
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  • 6.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 12 days ago
    Edited by Larry Adamski 12 days ago
    Dan,

    It's true that today's washers use much less hot water per pound capacity than washers did 30 years ago.  It's also true that today's dryers use less heat per pound capacity than dryers did 30 years ago.  I  suspect the 50/50 water heating/drying gas demand is still a relevant rule of thumb.  However, it's appropriate to mention that my water heaters are set at 135 degrees.

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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 7.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    Consider installing a system with redundancy. Having the luxury to be able to take one water heater off line while you make repairs can be priceless. I'm using Lochinvar condensing water heaters.

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    Peter
    Store Owner
    Congers NY
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  • 8.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    We had an age old set up with a 400K BTU boiler and a 230 Gallon storage tank.  It was a utility hog and extra maintenance expense due to age, so we replaced the system in line with our master plan.

    We had our local ME take a look at the new equipment mix, etc, and advise on his recommended water heater sizing and Mfg. We decided on a 120 gallon Lochinvar condensing unit for our 21 washers.  We considered a Phoenix condensing water heater, but our water was at the breaking point for hardness that required additional water filtering for the Phoenix and when you added additional filtering equipment it went the other way.

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 9.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 14 days ago
    Although there have been many good points made, I would respectfully disagree on a few. If you are still using the old boiler style with the little rocket ship underneath and it is old and the tank is coated in lime deposits, believe me when I say you may as well be lighting dollars on fire. Do yourself a huge favor and investigate condensing technology boilers. I am another satisfied Lochinvar owner for 10 years running with ZERO failures. Once you learn how it operates you will come to understand why they don't fail. There is very little that can cause the failures that were common in the old tech boilers. Don't wait until it's completely shot, as the money that you will save by replacing it soon will pay for the unit in short order. Just my experience and 2 cents worth. Same goes with the furnace if you have one.

    Tom

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    Thomas Bright
    Owner
    Bright's Coin Wash
    Marengo Illinois
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  • 10.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    Lochinvar is also a good one ,same thing with Bradford &White they both just like Speed Queen and Huebsch .
     But still prefer Bock .

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    Linh Nguyen
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Mobile AL
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  • 11.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    The Lochinvar models are expensive.  I've had good and bad ones (pulled out and replaced in 4 years.). I know it has a good reputation and loyal fans but I had trouble finding someone to repair them.

    Limited distribution keeps the price high. Bock and some of the other exotics are in the same boat. Jeff Deal from Hamilton Engineering (heaters not changers) has a wealth of knowledge and provided me with great support in prior years.

    As to saving money, with the new heaters you are pulling out a 60 to 80 efficiency model to replace with a 95 efficiency model. How many dollars you save is a function of your local utility rates.

    Maybe you remember the gas supply crisis when people who sold their perfectly good American 8 cylinder cars and squeezed into smaller, light weight 4 bangers to save money? It took a long time to recapture the costs.

    Here's what I advise, delime your current heater, keep your eye out for heater failure, continue your research (including a talk with Jeff Deal) and shop around for a good price on whatever brand you select.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
    Cell: (714) 390-9969
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  • 12.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    Edited by Charles Smith 13 days ago
    Larry is absolutely on target.   Your current setup seems too big.  Especially if you are able to do differential pricing for hot water (we do) you will find that your needs are significantly reduced.  Only about half of my customers opt for warm or hot water.   However, like he said, as long as it is working, I probably would not replace it.  And if I did, I might consider doing it in stages.  Your current tank is probably too large and you might just replace it with a smaller tank that is well insulated.   Water heaters/boilers do take regular maintenance, such as deliming and this needs to be provided for when you install, with boiler valves on both side of the water heater, along with shutoff valves, that will allow you to introduce cleaning products and reverse flow the system while cleaning (you will also need a pump).

    I am a firm believer in Hamilton Engineering and Jeff Deal.  Why?  When I bought my first mat, it had used Hamiltons.  I called them and they sent me a full set of manuals at no charge.  I built my second, but bought out a 3 year old store to equip it.  It came with Hamilton's.  Again, they helped me to figure out the re-install and, sent manuals, no charge.  In my next two stores, I installed new Hamilton condensing units.  Both are now 10+ years old.     The bottom line is that I know I can get good tech support and parts without any concerns or issues, quite rapidly.   Support is the name of the game with any laundry equipment.

    I recently asked for some resizing computations, when I replaced a 50 year old tank that started leaking.  I found that the recommendations were much more conservative than those of 15 years ago.  You can also do some of this yourself.  I don't think it is necessary to size based on the assumption that all washers will run 2 cycles an hour, all on hot water.   You can use a spreadsheet to calculate your hot water usage, then compare it to their recommendations.   They will also adjust recommendations based on your guidelines, if you want.   In my case, I ended up replacing a 300 gallon tank with a 120 gallon tank, which goes along with my 399K BTU condensing heater.   My store has a capacity of just under 1,000 pounds and on Sundays it is back to back with all washers running.  I have yet to run out of hot water with this configuration.

    Easy computations go like this.  Total capacity x 2 gallons/lb x 2 cycles/hr, divided by 5 (number of fill cycles per wash, only one of which is hot), x .5 (half of the washes use hot water).  That means my store needs about 400 gallons of hot water an hour, at max capacity.  My 399 puts out about 450 - 550 gallons an hour, so I'm generally in good shape.  I run my store at 130, which also gives a slight reserve, since the temps could drop 10 or 15 degrees and still feel hot.  We have no minimum in Virginia.

    Another consideration is boiler size and inspections.  If you keep your boilers below 200K btu, you don't have to have annual inspections, at least here in Virginia.  If I did this again, I would go with 2 199 btu boilers for redundancy and also to eliminate the inspection.  Same for tanks, but I forget the size limitation before you have to get inspections.  Check your state requirements.   I think the tendency now is to go for smaller tanks, to reduce holding costs, but larger boiler capacity.

    Redundancy is also great.  My second store has 2 hamilton 270K Btu, or thereabouts, older style v tube boilers.  Now about 22 years old.   I run those 5 degrees apart, and swap the primary every 6 months or so.   I am oversized, but there is no compelling need to replace right now.   I've only had these down when the thermocouples go bad, which happens every 3 or 4 years or so.   I did need to take these apart a few years ago and just clean the fins thoroughly, but otherwise they have been problem free.  Because these are older, they are either on or off.  I have hobbs meters on both.  This store is similar in size to my other, just under 1,000 lbs of capacity.  The second boiler on average runs only about an hour or 2 a week, that's it.  So a single 270K handles almost all of the need for that store.

    One last plug.  If you don't have desuperheaters, which convert the heat from your AC system in the summer, you are throwing away money.  During the summer, my heaters will run less than 3 hours/week with these running.   These are relatively cheap, with the install costing more than the unit.

    Charlie

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    Charlie Smith
    Charlottesville, VA
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  • 13.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    Good information.  When considering the efficiency offset and savings from a new water heater system, we also considered the old system operating at a percentage twice the capacity needed for the new washers along with the necessary repairs and general poor condition of the old equipment.  Made good sense and return in our case.

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 14.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    As to saving money, with the new heaters you are pulling out a 60 to 80 efficiency model to replace with a 95 efficiency model. How many dollars you save is a function of your local utility rates.

    That is correct, Larry. 60- 80 when they were new. How efficient is an older limed up unit? Not very to say the least. The dollars you save are substantial when moving to condensing technology. I paid for both of my units within a year of installation and it was paid with 100% in savings. They paid for themselves.

    Owners can install whatever unit they see fit. Even today, some 10 yrs. later, there are even more efficient units out there, than what I have. For me I couldn't see staying with the same old inefficient boiler tech., especially given the fact that it loses efficiency over time. That glass liner doesn't de-lime very well as the years go by.


    In 2008 my total gas bill for the year with the old inefficient boiler was $14,951.94 and in 2007 it was $13,106.94.In 2009 with the new condensing tech boiler it was $7,779.70 and 2010 $5,246.87. The 2 years before and after installing. The past 2 years are even less 2017 $3,514.59 and 2018 $3,928.82. So even though you are partly correct in saying that savings are a function of utility rates, the technology is a much bigger part of the equation. In going back through the years I can track the life of the old boiler efficiency by the annual bills, and it wasn't that great even when it was new in comparison.

    These are just some observations I've made through my due diligence. Everyone has a different take on these subjects and it is what makes the world go round.

    Tom

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    Thomas Bright
    Owner
    Bright's Coin Wash
    Marengo Illinois
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  • 15.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    Something that I need to know. My water is liquid rocks with some water mixed in! I have used a number of treatment ideas. With the exception of creating a magnetic field around your pipe they all do work to some degree of success. Question. What heater works with my kind of water?
    Has anyone discovered a heater that can deal with this? I can not believe I need yet another water heating system! Well I do.

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    Curt Harrington

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  • 16.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 13 days ago
    Curt;

    First go have your water tested and find out what the water hardness is in grains. Also get a PH, a Conductivity test, and a total Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) test done on it. Find what your incoming water pressure is and average water temp is. My water hardness is 25 grains. I use a mechanical salt water system to make it soft water. We just did our first annual vinegar flush on my 2 Rannai 199K BTU tank-less on a tank systems that are 95% efficient. There was NO build up on the condenser coils.
    Besides my customers really like our soft water delivery when they wash.  I love it also because of fewer overall maintenance.

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    Deward Stout
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Hurricane Laundromat & Storage
    Hurricane UT
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  • 17.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 12 days ago
    Edited by Curt Harrington 12 days ago
    Deward,

    I really do not want to use a salt based system for a number of reasons. Mainly they waste a huge amount of water. My current system adds citric acid without wasting any water but does not do a good enough job.
    I should start a different topic. I didn't mean to hijack a different discussion.
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    Curt Harrington

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  • 18.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 12 days ago
    Curt,

    I run a magnetic conditioner on one of my two stores for about 11 years. The water hardnes is around 12 to 14 grains. I have had great luck with the ace boilers, but I think it is due more to design of the boiler then anything else. It has a continuous single coil that the water circulates thru. It is only an 80% efficient boiler. I have replaced the coil from being worn out due to the thinning of the coil and eventually springing a leak. After we took it out I had the coil cut open to see if there was any scale and there was none.

    I tried a different brand of boiler that had 8 or 10 smaller tubes which were fed with a manifold on both ends. That one lasted 4 years with a coil replacement in year 2. I went back to Ace after trying that brand. The problem is the 2 or 3 inside coils were building up with scale which I never had with the Ace. My opinion is that the water flow was not uniform among all the tubes like the Ace where it only has one continous coil. The uneven flow in conjunction with the magnetic conditioner caused the scaling. How the water flows is very much important for a magnetic conditioner.

    The place I got my magnetic conditioner from is called superior water conditioning out of Fort Wayne IN. They have units for small stuff like laundrymats all the way up to large industrial units. Everybody's situation is different but if your thinking that direction I would definitely give them a call.

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    Jared Friesen
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Wash & Dry
    American Fls ID
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  • 19.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 12 days ago
    Curt,

    There is a simple solution to your needs, please contact me directly and I will point you in the right direction.

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    Jeff Deal
    Hamilton Engineering Inc
    Livonia MI
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  • 20.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 11 days ago
    In one of my stores , I have two separate gas meters ,one for dryers only and the other one for water heater . The gas use for water heater is only 1/6th vs dryers. I don't use gas to heat the building because we in warm weather, so all gas use strictly for dryers and water heater.
     Ps.I do charge extra$ for warm and hot cycles.

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    Linh Nguyen
    Linh Nguyen Person
    Mobile AL
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  • 21.  RE: New Hot Water System

    Posted 11 days ago
    Edited by CURT HARRINGTON 11 days ago
    I like simple. Looking forward to talking to you.

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    CURT HARRINGTON