Tiny Water Heater - Sunday Install edition
So I installed a hot water heater on Sunday. This little under-the-sink puppy was sitting in my living room since January (yeah I know I'm lazy but it happens) and I just plain old fashioned got tired of staring at it and decided to put it in. In this article I will be focusing mainly on the financial costs of a DIY (do it yourself) under sink electric tankless water heater. Also known as an on demand water heater, these units have been gaining popularity for many reasons in recent years. Here are some of the benefits:
- Instant hot water on location (~8 seconds of wait time)
- Efficiency (no tank = no hot water sitting in there wasting energy)
- A Modern ego boost like solar panels etc.. you can brag about them to your plebian friends
- Adds value to your home (ask a realtor if you don't believe me)
And here are some negative aspects of these units:
- Added complexity to your home
- Cost of installation
- Cost of the unit itself
- Various limitations based on your need (ie this could not be used for a shower because the flow rate is too high and the water would be cold)
Long story short I got tired of turning on my hot water faucet in the morning and waiting 60 seconds or more to get hot water. It didn't bother me so much with the shower because it was higher flow and closer to 30 seconds of wait time, but the low flow in the sink of about ~1.2 gpm was killing me on cold days I would literally brush my teeth with the water running and it would still be cold when I was done! How ridiculous in 2017 to even think of such a slight inconvenience as that being part of your every day.
Ebay netted me this bad boy for 155$. There were cheaper units but I wanted something that might actually function properly. I spec'd in the US3 because it ran on 120VAC and 30 amps, meaning I could run a 10-2 romex with ground and be a-ok as far as power consumtion goes. I didn't want to risk it with a super cheap heater that said it could work with a standard 20 amp 120VAC draw, because I felt it would be cutting it close in terms of heat produced. And since I had to run power from my breaker box anyways, I might as well go big or go home on this one.
Above are some pics of the install. Eventually I had to put the cat in the other room because she is just too darn cute and I needed to get work done here. I will announce that I only had to go to the hardware store twice to get this thing complete and up to code. That's not bad for an old hand. I learned this kind of thing when I was going to college and side hustling as an HVAC installer. I notice many people waste time and money during college by applying for loans and travelling, but I was definitely not one of those people. I digress...
Here is the summary of the cost for me:
- Bosch US3 - 155$
- 2 trips to hardware store - 145$
- Sunday afternoon under sink acrobatics and swearing - 5hrs (priceless?)
Generally speaking this would not be a project a normal person would consider starting and finishing in 1 day unless they had done similar projects in the past. Not that this install is super involved or uncommon, just that the planning takes a lot of time if you are not familiar with pipe sizes, wire sizes, flow rates, etc... However I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anybody wanting to add value to their home and they have a couple days to burn.
I glanced over the overall cost in this article fairly quickly and it was around 5 hours of my time and 300$ in parts including the water heater. Think that is a lot? Well go out and get a plumber to quote the installation of one of these units with the required electrical circuit on top of that. I can guarantee that it will be over 1k, and probably by a good margin. By that logic I can conservatively say that my time was worth 140$/hr on Sunday this week. (1000$-300$parts)/5hrs = 140$.
As a Renaissance man I endorse DIY in general and thought that I would take some of the apprehension/fear out of a project like this by writing this article. I feel like if you did every home maintenance project yourself you would save an average of 80% on home repair over the course of your lifetime. That is a ton of money. And when you are targeting financial independence, a large sum like that cannot be overlooked.