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Old 02-11-2014, 10:36 AM   #1
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Smile Hot Water Heater

Hi Folks,
My wife & I have been living aboard for about
6 weeks, now. Our vessel is 24 years old and I
Believe our water heater is the original one,
I looked for a date on the tag, could not find a
date. It is an Atwood, out of Rockford, Ill.
It is 120 volt, so we realize that limitation, but
We just aren't much hot water, so I figure it's just
plain WORN OUT!
Does anyone out there know anything about Atwood
units?
We're planning to install a new unit, probably a 17
gallon unit (provided it fits).
Any recommendations for or against any particular
Manufacturer?
Thanks alt,
JIM'N'I III
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:12 AM   #2
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For What It's Worth: After going through 3 marine (120v and heat-exchanger) units in as many years, I threw in the towel and followed a friend's advice. Purchased a Whirlpool 20 gallon unit at Lowe's for $245. That was one month ago. So far, so good. My friend's water heater (also a Whirlpool) is 8 years old and still going strong. Good luck!
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:46 AM   #3
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I'm replaceing our 23 year old Rartian 6 gal w/h with a Seaward 6 gal w/h at $ 255 - at that price it's less then half the cost of a Rartian - ( $ 701 ) - if it only last 12 years, I can replace it again & still save money - and with 6 gals of hot water, we find we have plenty of hot water and the 6 gal size takes up less space in the engine room - with a non - marine w/h you will need shore power or a gen/set to heat the water as there will be no heat exchanger, IMHO
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tracie View Post
I'm replaceing our 23 year old Rartian 6 gal w/h with a Seaward 6 gal w/h at $ 255 - at that price it's less then half the cost of a Rartian - ( $ 701 ) - if it only last 12 years, I can replace it again & still save money - and with 6 gals of hot water, we find we have plenty of hot water and the 6 gal size takes up less space in the engine room - with a non - marine w/h you will need shore power or a gen/set to heat the water as there will be no heat exchanger, IMHO
I had a Seaward totally fail after 10 years due to Al tank rotting out. Atwood or Torrid is my choice. The last few years all sorts of Al gunk was getting into hot water lines, I didn't know from where until the tank failed.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:25 PM   #5
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Use a domestic one unless you really need the heat source from the main engine. Another consideration is water heater heat exchangers can fail or trap air, causing damage to the main engine.

I have investigated two Yanmar engines that cooked due to the water heater. In both cases, air trapped in the heater made it to the engine, air bound the circ pump, and the high temp sensor did not pick up the heat without coolant flow.

On my boat, I installed a 3gal water heater, even though I have room for a larger unit. This was done to keep crew from taking long showers and using up (very limited) water. When shower gets cold, they stop!!!
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:06 PM   #6
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From research and experience, Isotemp is the gold standard for boats. We replaced a Raritan on our sailboat with one. They are super efficient and well insulated, so your water will stay hot much longer when on the hook. That said, we had to go with another brand when we recently replaced the original one on the tug. This was becuase of the location - the Isotemp wouldn't fit without major surgery. I am not happy with the quality of our replacement and will be surprised if it last more than a few years. However, it was about 1/3rd what we paid for the Isotemp on the sailboat. Practical Sailor did a review of waterheaters a few years ago and Isotemp was on the top of their list.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:28 PM   #7
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There's no question that there's better quality marine w/h's out there other then Seaward and Atwood - by adding an Anode ( $ 60 ) to a $ 300 heater, that will extend the life considerable - some consideration to the " kitty " is another one - if money was not part of the formula, my thinking would perhaps be different -
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:31 PM   #8
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JMCD... we have an 11-gallon Atwood, model EHM11, and it works well enough.

You can see product features here:

Marine Water Heaters - Atwood Mobile

And you can get a copy of the manual, such as it is, here:

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/...2011.19.07.pdf

It's about 11 years old, now. I've replaced our thermostat and ECO switch (parts 2B/3, in the manual diagram) a couple times, easily and inexpensively available at RV stores. I also replaced the heating element once (part 8, also from an RV store), but don't know for sure it was strictly necessary... I haven't had to change the pressure-temperature relief valve, but that's a routine service item, too.

Before you do major surgery, on your boat you may find it useful to a) check water flow rate through the unit, and b) flush the thing anyway with something like vinegar and water, to clear out any lime deposits that may have built up over time.

If that doesn't improve your hot water supply, changing the thermostat and high-temp limit switch may solve it. It's inexpensive enough -- and easy enough to do, if you have decent access -- that it could be worth the effort. Even replacing the heating element is easy enough, if you have access. (The latter is a 15-minute job, on the bench; took me a few hours because of our specific bozo installation.)

Some folks plum engine coolant lines to these, to capture heat from an engine's cooling system. Ours is not installed like that, but it looks easy enough to do.

-Chris
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Old 02-12-2014, 12:00 AM   #9
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Thanks everybody....

Ranger 42C.... How do you check 'flow thru rate'?
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:43 AM   #10
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You mentioned a 17 gallon hot water heater. Do you live aboard in a marina or at anchor? At anchor the 17 gallon tank would be more difficult to heat up. We are able to heat up our 6 gallon Raritan in 15 minutes at anchor and the 6 gallons lasts us for our showers and washing dishes.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:04 AM   #11
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Regardless of which water heater you install it will last for many more years if installed properly. Less than 10% of the units I see are installed correctly.

Most of the conventional marine units are aluminum tanks wrapped in fiberglass batting, inside a metal box. If you mount this box (as most do) directly on a deck, any drips condensation etc. will get trapped under the box where the fiberglass will wick it up. Holding moist fiberglass against the aluminum (or stainless steel) tank will greatly speed up corrosion. The tank should be mounted on non-absorbent cleats with about 1/2" airspace underneath to promote air flow . Running hoses from the pressure relief valve and the drain tap to the bilge will also help as these two items leak often.

Using a domestic unit is certainly cheaper but you will get no hot water when off the dock unless you run your generator. The same installation tips apply to the domestic units.

We lived aboard for 16yrs with a 6 gallon unit and never had a shortage of hot water as with such a small unit and the same wattage as larger units, the water heated almost as fast as we could use.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcdboater View Post
Thanks everybody....

Ranger 42C.... How do you check 'flow thru rate'?

Ummm... use shore water to feed the boat, attach a hose to the drain valve and open it.... see if what goes in comes out at about the same rate.

Perhaps slightly more precisely, use that to fill a bucket and time it. Then use another faucet to fill the same bucket, time that. Compare times. Doesn't have to be exact or perfect, just getting a sense of whether you've got some kind of deposit build-up in the HWH.

Comparing from two different boat sources (HWH and another faucet) lets you take into account the pressure regulator you probably have on your shore water inlet.

-Chris
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:03 AM   #13
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Nor too small but RHEEM has a line of house units that have GRP inner tank that is warenteed almost forever.

They do not have the marine co generation built in but that can be added to any heater .

Their other advantage is excellent insulation , loosing only 5deg over 24 hours of non use.

OF course they are pricy , but not compared to most yachty stuff.

Marathon Water Heaters by Rheem

www.rheem.com Products Water Heating‎Rheem


Marathon Water Heaters are the most durable water heater made, with a warranty to ... The filament wound fiberglass outer tank is designed to be more flexible and ... for Residential use providing years of hot water for you and your family.
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:11 AM   #14
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Boatpoker - thanks - very good point about raising the tank 1/2 inch off the base -
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Most of the conventional marine units are aluminum tanks wrapped in fiberglass batting, inside a metal box.
The Seaward unit that failed on my vessel was indeed an Al tank - painted. Destined to fail just sitting there with hot water in it.

The Torrid unit I replaced it with is Al too, but glass lined and powder coated on outside. Think thermos jug lining. A world of difference.

The Torrid's frame keeps the tank off the wooden support base so little chance of water wicking, any leak at the base would be noticeable. The devil is in the details.
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:47 PM   #16
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Try Marinetec, their Solaris are top of the line, the inner tanks are copper.

Solaris Marine Heating

Expensive, but quality cost..
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:32 PM   #17
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Is you boat a gasser? Is the WH in the engine room? If yes to both, stick with the marine units to avoid creating an ignition source.
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Old 02-12-2014, 04:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Use a domestic one unless you really need the heat source from the main engine. Another consideration is water heater heat exchangers can fail or trap air, causing damage to the main engine.

I have investigated two Yanmar engines that cooked due to the water heater. In both cases, air trapped in the heater made it to the engine, air bound the circ pump, and the high temp sensor did not pick up the heat without coolant flow.

On my boat, I installed a 3gal water heater, even though I have room for a larger unit. This was done to keep crew from taking long showers and using up (very limited) water. When shower gets cold, they stop!!!
Poseidon smiles upon this one, he is very wise..

If you kept it switched off most the time, when you do power it up you will have hot water fast, also. I like the way you think.
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:36 PM   #19
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FF,

How would you add the heat exchanger to a non exchanger heater? I would be esp. interested in the Rheem PROE6 1 RH POU you mentioned.

Rob
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:37 PM   #20
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FF,

How would you add the heat exchanger to a non exchanger heater? I would be esp. interested in the Rheem PROE6 1 RH POU you mentioned.

Rob
You wouldn't
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