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Most efficient way to supplement existing solar batch heater in winter?

Ben Blue | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I’m a tenant in a yurt in east San Diego county CA, at around 4000 ft. of elevation. Right now, the only hot water comes from a solar batch heater, which completely meets my needs April-October, and intermittently on clear days throughout the winter months. However, the landlord has agreed to install something to provide consistent hot water to the one indoor sink and the outdoor shower.

Now, my hot water needs are extremely modest–the occasional sinkful of dishes, and a few showers a week. I’m definitely capable of waiting a couple days for the weather to clear for a hot shower. The batch heater works so well in our climate that I’d want to plumb it inline with whatever we install so we’re still using it as much as possible. The supplemental heater would really only be used for dishes in the evening, and showers during long stretches of cold, overcast days.

Energy options are electricity and propane. It seems like a small tankless gas heater would be the best solution. Am I right about that? And are there any models recommended for use with pre-heated water.

Thanks for your time and knowledge.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    A small 3-gallon or 5-gallon electric water heater -- the kind that fits under a sink -- may be all you need. Much cheaper than a tankless gas heater.

  2. user-659915 | | #2

    Yes, what Martin said. A gas tankless heater would be way overkill. You can avoid standby losses (and effectively get the benefits of a tankless for much less cost) by switching on the electric heater just an hour or two before you need it.

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