Propane water heaters and electricty (or not) -- questions for those knowledgeable about propane water heatersgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
I've been wondering about our propane water heater for awhile now. I know that some propane appliances do not require electricity to operate. In fact, I wish we had the old propane heater we grew up with, as we still had heat even if the power went out.
I know that our propane furnace will not work with out electricity. Our oven won't either, but we can light the stove top burners.
But the propane water heater I'm not sure of. Now let me CLARIFY-- I don't expect to be able to use it in the traditional sense of heating a replenished water supply. But what I have been wondering about is, if it runs without electricity, would it serve as a possible heat source in the basement?
If it would keep running, then we wouldn't have to worry about the water in it freezing or worry about having to drain it out and turn off the propane to it. And it might just keep a small area around it bit above freezing, as in some of the canned goods stored in its proximity.
Does anyone know if the propane water heaters out there require electricity? (I know it probably depends on the make and model and ... This one happens to be an A.O. Smith brand. One other aside, I've looked at it pretty closely a few times in the last while, and I do not see any wires or plugs running from it to anywhere.)
If there are some propane water heaters out there that work without electricity, are there other problems that you can foresee with what I've described. (Will the water eventually evaporate? They are not supposed to be run without water in them... Will it affect the draining of other pipes... Or ?)
-- winter wondering (email@example.com), December 06, 1999
What you are looking for is what type of ignition it has. Look at your relighting instructions. If it has an electronic ignition like a new gas oven, you are out of luck. If it has a pezio (sp) lighter with a pilot light then it doesn't require electricity. I wish I still had my 1957 O'keefe & Merritt gas range instead of the newer oven with the "safer" but potentially useless electronic starter.
As for the safeness of your proposal, I don't know. It seems to me to be a dangerous idea to burn that water heater without water in it. Maybe you should look into buying a gas space heater & have it professionally installed while you still can.
-- mostlylurking (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 06, 1999.
Winter, I'm no expert but I've never seen or heard of a gas water heater that needs electricity. If there were wires running to it you should have seen them. There should be 3 hookups- gas, cold water in and hot water out. I would suggest you become familiar with it (and all appliances in your home) The water should not evaporate. It's basically a closed system. To summarize, it should be fine - as long as you have propane. good luck ps: don't store your stuff too close to the heater.
-- (email@example.com), December 06, 1999.
Yes, you can get a propane and natural gas water heater that doesn't use electricity. Best of all, it's a demand system that doesn't have a tank. You heat the water as you use it. I installed one (AquaStar) in my last home at loved it. It's a big money saver. You can get information at 800/642-3199 www.cechot.com
-- walt (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 06, 1999.
The re-lighting instructions involve actually using a match or lighter-- whereas in the case of our electronic ignition oven, there is no way to use a match or lighter.
Also, it is dangerous to run this without water in it. What I'm thinking of is in terms of _not draining_ the water heater if we end up needing to drain the rest of the pipes/water.
But we would only not drain it if we were pretty sure that it would keep from freezing...
"Clearances" have been noted. :-)
Thanks for your assessment.
-- winter wondering (email@example.com), December 06, 1999.
Many propane water heaters require no electricity. One common type that does require electrical power is the kind that vents the fumes out the wall using plastic pipe, instead of venting verically with metal stove pipe. The ones that using plastic vent pipe usually have a small electric fan that provides a power draft for the unit, and is also tied into the electric ignition for the water heater.
-- Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 06, 1999.
Are we forgetting something here? The propane water heater may not need juice, but what's going to pump the water into the heater? Doesn't it take electricity to push water from the well into the heater? Or, if you're on a city system, a compliant electric supplier would be nice.
-- (email@example.com), December 06, 1999.
We used to have a gas stove, and the pilot light did the starting. Unless you have a completly enclosed burner (I wouldn't under stand it if you did) a match or one of those extended reach lighters will light just about any gas appliance out there. Unplug the stove, and see if it does light. You might be suprised.
-- James L. Miller Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 1999.
Electric pump wrote:
"Are we forgetting something here? The propane water heater may not need juice, but what's going to pump the water into the heater? Doesn't it take electricity to push water from the well into the heater? Or, if you're on a city system, a compliant electric supplier would be nice.
-- (email@example.com), December 06, 1999. "
-------- If you re-read what I wrote, I tried to CLARIFY that I wasn't thinking of using it to keep heating a continuous or replenishing water supply. There will be water in it if the power goes out. The water in it won't pump anywhere, either, if there's no water. But if the water heater will continue to heat the water in the heater sans electricity, then it will keep it from freezing and we won't have to drain it. If we don't have to drain it, we won't have to turn off the pilot light. Further, if it continues to heat the water to some extent, it may just generate enough extra warmth in the near vicinity to keep the temps above the freezing point.
I hope that better explains the question I was asking.
James L. Miller wrote:
"We used to have a gas stove, and the pilot light did the starting. Unless you have a completly enclosed burner (I wouldn't under stand it if you did) a match or one of those extended reach lighters will light just about any gas appliance out there. Unplug the stove, and see if it does light. You might be suprised. "
We used to have one of the pilot light ignition stoves/ovens, also. However, we don't have that oven any longer, and I found out several years ago during a power outage that I could not light the 'electronic ignition' gas oven without electricity. I did discuss this with the company who manufactured these ovens (Tappan). They indicated that none of their electronic ignition ovens can be lit manually during a power outage. There is some special 'spark' or 'striker' bar that is required to start their gas ovens and it will not work without electricity.
-- winter wondering (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 1999.
To get a little off the topic, but still within the discussion, many of the gas stoves that require electricity to operate the oven, will operate fine with the smallest of the inverters that seem to be available almost everywhere now.
Charging systems, batteries, etc., have been discussed elsewhere on this and other forums.
-- Jim (email@example.com), December 07, 1999.
You may, if fact, be able to use your oven if you light the pilot lite in the back of the broiler compartment. The pilot will heat a thermocouple which will allow the burner to ignite in a minute or so.
There is probably no electrical component to your water heater, but if you are going to use it for heating you will need to make some kind of closed loop with some kind of finned tube or radiator. I understand that it can be done.
-- gene (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 1999.
I have seen some places, Sierra Solar Systems, for one that have water heaters, Aquastar 125BX ,that have an electronic ignition that runs off of regular D cell batteries like some kerosene heaters
-- Wittey (email@example.com), December 07, 1999.
Don't forget that a gas water heater needs
fresh air for combustion and needs to be
-- spider (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.