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Old 08-27-2013, 10:58 AM   #1
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Gas or electric?

Any advice on which is more economical for an extended stay; using the propane or using electricity for the hot water heater? We will be staying for a few months in a resort and for the first time won't have the electric useage included in the lot rent. The first 400 kwh cost is .10 per, next 400 priced at .14 cents, then 16 for any use age in excess of 800. Really have no idea how many kwh's we will use in our 2009 30' classic, but recall electric water heaters on our homes in the past really used the power even when the temperature was low. Cost to fill our 30 lb propane tank $30. Thanks
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:38 AM   #2
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Since these dual fuel hot water tank has no temperature setting, it really depends upon your usage of hot water and the temperature of the water going into the tank. One thing I have noticed with the water heater on my Classic is that I normally run electric only using the gas as a supplemental heat source when we shower. When I flip the switch to turn on the gas for the heater, the burner ignites. So apparently there must be two sensors controlling each heat source. With that in mind I know that the using gas alone results in hotter water so we obviously are using more energy with gas than electric. But the question is what is more economical. Personally I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep on this, but from a curiosity sake in an extended stay, I might try to run gas only for a month and see the effect on electric usage. But then again, if you have a heat pump or are using air conditioning, you've got to factor that all in.

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Old 08-27-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
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Any advice on which is more economical for an extended stay; using the propane or using electricity for the hot water heater? We will be staying for a few months in a resort and for the first time won't have the electric useage included in the lot rent. The first 400 kwh cost is .10 per, next 400 priced at .14 cents, then 16 for any use age in excess of 800. Really have no idea how many kwh's we will use in our 2009 30' classic, but recall electric water heaters on our homes in the past really used the power even when the temperature was low. Cost to fill our 30 lb propane tank $30. Thanks
Let's assume that your water heater draws 15 amps. If you use it for an hour, that's 1.8 kwh if I didn't have a senior moment while doing the math. At the most expensive rate of 16˘ per kwh, that's about 29˘ per hour of use.

On the other hand, a propane-fired RV water heater requires about 8,800 btu per hour for a very fuel-efficient Atwood. Propane produces 91,500 btu per gallon. Even if you get 80% of the heat doing useful work, and the rest of the heat going out the vent, that's 73,200 btu of heat going to your water. One gallon of propane will support your water heater for 8.3 hours. The average price of propane in the 2012-2013 winter season was about $2.48 per gallon. Using those prices, running your water heater on propane costs about 30˘ per hour.

Looks like you come out about the same either way. If you can get propane cheaper than $2.49 per gallon, use propane, if not, use electric.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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My guess would be that if you turn off the water heater when you're not using it, the energy cost will be low with either energy source.

One big consumer will be the AC/heat pump if you're using that much. I'm guessing you have at least one 15k btu unit on a 30' trailer. If it's efficient and uses about 12 amps running current, every hour of its operation will be about 1.5 kWh, so 8-9 hours of compressor operation per day will burn through the 400 kWh you get at the lower rate.

The rates seem pretty fair unless the resort is right next to a hydroelectric facility and gets unusually cheap power. Average residential rate in the US this year is 12.54 cents/kWh and if you use 800 kWh you'd be paying 12 cents/kWh.

In a 1500 square foot house (built in the early 50s, but upgraded with blow-in insulation in the walls and attic) in north Texas, we've averaged 1242 kWh/month over the last 6 years. (Yes I'm that much of a nerd, I have a spreadsheet! ) That's cooling to 78F when it's hot in the daytime, 75F at night, and I work at the house so I'm here most of the time. We have gas heat.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help on this. We'll likely use the electric and then only when needed. When we lived in our home in AZ, we had an electric hot water heater in our attached garage that we could keep off during the summer. Our water pipes ran thru the attic- both hot and cold, we had HOT water out of both! We likely will be able to be under 800 kwh even with some a/c use after reading your info. Thanks again
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:08 PM   #6
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Any advice on which is more economical for an extended stay; using the propane or using electricity for the hot water heater? We will be staying for a few months in a resort and for the first time won't have the electric useage included in the lot rent. The first 400 kwh cost is .10 per, next 400 priced at .14 cents, then 16 for any use age in excess of 800. Really have no idea how many kwh's we will use in our 2009 30' classic, but recall electric water heaters on our homes in the past really used the power even when the temperature was low. Cost to fill our 30 lb propane tank $30. Thanks
Break even point at 80% efficiency for propane is:

20 x electric $/kwh = propane $/gallon

30# propane tank holds 7.07 gallons so you're paying $4.24 per gallon

As long as the electric is below $0.21 per kwh you're better off with electric. Besides, you then avoid the hassle of filling the tanks.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:00 PM   #7
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For us with 30 amp service the electric water heater pulls to much power with AC, using hair dryer, in the winter running electric heaters or vacuum cleaner.

Gas will heat the HW very quickly so we use gas but only heat the water when we will be needing it. HW heater is off a good portion of the day and off all night.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:57 PM   #8
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My guess would be that if you turn off the water heater when you're not using it, the energy cost will be low with either energy source.
I agree with the above statement. Especially if you are taking short showers and just washing some dishes, the cost per day for water heater operation is probably less than $.50.

Now to compare the cost of electricity to gas, just compare the energy cost. Using Protagonist's fuel cost and efficiency and using the conversion factor of 3,411 BTU/kwhr, the propane cost is 12.6 cents/kwhr. This actually surprises me because I always thought that operation of a gas water heater for the home was cheaper than operating an electric water heater. We pay about 12 cents/kwhr, so it appears that our cost of operating the water heater is the same for electricity as it is for gas.

However, I prefer propane for operation of the water heater. One reason is that we boondock generally. Another is that I just like the sound of the water heater coming on, like yup, something is happening.

Dan
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:55 AM   #9
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Wow, I guess I should be happy. I pay 5.6 - 6.7 cents per kWh, depending on volume.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:57 AM   #10
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Normally the cost per KWH goes down as the usage increases.
In most cases involving residential use it is a flat rate.
In our residence it is $.12 per KWH.
In the case of our irrigation pump. The rate starts at $.12 per KWH, but then goes down to $.06 per KWH when a certain amount is consumed.
Our propane cost is about $1.80 per gallon for the residence. It is double that when we have portable tanks filled by the same supplier.
As I recall a 30# propane tank holds 6 gallons of propane. $30.00 (mentioned earlier) for a 30# tank is $5.00 per gallon.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:57 AM   #11
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As I recall a 30# propane tank holds 6 gallons of propane.
4.3 pounds per gallon at 70°F.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:07 AM   #12
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I've stayed in my Airstream for months at a time. Without using electric for my hot water heater, and running the A/C for a few hours to all night, I would use around $70-80 of electricity at 12 cents a KWH here in Florida. My fridge runs on 120 VAC, and draws 2.3 amps.

If it got cold, I would use a 30# bottle of propane every 1-2 weeks depending on temperature. If it got warm, maybe 3 weeks, just cooking and hot water, although I would use the campground showers as often as possible.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Normally the cost per KWH goes down as the usage increases.
In most cases involving residential use it is a flat rate.
In our residence it is $.12 per KWH.
In the case of our irrigation pump. The rate starts at $.12 per KWH, but then goes down to $.06 per KWH when a certain amount is consumed.
Our propane cost is about $1.80 per gallon for the residence. It is double that when we have portable tanks filled by the same supplier.
As I recall a 30# propane tank holds 6 gallons of propane. $30.00 (mentioned earlier) for a 30# tank is $5.00 per gallon.
Yeah, I was just looking at the actual kWh cost without all the add-ins and delivery cost.

All in, I'm at 11.7 cents per kWh. Still below national average.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:37 AM   #14
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I'm not very scientific, but I flip my water heater switch on about 20 minutes before I want to shower, then kill it before I step in. Enough hot water for a shower and dishes. I save my electric money for the heat pump. I do use the AC, but only set it at 85. Living on a tight budget is possible, but not very comfortable sometimes.
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