Letters: November/December 2013

November/December 2013
A version of this article appears in the November/December 2013 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more letters.

Cement Water Heaters?

Do you have any knowledge or experience with the Hubbell PBX hybrid water heater? You may have to Google it. It is made in New England, has various capacities up to 120 gallons, and has a cement tank (as opposed to the more common glass-lined tank). I have never seen anyone with one or anything written about it.

It is an interesting concept. On paper, I guess the tank should last at least 20+ years. However, I can just imagine the electronics going bad on these first. The warranties for both glass-lined tanks and cement-lined tanks are the same—10 years.

I am in Tennessee, between Nashville and Alabama, so such a water heater makes sense. I am trying to get as much information as possible before purchasing. 

—Ken of Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Home Energy’s Water Heater Expert Larry Weingarten replies:

I think I’d heard of Hubbell (or it may just be the telescope,) but I did look it up and for what my opinion is worth, here goes:

  1. Cement-lined tanks are heavy! Moving them on a level is hard enough, but going up or down is worse (more expensive).
  2. No anode means no possibility of extending tank life.
  3. The HP unit (like most HPs on glass-lined tanks) does not appear to be removable from the tank should the tank fail.
  4. I could find no figures objectively comparing glass-lined tank longevity to cement-lined, but I did find a 10-year warranty on Vaughn and also on Hubbell. Better glass-lined tanks have 10- or 12-year warranties.
  5. One needs to take a life-cycle cost approach to this question. I suspect a glass-lined tank with a powered anode would be hard to beat.
  6. I’d be tempted to go for the longest warranty on the HP equipment, as that has the moving parts.
  7. I see the tank has 3 inches of insulation. Good! 
  8. Interestingly, Hubbell makes a copper-silicon tank. That sounds like a great fit with a heat pump.

Hope that is of some use.

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In “Making A/C Smarter” (July/Aug ’13, p. 54) there were claims made about the possible energy savings from using the HVAC Smart Chip. We asked for, but did not receive, any documentation certifying these claims. It is our policy not to publish claims of energy savings or other quantifiable benefits from products or technology without documentation. The editors regret this error.

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