When we moved into this house in 2021, we noticed a problem. Getting hot water to the primary bathroom seemingly took an eternity. For the shower, it wasn’t too horrible, but for the sink it meant, as a practical reality, always washing my hands in cold water.

As a primary care physician for a couple of decades, I tend to wash my hands frequently. Not OCD frequently, but probably 20+ times per day. Cold water isn’t pleasant and isn’t very effective. I’m also a contact lens wearer, and sticky icy lenses and fingers in my eye is less than ideal. Waiting for the hot water to reach the sink from the far-away water heater would mean wasting a lot of time and precious (we live in perpetual drought here) water.

My first thought was to put in a tankless heater at that end of the house. Alas, the gas and electricity both are only at the far other end of the building. To run a 220v line for the water heater would require about $1,000 in wire alone (it’s a long building). I’d likely need to upgrade the service panel (thousands). Gas would require a long 3/4” gas pipe, plus flue venting. I even considered using an external propane-fired heater, but that would look kind of sketch and add managing propane tanks to my chore list.

What I settled on was a 10 liter (about 2-1/2 gallon) electric tank heater. Even though 2-1/2 gallons isn’t enough for the shower, it’s plenty for the sink. It runs on 110v so I was able to plug it in to an existing socket. It took me less than two hours to install with no gotchas except giving up some of the under-sink storage. The bonus is that it’s even faster than a tankless heater: when I turn on the water, it’s warm before I can move my hand from the faucet lever to the water stream. For three years now, multiple times per day, I have the joy of immediate hot water whenever I wash my hands.

—2p

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