A new power direct vent gas commercial water heating unit slashed the Zinc Restaurant’s monthly water heater operating costs 69%, from $800 to $250.
"Absolutely thrilled!" That's how a relieved Donna Curran, owner of Zinc Restaurant in New Haven, CT, describes not only the performance of her new Rheem-Ruud AdvantagePlus™ commercial gas water heater, but also the sharp reduction in operating expenses it has provided.

Only a year prior, Curran had a new electric water heater installed in her restaurant's basement at 929 Chapel Street. The company that handled the kitchen design had advised her that electric was the only economical alternative because no flue or chimney was available for venting a gas-fired unit.

"We wanted to put in a gas heater," said Curran, "but apparently it couldn't be vented from the basement without an enormous cost," based on the information received at the time.

Too much for too little

Curran soon found that the unit was not able to keep up with the restaurant's hot water demand for dishwasher and other appliances - and it was costing her an astronomical $800 a month in operating expenses to boot. She contacted the local Rheem Water Heaters distributor, Bender Plumbing Supply, who brought in the Rheem-Ruud sales representative, Mark Bruder of Pendleton Associates Inc. in nearby Manchester, to assess the situation and find a solution.

After his evaluation, Bruder determined that the existing unit was indeed incapable of keeping up with hot water demand, and required replacement of working parts "on a somewhat regular basis," he remarked. "For example, Zinc was routinely replacing the heating elements because the unit had to run all the time to supply enough hot water. It was costing her an arm and a leg to heat the water, yet she still wasn't getting enough."

Bruder's sizing calculations indicated a larger water heater and an alternative power source would do the job right and for less. His recommendation: the AdvantagePlus HE119-199 with 119 gal of hot water storage and a gas input of 199,000 Btuh. That translates into a maximum first-hour delivery of 314 gal with only 31 min needed to fully recover the contents of the storage tank.

"I suggested an AdvantagePlus commercial gas unit because its 95% thermal efficiency would lower Zinc's operating costs, while its power direct vent design and sealed combustion feature did not require chimney access," Bruder commented. "We vented directly out the side of the building, using four-inch PVC, pulling the combustion air in and lowering operating costs."

The unit is also equipped with a state-of-the-art, self-diagnostic electronic control that provides a digital readout for monitoring the water temperature, setpoint, and differential. Two inches of non-CFC polyurethane foam insulation helps maintain less than a half-degree of heat loss per hour to further conserve energy use costs.

As for the building's HVAC system, architect George Zdru, explained that it was installed five years ago when the building was originally gutted and extensively renovated. The Carrier HVAC system consists of two condensers on the roof and three gas-fired AHUs. Curran said she's encountered no problems whatsoever with the overall HVAC system and Zdru noted that he hasn't received any complaints about it.

Double The Recovery At One-Third The Cost

As for the water heater, in the end, the new unit has almost doubled the recovery rate of the old electric unit and slashed operating costs to only about $250 a month - a 69% reduction. "Mark came out and explained what had to be done to the installer, who has been a good troubleshooter all along," Curran said with a tone of satisfaction to her voice. "Now, we've got no problems ... none. To say I'm thrilled is an understatement." ES