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Electric Tankless Water Heaters

tankless_water_heater_siebel.jpg

Note: This post has been expanded and updated for 2009!

Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed. About 8% to 30% of the energy consumed by a standard water heater goes to keeping the water hot while it’s not being used. New tankless systems heat the water instantly when you turn on the faucet, rather than keeping a tank full of hot water 24/7 whether you’re using it or not. Tankless heaters run on either electricity or gas, just like regular heaters. They start out at about $300 for electric and $600 for gas.

There are two main brands of whole-house electric tankless water heaters: Stiebel Eltron and Powerstar. They come in various models, which are rated on the “gallons per minute” that they deliver.

The online store Low Energy Systems has a good selection of tankless water heaters, both electric and gas-powered. You can also find tankless water heaters reviewed on Amazon–this is one of the few places you’ll find reviews from owners themselves.

See more information about water heaters and electrical savings at Ask Mr. Electricity

Comments 153

  1. I was an early adopter of tankless water heaters – I first purchased a SETS tankless model 220 around 2000. It worked fine for many years, although I had the same annoyance with the temperature fluctuation that others have reported. The early SETS design used a simple on-off switch and had no idea how much water was flowing through the system, so the power applied to the heating elements was basically a shot in the dark (sometimes too little, sometimes WAY too much). The worst part was the scalding temperatures that would come out of low-flow faucets. Also, the system wasn’t able to accomodate sudden increases in water flow very easily, so it wasn’t really possible to take a shower when the dishwasher was running. Unlike many, my experience with SETS customer service were positive – they sent out parts when they said they were going to, and so forth (I hadn’t spoken to them in about five years, though, so it’s entirely possible things went downhill). The unit itself never had any problems – no leaks, no issues at all. Aside from the quirky behavior, which I got used to, I didn’t really think about it. I had no idea that so many people were having such bad experiences.

    About a week ago, the control board on the SETS gave out. I assumed based on my prior experience that it would be a simple matter to get a replacement. I was shocked to discover that SETS was no more, and that their assets had been purchased by Hubbell. I was given the choice by Hubbell to replace the old control board for $99, or to get a refurbished unit for about $400. Obviously, I was upset because I had previously thought I had a lifetime warranty! The refurbished unit, according to Hubbell’s rep, incorporated design changes that made the unit work better. Given that I was now entirely without a warranty, and I was hoping that the kinks had been worked out of these devices, I decided to take the plunge and go for the refurb unit.

    I’m happy to report that this was a GREAT decision. While the Hubbell units look like the SETS unit from the outside (same case), they work MUCH, MUCH better. The Hubbell units have a flow meter that allows the unit to make intelligent decisions about how much power to use to heat the water. Instead of the annoyingly vague control system on the SETS, the Hubbell uses the simple method of setting the desired temperature. That’s it. And no more scalding! The temperature in showers is MUCH more consistent and the light flickering is down to a completely negligible amount. Also, if the dishwasher, washing machine, or another faucet turns on while I’m in the shower, the temperature drops only slightly – it’s never uncomfortably cold as it was with the SETS unit.

    Hubbell’s rep was also extremely helpful and they were able to ship me a new unit the very next day. I would recommend that anyone using a SETS heater and having problems immediately get a refurbished unit from Hubbell. The replacement was VERY easy given the identical form factor and very similar connections. In fact, based on my experience thus far, I can now recommend the Hubbell units whole-heartedly to anyone shopping for a tankless, and that’s something I didn’t ever do with the SETS. Even though I was used to it, I knew that other people wouldn’t really like it, so I never told anyone they should get one.

    To be honest, there’s nothing you can do about the loss of the lifetime warranty – cut your losses and decide what you’re going to do going forward. It’s not Hubbell’s fault that SETS went out of business. It’s also not surprising, to be honest, given the way SETS just mailed out parts whenever anyone called, and the strange behavior of their heaters.

    For those considering taking the plunge to tankless, think carefully before you do so – you will have to adjust to a new way of thinking about hot water. I for one love it, because I can’t stand running out of hot water, and an endless supply is what tankless models are all about.

  2. I had purchased two N-120 Titan units and they both failed within 2 years. One failed when one of the heating elements went bad(1/2 of it still works and I put in a Marey unit in serial with the 1/2 of the N-120 unit. The other unit’s circuit board failed and was unable to provide the 220 volts to the units heaters via the thyristors. So basically I would never buy another Titan…I just bought a Stiebel and will replace the bad N-120

  3. After hurricane Katrina I was thought I had done my research and bought the SETS 240 and since my house had to be rebuilt I let the contractor install the system. The first time I used it the unit burned up, I mean the bake lite where the wires connect melted and that flow switch was a blob of plastic. The red flag should have gone up then but I sent it back (after the tech tried to blame me for the failure), and got a replacement. After that is was the same story as everyone else so last July I contacted Hubble and talked to some really nice people and I couldn’t blame them for SETS bad performance so I swapped mine out for one of theirs and since July it has been performing great. I really like the new functionallty and LED readout where you can tell the temperature. It was a pleasure dealing with Hubble and I hope I can still say that next year.

  4. I’ve had a SETS tankless since 1999 and after some initial problems that were quickly resolved it’s been worry free for years. It finally died a month ago. I was initially disapointed to find out my lifetime warrantee was worthless as Hubble had bought the company, but after some research and reading BillN’s post above I decided to go with having my unit refurbished for the, now, $415.00. I wanted a new unit, but I couldn’t afford the new price along with the required plumbing change$ that would be required.

    During my first conversation with them I was told they would ship me a new unit and I could ship my old one as soon as I replaced it saving me from not having hot water for any longer than I already had. Well, that ended when I called back to order. Now I was told that they didn’t have any cores in stock, but that they would IMMEDIATELY turn mine around if I sent it to them. When I asked how long “immediately” was I was told “well within two weeks”. Um, big difference…

    They have now had my unit for well over two weeks. This is after many phone calls and emails and run arounds about it “shipping today” and “I’ll call you right back as the guys are in a production meeting”. Let me point out that the only return phone call I recieved was from “Sam” a couple of days ago who was shipping my unit right then, but was calling to ask which one was mine. What? Needless to say it didn’t ship. I am on the phone with Chris Z at this very moment and he, once again, is assuring me it is shipping today. I guess we’ll see. Again.

    I was a happy SETS owner, but my recent dealings with Hubble have left me cold. Literally.

  5. My 220-3 is on the way. Discount for my old one as well. Thanks to Chris x-134 for all the help and your compassion for our dislike of SETS heaters. Also thank you to Sam x-136 for a painless order of the new Hubbell 220-3 Should arrive on Monday. My Wife can’t wait!

  6. Well, one week into the new heater and I can honestly say that I’m completely satisfied. We’ve not had a single incident of temperature swings during showers. Last night, my two young daughters decided to take a bubble bath together, instead of their regular showers.

    We have a triangular-shaped Kohler jet tub in our master bath which I believe it has an 80 gal capacity. The heater filled the tub w/nice, hot water for the girls without any trouble at all.

    Believe me, I’ve been looking for something negative to report but so far, so perfect! Thanks Hubbell, for ending our hot water nightmare. 😉

  7. Thanks for the tip George. I am going to upgrade tomorrow. Going with a new 220-3. More power and flow rate is higher. It will cost a little more but 5 year warranty is hard to pass up. Chris helped me make the decision. Glad I checked this blog. More later.

  8. Hi Kevin,
    I understand what is happening at your house. Unitl you get the SETS unit changed it might help if yoiu try something that helped us some.
    During a shower try turning on the hot water valve in your lavatory sink at about a little finger sized stream and let in run during the shower. For some reason that seemed to temper the hot/cold fluctuations. It was also imprtant for us to only run the heat level on the unit at a lower setting so that if turned on full it gave you a fairly warm shower, not a hot one.
    Good luck in your prusuits. We are happy now with our rebuilt unit from Hubbell. Everything now works as one would expect. We are a couple of weeks into using the rebuilt and all is well. George

  9. Glad I am not alone in my frustration with my SETS 180 unit. My wife told me this morning that she will not take another warm-freezing-scalding shower. After reading all the comments and frustrations from others I am going to make that call to Hubbell. Hope they will provide me the service that I have read about here. I will post further.

  10. I too am a frustrated SETS owner. As much as I wish the lifetime warranty was still in place, it apparently wasn’t worth anything more than the paper on which it was written. 🙁

    After about 3 1/2 yrs, my 240 model went kaput late last week. Terrible temperature swings, and leaks in various places (o-rings and the copper pipe itself). Plus the unit’s switch that turns on the heating elements when a hot water faucet is turned on was broken. Sometimes it’d take 5 or 6 times of turning on the faucet for the heater to finally kick in. All of these problems made it a priority to replace it.

    After reading George’s experience w/the Hubbell people I decided to do the same. Instead of the refurb, however, I went w/a new 240 model (longer warranty), but they did give me a discount for agreeing to send my old unit back to them.

    Chris Ortiz (he said there were 3 guys named Chris there) was very helpful in my decision-making process. He told me that it would be delivered on Wednesday of this week, and it showed up that very day. I was thrilled that it showed up when promised, and hoped that it was a good omen. I could only hope that the unit’s performance would live up to I had been told.

    I had the unit installed this morning by a pro. I can only say this: Hallelujah!!! No temperature variations, at least that I could feel. Better yet, I had hot water in the sink AND in the shower at the same time! Even when the old unit was ‘working’, that was never possible.

    Granted, I’ve only had one shower. But like George, I feel compelled to post a very favorable initial impression of Hubbell’s improvements and efforts. If things change for the worst with the unit, rest assured that I’ll be posting all the dirt. But for now, color me happy!

  11. I purchased a model 220-3 from the SETS company in late 2005, and experienced the issues everyone has mentioned on this site. Very frustrating trying to solve and live with unkept promises of the SETS people. I found out about Hubbell, and called to see if there was a possible fix. After talking w/a friendly rep (Chirs), I decided to purchase the recondtioned 220-3 (rebuilt version of my model). This was priced at about $350 less that a new model. I will ship back the old model. The only used part in the heater is the heat chambers made of copper.
    The installation was finished yesterday and we find this heater works as expected and advertized. We set the heat at 118 F and find it is very satisfactory. We live where this mornings temp is zero F. I especially like the stainless tell housing. Looks sharp.
    I found Hubbell’s reps very responsive and helpful and was hesistant about this because of lack of customer testimony. All appears well for now. If anything changes, expect me back with comments. No commnets means good news.
    George

  12. I purchased a model 240 from the SETS company in 2005, and experienced the issues everyone has mentioned on this site. I found out about hubble, and called to see if there was a possible fix. After talking w/a friendly rep (Chirs), I decided to purchase the 240-3 (new version of my model), vs. refurbushing my old 240. I received a discount, and will ship back the old model.

    The installation was finished last night, and all I can say is FINALLY this heater works. And it works great. I posted some pictures on picasa if anyone wants to see the before & after.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/yamil.hernandez/WaterHeater#

    So far I have taken 4 showers, and no more fluctuation issues. It was like night/day from the old heater. I will post back in a month or so, to see if the trend holds. but for now, I would recommend that you either refurbish or replace your old unit ASAP. The dimensions are the same, so for me it was easy to do. Good luck to all.

    Yamil

  13. WOW! First of all; Cudos to you Bill. Thanks for stepping up to the plate. I am writing from Canada where these units are starting to become popular. I have always been intrigued with the concept. I am planing on putting one in our new home in PEI where electricity is not the cheapest. I am also looking into putting one into our home here in Ontario. Does anyone have information on gas units versus electric units. I am going to use electric in our new home but I am inquiring for our present home. This website is awsome. Keep the info comming everyone.

  14. Skip, you may be interested to know that the person involved with American Heat is the same person who was an owner of the now defunct company SETS Systems Inc. This person benefited as an owner of SETS Systems Inc. by selling you a heater which you purchased with a now worthless “Lifetime Warranty”. After leaving SETS Systems Inc. he made essentially the same heater under the American Heat brand. The question is, do you want to do business with (again) and pay (again) the same person that is largely responsible for your now worthless SETS Systems Inc “Lifetime Warranty”?

  15. They are making a one-time warranty offer to all SETS owners – you buy a guarantee for $35, if your SETS units fails you can get one of their new units for 30% off plus the $35 back. Apparently Hubbell warranty offers discount on refurbished units. My interest would depend on how good the AmercanHeat unit is. Their website doesn’t seem to be fully working right now.

  16. Does anyone have experience with the unit from American Heat Distributors?
    They have just sent out an offer to SETS owners

  17. I have had a SETS water heater in our new home since summer 2005. I have had the temp. fluctuations constantly. I have got to th3e point of nearly giving up on SETS.
    Now I accidentally read your blog.
    Can you further expalin to me how to get my SETS refurnbished and the costs involved. How long will it take as we need hot water while this happens. Do you guarantee your refurbish will work? For how long?
    605 222 9207 George Welk

  18. As the COO of Hubbell Electric Heater Co., let me take this opportunity to explain to people the situation with the SETS tankless water heater. On June 26, 2008 Hubbell Electric Heater Co., a manufacturer of electric water heaters for over 80+ years, purchased the assets of SETS Systems Inc. Although SETS Systems Inc was an innovator in the field, the company lacked the resources and experience necessary to properly manufacture and service a tankless water heater for wide scale distribution. Although they experienced many of the same technical problems other manufacturer’s of tankless water heaters experienced at one time or another (temperature fluctuation being the main problem) as stated above they lacked the proper resources to address the problem while serving their customer base. For further details visit the website http://www.buytankless.com

    As an early pioneer in the field, SETS Systems Inc faced a huge hurdle educating consumers to the benefits (and the physical requirements) of an electric whole house tankless water heater and viewed the “Lifetime Warranty” as a way to get consumers “over the hump”. As everyone knows, a warranty is only as good as the company behind it, and quite frankly, as a consumer I would view a “Lifetime Warranty” on a relatively new technology for one of the hardest working appliances in the home from a company as young as SETS Systems Inc to be highly suspect. And although I believe the previous owner of SETS Systems Inc had the best intentions, the demands of manufacturing, product development and customer service for a product like this overwhelmed the company and was its eventual undoing.

    To be clear, Hubbell Electric Heater Co. did not purchase the corporation SETS Systems Inc, and any and all warranty obligations are the responsibility of SETS Systems Inc, not Hubbell. Hubbell purchased the inventory and assets of the company (which yes, include the phone number and website) and has decided to provide ongoing technical and product support for owners of SETS tankless water heaters. Yes, now you might have to buy an $18 replacement heating element, but these are ongoing maintenance costs that you eventually face with every other heater on the market (tankless or storage). If there are temperature fluctuation issues (not totally unheard of in the tankless market) they are most likely units made before December 31, 2007 which utilized a flow switch design. Although this design was a significant improvement over earlier generation flow switches, the heater in certain situations was prone to temperature fluctuations and clearly a weakness in the product. The answer to this problem is quite simple and highly effective, that is by utilizing a precision flow meter and properly located sensors, the temperature controller can operate the heaters in such a way that they output the precise amount of heat to meet the exact instantaneous demand. This “second generation” control system has significantly reduced the amount of temperature fluctuation throughout the full range of flows and has been incorporated into all SETS heaters since that time, and overall has been very well received by customers.

    Hubbell has made an attempt (undoubtedly it will not satisfy everyone) to assist owners of SETS Systems Inc heaters by offering a special 50% discount on replacement parts. For customers unhappy with temperature fluctuations of earlier generation flow switch design heaters, Hubbell is also providing the ability to have their unit completely refurbished (all new heating elements, new temperature controller, new digital numeric display, and replace the flow switch with a flow meter) for $385 which includes shipping. Although these offers are not the warranties that customers initially purchased, Hubbell believes that these are fair and reasonable prices for the services offered and are extended to SETS owners in an effort to rebuild the brand and customer support.

    Now, let me explain (for anyone still reading that is) what Hubbell is doing to improve the product. We have only just completed the set up of the production line, and in the first 2 weeks have already made or are in the process of making major design improvements. The heating element design has been significantly improved by changing from copper to Incoloy 800 sheathing on the tubulars, thus improving its corrosion resistance and increasing its temperature operating range. Additionally, the cold section of the heating element has been significantly extended to ensure that the heated section is always immersed in water, and finally the heating element itself will be manufactured by the world leader in heating element fabrication, Chromalox (no more off shore low quality manufacturing). The accuracy of the temperature sensor has been improved by a factor of 15, thereby further improving the units ability to maintain accurate output temperature. The heating chamber is being redesigned in a number of ways to improve flow characteristics thereby reducing the pressure drop through the heater, reducing the possibility of trapped air, improving heat transfer rate through improved flow and finally improving the O-ring groove design to ensure more reliable heating element seating. The temperature control software is being re-written to provide improved diagnostic feedback to the user including indication of stage heating, indication of modulation, indication of flow, improved heater modulation characteristics, and finally the addition of circular mode logic in order to equalize wear and tear on all components. These are only some of the improvements planned. As a company that continually innovates and improves, Hubbell will be sure to continue to invest in the product and make ongoing improvements to bring to the consumer the very best technology for high efficiency water heating.

    In terms of customer support, Hubbell is committed to helping customers (both SETS Systems Inc customers and Hubbell customers) and is putting in place the personnel necessary to provide the high level of customer service Hubbell provides for its other products. Am I a biased source, well yes, I suppose I am. I know there are people unhappy with the SETS heater as made by SETS Systems Inc, but I also know there are many more people who are satisfied with the product. Having said that, Hubbell is committed to the tankless water heater and will make every effort to improve the product going forward, service our new customers and do our best to support SETS Systems Inc customers. The SETS heater has many features which make it a great option for customers, and Hubbell is fully committed to building upon this design and bringing to the tankless water heater market a reliable and highly efficient source for hot water. Hubbell brings to the table a vast amount of experience in designing and manufacturing all types of electric water heaters, and is confident that in very short order the Hubbell manufactured SETS tankless water heater will be the heater of choice in the industry.

  19. I also have a SETS 165. I was told that this unit would be good for S Fl. Mind you I bought this about 2.5 years ago. Temperature fluctuations have been non stop from day one. Tonight I told my wife the SETS has worn me out. I will be looking at Bosch. I’m glad I never sold one of these units as I was a dealer for this co at one time. It simply never worked.

  20. That means no warranty, now a days you can write anything BS on a website like “lifetime warranty” but what matters is the company not the product. I have also run into another tankless water heater company here in South Florida that is selling some plastic unit from China with a “lifetime warranty” and the address is a P.O. box. But still there some people who will buy thinking they have a “lifetime warranty” I ended up buying a titan unit from a local supply store, it might not have a “lifetime warranty” but the company has a good reputation and they have been around for 24 years. I visited the factory to see the showroom before I purchased and found it to be a serious and well planted company with good people.

  21. This is what I got so far from the comments and links here:

    Stiebel — good.

    Seisco RA 22— ok to good (probably good as complaints were addressed), with very good customer support.

    Niagara Industries Titan N120 — mixed reviews.

    Bosch PowerStar AE125 — good

    S.E.T.S. — bad to very bad, has been bought out though.

    Ok, so on this website there is also the Pulsar Advanced Technologies Vulcanus MK4 here: http://metaefficient.com/hot-water-systems/tankless-water-heater-uses-microwaves-vulcanus-mark-4.html
    It uses microwaves to heat the water. Anyone try them?

    Also another company to consider is Eemax.

  22. The lady told me SETS was bought out by Hubbel water heater yesterday. She said she just got the news yesterday that they bought this company and dont’t know much about their products. I didn’t ask where they are.
    So SETS is truly gone and I wonder what happens to their lifetime warranty now?
    will the new company honor the warranty?
    anyway, lucky I did not get their unit.

  23. i called a few minutes ago and the lady told me SETS was bought out by Hubbel water heater yesterday. She said she just got the news yesterday that they bought this company and dont’t know much about their products. I didn’t ask where they are.
    So SETS is truly gone and I wonder what happens to their lifetime warranty now?
    will the new company honor the warranty?
    anyway, lucky I did not get their unit.

  24. I called the number and I get a company called hubbell in Standford CO not Miami Fl. I live in South Florida and had a chance to pass by there warehouse on my way to the airport. All the signs are off and whne I looked threw the glass the place is empty.

  25. i just called sets at 1-877-649-8589 and they say
    they are still in business. where did you hear that they went out of business. i got screwed by them and i will be very happy to hear if they go under.
    DON’T BUY THEIR EQUIPMENT AS I HEAR NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS.

  26. I have heard that SETS is out of business well so much for the “LIFETIME WARRANTY”

  27. Looks like nobody posts good results so I will. I had a Seisco and Steibel Eltron but got rid of both due to ongoing problems. Seisco and Steibel Eltron have reduced flow rates from 1/2 to 3/8 back to 1/2 when homes are mostly 3/4 inch piping. I bought a SETS as the last one I will ever buy if it is problematic like the other two. I have had it for 15 months without a glitch and plenty of hot water throughout the house because SETS does have 3/4 inch piping without restrictions. I called to register my warranty and they responded very professionally so I am a SETS fan.

  28. 4/10/08

    I got a SETS heater 2 Yrs ago, and while it has been “maybe OK” I have negative thoughts about the company pretty much every time I shower. I really regret not doing more research before buying.
    The thing that hooked me was the description of the Nasa Flow Switch (I’ve pasted the whole section from the website below) It specifically states that the Flow switch “automatically increases or decreases energy consumption based on the inlet water temperature and demand for hot water” and further elaborates that “This flow switch uses a free-floating weight that varies the rate of electrical contact as demand for hot water increases or decreases.”
    Imagine my chagrin when I was questioning the (difficult) company tech guy about the performance and he explained that it was an off /on switch! (however nicely designed) Nothing but stonewalling when I protested that it had been misrepresented. I could never get anyone higher up in the company on the phone, and TechGuy refused to own up to anything.
    It’s like buying a variable speed drill and getting an old on/off trigger style, calling up the company and having them say “Well, it varies between off and on, doesn’t it?”
    Is that kind of mis-representation illegal? How about a class action suit?

    This past month it began acting weird and after an initial conversation and diagnosis conversation with the unit exposed they are sending me a replacement part.
    TechGuy was WORSE than before! Grudging about answering questions, bad attitude, no support skills whatsoever! I have dealt with many Tech support people over the years and he is -bar none- the worst I have ever run across.
    If he doesn’t listen well, and starts to lecture totally off track of the problem about how you don’t know how long the pipe is from unit to tub (gee, I only helped the plumber install it) or how long it should take for the hot water to reach the tap, ( I’ve used these taps a couple thousand times – I’m the world expert on haw many seconds it normally takes) don’t interrupt! You’ll get a scolding that you must “give me the respect to listen to my (totally off track) answer” or “this conversation is over.”

    Well I guess I am luckier that some buyers because at least my unit has been working, even if the performance is annoying at times. The thing that realy galls me is the misrepresentation.
    Hopefully I will get a few more years out of it, and then bite the bullet and buy something good.

    And another thing! – their conservation claims are bogus. It encourages higher water volume in the shower. Once you arrive at a setting that works for the person who likes the hottest shower, you can’t turn down the hot – you have to turn up the hot flow and /or add cold flow.

    Quite a rant, huh? I could go on…

    Here is the whole “NASA”statement from the site:

    “The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Technology Programs & Commercialization Office of the NASA-KSC/State of Florida Technology Outreach Program provided a solution to the flow switch problems inherent in all tankless water heaters. A NASA engineer devised a free-flowing weight system. Using this NASA designed water flow switch technology, the S.E.T.S. Systems heater automatically increases or decreases energy consumption based on the inlet water temperature and demand for hot water. The NASA-designed flow switch technology does not use a spring or any other mechanical device. This flow switch uses a free-floating weight that varies the rate of electrical contact as demand for hot water increases or decreases. Extensive NASA testing of the flow switch demonstrated that it works flawlessly. The revolutionary flow switch is unique to the S.E.T.S. Systems style Tankless Water Heater.

    This flow switch has been so instrumental in the success of the SETS Tankless Water Heater that it has been patented!

  29. N-120 is a piece of trash, I been sending to the company for over a year, now I repaired it myself last time it broke, the 2 heating elements needed to be replaced the ones they installed are the cheapest ones out there plus there is a reset button under the cover that sometimes resetting the unit might work for some people but I only recommend this TITAN N-120 to my worst enemies….

  30. i now own a stiebel works just fine, beware of titan mention above, i had a n120 kept breaking, last time i sent it in with a check for repairs, they did cash check ,but sent me back the n120 unrepaired, as it was when i sent it to them,now they will not answer any thing i sent or do. they are knowen for this, many, many complaints. type in (complaints titan n120)you will get a site of horror stories on titan n120, i seen it on ebay and i have learned, if its on ebay leave it on ebay, a nest of scammers

  31. Another tankless water heater, not mentioned in the article, is the Titan from Niagara Industries, http://www.tanklesswaterheater.com/products1.html. I bought the N120 model and am relatively happy.

    It was actually our only choice, because it was the only one I found that will work in a home with 100 amp electrical service. It uses 54 amps, the others were at least 80. This means, however, that it’s just (barely) powerful enough for a good hot single shower at a time–unless you live in hotter areas where it may work better because of higher incoming water temperature. I live in Northern California, and it does work well even in the winter as long as no one runs the sink and shower at the same time. I actually had a minor intermittent problem with mine–very occasional cutting out– and the company was great about sending me a new one, no fuss, even though I didn’t buy it directly from them. (That said, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, of course). Anyway, I think it might be ideal for single bathroom situations in warm climates, like condos, which they seem to be targeting. It costs about $250, which isn’t bad.

  32. I am having the same problems as the rest of you with SETS. Got it 11 days ago never worked. Getting no help, lots of run around. I did find out some interesting things about the owner that explains alot. E-mail me if you want to know what I found out at vettelvr@nvbell.net You can also check out the owner Jerry Morabito at http://www.classicrealitygroup.com which he also owns.

  33. I guess I’m in the same boat as these other dissatisfied SETS buyers. I bought mine a long time ago, but due to delays in my remodel, I just had it installed last fall, so the warranty is pretty much worthless. The temperature fluctuates between chilly and scalding, and when I reduce it one “blip” on the LED scale, it is barely warm enough to shower. I am frankly afraid that I will need to buy another unit non-SETS, of course. My challenge right now is that I’m unemployed, so I don’t exactly want to blow money on a new water heater…I feel embarrassed that I didn’t do my homework before I bought and installed this unit.

  34. I got my SETS in 2002. This is the 3rd time I have had to send it to the company for repair. The first time, they actually paid shipping both ways (early 2003). Since then, I have had to pay shipping each way. This time the repair took 20 days for them to complete. Customer service is a joke. They even told me it was my responsibility to check with them to see if the unit was repaired, rather than theirs to tell me it was ready. Who ever heard of a company taking that position? While the unit is working, I have not had any real problems–once adjusted, only minor temperature fluctuations. It is when it does not work that things are awful. Luckily I have a backup system for when the SETS needs to be repaired.
    Be aware, BBB rates SETS-Systems an F. If I had known they would be going downhill like this, I never would have bought the system. Avoid this company like the plague.

  35. I also bought this tankless hot water heater a few months back. I did get some problems at first, like water not warm but instead cold water came out. After going back to the company, they decided to give me a new replacement for free.

    It ran fine in the first 2 weeks, but slowly the water starts to get less warmer, and i went to check the water heater to see if I had did something to it. Everything is ok. nothing. So i decided to give up this tankless water heater and go for another brand instead.

  36. Run hard and as fast as you can from SETS. I’ve ‘fighting’ with them for a over a year and a half. They sent me a damaged non working unit. I finally got permission to return it in exchange for another unit. Second unit arrived and guess what, the temperature fluctuates from 85 degrees to 135 degrees. After speaking with a truly rude person at SETS, they finally agreed to allow me to return the second unit for a refund. The only problem is , they would only refund 60% of the price I paid. What a way to make money! Purchase deffective product at full price, return deffective product but only refund customer 60%. After a year and a half of calling, requesting the full refund, them not returning phone calls, rude people and lies, I have finally thrown in the towel.

  37. It seems that the Sets-System is truly a worthless piece of junk. I purchased a unit just over a year ago and since the day it was installed, it has been nothing short of a nightmare.

    My experience with the machine and the company is similiar to the other posts on this page. They seem to care more about the protocols of the warranty and enforcing them with the customer, rather than producing a machine that functions without problems or providing SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE as mentioned within their mission statement.

    I have had a multitude of issues dealing with temperature fluctuations. When I called, I experienced a very condescending tech department that wanted to only attribute the problem with flow restrictors within the faucets on the water line ( I read the instructions the day of the install and had already removed them by this point).

    The problem was definately within the machine itself. The first time I sent it back for repair was within 4 months after the install. On the phone prior to receiving authorization to send it for repair, the technician argued with me about the route cause of the temperature fluctations.

    I spent nearly $350 for packing materials and overnight shipping (both to and from) to ship the heater for repair. In following up, it was determined that there was an issue and subsequently repaired. SETS returned the product, however, the person who packed it did not take care in repacking my machine . I received it back with cosmetic damage that occurred during the ship.

    The machine was reinstalled and worked for another 3 weeks before the temperature fluctations again returned. I refused to spend any more money on shipping (especially since it was just there). This time I asked to swap the machine. Being that it was less than 1 year old and repaired once, I felt that this should be an extremely fair request. The person I spoke to made it clear that this is not their policy and its not the protocol of the warranty.

    Four different times between this last repair and preceding 8 months, I spent more time troubleshooting and repairing the machine. I have received replacement parts for just about every component of the machine.

    I have asked repeatly for a new machine and each time the same reply: they will not honor my request. In additon, customer service and the tech department have played games by giving me the run around on the phone, false promises, and furthermore, have not returned any of my calls.

    Fed up and frustrated I was able to track down a company executive, Jerry M to discussed my issues. Unfortunately, his only concern was that I abide by the warrany protocols and spend more money and time to ship the machine back for more repairs. Seeing that he was nothing but inflexible with my problem, I gave up. I have replaced the unit with a Bosch Powerstar AE125. Although only installed for a short period, it is working beautifully.

    I have also registered a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I reccomend that anyone else who has experienced these issues do the same.

    Its true that NASA has had a hand at developing this machine, as a quick search on their website will show. My advice to them is, considering their reputation and credibility, I would really be careful who they decide to “get in bed with.”

    I am sick that I spent $800 on this piece of crap.

  38. Stay away from S.E.T.S water heater

    Anybody at Sets Systems who cares:

    When I heard about SETS tankless water heater, I called in to make inquiry
    and left a message in the voicemail. Two days later, I got a respond and the person I talked to did not have any technical info and transferred me to another person, unfortunately, the person was wasn’t there. So I hang up and did more
    read up from SET website and after reading good and negative feedbacks from
    blogs from users that owned the SET units. I was having doubts about SETs after
    reading so many of the negative comments.
    I decided and called to Home Depot and placed the order for the tankless units
    that they have. I even paid $50 extra for them to ship out to me in 2 days.
    Two hours after I placed the order, I got a call from Stacy of Sets and we had a good conversation. I did mention to her all the negative feedbacks from existing owners and she said, people write anything they want and we don’t know if they
    are true or not. I gave the benefit of the doubt for what she said. She said if I can stop the order from HD, she will expedite to ship out their unit to me. After being
    convinced by her, I decided and placed the order. She asked me to call back the next day to check on the status.
    So I called back the next day and somebody told me she is at another office and
    took my number for her to call me back. I got no callback or response.
    I called back a day later and the same gentleman said the same thing to me, to leave my number and he will have her call me.
    I waited and waited and 7 days later, I called again and the same gentleman recognise my name and was surprised that I never got a callback.
    So he asked me to leave my number again for her to call me back. I was furious and mad at that time. When I left my number twice and never got any return call,
    what is the point for me to leave the number again. I refused, instead I asked him
    to check my order status. Two minutes later, he tells me that my order never got shipped out from the warehouse. Right that instant, I asked to cancel my order.
    For 17 days since I ordered, I never got any emails response or call back for a simple order.
    Not only I cancelled the order from HD and pay the $50 non-fundable shipment charge, I am stuck with no hot water for 3 weeks and the frustration for dealing with company like yours. No matter how good your system is if you cannot ship
    equipment out to your customer, what’s the point. I should have listened to all the unsatisfied customers of yours. There are reasons reasons why people write
    negative stuff about some company, because they are not satisfied and disappointed. Now I am one of them that got “screwed” badly.
    Now, I have to waste another week of no hot water as I need to re-order from
    Home Depot.

    Frustrated and Mad

  39. Stay away from SETS Systems. I purchased two of the units for a new construction and have had nothing but problems from them. After numerous phone calls to service, numerous parts installed (by me), and consistently having to send the units back for service, I am purchasing a standard water heater. They even make you pay the return shipping after they “fix” the units. STAY AWAY!

  40. I purchased a SETS Systems electric tankless and I hate it. It fluctuates during a shower. The company responses have been pathetic. They sent me parts. I paid to replace them. They sent me more parts, I replaced them myself and the company sent me no instructions, so who knows if I did it right. They have been unresponsive to my requests to replace my unit. The cost of installing the extra electrical wiring and the fact that SETS tells you to REMOVE ALL FLOW RESTRICTORS! means that you aren’t being as conservative as you could be. I’m terribly disappointed. They made something simple–hot water–complicated. Believe me, you don’t want a hot water system with brains, you end up with a hot water system with a personality disorder!

  41. If you are looking for a tankless water heater I would recommend the Titan electronic tankless water heater. I purchased one years ago and I enjoyed it so much I actually started a company selling them. The titan don’t have the temperature variation problems that other units have and they are protected from dry-starts. They are very compact, very powerful and made in the USA by Niagara Industries who have over 23 years of experience. For more information please visit me site at http://www.etankless.com or you can call me at 888-688-8010

  42. Hi,
    Am Mr kelly and Sons net and will like to order some Electric Tankless Water Heaters

    from your company to west Africa Ghana.I will appreciate you email me back with those that you have in stock as well as their price ranges and also your terms for payments too.I will like to be one of your honest customer’s and hope you answer to my request ASAP.Thank you very much and waiting for your soon responds.
    Best Regards,
    Mr kelly

    1. Do you ever have any problems with the breaker cutting out when running a bath? We bought a Scr 3 N 160 and had it wired to the specifications but can’t seem to get an answer from titan whether this is a common problem.

  43. I had perpetual failures due to draw/venting issues on my old gas tank water heater, in spite of lots of expensive service visits and mods. I wasn’t willing to risk more rounds of the same problems with gas tankless. So, I went electric tankless about six months ago. I wouldn’t consider anything else at this point. It is excellent.

    My choice was made easier because I was already on the green power option we have here in Portland, OR. I think the answer is to get better generating technology, such as distributed, rather than getting the worse water heater technology.

    The electric tankless I got is the Seisco. One of the selling points on it is that it uses standard, off-the-shelf electric water heater elements. So, if they burn out, you get your replacement part at the nearest hardware store.

    I was lucky in that I had the unused capacity in my panel for it, but it is worth noting that panel capacity might be a substantial extra cost issue for most people.

    I hope to put solar hot water upstream of the Seisco one of these days, but I’m waiting for the cost of that to go down. Somebody needs to get the cost of entry on that down.

  44. Hi,
    Like your reviews site.

    One thing to consider in buying any electric heating device (including tankless electric heaters) is that every kilowatt hour generated at a coal fired electric plant results in about 2 lbs of greenhouse gas — this is about 4 times worse than othere common fuels.
    Most of US electricity is generated at coal plants.

    A tankless gas water heater would be a better choice from a greenhouse gas point of view.

    Gary

  45. I have often found myself contemplating getting one of these. But I think in my instance right now with a pretty decent water heater, the cost tends to outweigh the benefit of the return right now. I think if I were going to put in a new one, I would most definitely check this out as an option though.

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