Strong Households: Prepper Plumbing

12 thoughts on “Strong Households: Prepper Plumbing”

  1. I also bought myself a water heater Eccotemp but really I was so disappointed about it. My wife has complained about it a lot I really depressed. Then I try to buy one more product Rinnai its price is really high but quality from the table, I am really satisfied with what it does. too great for the quality

    1. You get what you pay for. At $120 you can’t expect magic. The Eccotemp isn’t designed for full time household use. But it works well enough as a part time supplemental water heater.

      I’m currently exploring the option of a small electric water heater with a conventional tank that pre heats water using a couple of solar panels.

  2. something I have seen, and was promoted by e-z, was the barbecue propane tank and the small $120 heater hooked to a cheap power washer, which then permits WARM water, (not too hot) to clean car engines, houses, etc. as warm water seems to be more effective. Haven’t done it yet but planning. Might make a good part time portable business (not for me!) along the lines of the many small businesses you list.

  3. In many parts of Asia, water heaters look similar to the Eccotemp, but run on electricity. While I doubt they are as cost or energy efficient as the large basement units, the material cost is lower and they can serve as an easy to install backup should the main heaters go kaput. This is not an option for “off the grid” living unless you have your own solar/battery setup and an inverter. Probably not the best option for northern latitudes where solar intensity is lower.

    After being forced to shower with cold water in the Himalayas in winter, I am not so picky about hot showers anymore. People are resilient, and we quickly adjust to new circumstances.

    1. I bought the large water tank from a local garden supply center / nursery in Sebastopol in Sonoma County. It’s a mom and pop place that’s been there for years. They actually had the best price of several retailers.

      Identical tanks can be bought everywhere. I got the same exact tanks in rural Hawaii some years ago. Plastic chips are shipped nationwide, then local small scale manufacturers melt the chips on to special molds.

      My 5,000 gallon tank cost about $3,000. The larger the tank the less it costs per gallon of capacity. A 55 gallon drum (new and food grade) usually costs about $80. So it’s the difference between 60¢ per gallon vs. $1.45 per gallon. The sweet spot for overall price/capacity for emergency preparedness is a 260 gallon tank for about $500 (depending on shipping costs) from this company in Utah. I’ve bought two of these tanks and love them.

      If you only need water for irrigation rather than drinking try second hand pickle or olive drums or large beverage syrup containers. They’re usually available on Criagslist and local salvage yards and are relatively inexpensive. But the water from these containers will taste too funky for you to want to drink it no mater how much you try and clean them.

      1. Very interesting. Thank you for the information. By the way, your blog is great. I stumbled on it about six months ago, and I’ve probably read a hundred posts so far. Keep up the good work.

  4. We’ve had a few failures.

    One time we were all set for our Christmas party when the refrigerator died. We were living in New England during a cold snap, so everything critical just got put out in the car overnight. We made it through the party, then rigged up an ice chest for the left overs. By then, we had a new refrigerator. It was an excuse to throw a few things out.

    We lost power another time and did our cooking on a charcoal grill. If you time everything right, you can roast, sautee and even boil water for coffee on one funnel of charcoal. I don’t recommend this, but it meant a good hot meal.

  5. I want to replace my water heater with a tankless option as it would allow me to change the small closet space in which the water heater currently resides into an actual closet (which I could use). Too costly as of yet. And the current water heater is working well so there’s no rush, aside from the desire for the additional space.

    That little portable tankless is really cool though.

  6. Haha, so true about machines “knowing” when to go out for maximum inconvenience! Although most of my examples are heating and cooling going out in peak season, and that is at least understandable since it’s when they are under the most load.

    We looked at getting a tankless water heater when our hot water heater died, but the water is very hard here in Orange County and that’s a problem for tankless heaters, so we’re still using a standard one.

    1. A plain old regular tank water heater works great as an insulated storage container and back up system for solar thermal water heating in Orange County. Most of the year you wouldn’t burn any fuel at all. The fancy units are expensive, but low tech DIY options are just as effective if you’re handy.

      1. My dad was a Popular Mechanics subscriber and reader back in the day. Many of these low-tech DIY ideas were published 40+ years ago.

        I still remember seeing a few of the old rooftop solar heat exchangers for domestic hot water when we lived in SoCal. I suspect he would have put one in if we had lived there longer. For a while after that, he was hot on the idea of an attached greenhouse on the south side of the house in a temperate climate, back when the feds had a solar credit. But he didn’t want to deal with the extra heat in a place with 90+ days with high humidity in summer. A lot of this stuff relies on specifics of the California climate. Like outdoor showers, which are not really possible in winter in the Rockies, Great Plains, Midwest or East.

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