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Water Heaters- Tank or Tankless

 Water Heaters- Tank or Tankless (On-Demand)

         In all of my stores I have Hot Water storage tanks. I say it this way as the setups are slightly different but the results are the same. I store around 100 gallons of Hot Water ready to go at a moments notice.

          In two of the stores this is accomplished with a standard 91 gallon, 199,000 BTU water heater. It’s a big tank with a burner underneath to heat the water. The other store has a separate burner unit. This unit has an internal pump that pulls water from the tank, heats it and sends it back.

         When I was building my newest store I focused a lot on getting the volume of water needed to the machines fast. This store has a much larger number of large capacity washers than my other stores and I was doing a complete renovation so this was the time to do it right.

          Some back ground, Years ago I owned a 3 acre property beside a river. I wanted to install irrigation piping as it was very sandy and I wanted to grow a number of fruit trees and have a decent looking lawn. I talked to a few people about what piping to install, most suggested 2″ abs piping, you know the stuff that comes on big rolls. I did some calculations based on the length of piping and the pump I would be using (the pump was a high pressure irrigation pump) and my calculations showed I would not actually get water out of the far end of the pipe due to elevation changes and pressure loss in the pipe.

          I talked to a local farmer that had literally miles of underground irrigation piping and his advice was that I would never complain if the pipe was too big. So I ended up installing 500′ of 4″ and 300′ of 3″ piping.

            This was the same pipe used by utility companies. The initial cost was not that much more, it used the same trench and in the end I could spray water in 50′ diameter circles.

        So with my latest Laundromat I used the same philosophy. The Water Department started it off for me. I needed a new supply from the main as I only had a 3/4″ connection. I asked for a 1 1/2″ but they only used 2″. So that was the base size for all of the piping right to the connections for the washers.

        I explained to my plumber my reasoning and that every part of the system needed to be confirmed. The ball valves on the main piping were not a problem but I wanted to confirm the supply valves that the washer hoses connected to before he bought and installed all of them.

      So why did I go with more traditional water heaters?

           There is a trend towards on-demand water heaters in Laundromats and in many cases you need to install 2,3 or more of them. There are a couple of reasons for this:

           #1- Two 3/4″ pipes don’t equal one 1 1/2″ pipe. To better explain this without getting too complicated I found this page in a search With some standard pressures and velocity (Center , Yellow column) we can see that a 3/4″ pipe allows a volume of 23 Gallons Per Minute and a 1 1/2″ pipe has a volume of 81 Gallons Per Minute.

Bank of Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters

My 2″ pipe has a volume of 127 Gallons Per Minute.

        So based on that alone you would need 4 on-demand units to allow the same amount of water to get to the washers with a 1 1/2″ pipe or 6 units for the 2″ pipe.

Chart number 2 on the page at the link above, takes out some of the variables and just shows the rate of GPM through an orifice, Here we see the difference between a 1″ and a 2″ as 53GPM  and 329GPM (75 psi is the pressure at my store)  

But that’s only one part of the equation.

           #2- The Flow Rate through the water heater has to be determined. I did a search and pulled some information from a random On-Demand Water Heater:

  • “Maximum flow rate of 10.0 GPM at 35°F temperature rise (4.7 GPM at 70°F rise)”

So let’s break that down:
                    Maximum flow rate 10.0 GPM- So now we would actually need 8 units to meet the capacity of our 1 1/2″ pipe or 13 units for the 2″ pipe.

But that’s not all it said…..
            “35°F temperature rise (4.7 GPM at 70°F rise)”. What does that mean? If you want to supply 120°F water the incoming water cannot be below 85°F.
           Now if your incoming water is more of a standard 50°F then you are only going to get 4.7 GPM. How does this happen? The Water Heater will reduce the flow through the unit to maintain the outlet temperature.

           81 Gallons Per Minute divided by 4.7 = 17 Water Heaters.

But do I really need 80 to 100 GPM in my store?

                 Based on the chart we looked at above a 1/2″ pipe can move 14 GPM. Now the actual valve inside the washer may reduce this so lets say 10 GPM actually flows into the washer.

           With a 1 1/2″ pipe and 17 On-Demand Water Heaters we could fill 8 washers at a time before we start to reduce the fill time of the washers. This means longer cycle times and less turn over during busy times in your store.

         So why not stick with a tank system? And run it at a higher temperature?

               A typical tank style water heater has a Recovery @ 70 F Rise of  277 gph or 4.6 GPM. Although the recovery shows the same numbers as the on demand the difference is that your volume of water through the Hot Water System is not reduced. So yes it is possible that the actual water temperature supplied to the washer is reduced this can be partially offset by setting the temperature to 140 instead of 120. And in either case the water sitting in the pipes will already have cooled so the actual in-washer water temperature will rarely be 120 °F.

Rheem / Rudd 91 gal. Commercial Gas Water Heater, NG, 199,000 BtuH

         At the end of the day it takes a certain amount of BTU’s to heat a certain amount of water, all other variables being the same.

          So what does all this mean to us as Laundromat owners?

             Everybody is in a hurry and they hate wasting time on mundane tasks such as laundry, also as Laundromat owners we want to move people through the store as quickly as possible. It all boils down to cycle time.

              Let me take a quick bounce back to an old store I used to own. I had 2- 45# Milnor washers among a bunch of top loaders and smaller front loaders. The water supply had about 40 psi, a long run from the main  and the hot water system had 2 older Paloma On-Demand Water Heaters. A normal cycle with each washer took about 28 minutes. Some days with other washers running I timed this washer at almost 50 minutes per cycle. Why? The cycle time does not run during the fill cycle of the washers. Now some of the old Dexters I had ran a 25 minute cycle and didn’t care if there was even water in the drum.

            So back to our On Demand vs Tank questions? If you want to maintain your cycle times, keep your customers from waiting too long and keep your store flowing on a busy day you have to be able to get the water to the washers.

            To do this with On-Demand Water Heaters you have to be prepared for a worst case and then maybe back off 20% or 30%. The odds of every washer willing at exactly the same time is rare but it’s possible to have 70% filling at the same time. You have to consider volume as well as number of machines. That 60#, 80# or 100# is going to take a while to fill so it’s possible for the customer to start 2 or 3 more machines. We have all seen it where the customer fills all of the machines, adds the money and hits start all at once. That’s actually how I tested my new store.

          I understand the trend towards On-Demand and the savings by not having a tank of hot water being stored but what are the other impacts to the store? Slower cycles? Reduced customer turnover? Frustrated customers?

        What if a customer sets aside an hour to wash and dry clothes before heading to work, no problem 25 minute wash, 30 minute dry, a few minutes to spare and they are off. No what happens when their washer is only at 19 minutes 35 minutes after it was started because the store is busy? Late for work or pack out wet clothes to the car? Do they care if the water was 105°For 120°F right now?


        As with all of these posts these are my opinions but I hope to give you some background and help you with making decisions before you have a problem.

What’s your preference and why?


Ken Barrett
Multi-Store Laundromat Owner, Business Coach, Author and Speaker.

Pictures are used as examples only. Data supplied from various sources and is not intended to represent the pictured units.

How To Build A Laundromat

How To Build A Laundromat         

  You have arrived at this site at a unique time. A Laundromat is about to be built and you have the opportunity to join the construction as it happens.

All of the information will be available and your questions will be answered as we go.

            When I first started in the Coin Laundry Industry I asked questions from some other owners, read all of the material I could find but there was still a lot of things that I had to learn as I went along. Some were expensive and not in the original budget because I Just Didn’t Know.

       It’s time to change that. I am about to start construction on a new Laundromat and I want you to see behind the scenes as it’s done.

       Watch the video below and then click on the link to join the exclusive group behind the scenes.

Join Me Here Before Time Runs Out…


I’ll see you on the inside.


Episode 18 – An Interview with Ben Sawyer- Part II

Episode 18 – An Interview with Ben Sawyer- Part II

This is the second of a two part interview with Ben Sawyer, a new owner of a Coin Laundry

     There are many paths into the coin laundry industry and we talk with Ben Sawyer on the steps he took to purchase his first laundromat.

     Ben’s background is in corporate life and he has looked at many business opportunities. He decided on a coin laundry and is about a month into the business.

This episode is packed full of tips for new investors.

Ben Sawyer EP 17

All of the links are listed below.



Clean Show





Coin Laundry Association



New Investor Package

Operation Standards

Employee Manual


PodCast Episode 9




Episode 17 – An Interview with Ben Sawyer- Part 1

Episode 17 – An Interview with Ben Sawyer- Part 1

There are many paths into the coin laundry industry and we talk with Ben Sawyer on the steps he took to purchase his first laundromat.

Ben’s background is in corporate life and he has looked at many business opportunities. He decided on a coin laundry and is about a month into the business.

This episode is packed full of tips for new investors.


All of the links are listed below.



Clean Show


Coin Laundry Association



New Investor Package

Operation Standards

Employee Manual


PodCast Episode 9


Listen to Episode 18 for the conclusion of our interview.



Episode 5 – Small Business Checklist: Scouting Out a Location

Episode 5

Small Business Checklist: Scouting Out a Location


Recently I was asked to contribute to an article about what to look for when scouting a location. 

         A Laundromat is a destination location, meaning that our customers will look for one when they need it and it will not be an impulse buy, but having the right location and property features have as much of an impact as the interior layout of the washers and dryers.

         Some of the features I look for in my businesses and others should consider when scouting out a location are:

        Parking- How long will a typical customer stay in your business and any other businesses sharing the same parking areas. 
       Will you loose too many spots due to lineups in other businesses? 
        How do your hours of operation and busy times compare with the other businesses?

        Street Location and Access- Many corner lots are already taken by Gas Stations, Pharmacies or Fast Food. These are prime locations and probably out of the budget for new businesses. 
        One of the next best locations would be on the right hand side of a busy street just past a Stop Light. This allows your customers time to look at your sign and business while they are waiting at the light. 
         Two entrances ( one at each end of the lot) is beneficial as it allows a second chance if they miss the first one. 
          Is it a divided road with limited areas to turn Left or turn around?

        Supporting Businesses-  Are the businesses in the same building or neighboring buildings going to provide support, competition or be neutral? 
        Will your Teen Clothing Boutique be sharing a strip mall with a Tattoo Parlor, Auto Parts Store and Discount Hardware store? Locating beside a Hair and Nail Salon, Shoe Store and Coffee Shop / Bakery would complement the other businesses and reach a common demographic.

         Visibility- If someone is driving how hard will it be to find your store?
 Can the front of your store and your sign be easy seen and read / understood? Also will your customers be able to see inside the business from the street or parking lot to determine if they have the right place and if they want to go inside?              

         Consider when you flip through a magazine or a website, if you do not see something that interests you at a glance are you going to continue looking? 
         If you have a specialty business and your customers are looking for your location specifically it might not have an effect but will you be losing “drive by” traffic.

        Tenant Improvements- Is the Landlord willing to provide improvements to the location or waive some lease payments in lieu of changes to the location? For example if the building needs new lighting will this be covered by the landlord to your specifications or will they install generic lighting that you will remove or replace.

         Utilities- Are there adequate utilities available for your business? Power, water, sewer and gas may be available but is there enough capacity. The cost and time to increase any of these could be substantial.  
        Also who would be responsible for the cost in the interior and exterior to relocate the connections. Other considerations are Cable, Internet and Phone service.

        Lighting: Is there adequate lighting to provide a safe environment at night and who is responsible to install, maintain and pay for the operation.

        Planning / Zoning– Is the area zoned for your type of business. Are there restrictions for lighting, signs (size and location), ADA requirements, parking times, hours of operation.

        Trash- Will your business require a dumpster, Can it be shared by other businesses, Where will it be located? How often will you need to access it and what will be your daily amount of trash? Will it need to be covered? Is recycling required?

        Deliveries- What size of a truck will make your deliveries and possibly pickups? Is there access? Do you need a loading dock? How far away will the driver need to park? Are there restrictions on the delivery times due to other businesses or city by-laws.

        As part of your due diligence and business planning make check lists of Musts and Wants and use it as a reference when looking for locations. 

         Here is the link to the article on the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) site. 


     Other contributors to the article were:
Tanya Keefe
, co-owner of Sense-sational Therapy in Fort Gratiot, Michigan;
Walt Batansky, a site selection consultant with Avocat Group in Tampa, Florida;
Hope Gibbs, founder of PR and publishing firm The Inkandescent Group in Richmond, Virginia; and
Kevin Hoult, a business adviser services manager in Bellingham, Washington.


Please Comment, Like and Share if you got some value from this.

If you have any comments, please post them below.



Do Laundromat Owners Take Vacations?

Do Laundromat Owners Take Vacations?

The answer to that would be Yes.
Right now I am 1000 miles away from my Laundromats, sitting by the pool 17 floors above the ground.

It takes some planning to look at all of the aspects of the business and determine how to get everything set up but it can, and should, be done.

The beauty of owning your own business is to be able to enjoy life on your own terms. Many people start or buy a business and actually end up with a job that takes more of your time and pays you less per hour.

Over the past couple of months I have been really looking at my business to determine what parts are best done by someone else. I have outsourced most of my bookkeeping and payroll.

Part of the reason I have been doing this review is to allow me to spend more time on this site and the other projects I am working on to enhance the information and experience.

I’m going to keep this short as I am on vacation.


Stay tuned as I provide the details that allowed me to enjoy this time with my family.


Play Safe


Three Informative Laundromat Videos, Yeah Laundromats


Part of being successful is helping others be successful as well.

Over the past number of years I have built a chain of Laundromats and learned a lot about the industry.  At the beginning I had a bunch of questions and I was all over the map.

Bits and pieces were available and talking to experienced business owners helped but sometimes they had forgotten what it was like to start from scratch.

I decided the put together a bunch of the information I was looking for and just be myself while doing it.

It may not be as polished as some and I hope I am getting a little better but from the comments and feedback I have received people appreciate the fact that I just say it how it is.

I have also learned about marketing and the best methods for providing this information.

Here are a few of the videos I have put together.

  1. Ten Need To Know Items Before Opening A Business

    This has been one of my most popular videos.
    I have also made the transcripts available on Amazon  It is a great start to any business and helps you to think like a business owner and not an employee.
  2. Can’t Bear To Be Feeling Dirty

    This is just a fun marketing video that shows how to use humor to increase your exposure.
  3. Dryer drum not turning

    This is a typical video I have been making that shows a repair I complete on my equipment.
    It’s a simple video filmed on my phone and I explain the problems and what to look for.


All of the other videos and lots more information is available at

You can use the same methods that I have here for your business.

Start a blog and add some information that provides information to your current and potential customers.

Get yours HERE
If you have any questions or comments you can reach me at


Connect With Me On Facebook

FAQ- Leasing Commercial Property

FAQ- Leasing Commercial Property 

          When negotiating a commercial lease there are some basic terms you need to be familiar with, understand and be able to discuss. For many landlords commercial properties are their main business and they talk in these terms everyday. Some may have no patience to teach you the terms and explain the details.

         Also when you call to get some information understanding the terms and numbers quickly will help you decide if the property is even worth looking at.

Below is a small article I found that is a great start to covering the basics.

Leasing Commercial Property Frequently Asked Questions
 By Thomas J. Raub CCIM

A lease rate is stated as $10.00/SF. What does this mean?

          This is the yearly lease cost per square foot.  Example 1000Sf space quoted at $10.00/SF = yearly rental rate of $10,000 which is a monthly rate of $833.33.


What is Rentable square feet?

     This is the total square feet used to calculate the rental rate and may include an apportionment of the lobby, hallways, and other areas in the building available to and used by all the building tenants.  This is oftentimes expressed as a multiplying factor of the Useable SF. Example: Rentable SF = Useable SF x X.XX%.  The multiplying factor is building specific with wide variations in actual numbers. ?Typical ? multipliers would be 1.15 to 1.20.


What is Useable square feet?

      This is the total square feet within the walls of the space being leased. The actual space available for the Tenants exclusive use.


What are CAM charges?

     This stands for Common Area Maintenance charges and is the cost for items such as snowplowing, grass cutting, parking lot maintenance, common area lighting, etc.  These charges are based on actual expenses and are apportioned among the Tenants. CAM charges are quoted as $X.XX/SF and are based on rentable square Footage. Typically these charges are paid monthly based on estimated costs for the year. At the end of the year, actual CAM charges are tallied and either a credit or debit is passed on to the Tenants.


What does NNN mean as quoted in a lease rate?

      The NNN refers to additional actual expense items that are apportioned among all the Tenants.  Typically included in NNN are CAM, building insurance, property taxes. This is referred to in most leases as Additional Rent. A cautionary note:  ALWAYS ask what is included in the rental rate quoted and what additional items are you responsible for.  NNN is defined differently by different landlords. Typically utility costs are NOT included in NNN expenses and are therefore a separate additional cost to the tenant.


What does Gross Rent include?

       Typically a Gross Rent means the landlord is responsible for paying all the expenses outlined above as NNN expenses.  The Tenant only pays the Gross Rental rate. The Tenant?s utilities may or may not be included in this gross rental rate.  ALWAYS ASK!


Are Utility costs included in the rent? And how are they calculated?

          In smaller spaces, the utility costs may not be separately metered and therefore are apportioned among the users. This may be a rent adder or included in the base rent.  In larger spaces, the utilities are often separately metered and thus are paid by the Tenant in addition to any other rental amounts paid.


How short a lease can I get?

      Typically, a landlord is looking for at least a year lease and many will have a 2 or 3 year minimum lease requirement. The longer the lease is, the more value it is to the landlord and thus the more receptive the landlord may be to negotiations of the lease.


       What about changes needed to the space layout, new walls, special telephone lines, electrical, etc?  Who pays for this?

             The space layouts vary from business to business and rarely does an existing space work for a new Tenant. Therefore the landlord is reluctant to invest dollars for a tenant specific requirement.  Usually some painting, carpet cleaning, etc. are done by the Landlord. The length of the lease and terms also are a factor in what contributions the landlord is willing to make to the changes needed by the Tenant.  In some instances, while the Tenant is responsible for the fitup costs, the Landlord will agree to amortize the fitup costs over the term of the lease.

The original article can be found here


Please Comment, Like and Share if you got some value from this.

 Play Safe


Find Me on Facebook 


P.S. I’d love to connect on LinkedIn  

How To Find The Right Laundry Equipment Distributor


How To Find The Right Laundry Equipment Distributor.

               You need to ask the right questions and feel comfortable. Are you being sold some equipment or being supported in starting your business?

                 At some point you will need to buy some equipment and there are lots of companies and salespeople that are willing to sell you whatever you need, or think you need , or what they want to sell you.

                Does your salesperson own a Laundromat? Are they or have they been in the Laundromat business?

                 Don’t get me wrong. There are some great Distributors and Salespeople that know the business and will guide you through the process and details of starting and running your Laundromat. I would just like to know up front who I am dealing with and their experience.

                 You are making a purchase that may be worth more than your current home. You owe it to yourself and your family to screen the Distributor and Salespeople and to feel comfortable that they have your best interests in mind.

                      A Laundromat is a great business and requires a combination of the right location, the right amount of equipment and the right support.

Ask questions and make the right decisions.


Video Transcript:

Hi, it’s Ken Barrett. If you’re thinking about getting in the laundry industry, whether Laundromat, coin laundry, whatever you want to call them, at some point in time you’re going to have to buy some equipment.

You may buy into a laundry that’s got some older stuff already, it’s okay for a little bit, but you need to start replacing stuff. Or, maybe an empty building that you’re going to start from scratch to build your laundry, or you might already have the abilities there from years before and you want to freshen it up, put in some new equipment and get it brought back to life.

            So, basically, with equipment, there’s a bunch of different brands out there. They wash clothes, water goes in, stirs it around, it’s hot, it’s cold, it mixes it up, spits it out, you dry it. There’s guys that have some preferences for various equipment. It’s similar to cars and a way that they all get you from point A to point B, what features do you like, which one feels more reliable, the costs involved, etc. But the next step past that is the distributor. Manufacturers, there’s various big names out there, they make the equipment, and then the distributor sells it. Again, somewhat like a car dealership, manufacturer makes it, dealership gets it and they sell it to you.

            A big thing to look for with your distributor is you really want to be comfortable working with them. They need to provide you with enough information to make a decision and to be able to answer all your questions. One thing upfront that I would ask is how many laundries do they own? If they say they used to own one but don’t own one now, wonder why that is. It’s a great business, once you get in, aside from moving or a major crisis in your life, it’s not something you’re just going to pack up and walk away from. It’s a business, it’s not a job you’re going to bounce around from.

            So ask that distributor, that salesman, questions. Do you have a laundry and do you have more than one laundry? If you’re working with somebody who’s a distributor, a salesman, and he doesn’t own any laundries, he’s never owned a laundry, then does he really understand your needs?

            That would be like if you’re buying a car and ask the guy what kind of car does he drive and he tells you he rides the bus to work.  My first thought would be “Why do you ride the bus? You’re trying to sell me a car, but you’re riding the bus.”

There may be some situations where you need to understand why they don’t have a laundry. Maybe they’re in a big city where the building prices are high or they’re more into sales. At the same time, if you’ve never driven a car and you don’t own a car, are you really just reading off the sales sheet or you’re really providing the valuable information that people need to make a decision.

And you realize too, that you’re not just buying some equipment, you’re building a business. Once you buy the equipment, what’s your support structure there, how fast does it take you to get parts? If you’ve got a technical question, do they have a phone number you can call up and get answers while you’re there? Can your repair man, or if you’re doing it yourself, can you call in and say “Here’s my problem, talk me through it.”?

If it’s something big, how fast is it going to take them to get a service guy there to help you out, does corporate need to be involved? When you set up your laundries, you’re buying a bunch of equipment, is the manufacturer going to send somebody out to make sure it was put in right, that it started right and it’s running right? An expert saying “Yeah, we’ve tested everything, we’ve ran everything”. Not just the installation guy running around firing some quarters and going “Yeah look, everything started, you got hot water, you got cold water, have a nice day”, but somebody who making sure the equipment runs like it’s supposed to.

That’s a lot of the things you need to keep in mind. What have they provided for you upfront, do you feel comfortable with them, and are they giving you the information you need? Again, if you’re just getting into this business, they’re already in this business, or they should be. They should know what information you need to make a good decision.

A good distributor wants you to be successful, they want to sell you the equipment for one store, and then a year or two later, they want to sell you the equipment for another store. If they’re just in there going “You know, this would be great and this would be great here, buy my equipment, it’s great.” Is it just a sale or is it really building that relationship that you want and need?

You want a distributor where you can call them up later and say “You know what? I need to buy a couple more pieces of equipment.” Or “I’m looking and I found another spot, it might be a good start, what do you think?” You want them to come in not with the idea of “Yeah, it’s a great spot, I’ll sell you $200,000 – $300,000 of equipment.” You want someone with the knowledge, whom you’ve built a relationship with, to be honest with you. Someone that wants you to succeed, they’ll tell you if there’s a concern, if they know the history of that store and why it failed, why it’s not a laundry anymore. A good distributor won’t come running in going “Yep, it’s great, let’s fire it in, and if it doesn’t work, well, I’ll come back in a couple of months and repo all the equipment on you.”

So, as I said, you want to be comfortable with who you’re dealing with, make sure they’re giving you the information you need to build and run a business, and not just selling you equipment. Someone who is providing value, providing good equipment, real, working knowledge for the decisions you need to open, run and handle the store, along with follow up. If you call the guy up saying here’s my issue, are they going to answer right then? Or are they going to put you off claiming they don’t know anything about fixing the  equipment they just put it in, they just sell it to you. You’ll have to call this or that guy.

Again, people who own, salesmen who own, laundries, they know those little questions you’re going to have. It might be something simple you don’t have to worry about, a simple fix or something major that you will need to call a trained service guy to come out and fix, not just your local handyman, but a salesman who owns his own laundries will be able to let you know and answer those questions for you.

So, keep that in mind, I’ll follow up with more of these articles later on, give more details, things to look for.

So, there we go, I’m going to head in and check a couple of little things here at the store and unplug a change machine, then that’ll be it for the day. I’ll talk to you later on and have a great day.


Ken Barrett

Ken Barrett
800-792-1941 ext 2

If you have any comments please post them below.


Ken Barrett

P.S You can find other comments at

P.P.S Live your dreams now? Check it out Here