Gas Water Heater DIY Installation

I posted here about a month ago about replacing the gas water heater in my home. I am going to forgo giving $255 to the Home Depot contractor to install it for me and I'll do it myself.
The old heater has the exact same dimensions as the new GE/Rheem model I'm getting from HD, right down to the height of the gas valve off the floor. GE has been manufacturing since July new heaters where the tank does not need to be up on pegs to lift it off the floor an inch or so. New tanks now just sit right on the floor.
Anyway, the gas line into the heater now does not have a drip leg and I'm wondering if I really do need one or not. The gas pipe comes straight down from the ceiling for about 6 feet, makes a right angle for 3 to 4 inches then drops down again for 5 inches then makes a right angle again into the connector into the heater. I certainly could install a drip leg with a tee off of the last 5 inch pipe drop. Thoughts?
I'm pretty sure the local code does not allow use of flexible water or gas lines so I'll have to go with copper/water black pipe/gas. Not a problem for me. As the old heater has the water pipes sweated to the fittings on the tank is the best spot to cut these pipes just above this point where the stubs were sweated to the fittings? And these pipe lengths only come up about 3 inches from the tank fittings before they are sweated into an elbow to go off either from the cold water inlet or to the hot water out. I know the consensus is to sweat about a foot long length of pipe to the fittings before attaching them to the tank to take off the heat from the tank in/out fittings.
Also, anybody use a pan under their tank? Don't think I need one or want one as I have no where to drain it. The tank is in my unfinished basement area not above some living space.
Lastly, what kind of solder do I get for the sweated copper joints - does it matter?
Thanks. Walter
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Put in a drip leg on the gas line. Its code here.
Put on dielectric unions and go from there. I've had lots of hot water tanks and never needed a drip pan, but it can't hurt. http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/plumbing/systems/components/union_de/intr o.htm

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Oh yeah, try this http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/plumbing/heating/dom_water/connect.htm

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