If you’re in the business of shopping around for a new best water heater, you may have come across terms like “tankless” or “on-demand” water heaters because nowadays these are the most popular water heaters on the market. The best tankless water heater has been deemed such because they provide the exact amount of hot water you need.
In a world where money is a limited resource, it is no wonder that consumers are in search of solutions for their homes. That is why it’s so important to know which water heater may be able to save you money. The last thing you want to do is have a water heating system that uses up dozens of gallons of water that just sits in the tank, waiting to be used.
A resourceful unit will save you a substantial amount of money, but with a market packed with a variety of water heater models, how do you choose which type of water heater is best for your home? Let’s review the different types of water heating systems to see which one suits you best.
Best Water Heater Reviews of 5 Different Types
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters heat up your cold water with a gas burner or through electric elements as the water passes through the water heater. The unit requires ventilation to run properly, and it doesn’t store hot water. When you need hot water, the water will flow through the device and the flow sensor will then fire up the burner. The water lines around the heat exchanger will warm the water up to the preferred temperature. After closing the hot water valve the flow sensor will turn the burner off. Bare in mind that the flow has to be fast enough, usually a half gallon per minute, to turn the sensor on. The capacity is expressed in GPM (gallons per minute).
To test efficiency, Consumer Reports experts tested efficiency by simulating the daily use of 75 to 79 gallons of hot water. That’s comparable to taking approximately three hot showers, running the dishwasher six cycles (one run), washing one load of laundry, and then turning the faucet on 9 times, for a sum of 19 draws. While that may seem like heavy use compared to the standard and tests procedure through the Energy Department, the consumer report may be more accurate because it represents the average family’s daily habits. They also ran more than 46,000 gallons of very hard water through an AO Smith tanked unit and an Ecosmart tankless unit to simulate about 12 years of regular use.
Tankless Water Heater Costs
The tankless models that were tested in this study cost anywhere from $500 to $1,160, which is higher than the $300 to $580 price for standard storage tank types. Other factors to consider is tankless water heaters need a proper ventilation system, upgraded top quality gas pipes and electrical outlets for their electronics & fan.
When you’re shopping around for pricing, make sure you get an estimate or firm bid on installation costs. This is not a DIY project unless you have professional-level skills. You can find tankless water heaters at mostly all home goods stores and plumbing specialty stores.
Tankless Water Heater Maintenance
During the course of the long term testing, an indicator on the tankless water heater model provided notification that showed there was scale buildup. We employed a plumber and paid $332 to flush out the water heater using vinegar and for special valves. Several industry experts recommend that tankless water heaters get serviced once a year by an expert technician. It’s commonly recommended to be serviced annually because the calcium buildup can reduce efficiency, limit the flow of water, & damage water heaters. Experts recommend that you install a water softener if the water hardness is more than 11 to 12 grains per gallon. Disregarding the recommendations may shorten your warranty.
In a nutshell
What to Consider
If you have ever wanted to cut the cost of heating the water in your home – you are in luck! Having a quick and efficient way to heat your water without heating an entire tank or waiting for your water to warm could be the most cost-efficient installment to your home or business! This is accomplishable by a tankless water heater. There are only a few items need to consider before installing a tankless unit in your home or office. Voltage, amperage, circuit breakers and temperature rising are just a few items to know When installing your water heater.
Ranging from 110 volts to 277 volts, there are plenty of options to consider when buying your tankless water unit. Note: The older, less-common 110 volt/220 volt combination is out of date. One might consider consulting a professional electrician to check the availability to install a 115 volt/230 volt unit onto the grid.
Different amperage ratings apply to different makes and models of electric tankless water heaters. It is common that higher amperes apply to units with higher flow rates. Using multiple appliances simultaneously raises the rate needed to keep the water warm. The information below provides a rough guesstimate of how much water each appliance uses.
Average Flow Rates
1.0 – 1.8 GPM
0.7 – 1.5 GPM
1.1 – 2.2 GPM
1.0 – 2.3 GPM
1.2 – 1.7 GPM
In order to calculate the max water usage that your home needs, you can simply add the appliances’ flow rates. If a dishwasher runs with a washing machine regularly, the two rates combine to a total of 4 gallons per minute. Finding these values can help you understand the type of heating unit you may need for your home.
If you want to install a gas-based water-heater, you will not normally need a high-powered circuit-breaking device. However, electric tank-less units require quite a bit of amps and may need a new circuit breaker. Consult your heater supplier and your technician to ensure proper circuitry is available.
Calculate Your Home’s Required Temperature Rise
Tankless water heating units measure the heat available by a ‘degrees risen’ value. Varying states have different ground water temperatures. Typically southern states such as Texas, Florida and Louisiana have 65 degree water and above. Northern states such as New York, Montana, and North Dakota have colder temperatures ranging from 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Tankless water heaters will raise the water temperature between 35 and 65 degrees.
Let’s take, for example, a resident lives in Texas, whose underground water temperature is 85 degrees. The ideal heated water temperature is 120 degrees. The calculation for the degrees risen would simply be 120 – 85, equaling the total of 35 degrees. The flow rate for an “EcoSmart Eco 11” heating unit is 2.54 gallons per minute at 35 degrees risen value. However, this flow rate is enough to run only one appliance throughout the residence or business.
In conclusion, the best option for you depends on a several factors, where you live, how much water you are using and the energy source you intend to power the heater. With a variety of options out there and a few variables to calculate it is relatively simple to find the right fit for you.
Storage Tank Water Heaters
The most standard type of water heater is a storage tank water heater. Just like in the name, these units consist of an insulated tank where the water is heated and stored until it’s needed, then surfaces from a pipe located on the top of the unit. There’s also a pressure and temperature-relief valve that opens when the temperature and pressure exceeds a preset level. Natural gas storage tanks typically consume less energy and cost much less to run (about half of the cost) than an electric model, even though gas models do cost more at the time of purchase.
Storage Tank Water Heater Costs
When you’re looking to buy a best water heater, you should consider the cited energy efficiency and the yearly operating costs. You can typically find this information on the Energy Guide label. Most storage tank units are sold based on how many gallons of hot water a tank water heater hold. For example, a family which consists of four members may take numerous showers throughout the day, wash a load or two to three of laundry on a typical day, and run the dishwasher often, totaling about 100 gallons of warm water if not more. Does that mean they need a hundred gallon tank water heater? Not necessarily.
Storage Tank Water Heater Maintenance
Performing water heater maintenance periodically will significantly lengthen a storage tank unit’s life and retain the efficiency. Review the manufacturer’s manual for detailed maintenance guidelines and recommendations.
Routine maintenance for a storage water heater depends on what type of tank water heater and model you have, typically the process includes:
- Testing the anode rod every three to four years.
- Flushing down a quart of hot water from the tank water heater every three months
- Monitoring the pressure and temperature valve every 6 months
Storage Tank Energy Efficiency
After properly installing your storage water heater and maintaining it, you should try few additional energy-saving tactics that will help to cut your water heating bills. There are few energy-saving systems and devices that can be more cost-effective if you install those with the water heater.
In a nutshell
What to Consider
The most important thing to consider with a storage tank is the FHR (first hour rating) and the GPM (gallons per minute) rating for storage tank models because that’s what notifies you how much warm water the water heater can supply over a fixed time period for the first hour. Afterward, based on how fast you are using up hot water, it can either become less warm or, in fact, cool. It would take a specific time (variable by capacity and model) to return to its final first-hour rating (FHR). You can calculate how much capacity you will need by taking an expert’s suggestion.
Choose your required capacity of gallon based on your family members
Size of Household
Capacity of Gallon
1 – 2
22 – 35
2 – 3
35 – 45
3 – 4
45 – 55
5 or more
55 or higher
Condensing Water Heaters
Condensing water heaters can be a lucrative option if you heat with gas, and you require a condensing water heater with a capacity of 60 gallons or more. Condensing water heaters are known to be the high-efficiency cousins of the standard tankless gas water heaters. They function very similarly to a high efficiency condensing furnace, but they heat water instead of heating the air.
Condensing water heaters have a tank just like a conventional unit, but they capture exhaust gasses that would usually go out the chimney, which wastes a substantial amount of energy. These gasses are blown through a coil located at the base of the unit, where most of the heat is absorbed by incoming cold water. Most of this heat is transported to the water in the storage tank, but a decent portion is released through the vent pipe.
In a condensing water heater, a fan that induces draft pushes air & fuel into a closed combustion chamber which consists inside the tank. When the fuel burns, the combustion gas is drained through a secondary heat exchanger which is a coiled steel tube immersed in the reservoir. The heat exchanger, in addition to the combustion chamber, have huge surface areas to get the most out of heat transference to the water. So much heat is transported that the combustion gasses cool to the point where the water vapor in the exhaust stream condenses, discharging its latent heat, that is also transferred over to the stored water. In the time that it takes the exhaust gas to leave the heater, it becomes cold enough to vent safely through an industrial plastic plumbing pipe.
Condensing Water Heater Costs
This smart design helps increase the efficiency of condensing gas water heaters and can decrease your bills of natural gas by over $100 every year. For big families, that normally use a lot of hot water, using a condensing water heater will save you, even more, money each year.
Condensing Water Heater Maintenance
Being that it is relatively new for most consumers, condensing water heating systems may need more time than other types of water heaters when installing, troubleshooting or maintaining. This is because gas condensing water heaters have the efficiency of over 90%. Also, these particular models have the first-hour rating significantly higher than conventional heaters, with the same capacity.
Condensing Water Heater Efficiency
You can reduce water heating energy use by almost 32% in your home with a qualified condensing gas unit. Every year by shaving off almost 76 therms from your gas bill, you are decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Since condensing gas units are very efficient enough at heating up your water, the tank heats up as fast as it’s filled. That means that you will never run out of hot water during the morning shower.
In a nutshell
What to Consider
If you’re swapping your existing gas type water heater and you typically need a lot of hot water running over an extended period of time, then this may be the way you want to go. Households that have tub fills, multiple hot showers, and need a high water flow rate during the winter and summer, should choose a condensing water heater. Only because it needs the minimum amount of repiping and has a much faster payback.
Hybrid or Heat Pump Water Heaters
Hybrid Water Heaters have the ability to absorb heat from the nearby air and then transfers the heat to the water. These units use about 60% less energy than the standard electric heaters. While they do cost far more than only electric water heater models, the installation is quite similar and the time of payback is short. Hybrids do have their downsides though because they do not work as well in freezing spaces, so they need to be installed in an area that stays between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit all throughout the year.
Since the heat pump itself is usually on top, a heat pump or hybrid heater can require as much as 7 to 7.5 feet allowance from ceiling to floor. You will also need approximately 1,050 cubic feet of uncooled place in order to absorb adequate heat from the surrounding air as well as a adjacent sewer or drain to release the condensate.
Hybrid or Heat Pump Water Heater Costs
When you live in a warm climate area, and you install a hybrid water heater in a garage or hot attic, the hybrid alone will save you more money. The conventional and traditional heating coils turn on only when the hybrid or heat pump is no longer able to satisfy the need. Installing the hybrid unit in a heated room, will suck up some of the heat. The heat pump or hybrid water heaters price ranges between $1,150 to $2700 at many stores, but prices do fluctuate depending on several variables.
Hybrid or Heat Pump Water Heater Maintenance
If your heat pump or hybrid water heater contains a filter, it is important that you clean it regularly in order for it to function as efficiently as possible. Some models may require that you remove the air filter completely to clean properly. Being that this type of water heater generates condensation, you must know how to properly remove it to drain the system. It is essential to have the system inspected periodically by a professional to make sure that you are removing the condensate properly which ultimately helps your system last longer.
Hybrid or Heat Pump Water Heater Energy Efficiency
Since water heater efficiency is measured by the energy factor (EF), it is typical that an electric resistance water heater have EFs of 0.9 or higher in which case the heaters that are above 90 percent efficient can convert electricity into thermal energy inside the water heater. Heat pump or hybrid water heaters have EFs of 2.0 to 2.5 which means that they can use less than half of the energy than a standard water heater would. By combining a vapor compression system, you can achieve higher efficiency because you’re extracting heat from the surrounding air with electric resistant elements.
In a nutshell
What to Consider
If you so happen to live in a warm climate, and you heat your water with electricity, an electric heat pump can save you the lot money when compared to a conventional water heater unit. In colder regions, it can still save you money during the summer months. The higher the electricity rates and the warmer the climate is year-round, the faster the reimbursement. In numerous cases, the profit can be seen in as little as four and half years.
Solar Water Heaters
A solar water heater is a cell mounted on the roof that absorbs the sun’s heat and then transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a sealed loop system that goes to the water tank. The best solar water heaters deliver incredible savings during the summer, which makes them a smart option for warm, sunny regions.
On the other hand, savings do suffer during cold and cloudy days when the process slows down or stops altogether. Most solar water heater models contain a backup system that kicks in when it’s needed. Despite federal and local rebates, the thousands of dollars you’d typically spend to buy and install a solar system can mean that you’ll be waiting anywhere between 10 to 30 years to recover your expenses.
Solar Water Heater Costs
A solar water heating system generally costs more to buy and install than a conventional water heating system.
Your savings will depend on:
- The amount of warm water used
- Performance of the systems
- Your physical location and resource of solar
- Incentives and finance options
- The price of natural gas, electricity, and oil
- Fuel cost of your backup water heater
Generally, installing a solar water heater can help cut your water heating bills by 50% to 80%. As the sun is free, that also protects you from future fuel shortages and price increases.
Solar Water Heater Maintenance
Solar energy systems need periodic inspections and regular maintenance option to keep them operating powerfully. From time to time, components may also need repair or replacing. You will need to make sure that you take the necessary steps to prevent scaling, freezing, and corrosion. You may be able to handle some of the maintenance and inspection tasks on your own, but some tasks will require a qualified technician. For certain method, it may be most cost-effective to remove, replace or shut off the solar system than repair.
Solar Water Heater Energy Efficiency
The solar energy element is best described as the power that is supplied by the process and divided by the gas or electrical energy that is put into the process. Solar energy elements range from 1.0 to 11. Solar energy system elements of two or three are the most general. Solar fraction is another solar water heater metric. The solar fraction is the percentage of the total traditional warm water heating load. Solar contribution for heating water will be more if the solar fraction is higher. So, the greater the solar fraction, the higher the solar contribution will be. The fraction of solar may vary between 0 – 1. Usually, solar factors are 0.51 to 0.76.
In a nutshell
What to Consider
Solar water heating systems typically require a backup system when it’s cloudy and during times of grown demand. Traditional storage units normally serve backup and might already be a portion of the solar system bundle. A backup process might also be a portion of the solar collector, like the tanks of rooftop with thermosyphon process. Being that an integral-collector storage process already reserves warm water additionally gathering solar heat, it might be bundled with a tankless or on-demand water heater for backup.
5 Things You Need to Consider Before Buying a Water Heater
The plumber has made it clear that the old water heater is beyond repair. Instead of spending more money trying to get another year or two out of the unit, the smart move is to start looking for a replacement. As you investigate the different options on the market, it pays to consider each of these aspects before making your final selection. Doing so will provide superior benefits in the years to come.
The Fuel Source
Since the old heater has to go anyway, now is the time to think about switching to a different fuel source. What option is really the most cost effective in your area? Talk with a contractor about what it would take to run fresh lines and connections. If switching the fuel source would mean saving a reasonable amount of money each month, the time and expense are worth it.
How large does the water heater need to be in order to provide the household with plenty of hot water? The first inclination may be to base the choice on the size of the old unit. A better approach is to step back and take a fresh look at the situation. Opting for a heater that is larger or smaller may be the best bet.
For example, the old heater had enough capacity to ensure everyone had a hot shower in the morning, but running the dishwasher for at least a half-hour was out of the question. A tank with a larger capacity may be the solution. Alternatively, looking into tankless models that heat water on demand would also make it easier to manage multiple tasks without having to wait.
Look closely at what is known as the Seasonal Energy Ratio Efficiency of any water heater under consideration. While all units sold in the country must have a minimum rating, you want something higher. A higher rating means the unit will heat more water while consuming less energy. Expect to pay more for a unit with a higher rating, but remember that you’ll enjoy lower utility bills as a result.
Make sure you understand what safety features are in place and how they work. The goal is to choose a heater that will automatically shut down certain malfunctions occur. Don’t assume the new heater will have the same features as your old one. Look closely at the design, the safety features included in that design, and how they are triggered.
Durability and After The Sale Service
Check consumer ratings and find out what other buyers have to say about the heater’s durability. What you want to find is that the unit needs little more than basic maintenance in order to last for a long time. If there are reports that the heater tends to need frequent repairs after a few years, keep looking.
What type of support can you expect once the heater is delivered and installed? Along with understanding the warranty terms and conditions, does the seller also offer some type of guarantee? Knowing what you can expect in the way of support after the purchase is over will help you decide if the deal is really a good one.
Remember that the right water heater will last for decades. Take your time and compare different models carefully. With the right selection, you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water.