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Home Improvement

Best Water Heater

One of the things that define a civilized society is its supply of clean, potable water. In the United States, we use more water than any other nation, and we use it in more ways than any other nation. Heating water for bathing is almost unheard of in most countries, so remember not to take this for granted the next time you bathe.

The energy used to heat enough water for a typical family of four accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home's energy budget. Deciding what type of energy used to heat your water, and what mode of heating you chose, is very important as it will play a very large role in your day to day life.

There are only a few sources of energy used here, namely electric, gas, oil, and solar. Depending on where you live and how much hot water you consume, these things will dictate how to store your hot water, and what style of hot water heater you should use.

You can have the traditional hot water tank that holds 30 to 80 gallons of water, maintained at a constant temperature, ready to use when you need it. Or you may opt for the newer tankless hot water heater that runs water through a heating element it as you need it. This is far more energy efficient than traditional tanks as it only uses energy when you make a draw on the water. Since the tankless hot water heaters don’t have to maintain a hot water tank, when not in use, tankless hot water heaters will consume no energy at all.

If you live in a very sunny area of the country, you might opt for a solar hot water heating system that is a combination of both. Insulated tubing sits on the roof of your home, being heated by the sun. Once it reaches a certain temperature, it is then pumped down to a tank that will store this hot water ready for use. Because these solar panels sit in the sun all day, they are also generating enough electrical energy to circulate the water, and run the pumps that allow it all to function. If your conditions are right, these can be a very good source of hot water all year long.

Learning all you can about hot water heaters, and discovering all the choices you have is a great way to help make this decision. Please consider, whatever you purchase, you will probably live with it for the next 30 years, or more.

Ariston 7 GPH Electric Point-of-Use Water Heater

Ariston 7 GPH Electric Point-of-Use Water Heater

The Ariston water heater is small enough to mount under a sink, and still produces seven gallons per hour that is enough to run a small shower. It can install easily in line with your regular hot water heater, or independently from any other water source. You can purchase this model locally, either the gas or electric model, and be outfitted with 65 to 145-degree water within the hour. Since these small units are only used on occasion, a pressure release valve is included to prevent overheating.

Whirlpool 6 GPH Electric Point-of-Use Water Heater

Whirlpool 6 GPH Electric Point-of-Use Water Heater

Whirlpool also has a point-of-use hot water heater that produces six gallons of hot water per hour, and yet is still small enough to keep under a sink or mount on the wall. The heating element is a single copper wire, insulated with 1-inch of non-CFC foam insulation. This greatly reduces stand by heat loss. Since these heaters are typically only used on occasion, this model will also carry a pressure release valve installed at the factory. Designed for commercial or residential use, Whirlpool is always close by for any repairs that might be needed. With a temperature range of 90 to 150 degrees, this water heater will be hot when you need it to be.

Kenmore 30 gal. Compact 6-Year Electric Water Heater

Kenmore 30 gal. Compact 6-Year Electric Water Heater

This Kenmore point-of-use hot water heater has a slightly larger capacity than most other point-of-use heaters. Holding up to 30 gallons of hot water, in a 22-inch wide tank, it stands only 30 inches tall, but will deliver seven gallons of hot water per hour; hot and ready for when you need it. Designed more for a small commercial space, it is built like a whole house hot water heater, with two inches of foam insulation, and a heavy duty anode rod to help reduce rust. This model also comes with a glass lining to help with energy efficiency and longevity. Designed for indoor use, this model comes with one year warranty on parts and labor, and a six year warranty on the tank. While not Energy Star compliant, it runs on a standard 120-volt outlet, and can be unplugged for periods of non- use.

Bosch Ariston GL4 Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater

This point-of-use hot water heater is manufactured by Aniston, and sold by Bosch — you can get the best of both worlds. No hard wiring involved, simply plug this model into any standard 120-volt outlet and your heater starts to work. Like larger hot water heaters, this model comes with a glass lining to help insulate, but weighs only seventeen pounds. Models can be purchased with a two and a half gallon; four gallon, and six gallon tank, and they come with a one year warranty on parts and labor, and six years on the tank.

Reliance 6 6 SOMS K 6 Gallon Compact Electric Water Heater

Designed for under the sink, or wall mounting, the Reliance six gallon point-of-use hot water heater is an economical choice for those needing a small amount of hot water ready for use. There is also a glass lining to fight against rust, and it comes with a factory installed pressure relief valve to protect against overheating. This model can be simply unplugged for periods of non-use. The heating element is stainless steel, and draws on 120 volts of power to maintain. The warranty on this model is pretty standard, one year on parts and labor; six years on the tank. Ideal for installations under the sink, or in a crawl space.

Stiebel Eltron SBB 300Plus Dual Heat Exchanger Solar Storage Tank

This solar storage tank for hot water comes with a heavy gauged, galvanized steel casing, with porcelain enamel coating to make it look and function great. This model will also come with up to three inches of foam insulation, making it one of the best insulated hot water tanks in the market. The over sized exit port makes it easy to reach inside and clean out any mineral build up that can impair performance. Like all good hot water heaters, it contains an anode rod that will help prevent rust from the inside out. The heat exchangers are made of heavy gauge steel with porcelain enamel coating to improve conductivity, as well as prevent rust.

Rheem Sol Pak Solaraide

Rheem Sol Pak Solaraide

Rheem has their version of the solar-powered hot water tank that is like all their products, built to last. It is available with single or double collector systems, so that while one is being used, the other is heating up again. This package includes their SolarAide tank, collectors, controller switch, and a multi-speed pump to move the water around and keep it stirred to ensure even temperatures. The closed loop systems will also contain a glycol gel inside, that will heat up and continue to radiate heat even when the energy source is not available. This model is Energy Star certified, as well as OG-300 certified by SRCC. The heat exchanger includes a double wall with copper tubing, and a single element back-up heating source.

Sunward Solar Hot Water System

Sunward Solar Hot Water System

The solar panels for this unit consist of copper tubing, built into two sheets of aluminum. The disadvantage of building this any other way is that when these two metals are not bound tightly together as Sunward does, their conductivity is compromised, and the welding points are prone to come apart with all the expanding and contracting. In all, there are no joints in the Sunward Solar Heating system, so there is less chance of it leaking. These panels generate their own electricity, so there is no need to hard wire this system to your home. It is completely self- contained. The glass panels used are specifically designed to extreme exposure, just like the internal rubber seals, so there is no need to worry about these breaking down any time soon, no matter where you live. All metals are galvanized for extra protection, and tested to withstand internal temperatures of up to 392° F. In addition, the 80 gallon tank is glass lined, on top of two inches of insulation, and is warrantied for 10 years.

SunMaxx 80 Gallon Empire State DHW Kit – FP

SunMaxx 80 Gallon Empire State DHW Kit – FP

While many solar hot water kits can seem clumsy, and complicated, Sun Maxx has streamlined their kits and will help the customer design one that will fit their unique space and budget. Affordable, and very cost effective, these kits include their own ‘ThermoPower’ flat plate solar collectors. Designed to withstand direct sun, all year long, these panels will absorb maximum heat, and transfer it directly to the copper tubing inside. Once heated, the flex tubing will not crack or break since it is made of a flexible material made to withstand the heat and cold based on your location. The big advantage of SunMaxx is that they work with each customer personally to ensure that each one understands how their custom made system works.

Bio Diesel Supply House 400 Liter Solar Water Heater Hot Water Tank Dual Coil & Electric Backup

The closed heating system uses anti-freeze as the working fluid inside. Once heated, this will circulate through the tank and heat the standing water. Because it is anti-freeze, it will be able to manage extreme temperatures year round. The tank itself is made from food grade stainless steel, with a galvanized steel exterior to withstand any pressure build up. Solar heating systems will often generate temperatures of 158 degrees. This can crack glass lined storage tanks, and once cracked, they will continue to deteriorate until permanent loss is formed. Designed more for commercial use, this 100-gallon solar-powered hot water heater will work great provided you have enough sun to keep it hot. If not, their electric backup generator will take care of the rest.

Rheem RTGH-95DVN Condensing Tankless Water Heater

Rheem is one of the top selling brands of hot water devices in the country, and there is little wonder why. Their warranty terms show a lot of confidence in their products, offering 12-Year Limited Warranty on heat exchanger, 5-year warranty on parts, and 1-year warranty on labor. This model can be powered by gas or electric, and produces up to nine and a half gallons per minute. It is also a condensing type of hot water heater, in that it will re-use the vented air to reheat the incoming cold water. More than one unit can be joined together to increase capacity in case your home continues to grow over the years. There is also a protective overheating wrap that will vent extra heat and prevent this model from ever getting too hot. Excess heat and fumes are simply vented outside via a standard PVC pipe. It comes with a remote control for the digital thermostat that can be mounted up to 10 feet away.

Bosch Therm C 1210 ES Tankless Water Heater

Bosch is known for making top quality, full scale products, and this Therm C-1210ES model leads the way. It has up to a 98 percent thermal efficiency rating. This is mostly because this model is a condensing type of tankless heater, meaning that it will capture heat from the exhaust gas and use it to preheat the incoming cold water. This is just one more technological application that makes Bosch one of the best. Not only does it increase efficiency, but it reduces noxious fumes well below the 2012 Low NOX emissions standards set by SCAQMD (California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District). This unit will also produce up to twelve gallons per minute of piping hot water, making it one of the most powerful units there is. There are built in freeze and overheating applications to prevent freezing and scalding, and the venting is easily run through an exterior wall with a PVC pipe which can also be vented horizontally and vertically.

Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus Tankless Water Heater

Considered to be one of the most contemporary tankless hot water heaters in the market, the Tempra-24 guarantees an even temperature no matter what the demands are on the system. Designed to work in colder environments, where smaller units can’t perform, this model will produce enough hot water for two demands at once. Take two showers at the same time; or take a shower and draw a bath. Under these conditions, most tankless units can’t keep up, but the Stiebel Eltron Tempra will. Hot water temperatures can easily be adjusted, but will not go higher than 140 degrees to prevent scalding. This model will continue to produce when demands are being made, so don’t ever be concerned about running out.

Eemax SS023240TC Whole House Tankless Water Heater

This small and easy to install tankless hot water heater will install just about anywhere with a claimed 99 percent efficiency. This means that all your energy goes into heating the water and not radiating from the unit. The ‘quick-connect’ hoses make getting started easy without soldering. The digital temperature control will regulate the temperatures between 100 and 140 degrees with maximum efficiency by sensing the incoming water supply.

Bosch Tronic 5000 Whole House Electric Tankless Water Heater

This Bosch Tronic-5000 tankless, electric hot water heater is great for smaller applications, providing enough hot water for one draw at a time. It operates with a ninety-eight percent efficiency rating, making this a very good investment for those who want to lower costs all around. It will only use electricity when hot water is being generated. The rest of the time its energy usage will remain neutral. It is compact, and easy to install just about anywhere, and comes with an electronic flow sensor the will control usage to gain the most efficient use. There is also a temperature gauge that will ensure that you are receiving an even temperature, no matter what demands are being made on the system. This model is designed for ‘add-on’ use, meaning that it is best suited for smaller homes, additions to a home, or small commercial, point-of-use hot water heaters such as in a bathroom, or kitchen.

Rheem High Efficiency Condensing Power Direct Vent

Rheem High Efficiency Condensing Power Direct Vent

This Rheem Classic model exceeds Energy Star’s 2010 requirements, and outperforms several other leading brands when it comes to energy efficiency and performance. Operating at only $288 annually, you will realize your return of investment in just a few years. There is a self-diagnostic feature that tests the unit automatically, and lets you know when maintenance is ever needed. The Eco-friendly burner produces some of the lowest noxious fumes in the business. There is also a system control sensor that will disable the heater in the presence of flammable vapor accumulation. The extremely quiet blower motor will vent any fumes that might be present as far as 60 feet away from the unit, preventing any possible buildup for the highest personal safety.

Whirlpool Model: ND50T122-403, 50 gal. Gas Water Heater

With two inches of foam insulation, this Whirlpool model will produce an energy efficient supply of water that earns it the Energy Star Seal of Approval. This Whirlpool model also includes a self-diagnostic testing feature that will monitor performance to keep you informed on routine maintenance. One particularly unique feature is the electronic ignition that will shut off and re-light the pilot light system, enabling a standby mode that will help reduce gas consumption; saving you even more money. The low NOx Gas Burner is ecologically friendly, reducing emissions by as much as 30 percent. This model claims only $272 in annual operating costs, with an average BTU Input of forty-thousand BTUs

Kenmore 33115 50 gal. 12-Year Natural Gas Water Heater

Kenmore 33115 50 gal. 12-Year Natural Gas Water Heater

Heating 50 gallons at a time, this energy efficient Kenmore model includes an anode rod, two inches of foam insulation, and their patented Ultra Coat™ glass liner to limit and reduce rust. Fifty gallons is the standard for a family of five, and is sure to keep yours in hot water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cold water intake includes another patented ‘RotoSwirl’ design that swirls the water to keep it moving thus preventing mineral build up inside the storage tank. Sporting a plastic drain, this heater won’t rust, no matter what the external environment is. Great for damp and wet basements.

Rinnai REU-VC2528FFUD-US Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater

Producing seven and a half gallons of hot water per minute, and up to 180,000 BTU’s, this Rinnai tankless water heater sports an 82 percent thermal efficiency that is considered to be one of the best in the business. This particular model can be used for both residential and commercial use, and sized to fit most any usage. It can be vented though the wall, or roof, and mounted just about anywhere on an exterior wall. It comes with the standard digital controller with ‘Error Code Indicator’ and can also be equipped with a commercial grade thermostat for higher capacity. Including the coveted Energy Star certification, this model includes a 12- year warranty on the heat exchanger; five years on parts, and one year on labor for residential use. Longer warranties and commercial use warranties are also available.

Rheem RTGH-95DVN Condensing Tankless Water Heater

Rheem is one of the top selling brands of hot water devices in the country, and there is little wonder why. Their warranty terms show a lot of confidence in their products, offering 12-Year Limited Warranty on heat exchanger, 5-year warranty on parts, and 1-year warranty on labor. This model can be powered by gas or electric, and produces up to nine and a half gallons per minute. It is also a condensing type of hot water heater, in that it will re-use the vented air to reheat the incoming cold water. More than one unit can be joined together to increase capacity in case your home continues to grow over the years. There is also a protective overheating wrap that will vent extra heat and prevent this model from ever getting too hot. Excess heat and fumes are simply vented outside via a standard PVC pipe. It comes with a remote control for the digital thermostat that can be mounted up to 10 feet away.

Whirlpool 80-Gallon Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

Whirlpool 80-Gallon Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

The Whirlpool brand is a well-known brand and if you should ever need parts and service, they will be close at hand. Even the 80-gallon size is considered efficient enough to earn an Energy-Factor rating of 2.4. It is believed to cost less than half of more traditional electric hot water heaters. Studies have shown that while the traditional models will cost an average of $540 per year, this one costs only $201, qualifying it for a tax rebate good through December 2013. The high performance insulation will allow it to store heat energy more efficiently, and the touch screen control center will give you four setting options of efficiency, hybrid mode, electric mode and vacation mode. The touch screen display is also tamper proof, so nobody but those with the password can get in and alter any settings. Their warranty is one of the best in the industry, with a Maintenance Free Powered Anode Rod that protects the tank for the life of the water heater.

AO Smith Voltex Hybrid Electric Heat Pump

This hybrid electric hot water heater absorbs heat from its surroundings, and allows it to be transferred to the water inside, while cooling and drying the air around the tank. This is a great feature if your basement is excessively warm, or damp. It also sports an 80-gallon volume, which is average for the typical family of five. Like all great models, the Voltex includes a four mode setting; high efficiency, hybrid, electric and vacation. Earning an Energy Factor rating of 2.4, this unit is placed in the top class with Energy Star, and eligible for a tax rebate through December 2013.

Kenmore Elite 80 Gal. Hybrid Electric Water Heater

Kenmore Elite 80 Gal. Hybrid Electric Water Heater

Kenmore is one of America's leading brands of appliances, found in more than 100 million homes. The Elite, 80-gallon model is a good reason why. It uses the latest hybrid technology to capture some of the surrounding heat in the environment, and transfer it to the hot water inside. This model is estimated to save as much as 60 percent in your annual operating costs, and boasts an Energy Factor rating of 2.3. Energy Star compliance will also allow you to capitalize on the current tax rebates running now through December 2013. The user friendly touch pad control panel includes four operating modes; Efficient, Hybrid mode, Electric mode, and Vacation mode. Like all hot water heaters these days, this model comes with a reputable maintenance-free, non-depleting, powered anode rod that will help to prevent rust. The easy access air filter is mounted high, making it easy for you to remove and replace after washing.

Whirlpool 80 Gallon Energy Smart Electric Water Heater

Whirlpool 80 Gallon Energy Smart Electric Water Heater

This 80-gallon electric hot water heater includes a contemporary touch screen control panel that makes it easy to maintain the various modes that are available. These include the standard Energy Smart mode that will intelligently react to hot water use patterns, thereby reducing the standby heat loss, and the Vacation mode that will save you money if you are away. The thermostats are reading with resistors, thereby removing any moving parts. This is a great design because there are fewer parts to wear out. Another high tech design is this models Smart Port feature. This means that this hot water heater is ready for a plug and play home automation application. While considered futuristic now, Whirlpool is leading the way.

Rheem RHE PRO80-2 Professional Electric Hot Water Heater

Rheem RHE PRO80-2 Professional Electric Hot Water Heater

Rheem Professional Series of electric hot water heaters are designed by professionals, so you can be sure that they have considered everything that needs to be considered about longevity. It carries an Energy Factor of only .91-.95, making it not quite as efficient as other models, but some of the other features will still set them apart. While they don't have the Energy Star rating set forth by the government, they do carry the Energy Miser certification, that cuts energy usage at the control panel by as much as 95 percent. This will drop on demand charges and usage down from 10 to 25 percent. This series comes with a 42 to 80-gallon capacity, depending on what your need is. The high efficiency resistor heating element adds one of the longest protection periods available in hot water heaters overall. The sensitive thermostat will turn the heater off if for any reason the temperature climbs above its set temperature. Most impressive about this unit is its EverKleen self-cleaning feature that helps prevent sediment build-up with a fast moving spiraling stream of water inside. Limiting sediment build up should be a big factor in extending the life of any hot water heater.

Kerri Ryan
I was a real estate developer in Washington, DC, both purchasing and remodeling commercial and residential property for over 25 years. During this time, I was able to experience the best of the best in all things related to the home; indoors and out. Kitchens & baths, both indoor and out, faux painting, high end furniture, whole property communication systems, anything that will make life easier around the house, was used and explored at one time or another while running this business. Budgets in DC were large, and their imaginations were even larger. Finding the right materials to keep the customer happy was just part of the fun and excitement of developing real estate for 25 years.
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