Water Heater Review
There is plenty of water heaters on the market today. We conducted an in-depth analysis of various models and present to your attention the best equipment in the most popular categories. Here you will find water heaters working on different fuel – electric, natural gas, liquid propane. We will also give recommendations with simple tips on how to choose the perfect water heater for your own home.
Best Electric tankless
We were looking for a very compact and cost-effective water heater. In this category, we were looking for something that would suit most consumers and at the same time would not be expensive. Choosing the best electric tankless water heater, we identified the criterion of compactness and ease of installation, as the most important, not forgetting the electrical efficiency.
Top Pick: Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000
This is a very compact water heater that allows you to get hot water where you need it. With a 4-gallon mini tank, you can easily place this device under a sink, under a worktop, in a closet, on a shelf, or any other niche. The tank has an internal glass coating that makes the water heater as reliable and durable as possible. The device is equipped with high-power sources of heating, which in a few minutes will prepare hot water.
With an external wheel, you can easily control the temperature, and the safety valve ensures safe use. Also, the device has an attractive appearance due to its streamlined shape and glossy surface. The thermal efficiency of the water heater is a record of 98%. Besides, you can use the heater as an independent source of hot water or install it in-line with a large boiler.
With one device you can handle up to 2 sinks at a time. Also, worth noting is a simple installation – just connect to a source of cold water to provide hot water.
Best Natural Gas
Natural gas is an affordable and quick way to heat water. Choosing the best gas water heaters, we paid maximum attention to thermal efficiency, burner quality, and control flexibility.
Top Pick: Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG
Despite the use of high-quality burner for natural gas, the water heater has a compact size for a class of gas boilers. With such modest dimensions, you can count on the performance of 6+ gallons of hot water per minute. For safe operation, it is necessary to install a chimney through which natural gas combustion products will be discharged.
The device is equipped with output and input thermistors for continuous temperature control. 140,000 BTU of pure energy inside a small water heater. With this device, you can supply hot water by the direct and indirect method. You can connect the Takagi T-KJr2 to a storage tank, hydraulic heating system, recirculation system, as well as to a heated floor system and a household heating system.
The heat exchanger is designed for a service life of at least 15 years. You can use the remote control for every day using the water heater. Safety features include protection against freezing, overheating and overvoltage. Besides, the device displays diagnostic codes that help identify and eliminate any malfunction.
Tank water heaters remain one of the most popular methods of preparing hot water. Thanks to the tank, you can always count on a certain amount of hot water, independently with stable pressure and constant temperature. Choosing the best heater, we paid maximum attention to electrical efficiency and operating modes.
Top Pick: Stiebel Eltron 234046 SHC 4 Mini-Tank Electric Water Heater
Wall-mounted tank water heater Stiebel Eltron is designed to supply one or more water points. It has a compact size and can be installed under the sink, in the closet, or any niche.
Heating element made of copper and it durable.
The front panel contains a temperature controller with an adjustment range of 95 F to 179 F, a magnesium anode status indicator, and an indicator of the amount of hot water. Possible limitations of the temperature range are 95/131/140/149 F
The design of the device allows you to get a hot amount of water with a constant temperature. The storage tank is made of steel and coated with a special enamel. Replaceable anti-corrosion anode protects the tank from corrosion. It is possible to replace the anti-corrosion anode without removing the heating flange.
Highly efficient, environmentally friendly thermal insulation saves energy. Protection class is IP 25 (protection against water jets).
The inner tank is made of steel coated with special anti-corrosion enamel and equipped with a magnesium anode. High-quality thermal insulation ensures minimal heat loss.
Electronic sensor for hot water shows how much hot water you have. The Stiebel Eltron equipped with replaceable flange with the copper heating element. Control panel with LED display allows choosing any functions. The LED display provides information on the amount of hot water and the condition of the anti-corrosion anode.
Best Residential use
What to choose for residential use? In this case, it is important to consider the limitations of the electrical network, so we cannot advise very powerful devices in this category. Therefore, we chose the best water heater in terms of power/performance ratio. In this case, the device should provide the performance to take a shower and wash the dishes.
Top Pick: EcoSmart ECO 11
Water heater EcoSmart ECO 11 is a cool tankless model for the whole house. It will work most effectively in regions where the temperature of the incoming water flow is more than 67 F. The water heater has a capacity of 2 gallons per minute and at the same time can provide warm water to the shower and sink. The digital interface allows you to change the temperature in 1-degree increments. EcoSmart ECO 11 is also suitable for cold climates for use as a source of warm water for the kitchen sink.
The instantaneous water heater has a modern design with a smooth surface and streamlined corners. Therefore, ECO 11 is suitable for the design of any kitchen. The water heater has a lifetime warranty. To install, you need a minimum of space, because the heater is lightweight and compact. It can be installed on the wall, under the sink, in a closet or niche.
Thanks to the new auto-modulation technology, only the necessary amount of energy is used to heat the water.
Best High Efficiency
The problem of energy saving is very relevant in our time. Therefore, in this category, we considered the devices that give the maximum hot water at the lowest cost of electricity.
Top Pick: Noritz NR50ODLP
This model from Noritz heats water by burning liquid propane. The water heater can be installed on the street under a canopy. It is enough to connect it to the water supply system and the source of fuel, which is liquid propane. A capacity of 5 gallons per minute provides warm water for two bathrooms and a kitchen.
The device uses a copper heat exchanger K-Copper, which is 25% thicker than its competitors. That allows you to significantly increase the service life of the water heater. The disadvantages are only the fact that it is necessary to separately buy a set of valves IK-WV-200-1-XX-LF for connecting a gasbag.
If you live in a remote area, then this is the best way to get hot water and significantly increase the level of home comfort. You need to take care of only one thing – the availability of a spare gasbag with liquid propane.
Best Whole House
A device for the whole house is a very important choice. After all, if you choose a too weak water heater, you may face a lack of hot water pressure when several people use it at the same time. Therefore, we have chosen a heater that will provide all your water needs with high energy efficiency.
Top Pick: Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus
We present to your attention a powerful tankless water heater. That is a modernized model with very powerful electronics. The device has a simple design for maximum reliability. High precision flow sensor provides improved flow control. A flip cover ensures easy access to the inside of the device. With this water heater, you can replace any tank heater and provide your house with hot water.
Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus is 25% more electricity-efficient than water heaters with a tank because it only works when you use hot water. Besides, the device takes up much less space than a water heater with a tank.
Using the display, you can adjust the temperature of the hot water at any time. Tempra 24 does not require an additional vent system and can work inside any room.
Advanced flow control ensures constant water temperature. It does not matter how much you consume. Advanced Flow Control guarantees a stable temperature without hesitation. Therefore, you can use hot water as comfortable as possible. That water heater can be used even in regions with a cold climate.
You can always heat the water for two bathrooms and a kitchen. it is also seismic proof construction and easy to install. The sleek design saves space and reduces waste. Energy monitor shows cost savings. It has also preset temperature memory buttons. Water Heater automatically maintains temperature even when demand is greater than capacity.
Best Indoor Propane
The use of propane allows you to increase comfort if you live in a remote area where the blessings of civilization are not available. Choosing the best propane water heater, we focused on the safety and ease of installation at home.
Top Pick: Rinnai V65IP
The Rinnai V65IP provides up to 6.6 gallons of hot water per minute. That is ideal if your home has up to two bathrooms and two kitchen sinks. The device is a very compact enclosure and is mounted on a wall. For propane water heaters, you need to organize a chimney system. Rinnai V65IP has an energy factor of 0.82 for gas installations, which is a very high figure.
The device is certified for installation not only in a private home but also in mobile homes. When a leak is detected, the water heater shuts off the water supply to minimize damage. Temperature lock function prevents unauthorized temperature changes. Complies with strict South Coast Air Quality Management District 14 ng/J or 20 ppm NOx actual emission levels.
Rinnai V65IP works only when you consume hot water, so you can save up to 40% compared to traditional tank water heaters. The unit is equipped with a copper heat exchanger, which is a guarantee of reliability, safety, and durability. Compact size saves space in your home.
All components of the water heater are replaceable. You can easily replace any part that failed. You do not need to change the whole system. That will save you considerable money compared to other traditional systems. The heater can be installed on the wall and in cramped spaces – cellar, attic and houses, including modular and manufactured ones. Low CO2 emissions contribute to cleaner air and a healthier environment.
The price issue is a very important criterion when choosing a water heater. But how to choose an inexpensive device, but with high reliability and energy efficiency. We analyzed the market and selected a heater with good warranty support and good tank protection.
Top Pick: American Standard CE-12-AS
American Standard introduced one of the most affordable water heaters with a piece of rich equipment. The storage tank inside is treated with glass, so the metal is reliably protected from corrosion and rust. The device is equipped with a brass drain valve, which makes it easy to empty the tank for maintenance. Also, the heater is equipped with a brass valve for temperature and pressure relief. All models are tested at pressures up to 300 psi. Also, units are tested for operating pressures up to 150 pounds per square inch.
The metal is coated on the inside with Dura-Glass lining, which is applied at 1600 F. Foam insulation minimizes heat loss. The anode rod also protects the tank from corrosion. That compact American Standard CE-12-AS will provide enough warm water to wash dishes, prepare food, and taking shower at the same time.
Temperature control is carried out using a thermostat up to 160 F. You get a six-year tank warranty when installed inside a dwelling and a three-year warranty when mounted on a commercial property. American Standard tanks are equipped with a hand-hole cleanout, which allows you to inspect the inside and clean it if necessary. Such a function extends the life of the water heater and helps prevent the accumulation of sediment.
Tips for Buying Efficiently
How to choose an electric water heater?
There are several types of water heaters, which have fundamental differences.
With a tank
Heat the water as its use. When hot water is consumed, cold water immediately flows into the tank, and as a result, the temperature drops after mixing. That is signaled by a thermal relay, which turns on the heating element as needed. Reheating water can take 1-2 hours.
- you can choose the volume and power for comfortable use by both large and small families;
- the hot water supply of several consumers at the same time;
- stable temperature as long as there is hot water in the tank.
Heat the flow of water that passes through the heat exchanger, have a more compact size compared with cumulative models. They have large power consumption, which is not always permissible within a specific electrical network.
- instant water heating without the need to wait;
- compact dimensions allow you to place almost any model right above the sink.
The limitation of the pressure of one of the drawbacks. For a comfortable shower, you need a flow above 2 gallons per minute. To instantly heat a water flow with such pressure, you need an instantaneous water heater with a power of tens of kilowatts, which sharply limits the scope of application of these devices due to the limitations of home electrical networks.
When there is an interruption in the pressure of the centralized water supply system, the flow heater can heat water unevenly, therefore in such cases, it is necessary to periodically adjust the temperature with a kitchen faucet. Some latest models have an auto adjustment of temperature for comfortable use.
The volume of the tank
Choosing the volume of the tank boiler, you need to consider the number of consumers:
- for one person – 7-12 gallons;
- for two – 12-22 gallons;
- for three or four – 24-35 gallons;
- from five people – over 35-40 gallons.
As the tank volume increases, so does the heating time. In more massive models, the heating element set is more powerful, but in most boilers, the power is limited to 1.5-5 kW. There are also models with heating elements of higher rated power, but their price is much higher at that.
This indicator directly affects how quickly the water will heat up. If in two tanks of the different volume set the heating elements of the same power, then a more compact boiler will heat up much faster.
The greater the power in the instantaneous water heater, the greater the pressure of the heated water it is able to provide. Tankless models should be considered starting from 5-7 kW. This is enough for simple household tasks – washing dishes and cooking.
But in order to be able to comfortably take a shower, you need a device with a capacity of 15-20 kW. Such a tankless heater will provide comfortable pressure with the optimum temperature for any household needs.
You need to pay attention to this parameter if you live on the lower floors in the apartment complex. The average water pressure in centralized networks is about 4 bar. But there are drops when the maximum pressure in the network can increase by 50-80%.
Therefore, for such cases, it is best to select models designed for a pressure of 8-10 bar. To solve the problem of overpressure, you can use the pressure reducing valve, which is installed at the entrance to the boiler.
Maximum heating temperature
This indicator is important in that it determines the amount of warm water that can be obtained from a single tank. For example, if two water heaters have the same volume, but different maximum temperatures, then a boiler with a higher maximum temperature will allow getting more warm water.
Determines the degree of protection of the tank against corrosion. Manufacturers offer the following coating options:
- stainless steel – reliable and durable. The disadvantage is the presence of a weld of metals that are susceptible to corrosion;
- enamel – provide the long term of operation, do not collapse at the difference of temperatures. The disadvantage is that under mechanical shock the coating quickly collapses.
- ceramics or glass – similar in performance with enamel with durability at the level of stainless steel. The only drawback is also associated with susceptibility to mechanical damage.
- plastic is a cheap way to protect a metal tank but is inferior in terms of maximum heating temperature to other coating options.
Type of Heating Element
In conventional models, the heating element is in direct contact with water. That left fur on the surface of the heater, which over time can cause a breakdown. To avoid such troubles, it is recommended to clean the heating elements 1-2 times a year. For bad water, it is necessary to increase maintenance up to two times a year.
To get rid of periodic revisions, you can choose a water heater with a “dry” heater. The heating element will not contact with water, which increases the service life by an order of magnitude. The heating element is placed in a special flask of metal.
The cost and functionality of an electric water heater are also affected by a set of additional equipment:
- Display – shows information about the modes of operation and the current temperature;
- Electronic control – allows you to set a different mode of operation, to plan the heating of water;
- Protection against overheating – when the temperature is too high, the automatics turn off the electricity supply to the heating element;
- Protective shutdown device – protects against current leaks into the water that is in the tank.
- Safety valve – relieves excess pressure and performs the function of a non-return valve.
- Smart Function – the ability to control settings and temperature from a smartphone.
How to Choose Gas Water Heater
Gas water heaters are divided into tankless and with a tank.
Gas tankless heaters heat the flowing water for as long as it is in the heat exchanger. In front of the heat exchanger, there is a flow sensor. At the beginning of water consumption (hot water taps open), the flow sensor gives a signal to the control circuit, which opens the gas supply and ignites the burner. The control circuit also controls the leaving water temperature. With electronic control of the burner flame, the electronics increase or decrease the gas supply to the main burner to maintain the set temperature. When the flow of water stops or the temperature rises, the burner turns off.
Gas tankless heaters are compact and inexpensive. The disadvantages are the unstable temperature (on cheapest models) and the low productivity of most household models – up to 4 gallons/min. For a country house or a large apartment, this may not be enough.
Tank water heaters heat up to a predetermined temperature a certain volume of water. Automation in such heaters is simpler – when the temperature drops, the burner turns on, and when it reaches the set point, it turns off. Flame modulation and flow control are not required.
Pros of tank water heaters:
- temperature stability;
- they allow you to very quickly get a large amount of hot water;
- they can work at low pressures of gas and water, which are insufficient for the operation of the heater (for example, during autonomous gas supply).
- large dimensions;
- after the heated water in the boiler runs out, the water in the faucet will be cold; it takes some time to warm up the boiler;
- high price.
That the main characteristic of a tankless water heater. It depends on the performance whether everyone will have enough hot water if several taps are open at the same time. On the one hand, the higher the performance, the less likely that someone will not have enough hot water. On the other hand, it is high power and high price. Therefore, it is better to choose the performance based on real needs.
Thus, if you need to simultaneously use the sink and take a shower, then the performance should be 4-5 gallons/min.
Heat exchanger material
Gas water heaters may have one of three types of heat exchangers:
- Copper heat exchangers have high corrosion resistance and provide fast warming of water due to the high heat transfer coefficient. But pure copper is an expensive metal, so a model with a high-quality copper heat exchanger will be much more expensive. Some manufacturers use low-quality copper or cheap copper alloys to reduce the price – such a heat exchanger will last less;
- Heat exchangers made of stainless steel are inexpensive and resistant to corrosion and thermal deformation. Their only drawback is a slightly lower speed of warming water. The weak point of stainless-steel heat exchangers are the seams – if they are made with non-compliance technology, then the rust very quickly will appear on the surface. Therefore, it should be suspected to refer to heat exchangers of little-known manufacturers.
- Heat exchangers made of galvanized iron are cheaper than the others, but this is their only advantage – low corrosion resistance of such a heat exchanger will quickly lead to its burnout.
Safety of gas water heaters
Operation of a gas water heater (like any other gas equipment) is associated with the risk of gas leakage or combustion products poisoning. Fortunately, most water heaters are equipped with elements that significantly increase the safety of their operation:
- Gas control is an automatic device based on a thermal or ionization combustion sensor. In the event of flame failure, the automation stops the flow of gas, preventing its possible leakage. Especially important is the presence of this option on the water heater if it is installed in a room with sources of an open fire – for example, in the kitchen.
- The heating temperature is limited on all water heaters, but if for some reason the limiter does not work, the water in the heat exchanger will boil, which will lead to its rupture and breakdown of the water heater. Theo additional protection against overheating will prevent such a disaster.
- Self-diagnosis is implemented on some models with electronic control. If any element of the water heater breaks down, or if any parameters go beyond the operating limits (no chimney draft, low water or gas pressure, low oxygen content in the combustion chamber, etc.), the electronics will turn off the water heater and display the message about the error.
Use these crucial tips to choose the water heater with the best performance to cover your needs.