AO Smith Hybrid Water Heater NEXT Review

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An expert review of AO Smith hybrid water heater - NEXT with its features, advantages and benefits. Find out what makes it unique and favorite type of all gas-powered heaters.

NEXT hybrid water heater is one of the latest additions to the great selection of AO Smith heating units. AO Smith as the leading manufacturer, introduced NEXT as the new high efficiency gas heater that uses a revolutionary technology for residential water heating.

How NEXT - AO Smith hybrid water heater works?

AO Smith NEXT is the hybrid gas unit that works as the condensing water heater and it uses the patented heat transfer process where the secondary heat exchanger captures the heat from the flue gases and extracts it. In this process, the "buffer tank" is used to extract the additional heat and increase the efficiency.

AO Smith hybrid water heater performs as the tankless water heater while it uses conventional technologies for the greater performance, energy and money savings. This revolutionary way of heating water eliminates two major problems that tankless and storage tank have. The new NEXT heater has the water stored in the "buffer tank" which simultaneously supplies multiple fixtures (great for peak periods); and there are no more headaches with the "cold water sandwiches" and minimum flow rate.


ao smith hybrid water heater model next

AO Smith hybrid water heater is a gas unit designed for homes with the high hot water demand. This is possible as the heater is using a powerful gas burner of 100,000 Btu/hr, which provides high First Hour Delivery of 189 GPH and recovery rate of 121 gallons per hour.

Thanks to its patented heat transfer process, thermal power is 90%, so the AO Smith NEXT Hybrid unit is eligible for Federal Tax Credits.

What is specific for the NEXT model is the new water heating solution for the whole house while it provides the increased efficiency, easy installation and reduced number of "cold sandwiches".

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Hybrid design

As mentioned before, AO Smith hybrid water heater combines features of both tankless and storage tank-type models. The unit with the size of 47x24x32" is smaller than the standard 50-gallon unit, but it brings much more hot water per hour and is faster than tankless units. With the tankless technology and the insulation R factor of 16, stand-by heat loss is reduced to a minimum.

Buffer tank

Small "buffer tank" provides hot water instantaneously, which is great for small hot water uses, such as handwashing.


A circulation pump is integrated into the heat engine and it serves to push water for maximum heat output.

Control panel

At the front of the water heater there is an electronic display which helps in monitoring and controlling the heating process. This control panel has the pre-programmed modes; Energy Saver, Vacation and Boost (peak demand) modes and diagnostic tool for simplified troubleshooting (error code display).

Venting system

There are no surprises when talking about installing NEXT hybrid water heater. It uses hot and cold water connections similar to the conventional storage tank type, common gas pipe size and inexpensive vent pipes, such as PVC, CPVC or ABS pipes, as the exhaust gases are with the low temperatures. On the other side it is much cheaper and simpler to install this Hybrid unit than tankless model.


NEXT hybrid water heater is in the higher price range... it sells from $1700 and it is available through the network of AO Smith dealers. At the time of writing this review, there is only a natural gas version available, while LP or propane model should be released during 2011.


AO Smith hybrid water heater, NEXT, is the gas-fired energy saving unit that uses the new technology in residential water heating. It uses the best features from tankless and storage tank heaters to provide hot water fast and continuously so there are no "cold-water sandwiches" and requirements for the minimum flow for ignition. Due to its high efficiency and energy saving design NEXT is eligible for tax credits.

Due to all these great features, GreenBuilder magazine chose AO Smith NEXT hybrid as one of the Hot 50 Products of 2011. This is how you can buy it from Amazon.

(Pictures are courtesy of AO Smith)

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