Best Water Heaters
Review and Buying Tips
(updated 2017)

How to find the best water heaters among variety of gas and electric storage tank and tankless water heaters? Compare Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, Rinnai, Noritz, Bosch and other top ranked manufacturers and brands. Check out the list of the best selling models.

In order to get the best unit for your home, it is very beneficial to know the fact that between 20 and 25% of home energy consumption goes toward water heating, making it the second largest energy consumer in North American home. 

And this is the reason why I wrote these articles... to help you find the best electric and gas models, or top rated tankless and storage tank type.

After reviewing hundreds of water heaters, I have figured out that it is not easy to find one particular brand or model, which truly stands out from a wide range of available heaters on the market today.

So how to find the best water heaters?

When looking at the North American market - US and Canada, there are several brands that are major players in water heating industry:

  • AO Smith
  • Rheem
  • Bradford White

Other, also popular names in water heating, such as Whirlpool, GE, Kenmore, American, Reliance, Ruud, State, Richmond are either produced by the above mentioned manufacturers or owned by them.

The quality and versatility of models they offer is great, and their heating products are similar by the quality of materials used, available features, longevity, efficiency, warranty...

All of them are making good products, but before you buy the best gas water heater or the top rated electric model, be sure to know what you are looking for.

Top selling models

Reviewing the best types

Best electric

Electric storage tank water heaterElectric water heater

The article provides information what to look for when buying the best electric models and gives the example of the top ones. Top models that are reviewed are Marathon, Bradford White and AO Smith.

Best gas

Kenmore gas water heaterGas water heater

This article reviews the best gas models and selection criteria with features for sufficient supply of hot water during the peak time, for efficient heating and savings on energy bills. The article includes reviews of AO Smith Vertex and Polaris.

Best tankless

Rinnai as the best tankless water heater in AmericaRinnai tankless

The article is about top gas powered tankless water heaters such as Rinnai, Noritz and Navien that come with the advanced features, high quality elements and superior energy efficiency, often found on condensing models, such as this popular model.

What to look for when searching for the best water heaters

  • Decide about the fuel type. Electric and gas water heaters will have different initial purchase and installation cost, operational cost and based on the type, the size and energy efficiency will be different. Keep in mind that water heating is the second highest energy user after home heating, so keeping your costs low is one of the priorities.

  • Top features. Either buying a tankless or storage tank type selecting the best water heaters depends on many factors and your preference. Tankless unit has a higher initial cost, but it is smaller, usually wall-hanging, providing hot water on demand and as much as you need it, where one large unit can supply up to 3-4 fixtures simultaneously.

    The best tankless water heater is condensing, environment friendly (green), has high EF factor over 0.9 and can last for many years. Storage tank type on the other side can supply multiple fixtures at the same time with no "cold water sandwiches".... no fluctuation in the temperature. Hot water is always ready. The best one lasts for over ten years, heats the water efficiently (look for EF 0.67 and higher) and meets your needs during the peak time.

  • Selecting the right size will provide enough hot water, maximize the efficiency and savings. The 50 gallons model is the most popular size as it delivers enough hot water to a household with four people easily.

  • Buy a high efficiency unit for great energy and money savings.

    The best water heaters are Energy Star rated or at least high efficiency. Check the EF factor as it defines the quality of the insulation, tank and burner design, ignition system... Thicker insulation, or higher R value, the better. Buy the heater with at least R-16 as the heat energy loss (stand-by heat loss) through the tank walls is reduced.

    Energy efficiency on electric units is higher than found on gas models. The most efficient and Energy Star qualified electric models are electric heat pumps, while condensing gas type among gas-powered heaters.

  • Price and length of the warranty will be one of the first criteria used in selecting the best hot water heater. Cheap heaters usually come with the lower quality and shorter warranty while the more expensive (advanced models) offer advanced engineering, higher efficiency and durability.

    Most of the heaters come with the 6-year warranty (better ones have 9 and 12), while the extended coverage (9 and 12-year warranty) is also available but with the additional cost. The main difference between models with the short and long warranty is in the anode rod. Larger anode is added to those heaters with the longer warranty (often more than one or powered type). Some experts say that it is not worth it to pay extra money as you can replace the anodes by yourself costing you less.

    On the other side, brands such as Whirlpool offer very useful features for their best water heaters, which are those with 12-year warranty. These features include self-cleaning system, high recovery rate and stainless steel heating elements.

Summary

If you are still not sure  where to look for the best water heaters, use a simple formula - recommendations and reviews, and get the water heater that has the trusted name with the proven history and quality.

Related

› Best water heaters review
water heaters