Top Propane Water Heaters Reviewed

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Propane water heaters are like natural gas water heating systems, very efficient and reliable units, and great alternative when natural gas is not a viable option. They differ in properties that affect combustion and safety care.

Propane gas, LP or liquid petroleum is common in urban and suburban residential areas. LP is also known as rural fuel, because it is not delivered to homes by gas pipelines like natural gas, but by truck who deliver and fill up the residential storage tanks, that are adjacent to the house.

Safety tip

Since propane gas has relatively high density, you must be very careful in handling of propane. Unlike natural gas that dissipates, propane gas tends to collect and settle at the lowest point of the room where LP water heaters are installed. Gas detectors are recommended.

You will notice when buying one of the propane water heaters brands that they are the same as natural gas water heaters and that conversion kit is usually included, which modifies the gas orifice and gas pressure regulator on the unit.

Gas burner is the same, but propane hot water heaters need more air for LP combustion, so that is what has to be aware of.

Note: Operating gas pressure for propane water heaters is much higher than for natural gas due to the higher BTU and special gravity.

Benefits

  • LP gas water heater burns cleaner and non toxic. It is recognized as "green" energy, with low carbon content.

  • Propane is an environmentally friendly fuel, with reduced greenhouse emission, savings in energy and your money.

  • Propane water heaters are energy efficient heating units.

  • They cost one third less to operate than electric heaters.

  • Propane water heaters recover hot water twice as quickly as electric.

  • They provide great value as they burn hotter and it takes shorter to pay for itself via energy savings.

  • It is reliable. Homes are most often served by individual storage tanks, so power supply is virtually uninterruptible.

  • Safe because of the built-in properties and strict regulations.

  • Wider selection of sizes, installation, and venting options for heaters.

  • LP water heaters are extremely durable and can last long with minimum service requirements, while heating elements in electric models usually require replacement several times over its lifetime.

  • Tax credits for propane water heater users.

When searching for the propane water heaters, you can, like with natural gas units, choose between storage or tank type and on-demand or tankless models.

Note: All heaters are rated for combustion efficiency, or how many BTUs are actually used to heat water. If a standard heater has a combustion efficiency of 80 percent, 80 percent of the available BTUs are being used for heating. The other 20 percent are lost up the flue.

Types

Tank-type

Propane hot water tanks are with capacities ranging from 40 gallons to more than 100 gallons. Tank type propane water heaters work on the same principle as tanks on natural gas... more here.

Note: 50 gallon LP water heater can provide as much hot water as 66-88 gallon electric unit in 2.5 baths home.

When installing these conventional tank type propane water heaters you will see in the manual that they are subject to special requirements for venting.

Usually there are two manuals, one is for installation and the other describes venting requirements. This is one of the reasons why we recommend a licensed plumbers / professionals. More about propane here.

Tankless

Propane tankless water heaters are also popular as they offer modern and space saving design, they are much more efficient than tank type, using less fuel and decreasing emission and greenhouse gases. The process of how they prepare hot water is similar to natural gas combustion. For more info about tankless heaters, read here.

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Consumer reviews of top rated models

Bosch AquaStar 125FX LP

Bosch AquaStar liquid propane tankless water heater, model 125FX LP, is the indoor model with built-in power vent great for horizontal venting. The unit provides 3.5 gallons per minute and is for one bath home.

Price is around $850.

Pros:

  • money saver

  • great quality

  • easy to install

  • good warranty, 12 years

  • great for one bedroom apartment (need 30 s for hot water)

Cons:

  • takes some time to get the right temperature

  • not enough pressure

  • hard to install venting

  • venting kit not included

  • expensive vent kit

Overall rating: 3.5 of 5

Bosch 2700ES

Bosch 2700ES LP Aquastar 7.2 GPM is an indoor tankless propane water heater with an average life expectancy of 20 years. It provides enough hot water for 3 major appliances. It has electronic ignition, modulating gas valve from 19,900 to 199,000 BTU. For optimal performance it features a computer adjusted fuel and air mixture.

Price is around $1160.

Pros:

  • energy efficient

  • great for large homes

  • long lasting

  • space saver

  • precise controls

  • works quickly

  • great value

  • plenty of hot water available

Cons:

  • additional expense, for vent kit, valves, pipes, when replacing tank type heater

  • delay of hot water

  • expensive when compares to tank type

Overall rating: 4.5 of 5

Tip: LP water heaters should not be installed in a basement if such installation is prohibited by federal, state, local laws and codes.

Conclusion:

If we compare prices between tank type and tankless water heaters that are using LP as a fuel, these instant units are costing up to twice than standard models. But, the saving comes from operating costs, and on-demand models can pay for themselves in a matter of months.

(All pictures are courtesy of Amazon.com)

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