Best Gas Water Heaters 
Review and Buying Tips
(updated 2020)

Which manufacturer builds the best gas water heater - AO Smith, Bradford White, Rheem or American? Explore details and unique features of the best-rated gas powered tank-type models.

The best gas water heaters utilize the condensing technology boosting the energy efficiency above 90%, much more than the conventional type, which is around 60%. Gas condensing water heaters have higher initial cost but can reduce the energy consumption up to 30% providing substantial savings.

Furthermore, condensing units heat water faster, so the recovery time and first-hour rating for the same tank size are better when compares to the conventional type.

While searching online for the best gas water heater, take a look at the condensing type.

Condensing or near-condensing heaters are the ultra efficiency models, Energy Star qualified that are incentivized by the government through the tax breaks of up to 30%. Just look for the Energy Star blue label.

Review of the best gas water heaters

AO Smith Vertex 100

AO Smith Vertex GDHE-50 is one of the best and high performing gas water heaters from this manufacturer, and it utilizes the most advanced features on the market today.

Vertex is a condensing tank type heater, recommended in many user reviews, plumbing forums and by the online expert reviewers such as

The AO Smith Vertex gas water heater is a high-efficiency unit that has the energy factor of 0.96 EF, almost the same EF as the top tankless models, but it has lower installation costs than tankless while still providing lots of hot water.

The Vertex GDHE-50 model is the power direct vent unit that is offered with the capacity of 50 gallons for high demand homes. With the first hour rating of amazing 164 gallons per hour and water flow delivery of over 4 gallons per minute, Vertex provides more hot water than models with the larger tanks.

Superb features such as the powerful burner and durable heat exchanger that provides 100,000 BTUs, the advanced digital control panel and the ability for remote monitoring, makes
AO Smith Vertex the best buy. Components such as the glass lining and two anode rods are commercial grade, a heat exchanger with the helical design provides greater heat transfer while the burner is Eco-friendly as it produces a reduced amount of NOx gases.

American Polaris High-Efficiency Water Heater

Polaris PG10 50-199-3NV from the American water heating company is the high-efficiency gas water heater that offers over 95% thermal efficiency and incredible First Hour Recovery of 257 gallons per hour, much more than the above Vertex.

Polaris is not the best gas water heater due to its high efficiency only, but the quality elements. These are the high grade 444 stainless steel tank and metal fiber burner that produces very clean and low NOx flame. The flue is also made of the stainless steel and has a specific spiral design that, with the submerged combustion chamber, significantly reduces the energy loss and ensures reliable and effective heating. Stainless steel construction and its high resistance to corrosion eliminates the need for anode rod also.

Polaris PG10 50-199-3NV comes with the 50-gallon tank size and due to its powerful 199,000 BTU burner is recommended not only for domestic water heating but home heating (radiant hydronic heating and forced air hydronic heat).

Such high-quality materials allow Polaris to provide the 10-year warranty. Other superb elements include Self-Diagnostic Control System that indicates the operating status and makes the troubleshooting easy, hot surface ignitor and ultra-quiet radial blower.


Westinghouse WGR050NG076 is the 50 gallons water heater that comes with the 97% energy efficiency - another great unit but cheaper than the above Polaris; it costs around $2500, which is almost as Vertex. It also has a 10-year warranty, but lower first hour rating than both models - 133 GPH.

The main features include the stainless steel tank, ultra-low NOx gas burner, and LCD display with the Eco mode for savings and environment-friendly usage.

Things to consider when selecting the best tankless water heater

High efficiency, as found on the above products, is achieved through the specific water heater design; the insulation is thicker, it has the unique flue system, heat traps are added, the pilot light used for the ignition is replaced with the electronic ignition system and burners are more efficient.

The best gas water heater has all the above features plus the premium quality of the material used and workmanship. The best-rated gas models are either Power Vent (PV) or Direct Vent (DV) which maximizes the combustion, increase the efficiency and safety.

The warranty is longer, 10 - 12 years. Some gas water heaters have the stainless steel tank which does not require anodes, while others have bigger anode rods or powered non-sacrificial anodes and quality porcelain tank lining, for durability. The stainless steel tank is corrosion-free, doesn't leak, and the warranty is a limited lifetime.

Sediments and lime buildup are reduced to a minimum by adding the self-cleaning systems and dip tubes with the turbulent water flow.

How to find the best gas water heater?

When searching for the best gas water heater, this is what you should consider:

  • High First Hour Recovery. FHR combines the tank capacity with how much of water it can heat in an hour. See what the number of gallons used at your home is and make sure the unit can provide that. Water heaters presented here have extremely high values of FHR when comparing to the conventional models, and this is what makes them the best. Check the first hour delivery from the yellow Energy Guide Sticker found on the heater.
  • Don't buy storage tank water heaters solely based on the capacity (in gallons). Check what the heating power (BTU) is and how much gallons it can be delivered - during the peak hours (FHR). This is what defines how fast your unit can heat water.
  • Look for the Energy Star models - models with the energy factor (EF) 0.67 or higher. The best gas water heater is condensing or near-condensing models whose Energy Factor is above 0.9.
  • Check out the tank quality. The tank liner is usually glass/porcelain lining, and it protects the metal tank from corrosion. If it is cracked, aggressive water action will affect the metal tank (it will corrode it). The best models have a stainless steel tank.
  • The best gas water heater has two anodes (excluding the Marathon model), one large commercial-grade, or powered anode, which will provide additional protection. Usually, models with the longer warranties come with better corrosion protection.
  • The best-rated water heater comes with the high R-value. Lower insulation value, such as R-6 means a cheaper water heater but less efficient (it losses much more energy through the wall than R-24, for example).
  • The best water heaters are equipped with the advanced features such as FVIR, self-cleaning system, heat traps for heat retention, durable brass drain valves, powerful burners, hot surface ignition instead of the pilot light, direct or power vent...


As you can see, the best models are unique, built strong with the high-quality materials and features. Higher prices mean top-notch quality and state-of-the-art-technology, and for some, it justifies what they are getting in return. This is why these are listed as the best gas water heaters.

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