Best Heat Pumps Water Heaters
Review and Buying Tips
(updated 2017)

Explore the best heat pumps to buy online or offline, used for potable water heating in residential homes, and get the maximum savings, convenience, and comfort - no matter where you live. Check out the list and review of the top 50-gallon models and selling units in North America and take the advantage of the government and utility rebates and credits.

Heat pump water heaters (HPWH), also called hybrids, are the only electric models that come with the ultra-high energy efficiency and Energy Star approval and resulting in great energy and water savings. This is what makes them a great buy.

But before we go into the buying tips, check out how heat pump works, explore the types, check out the comparison table, explore advantages, benefits, installation and buying tips.

As opposed to the electric-powered storage tank models that utilize heating elements to heat water, electric hybrid water heaters have the hybrid design for the efficient water heating: heat pump for moving the warm air from surrounding to the water and heating elements as the backup or support.

During the summertime, the heat pump and its hybrid technology make the room environment comfortable for a living - the air gets cooler and dryer, resulting in less energy used for AC. During the winter time, its efficiency gets reduced so it is not recommended in areas with a cold climate.

Review of the best heat pump water heaters

Electric heat pumps typically have higher initial costs than conventional storage-tank type, but, they have lower operating costs, which can offset the higher purchase and installation costs, plus they are Eco-friendly as there are no exhaust gases as found on gas models.

The best heat pumps bring huge savings to the homeowners as the energy efficiency is two-three times the value of the conventional models.

The heat pumps are as easy to install as the conventional electric units, but are more complex and sophisticated, and offer more flexibility and options by using the advanced electronics.

Three superior models are reviewed and compared here, coming from the top brands; General Electric, AO Smith, and Rheem. The price of the best heat pumps is in the range from $1000 to $1500.

Yes, the top models are expensive, but it is the cost-efficient solution in the long run.

GeoSpring from General Electric

GeoSpring GEH50DFEJSR is the heat pump coming from General Electric and is one of the top selling models online. According to the manufacturer and its specs, the model consumes up to 62% less energy than the conventional electric water heaters. According to the energystar.gov site, this translates to up to $330 in savings.

The heat pump comes with the most popular capacity of 50 gallons and it has almost the same footprint - 61" x 22" x 23", as the conventional models, also the connections, but is producing more hot water (First Hour Rate is 69 gallons) with a greater efficiency of 3.25.

High efficient and reliable operation comes from the dual work of the heat pump and heating elements which come with the power of 4,000 and 4,500 Watts. The unit is as quiet as some of the large household appliances - only 54 dBA.

The advanced electronics allow the heat pump to operate in several different modes; vacation, hybrid, electric, heat pump and high demand, making the unit very flexible and powerful for demanding customers while being economical at the same time.

The factory installed control panel and LCD display provides convenient temperature control and easy problem diagnostics, while the ConnectPlus module gives the user a remote control when using the smartphone. The GeoSpring heat pump comes with the warranty of 10 years, which is pretty much a standard in the industry.

According to the GE website, there are over 1000 reviews (2017) and an average rating is 4.7 - which means that users were mainly happy with the unit.

Highlights

  • Energy factor: 3.25
  • First Hour Rating: 69 gal.
  • Noise level: 54 dBA
  • Warranty: 10 year

AO Smith Voltex

AO Smith Voltex HPTU-50N is the 50-gallon model that is designed to work using either the heat pump, electric heating elements or both combined, operating as the hybrid model. 

Thanks to this hybrid technology Voltex is able to provide great performance and superior water heating with the ultra high energy factor of 3.42, which is slightly higher than EF on GE GeoSpring, while the first-hour rating of 66 GPH is lower. According to the AO Smith, the heat pump is able to reduce the water heating cost by up to 58%.

For the corrosion protection, the AO Smith hybrid uses one heavy duty anode rod, making the unit protected from the aggressive water nature and potential corrosion - offering a long warranty of 10 years.

As other heat pump water heaters, Voltex is equipped with the advanced electronics and user-friendly control panel with the LCD screen, allowing easy control and monitoring, and flexibility to set one of four different heating modes, therefore maximizing the energy and savings.

This 50-gal unit uses two 4500 Watts heating elements as the backup and to help water heater recover quicker, especially during the period of high hot water demand. It provides enough hot water to up to 3 showers operating at the same time.

Highlights

  • Energy factor: 3.42
  • First Hour Rating: 66 gal.
  • Energy cost: $153
  • Warranty: 6 years

Rheem heat pump PROPH50

Next, of the best heat pumps is coming from another popular manufacturer in US and Canada - Rheem. Rheem heat pump water heater is the 50-gallon unit that is coming from the Prestige series and is the most efficient and "smartest" unit from a wide range of Rheem water heaters.

Of all three models reviewed here, Rheem Prestige has the highest energy factor of 3.55, and according to the manufacturer, the payback period is only 2 years. The low noise level of 49 dBA makes it one of the quietest models on the market, while the operating temperature range of 37 to 145 F, widest in class.

The heat pump won the 2014 AHR Innovation Award in the plumbing category.

Another great advantage is its duct-ready setup - no duct adapter needed, making the installation easier even in homes that lack in space.

And if there is a water leak, Rheem exclusive water leak detection alert sends the notification to the user's phone, allowing the user to react fast and prevent costly repairs. This applies also if there is a high pressure or temperature inside the tank, the alert is sent to the user's smartphone.

This is possible with the remote access through the EcoNet system that automatically delivers notifications, alerts, and other useful info, either at home or when away.

Highlights

  • Energy factor: 3.70
  • First Hour Rating: 67 gal.
  • Yearly energy cost: $110
  • Sound level: 49 dBA
  • Warranty: 10 years

Things to consider when looking to buy the best heat pump

In order to find the best heat pump water heater check the following features and data:

  • Look for the highest energy factor (EF) - most of the heat pumps have the efficiency around 2, while higher is always better. The EF is an indicator of how much of electricity is used per year or how much money you will save.

  • Size the unit properly as the smaller tank and insufficient capacity results in lack of hot water and increased electricity usage. The most popular tank sizes are 50 and 80 gallons. For a family of four 50-gal units are recommended.
  • Look for the model that is designed with the high First Hour Recovery, calculated in gallons per hour. This information allows you to estimate whether the water heater can provide enough hot water during the peak time or not.

  • Recovery rate is also very important so the unit produces hot water fast enough and you don't wait for hot water too long, between two showers. Depending on your hot water usage pattern, make sure to buy the heat pump with the high recovery rating.

  • Quality of the elements is usually related to longer unit warranties. The heating elements should be made of the quality material such as stainless steel and include dry-fire protection. The anode rods should provide years of corrosion free operation - choose the model with powered anode or commercial grade anodes (more better). The foam insulation should be at least 2" thick and have the R-value high. In order to reduce the bad influence of the sediment build-up, look for the model with the self-cleaning system.

Summary

The best heat pump water heater is the high-efficient unit, Energy Star approved, is equipped with the quality components and high-tech features, commercial type anode rod, has great reviews and is coming from the reliable and proven manufacturer.

The best heat pump heats water with less energy, provide more hot water when compared to its electric counterpart, saves energy of the dehumidifier and makes other appliances work more efficient.

These models will have lower annual operating costs and will meet all your hot water needs, even for the high demanding applications. The installation won't be too complicate (will fit most homes) and you will always have spare parts and service available. Recommendation for the best electric water heater? Go green and buy a heat pump.

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