Best Water Heaters
Review and Buying Tips
(updated 2020)

How to find the best water heaters when there is a variety of gas and electric storage tank and tankless water heaters and numerous models? We have compared Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, Rinnai, Noritz, Takagi, and other top-ranked manufacturers and brands, and here is the list of the best and most popular models.

To get the best water heating unit for your home, it is essential to know that between 20 and 25% of home energy consumption goes toward water heating, making it the second-largest energy consumer in the North American home. And what is even more important is to know how to get the device that can save.

And this is the reason for these articles... to help you find the best electric and gas models, including top-rated tankless and a storage tank type.

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

So how to find the best water heater?

Several brands in North America are major players in water heating industry:

  • AO Smith
  • Rheem
  • Bradford White
  • Takagi
  • Rinnai
  • Noritz

The quality and versatility of models they offer are great, and their heating products have similar material quality, available features, longevity, efficiency, and warranty.

All of them are making quality 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.

Reviewing the best types

Best electric

The article provides information on 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 models

This article reviews the best gas models and shows what features to look for to get a sufficient supply of hot water during peak time, efficiently and without high bills. The article includes reviews of AO Smith Vertex and Polaris.

Best tankless models

The article is about top gas powered tankless water heaters such as Rinnai, Noritz and Takagi 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

First, decide on the fuel type. Electric and gas water heaters will have different initial purchase and installation costs, including operational cost, and they are different in design, the sizes, and energy efficiency they offer. 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. The 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 5 fixtures simultaneously.

The best tankless water heater is condensing, environment-friendly (green), has a high EF factor of 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" – or 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 efficiency and savings. The 50-gallon 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 significant 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 efficiency and the quality of the insulation, tank and burner design, ignition system... Thicker insulation, or higher R-value, the better. Buy the heater with the insulation with the R-value of at least 16, since 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 or hybrids 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 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. Heaters with the longer warranty have larger anodes, multiple anodes, or non-sacrificial 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 AO Smith includes many beneficial features built in the best water heaters. Those are easy to recognize as they have long 12-year warranties. These features include a self-cleaning system, high recovery rate, quality anodes, and stainless steel heating elements.


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, quality, and service network.

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