A review of the electric hot water heaters for residential water heating including types, popular brands and models, advantages, disadvantages, what to look for, main parts, and how to select the right size.
There are many manufacturers and dealers of HVAC equipment that offer various electric water heaters throughout the US and Canada. They include different types such as tankless or on-demand, and storage tanks, that come in many sizes; from as low as 2 gallons to over 80 gallons.
Small models, which are used mostly for one fixture, are available as point-of-use and Lowboy models while medium sizes include tankless and tabletop models. The largest models are cylinders with the capacity of over 100 gallons and are utilized in commercial and residential domestic water and radiant heating, including space.
Electric hot water heaters with the storage tanks from 30 to 60 gallons, are the most popular type, designed for the whole-house water heating, supplying hot water to more than one fixture.
Electric heaters are simple, easy to use and rely only on electricity. They do not require venting and gas supply, making them more affordable than gas type and cheaper to install.
Tank-type water heaters are the most common type in North America and are present in this market for decades. They use a proven and reliable technology, so water is heated and stored inside an insulated tank until it is needed. Electric heaters are recommended in areas where natural gas is not available, and supplementing solar water heating.
Electric hot water heaters with the water storage tanks are very popular types due to its proven technology and reliability. This type has a very simple design; a tank surrounded by the foam insulation and one or two heating elements.
For the best electric models, look for those with a longer warranty, which is usually 12 years, that utilize Incoloy heating elements and protection against dry-firing. The powered anode or commercial grade type is recommended, including a special dip tube for self-cleaning and reduced sediment build-up.
One of the top-rated electric hot water heaters is Marathon 50-gal from Rheem. The Marathon series comes with great features such as the non-metallic tank - so no corrosion, leaking and rusty water, also no need for the anode rod that is used to protect metal tanks. They come with a limited lifetime warranty.
Another model, Westinghouse 80-gal., is the best selling on Amazon.com, and one of the features that stands out is the stainless steel tank that also provides a limited lifetime warranty.
Electric tankless water heaters heat water on demand, supplying endless hot water to one or two fixtures mostly, and in continuous flow.
Tankless models have a small size, nice look, and are usually installed on the wall, saving you floor space for other use. They cost more than the tank-type but can reduce energy consumption by one third.
If the tankless is your option, make sure that your home's electric panel is properly sized.
Find out more about the differences between tank and tankless type here.
Electric hot water heaters with the tankless technology are the favorite type of many homeowners, and here is why; tankless are small and compact, they provide hot water on demand and in endless supply, and with the high efficiency of close to 99%. Installed mostly under the sink, electric tankless delivers water instantaneously to one or more fixtures.
For example, one of the best models, Tempra Plus 24, from the German manufacturer Stiebel Eltron, comes with the advanced engineering and smart microprocessor, so hot water is always delivered with the steady temperature even if the flow varies.
Moreover, looking at the online store Amazon.com, EcoSmart ECO 27 is the best selling model. It comes with advanced features such as the self-modulating technology, 27 kW of power, and up to 6 gallons hot water delivery (enough for homes with up to 5 fixtures), reliability, and limited lifetime warranty.
Heat pumps, also known as hybrids, are the most efficient electric water heaters that are also Energy Star compliant. Users can save substantially by taking advantage of the tax breaks and incentives offered by the government authorities and utility companies.
This 80-gal heat pump from GE is one of the models recommended by hundreds of homeowners and builders; it comes with the high 67 gallons first hour delivery and ultra energy efficiency of around 3 (three times more than the standard type, and provides savings up to $490 in households with 3-4 family members.
When selecting a new electric water heater, consider the following:
The water heating process in tank-type electrical hot water heaters is very simple. There are usually two heating elements submerged inside the water (immersion-type), one in the upper part of the tank and one at the bottom, and two thermostats, one for each heater.
The thermostat is a switch, and it can sense a change in water temperature. The switch closes to allow current flow, and it opens when the temperature of hot water reaches its preset limit.
The current passes through electrical-resistance heating elements, power is delivered, and it heats the water to the correct pre-set temperature.
The heating elements continue to carry current until the thermostats are satisfied. These heating elements are very efficient, providing about 99% of the available heat to the surrounding water.
On some tanks, the thermostat has a mark showing a maximum temperature and where to set the temperature that provides energy savings and scald protection.
To reduce the heat loss through the bottom of the electric water tank heater, place the tank over a thick layer of firm thermal insulation to reduce the heat loss.
Reducing the temperature setting by 10 degrees F, you can save between 2-5% of your electricity costs.
Insulate the water pipe so as the heater with the insulation blanket.
So the question is, should you heat your water with gas, electricity or any other fuel source.
As we know, natural gas and electricity are the most common fuel source in North America, and the most affordable.
The advantage of the electricity is the availability in almost every home, and that getting the natural gas line requires a substantial investment, while the propane gas cost more.
If you would like to have a reliable water heater that won't break often, does not pollute, doesn't require high initial investment, it is cheaper to install, and requires little maintenance, buy an electric. And if you would like to save even more, while the cost is not an issue, buy one of the hybrids/heat pumps that is Energy Star compliant.
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