The best gas hot water heaters are ultra-efficient, high performing, and environment-friendly systems, offering a great choice for homeowners looking to buy a brand new or upgrade an existing water heater.
Even if you already have an electric unit, you might want to switch to gas, because of all the benefits and savings natural gas and propane-powered water heating devices bring.
Let's see what these benefits are, how gas hot water heaters compare to electric, top-selling brands, prices, and where to shop for the best deal.
This review and corresponding links are about gas water heating in residential homes, powered by propane and natural gas, and are providing tips for buying either storage tank-type or tankless models. The articles also include reviews of the most popular manufacturers and models, installation and maintenance tips, the most common problems, and how to troubleshoot them.
Gas hot water heaters are designed to use both natural gas and liquid propane - LP. Most of the built and sold water heaters are factory set to use natural gas as it is widely used and cheaper than propane.
When comparing natural gas vs. propane, it is worth mentioning that the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) is almost the same for most brands of gas heaters, both heating water fast.
Propane gas has two times more energy than natural gas (2,516 BTU vs. 1,030 BTU), but it is more expensive and requires frequent delivery from your propane dealer. A well established natural gas network provides a continuous gas supply from your utility company.
Both gas types are eco-friendly and are considered as "green fuels", emitting lower levels of "greenhouse" gases. When comparing them side by side, propane gas does not harm the environment, while natural gas does to some extent. When released into the atmosphere, it is considered a greenhouse gas.
The gas conversion of gas water heaters should be performed by the licensed technician only. Such water heaters are properly labeled and will come with the conversion kit.
There are two types of water heaters you can choose from; storage tank-type and tankless, which can be further divided into models with or without condensing technology.
Tank-type water heaters are designed with water storage tanks that have a capacity from as little as a few gallons to over 100 gallons, all used in residential homes.
Hot water is always ready and available. The tank-type advantage over the tankless type is the lower cost and simpler design, so they are less prone to failures.
The most advanced models utilize condensing technology, such as this Vertex model from AO Smith.
Tankless water heaters do not store hot water but heat water as needed or on-demand, while incoming water is passing through the heat exchanger. Hot water is not sitting at the bottom of the unit because there is no storage tank, so it is always delivered fresh and clean. The greatest advantages of tankless over the tank-type are their small and compact design, advanced technology, longer life, energy savings, and flexible installation.
Savings are even higher if you chose to go with the condensing, which also gets lower energy consumption and better environmental protection.
Good examples are listed below, and they are found as the best-selling models.
This is an important factor because a properly sized water heater will provide enough hot water for your home, resulting in increased comfort, efficiency, and savings. There will be a sufficient amount of hot water for busy families and during peak times.
Storage tank-type gas hot water heaters are usually installed in a designated room (utility room, basement, or garage), standing on the floor. In contrast, tankless, because of its small size and flexible venting options, can be mounted almost anywhere (including bathrooms and kitchens), but mainly on the wall.
The most popular models are those with a tank capacity of 40, 50, and 60 gallons, as they can produce enough hot water for families of four and homes with up to 2 baths, yet still being affordable.
For the same family size, tankless water heaters with a flow rate of 8 gallons per minute, or more, will do the same work.
As per this article, we need approximately 20 gallons of hot water for a decent shower and 30 gallons to wash the clothes.
Also, when it comes to sizing a tankless, we will need around 2-3 gallons per minute for a shower and 2 gallons per minute for the washing machine.
Other important factors to consider when looking to buy one of the gas hot water heaters are the options you have for efficient and cost-effective venting.
When the gas water heater is running, it requires fresh air for combustion and ignition, and it can be used either from indoors or outdoor atmosphere. It is also vital to safely remove products of combustion/flue gases outside, using the house chimney or provided vents.
There are several types of venting systems one should consider:
If looking to buy the best tank-type gas heater, check out AO Smith GDHE-50-NG Vertex 100 or Polaris water heater, both with an ultra-high energy efficiency of 96%, making them the most energy-efficient models on the market. The first-hour rate on both units is very high, delivering hot water fast and when needed.
If looking for the best tankless, the recommendation is to buy one of the condensing units, such as Takagi, Rinnai, or Noritz, as they are known for ultra-efficient water heating, fast hot water delivery when needed, and in endless supply.
Money-saving tip: If gas hot water heaters are expensive to buy, renting one is always an option. Renting a water heater is convenient and gives you peace of mind, so if anything goes wrong with the unit, most parts and services are covered.
If planning to switch from an existing heating system to a new one, using natural gas or propane, consider next:
A tank-type water heater is designed to store hot water. It delivers hot water to the fixture once the hot water tap is open.
Hot water from the top of the tank starts running through the hot water outlet to the faucet or a shower. At the same time, cold water enters from the bottom through the dip tube.
As the thermostat senses the lower temperature of the cold water, it turns on gas at the gas valve and the burner that is mounted at the base of the tank.
As a safety element, a thermocouple sends the signal to the gas valve to open, starting the ignition. Once the flame on the main burner is established, water is heated, while the products of combustion from the combustion chamber are removed through the flue vents out.
Buying a gas water heater is not easy and should not be done quickly - without considering all the factors.
Water heating accounts for close to 20% of your annual energy bill, so choose wisely.
Until now, tank-type heaters were considered as standard and preferred types for water heating by many homeowners. Today, homeowners have more options such as tank-type, tankless, hybrids, boilers, condensing, and non-condensing.
You can get a gas model for a little over $500, but you will get a base model that is low efficient and not much environmentally friendly.
If you want to cut your energy costs, get a gas condensing model with an energy factor of at least 0.9, which has decent protection, including the powered anode, self-cleaning system, and power venting.
And if you have natural gas delivered to your house, it will provide you the most cost-effective solution for your home.
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