Best Water Heater 2022

Do you need a new water heater? Whether you’re looking for a small heater for a one-person apartment or a family-sized unit for a larger household, getting the right water heater for your needs will have a significant impact on you.

Finding the best water heater for your needs isn’t as simple as looking up the highest-rated products and picking the one offering the best deal. Factors like tank size, heating speed, and fuel source all impact how good a tank will be for you. As such, a water heater isn’t a good choice for you just because other people like it.

In this guide, we’ll go over our top choices for water heaters, then look at some purchasing information to help you make your final decision. Water heaters have become quite sophisticated over the last decade, so the more information you have, the easier it will be to make an informed choice.

Our List of the Best Water Heaters

Your water heater needs may not be the same as another household’s, that’s why our top picks have a variety of features. While the water heaters make our list for different reasons, each water heater is known for its quality and reliability. Read on to learn more about the best water heaters available right now.

Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 Plus

Stiebel Eltron’s Tempra line is one of the best whole-house water heaters we’ve ever seen. Unlike some units, which start providing colder water if you ask for too much water at once, this unit just slows the rate of water delivery to ensure consistent temperatures. That’s fundamentally better than what most other on-demand heaters do.

We particularly like the way Stiebel Eltron clarifies which of their products are best for different areas. As an on-demand heater, the temperature of groundwater strongly affects unit performance, and Stiebel Eltron’s easy-to-read guide details how this affects the gallons per minute you can expect.

Overall, this is an excellent water heater if you want to have consistent water flow without worrying about tank sizes or water limits. The Tempra 24 is the most average unit, suitable for up to two showers at once in all but the coldest parts of the country. At the same time, the premium Tempra 36 can run two (or more likely, three to four showers plus a faucet) practically anywhere.

This unit does have a few drawbacks, including a shorter warranty period than we prefer and total reliance on electricity. Still, it’s worth considering if you want something besides the traditional storage tank.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 4.62 x 16.62 x 14.5 inches
  • Capacity: 4.5 gallons per minute (varies)
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 7 years for leaks, three years for parts

Pros:

  • This unit is available in many sizes and power options
  • The manufacturer has guides to help select the right unit
  • This unit reduces water flow but still works if too many devices ask for hot water
  • It does not require venting
  • It has a digital temperature configuration

Cons:

  • The warranty is shorter than we prefer
  • It requires a minimum water flow to activate
  • It does not come with an installation kit
  • Not as effective in areas with cold groundwater

Rinnai RUC98iN Ultra Series

Rinnai’s RUC98iN is a high-capacity tankless water heater with a twin-pipe design and a 95% thermal efficiency rating. Although it’s more expensive than many of its tankless competitors, this model’s impressively high water flow makes it ideal for owners who want to use a lot of hot water.

Several other details set this model apart from its competition. First, Rinnai offers a commercial controller that allows this unit to heat water to higher temperatures, making this a source of rapid hot water for kitchens and other facilities. Second, with its natural gas power supply, this water heater usually costs less to run than electrical models do. Over time, that helps even out the price.

We’re impressed by the broad compatibility and high efficiency of this unit, both of which make it worth serious consideration. This is an imported model, but it complies with all local standards and comes with a US-focused controller for additional ease of use. The 12-year warranty on the heat exchanger is good, though the 5-year warranty on parts is a bit short.

However, the positives of this unit are also its flaws. This unit is significantly more powerful than most households need, so it’s harder to recommend as a top choice. It’s also quite heavy for a wall-installed model thanks to its size, and you may notice that it takes upwards of a minute to deliver hot water to different areas of your house.

This is an excellent opportunity to mention installation plans: The closer your heater is to every location that uses hot water, the better. It could take just a few seconds to get hot water if the heater is close enough, but if you install it in your garage and all the showers are on the other side of the house, you’ll notice the difference.

This applies to every water heater, but since you can install a tankless unit somewhere besides your garage, it’s worth reconsidering the installation location when you buy it.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 18.5 x 26 inches
  • Capacity: 9.8 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Natural Gas (preferred) or Propane
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 12 Years on the Heat Exchanger,  5 Years on Parts, 1 Year on Labor

Pros:

  • A higher flow rate than most non-commercial models
  • An unusually high energy efficiency rating
  • A longer warranty period than most tankless units
  • Supports multiple venting options
  • Ultra-low emissions

Cons:

  • Extremely heavy for a wall-mounted unit (~82 pounds)
  • Significantly more expensive if you need professional installation
  • Does not heat as much as advertised if the starting water temperature is lower

Duda Solar 40-Gallon Solar Hot Water Heater

Duda Solar’s 40-gallon solar tank is an excellent option for individuals or couples who live in areas with plenty of sunlight. This particular unit offers a stainless steel interior layered inside of a galvanized steel shell that offers added strength and corrosion resistance.

Glass is a good option for most heaters, but solar heaters can get hot enough to damage the glass, so steel is a better option for units like this one. Duda Solar offers this unit in both single coil and dual coil setups, with the second coil suitable for other heating applications.

We thought about including a larger water heater, but since both of the first two options are better for large families, we decided to focus on a product for smaller families here. This unit largely sticks with metal parts, including a copper heating coil, which adds to its overall reliability.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 18.5 x 59.06 inches
  • Capacity: 40 gallons
  • Power Source: Solar
  • FHR: Unlisted
  • Warranty: 3 years against manufacturing defects

Pros:

  • It’s more durable than many of its competitors
  • It comes in two coil options to suit different households
  • It’s small enough to fit in almost any water heater installation space

Cons:

  • It may not come with the solar system itself, which you would need to buy separately
  • This unit is harder to install yourself than many of its competitors are

Rheem MR50245 Marathon

Rheem’s MR50245 Marathon is a tall, efficient standard water heater with a thermally fused upper element that helps limit the possibility of dry-firing. With a recovery rate of 20 gallons per hour, it’s also efficient and suitable for extended use. Brass fittings and drain valves provide added durability.

At 23.5 inches around, it’s also relatively large for a 50-gallon tank, though it’s surprisingly lightweight for a tank of this size. It’s still objectively heavy at just over 100 pounds when empty, but we have seen heavier units with similar capacities. The seamless tank design is functionally impervious to corrosion, while polyurethane insulation helps reduce energy consumption.

Unlike luxury and more expensive units, this electric water heater does not come with digital controls or special power systems. To put it another way, it’s an ordinary water heater. However, its solid construction and energy-efficient design make it an outstanding choice for owners who are looking for a simple, reliable water heater without any of the frills.

Despite its quality, there are a few downsides to be aware of. First, while the MR50245 has an impressive limited lifetime warranty on the tank, actual replacement under that warranty could take several weeks. This is a long time to be without hot water. Second, it is moderately large, so you may have a harder time finding a space to put it.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 23.5 x 23.5 x 62.75 inches
  • Capacity: 50 gallons
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: 86 gallons
  • Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty on tank and 6-year warranty on parts

Pros:

  • It has a better warranty than most water heaters currently on the market
  • The outer shell is particularly durable and resistant to damage
  • Added insulation offers better energy efficiency than its competitors

Cons:

  • It does not have any additional features or options
  • The parts are warranted from the date of manufacture

Camplux 5L Outdoor Portable Propane Water Heater

The Camplux 5L is an indoor/outdoor tankless water suitable for individuals or households that don’t use a lot of hot water. At 1.32 gallons of hot water per minute, it offers about 79.2 gallons of hot water per hour of use, which is comparable to most larger tanks at a significantly lower price.

Though primarily an outdoor unit, features like an oxygen depletion sensor make it a viable choice for indoor installations. This heater only requires three PSI of water to start up, too. For context, the average home has about 45 PSI of water, which means this unit can function even when there’s almost no water pressure in your system.

Despite the low initial cost of this unit, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, unless you already have a propane line to your house, you may have to ask a utility company to install one for the consistent delivery of fuel. Otherwise, you’ll have to replace the propane tanks yourself.

Second, this water heater is not suitable for creating drinking water, so you’ll need to be careful about anything you drink from the tap. Finally, it’s not useful for homes above 2000 feet. Together, these make the Camplux 5L somewhat harder to use than many of its competitors. The short warranty period doesn’t help, either.

The main reason to consider this product is if you’re looking for a low-cost, propane-fueled water heater for minimal water usage needs. It’s not durable enough for a larger family, but for low-use situations, it’s an affordable alternative to a traditional water heater.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.4 x 4.3 x 14.8 inches
  • Capacity: 1.32 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Battery (not included)/Propane
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 1-year standard warranty

Pros:

  • Significantly more affordable than most other water heaters
  • The compact size makes it easy to install almost anywhere
  • You could realistically get more than one of these for additional hot water flow in your house
  • Multiple safety devices make it easier to use propane
  • It can deliver a surprisingly large amount of hot water each hour

Cons:

  • It has a shorter lifespan than most of its competitors
  • It’s hard to use this for more than one thing at a time
  • It isn’t suitable for more than one or two people

EcoSmart ECO 27

EcoSmart’s ECO 27 is a large, powerful tankless water heater that pulls 27 kW to heat water on-demand. EcoSmart offers its ECO line in various sizes, but this is the first model that offers practical water heating in all areas of the country. Customers in warmer clients, particularly the southeastern United States, may be fine with a weaker model.

This unit includes a variety of useful features, including a self-modulating flow sensor and a digital temperature display that can adjust how hot the water flowing out is. The ECO 27 can heat almost three gallons per minute, even with cold starting water, and it gets rapidly more efficient if you live in warmer climates.

Notably, this model offers enough hot water output to support special water installations like Jacuzzi tubs. The manufacturer claims a 99.8% energy efficiency rating, though this may vary somewhat based on individual household details.

We believe this product offers an excellent balance of price and performance. The lifetime warranty is particularly nice and better than most other products offer, while the metal parts provide impressive durability. Electricity requirements vary by model, so be sure to consult an expert before selecting an ECO unit for your home.

There’s a lot to love about this product, but there are a few things to watch out for. First, mineral-heavy water can corrode the heating elements quickly, so you may need to do more maintenance. Second, you need to register the product within 30 days, or you may not be covered by anything except a store warranty.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 3.75 inches
  • Capacity: 2.7 to 6.6 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty

Pros:

  • Excellent heating and water flow rate
  • It’s available in many sizes to suit different family needs
  • It’s small enough to install in a garage or another part of your house
  • The ECO 27 is the largest possible option for most houses

Cons:

  • It’s not a good choice for areas with lots of minerals in the water
  • It may interfere with some home electrical systems, including LED lights

American Standard CE-20-AS

American Standard’s CE-20-AS is a 19-gallon electrical storage tank small enough to fit in any garage or inside of housing areas. It’s particularly good for apartments and other limited-resident areas where larger water heaters are impractical.

What really sets this unit apart is its quick recovery time. While it doesn’t provide “endless” hot water the way on-demand heaters can, it’s small enough that it can be completely refilled and reheated within half an hour or so. This means minimal waits between uses even when someone drains it to the bottom.

As you may have already guessed, we can’t recommend this water heater for larger families. It simply doesn’t have the capacity to support more than one or two people at a time. On the other hand, it is a good choice if you want to help limit water usage by simply not having any hot water beyond a particular point. Whether this is positive or negative is entirely subjective.

While most units are reliable, there are a few things to look out for. Some units are inadequately packaged, which can lead to dents and damage during shipping. It may not ship with all the hardware you need, either, so be ready to make at least one trip to the hardware store if you want to install it yourself.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 18.5 x 24.9 inches
  • Capacity: 19 gallons
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: Unlisted (low)
  • Warranty: 6-year limited warranty

Pros:

  • The fast refills minimize the time before you can use it again
  • The unit is small enough to fit indoors, in attics, or in other tight areas
  • It generates impressively hot water
  • The relatively low battery draw is excellent for off-grid setups

Cons:

  • It’s too small to support extended use
  • Inadequate packaging may result in damage

Takagi T-H3-DV-N

Takagi’s T-H3-DV-N is one of the most powerful tankless water heaters currently on the market. Computerized safety features eliminate the need for a pilot light, while its construction is surprisingly compact for a unit with this kind of water flow.

Its main selling point is the power of its gas inputs, which allow for up to 199,000 BTUs of heating. This is roughly four showers worth of water in warmer parts of the country or three showers in colder northern climates. With such a high water flow, this unit is capable of running almost all non-shower appliances at the same time.

The water output of this unit can vary from 100 to 185 degrees Celsius (212 to 365 degrees Fahrenheit), although, as always, the water may cool a little as it travels through the pipes. The T-H3-DV-N is more expensive and offers more hot water than most people need, but families with four or more people can get good use from it.

The biggest concern with this unit is its noise. This unit runs at about 55 decibels thanks in part to the sound of its gas systems, which is a little louder than a refrigerator and a little quieter than regular conversation. This is too loud for most people to comfortably have indoors, though you could do an indoor installation with sufficient soundproofing and ventilation.

Like all tankless units, this model is sensitive to minerals in the water. Consider adding sediment and carbon filters to your pipes before your water gets to your water heater, as well as a water softener. This significantly extends the lifespan of tankless water heaters in mineral-heavy areas.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.25 x 17.75 x 24.88 inches
  • Capacity: 10 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Natural Gas
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 15-year limited warranty on the heat exchanger, 5-year limited warranty on parts, 1-year limited warranty on labor

Pros:

  • It has an extremely high flow rate, suitable for several people at once
  • It provides lots of water even in areas with cold groundwater
  • It heats water more efficiently than most other tankless heaters
  • It has low emissions

Cons:

  • This model is expensive for a tankless heater
  • You may need to install additional filters depending on the type of water you have
  • You may need to upgrade your gas line to support this unit

A.O. Smith PNS-50 ProMax

A.O. Smith’s PNS-50 is one of the most reliable standard water heaters currently on the market and an excellent choice if you want to have a low-maintenance unit. An interior glass coating helps maximize the tank life by preventing corrosion, while the unusual diffuser dip tube helps limit lime and sediment buildup within the tank.

This is a surprisingly rare feature on water heaters, though it shouldn’t be. The PSN-50 ProMax takes things even further by using special aluminum anodes with stainless steel cores to further resist mineral buildup. Combined with pre-tank filters, this should ensure the longevity of the tank for many years to come.

Like all better tanks, this unit has a brass drain valve that’s resistant to tampering and casual jostling. An energy-efficient system minimizes the costs of running the unit, while a variety of installation choices in this product line make it easier to find a product that meets your needs.

This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a large, standard water heater, but it does not have advanced features like digital controls or vacation timers. It is relatively expensive, but you can also expect it to have a long lifespan, so consider whether price or longevity is more important to you before you buy this product.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 50 inches
  • Capacity: 50 gallons
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: 62 gallons
  • Warranty: 10-year limited tank warranty and 6-year limited parts warranty

Pros:

  • An excellent balance of price and FHR
  • More durable than most tankless units
  • Resists corrosion and sediment better than other units
  • Available in different sizes and shapes to fit different homes
  • It’s ideal for the average homeowner

Cons:

  • Too large for apartments and smaller living spaces
  • Refills about 25% per hour, which is relatively slow
  • It’s too heavy to install on your own

A.O. Smith BTR-200

The BTR-200 is an unusual choice for most houses because it’s not actually a residential water unit. Rather, this is a commercial unit with an enormous 100-gallon tank and a recovery rate that exceeds its size. It’s still possible to drain this tank, but only by drawing about four gallons per minute for an extended period.

As the sheer size of this unit suggests, it’s not the right choice for most families. Instead, this is the type of water heater to get if you expect to have a very large family that’s using a lot of hot water all at once. For example, if you want to run a large jacuzzi tub and let several people shower at the same time, this is the type of water heater you should look at.

Notable features include a self-cleaning system, sediment reduction equipment, and multiple hot and cold water connections to make it easier to fit this unit to your existing pipes. A 199,000 BTU heater system provides rapid heating for up to 140 degrees above the temperature of the groundwater.

To clarify, this is the degree rise, not the output temperature. Most people will be fine with a lower degree rise, especially in the southern areas of the country, at which point this unit gets even more efficient. With nearly 200 gallons of recovery per hour at a 100-degree rise, this unit can refill itself after extended use in as little as half an hour despite its prodigious size.

The primary drawbacks of this unit are its size and the limited number of households that can benefit from it. Its warranty period is also uncomfortably short for a water heater that costs thousands of dollars, though residential buyers will almost definitely use it less than a business and can expect it to last correspondingly longer.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 30.25 x 30.5 x 72 inches
  • Capacity: 100 gallons
  • Power Source: Natural Gas
  • FHR: 232 gallons at 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Warranty: 3-year limited tank warranty, 1-year limited parts warranty

Pros:

  • Refills faster than most residential units despite being much larger
  • It gets even better when you don’t need as much of a degree rise
  • Surprisingly efficient for a unit this large
  • It’s better at resisting corrosion than most other water heaters

Cons:

  • It may hold more water than most homeowners need
  • Even homeowners who need lots of hot water may save money by getting two smaller tanks instead of one large one
  • The warranty is too limited for the price of the water heater

Rinnai V-Series HE

Rinnai’s V-Series high-efficiency outdoor units provide effectively endless hot water, limited only by how much you need to use at any time. Unlike most tankless water heaters, this series can be powered by either natural gas or propane. Each unit only accepts one power source, but the flexibility is great for owners who live in areas where only one supply is available.

Water flow ranges from 5.3 to 9.4 gallons per minute, depending on groundwater temperature and how hot you need the water to be. As with all tankless systems, colder groundwater means a slower rate of hot water, so consider getting a stronger unit if you live in a colder region.

However, the feature we really like is its replicable construction. You can easily replace each component of these tankless water heaters without needing to purchase an entirely new unit. As a result, the manufacturer claims an average life expectancy of 20 years for the unit as a whole. When it’s maintained properly, that makes it much more affordable over time.

Other positive features include WiFi monitoring, reduced energy use compared to traditional tanks, and recirculation technology that can improve the speed of delivery for hot water. Since they use propane and natural gas, these units are only for outdoor or garage installation, not indoor use. That doesn’t affect most homeowners, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

The main flaw of this unit is its high power draw. While natural gas and propane are the primary fuel supply, it still needs some electrical support, and houses that are too small may not get enough electricity to run it properly. Consider consulting with an electrician prior to buying this unit.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 33.3 x 17.7 x 12.9 inches (varies by model)
  • Capacity: 5.3 to 9.4 gallons per minute (varies by model)
  • Power Source: Natural Gas or Propane
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 10-years (heat exchanger), 5-years (parts), 1-year (labor)

Pros:

  • It offers a choice between natural gas and propane
  • All parts are easy to replace with equivalents, improving overall lifespan
  • It’s small enough to fit almost anywhere on the outside of a house
  • It has remote control features that most storage tanks lack

Cons:

  • It requires a lot of electricity even though it heats with natural gas or propane
  • The instructions are not as clear as they should be about where to plug it in
  • It does not come with insulation for pipes, which you may need before they go into your house

Bosch ES8 Tronic 3000 T

Bosch’s ES8 Tronic 3000 T is not a home water heater and does not have the capacity or refill rate to support anything except the briefest showers. However, some households only use cold water for showers and only need a little hot water for sinks, dishwashers, or clothes washers. That’s where this unit comes in and stands apart from the competition.

With a 7.1 gallon tank of hot water, this affordable unit is capable of supporting most energy-efficient appliances and will refill almost completely in just one hour. Some owners buy it to use in RVs or for other non-residential applicants, and its small size makes it ideal for heating water while traveling.

The main concern with that is its electricity draw, but it’s possible to remedy that by using solar powers or other types of energy generators. It’s difficult to recommend this to anyone with more than minimal hot water needs, but at the same time, the fact that this is a great choice for low-use scenarios earns it a place on our list.

There are a few problems to be aware of. First, some quality control issues mean that a few units are likely to fail quickly or be plagued with problems. Keep an eye on your warranties, and don’t be afraid to ask for your money back if you get a bad unit.

Second, it can be difficult to drain this unit, which is a problem if it freezes in cold weather. It’s best to install this only in a space that will at least stay above freezing. If you cannot ensure that, consider getting a different unit instead.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 16 inches
  • Capacity: 7.1 gallons
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: 13.9 gallons
  • Warranty: 6-year warranty on unit, 2-year warranty on parts

Pros:

  • It’s small enough to use practically anywhere, including indoors and in RVs
  • You can install it horizontally or vertically
  • It’s light enough to install on basically any wall
  • It can heat up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which is high for such a small heater

Cons:

  • It refills and reheats relatively slowly
  • Some units fail much faster than they should, and that’s rare even for units in this price range
  • Warranty confusion may make it difficult to return problem units

ECOTOUCH ECO90

The ECO90 is a compact tankless water heater capable of supplying about 1.5 gallons of hot water per minute. This is relatively low for a tankless unit, especially compared to many of the other options on this list, but it’s also significantly more affordable than the alternatives. That makes this an excellent choice for budget-conscious buyers.

As with other low-flow units, this tankless heater works best in areas with warmer groundwater, preferably at least 57 degrees Fahrenheit. In colder areas, you may get as little as one gallon per minute of hot water, and the temperature may be a little lower than it would otherwise be. Particularly warm areas may see even more water flow.

This unit is not suitable for running multiple appliances or heating showers in colder regions. You can get around this a bit by installing showerheads with lower water flow, though whether or not this works depends on where you live.

The water flow here is so low that it’s hard to recommend this unit for anyone except the most budget-conscious buyers. That said, low flows can also discourage wasting water, which is useful in its own right.

The ECO90 doesn’t have as good of a warranty as some other units, but it’s also a fraction of the price, which makes it much easier to fit into a budget. It’s particularly useful for younger homeowners who aren’t ready to get a regular storage tank but still need access to hot water.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 15.74 x 10.24 x 2.05 inches
  • Capacity: 1.5 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: Standard store warranty

Pros:

  • It heats water with 99.8% efficiency, which is about as high as you can realistically go
  • It doesn’t require as much electricity as most other tankless units
  • It can achieve a 12-degree output range regardless of where you start
  • You can mitigate most of its limitations by selecting water-efficient products

Cons:

  • The low water flow makes it harder to use
  • It does not have a natural gas variant

Eemax EEM24013

Eemax’s EEM24013 is part of a larger product family that also includes tank boosters and point-of-use systems. Even without those, however, this unit functions nicely as a whole-house tankless heater.

The main selling point of this product is its self-modulating technology. Unlike some heaters, which consume a set amount of energy all the time, the EEM24013 adjusts energy input to match the amount of hot water required. That further reduces electrical bills on a system that already costs less to run than a standard storage tank.

While not as effective in colder areas, this unit can still support a low-flow showerhead in areas with groundwater as cold as 47 degrees Fahrenheit, which includes most of the country. Only the warmest areas can expect to get two showers at a time, but this is acceptable for most families.

This unit also requires a 60amp breaker to work correctly. Some houses and apartments do not have these installed, so you may need to contact an electrician prior to installing this unit. That’s a good idea in general when installing electricity-powered water heaters, whether they have a tank or not, but many people overlook this detail when ordering heaters.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 8 x 3.75 inches
  • Capacity: 2.4 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Electricity
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 5-year warranty against leaks and a 1-year warranty for parts

Pros:

  • It’s a highly efficient unit
  • Produces just enough hot water for one appliance or a shower
  • It’s usable in most parts of the country; many competitors aren’t

Cons:

  • It’s not quite good enough to support larger families
  • It requires a larger breaker than some households have

Noritz NR660DNG

Noritz’s NR660DNG is an outdoor-use tankless water heater that runs on natural gas and can produce about 6.6 gallons per minute of hot water. This is enough to run three showers simultaneously in most parts of the world, which means it’s also sufficient for almost any regular need.

At 140,000 BTUs of heating, it’s also moderately efficient, although there are some better units on this list. The primary reason to consider this unit over its competitors is the good balance between price and water flow. Even in colder areas of the country, which have reduced water flow, you can reasonably expect to get at least two showers worth of water from this unit.

Noritz is a well-known name in the industry, with more than 60 years of experience producing water heaters and related products. That makes them distinctly more experienced than some of the newer startup companies, and that sort of reliability is good if you want to improve your chances of reaching customer service if anything goes wrong.

One thing to keep in mind is that this product does not come with the mandatory installation kit. Noritz offers both threaded and copper sweat connections, and rather than shipping both to customers and wasting products, they ask you to order the one you intend to use when you buy this product. That drives the price up a little, though not egregiously so.

The NR660DNG is Energy Star compliant and comes with a rugged exterior, though you may want to add an additional enclosure if you plan to install it anywhere that would be exposed to significant cold.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10.7 x 17.6 x 26.6 inches
  • Capacity: 6.6 gallons per minute
  • Power Source: Natural Gas
  • FHR: N/A
  • Warranty: 12-year warranty on the heat exchanger, 5-year warranty on parts, 1-year warranty on labor

Pros:

  • It has excellent water flow everywhere in the country
  • It works well outside when most tankless heaters need to be inside
  • It fits multiple types of valves (sold separately)

Cons:

  • The price is relatively high for the amount of water delivered
  • It does not come with the valve kit

What Types Of Water Heaters Are Available?

In the United States, water heaters come in five standard varieties. These include:

  • Storage Tank: Storage tanks are the traditional type of hot water heater. The tank heats the water in an insulated chamber until it’s needed, and the water is piped out on-demand. Natural gas tanks are more expensive to start with, but usually cost less to run. Electric storage tanks are less expensive up-front, but usually cost more to run.
  • Tankless: Tankless heaters offer the ability to heat water on-demand. These are an increasingly popular alternative to standard storage tanks because they offer essentially unlimited hot water while also using less electricity, natural gas, or propane than a storage tank. However, most of them have a shorter lifespan than storage tanks.
  • Heat Pump: Heat pump units look a lot like storage tanks, but they use a heat transfer system to suck heat from the air and use that to heat the water. These water heaters are particularly effective in warmer climates, but may not work at all in areas where the weather is too cool to begin with.
  • Solar Heaters: Solar heaters work together with a regular storage tank and use transferred heat from the sun to heat water. These systems are highly weather-dependent and often include a backup system for use as needed. Solar heaters usually take decades to pay back their cost of installation but are environmentally-friendly.
  • Condensing Water Heaters: Condensing water heaters are large units similar to regular storage tanks. The primary difference is that they can recapture much of the extra heat lost by burning gas, making them more efficient for heating large quantities of water.

Standard storage tanks and tankless units are easily the most popular units currently on the market. In recent years, tankless units have become more and more popular for many reasons, including their smaller size and functionally unlimited hot water. Before you consider buying one, however, there’s one important detail to consider.

All tankless units are heavily influenced by the temperature of the groundwater, which varies across the country. Most manufacturers divide the country into about nine regions, in increments of five degrees, to help determine whether or not a tankless heater is suitable for that area.

Colder regions always see fewer gallons per minute and a lower temperature from a tankless unit than warmer regions. Storage tanks, in contrast, usually have time to heat the water up before use and can consistently deliver hotter water in colder areas.

Lifespan is also a significant concern. We mentioned this earlier, but many tankless water heaters have a shorter lifespan than regular storage tanks. This means that storage tanks may end up being more cost-effective over time, though decreasing prices for tankless units are currently helping them remain competitive.

In short, if your household needs to use hot water frequently, then tankless units are a good choice. If you need to use hot water less often, but use a lot of it at once, then storage tanks are the better option.

Don’t forget to install other devices as needed to keep minerals and sediment out of your hot water heater. These are the major culprits behind early failures, so the more you can do to prevent them from reaching your heater, the better. Most water adjusters are extremely affordable and are almost certainly worth the cost in areas with mineral-rich water.

What Types Of Features Should I Look For?

There are only so many features you can add to a water heater without transforming it into something else entirely. However, there are a few major details to consider when buying them.

  • Valve Material: Most water heaters use either brass or plastic drain valves. These are located at the bottom of the unit so you can attach a hose to them and drain the water safely. Brass is significantly more durable than plastic and worth getting if you can.
  • Tank Materials: These aren’t always obvious from the outside, so you may need to look at the box or product description. Glass-lined tanks are better at resisting corrosion than many metals are, though you may not find these on tanks with shorter lifespans.
  • Electronic Controls: These are a relatively new feature on water heaters. Electronic controls and digital displays allow you to do things like check the water level, set vacation modes, and obtain other useful information as needed. This is exclusively a luxury feature, but it could be useful if you’re away from home regularly.
  • Warranty Coverage: Warranties vary by brand and store, but most last somewhere between three and twelve years. Personally, we think anything less than ten years is too low for any water heater, especially one that deserves a place on our list of the best water heaters. Longer warranties are always better.
  • Anti-Scaling Devices: Many water heaters have additional features that help deter scaling, which is the buildup of minerals on the bottom of the tank. Scaling usually reduces the lifespan of the heating components, and therefore the lifespan of the tank. These are also luxury features because most tanks should last a long time anyway.

Don’t forget to check the reviews for products. Some people receive genuinely bad units and report them as such, but other people either did not understand how to install their unit or installed it improperly.

Water heaters break quickly in circumstances like these, so sorting genuinely bad product reviews from user mistakes can help you gain a more accurate understanding of the product.

How Large Of A Water Heater Do I Need?

That depends on how many people live in your home and how much water you want to use. Two people who rarely use hot water for more than washing clothes will need less water than one person who takes three hot showers a day and changes clothes each time. There are so many variables that we cannot perfectly predict how much hot water you need.

However, the industry does have some guidelines based on average use for a set number of people. Young children use about half as much hot water as adults, while older children count as adults. These recommendations are:

  • 1-2 People: 30-40 gallons
  • 2-3 People: 40-50 gallons
  • 3-4 People: 50-60 gallons
  • 5 or more People: 60-80 gallons

These guidelines are flexible. For example, we know that tankless water heaters don’t even have storage capacity, so all that matters is whether or not you’re using less or more than what it can provide.

You can also install more than one water heater if need be. This is unusual for small homes, but some larger residences and business facilities have multiple water heaters as part of a single system to ensure fast delivery everywhere within the building. Otherwise, imagine having to wait for hot water to travel tens or even hundreds of feet to reach the faucet!

What Is FHR?

FHR stands for first-hour rating. This is an industry measure that determines how much hot water a tank can provide in its first hour of use, assuming it starts with a full tank. This matters because all tanks refill as you use them, so their capacity in the first hour is always higher than what they can actually hold.

FHR is one of the best ways of determining whether or not a hot water tank fits your needs. Ideally, your tank’s FHR will be within a few gallons of your peak usage. You may need to check your appliances to determine how much water they use.

FHR requirements vary greatly by household. If you have four people who all need to take showers within a single hour each morning, you’ll need far more hot water than a family who showers at different times and only uses the dishwasher and clothes washer in the middle of the day. 

Most people use less hot water than they think they do, but it’s best to get as much information as possible so you can buy a water heater that meets your needs. It doesn’t matter how good a water heater is if its FHR is too far below your requirements.

FHR does not truly apply to tankless water heaters, which use gallons per minute ratings instead. Since these have no reserves, the only amount that really matters is whether you’re using more or less than the unit’s maximum capacity for your area. Ideally, your peak usage will be just a little less than its maximum.

If you need to fill particularly large areas with hot water, such as certain types of tubs, then you can calculate the FHR of a tankless unit through this simple calculation: GPM x 60. For example, the first entry on our list provides about 270 gallons of hot water in its first hour and can continue to provide more if needed.

What Size Ranges Do Water Heaters Have?

Most hot water heaters are available in several standard sizes. The most common capacities are 40, 50, and 55 gallons, with some units offering considerably more water storage as needed.

Size directly impacts the features of water heaters, including their efficiencies and the technologies that companies use. Thanks to industry regulations, many units larger than 55 gallons use heat pumps or condensing systems. These can increase the initial price of the unit, though the efficiency savings are usually good enough that they’ll eventually pay themselves off.

Physical size is also important for determining whether or not a water heater will fit. New units may be significantly taller or wider than your previous water heater, and if something doesn’t fit, it’s not worth getting.

There’s one more factor you should consider: Safety. Many areas have regulations on where you can put water heaters and what you can have around them. For example, earthquake-prone areas may require you to strap your water heater to a wall, so you’ll need to leave space for that.

Conclusion

As you can see on our list above, modern water heaters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and features. Tankless units are particularly popular these days because of their functionally-endless supply of hot water, though some homeowners still prefer finding the most durable units.

If you’re still not sure how to pick a water heater, follow this process:

First, take a look at this guide. This shows the average groundwater temperature throughout the United States. Naturally, temperatures vary throughout the year, but this is the best place to start understanding how powerful of a water heater you may need.

Next, calculate your peak water use. This may require researching showerheads, talking to family members about when they use water, or reading labels to calculate water flow. The number you come up with is the lowest amount a storage tank’s FHR should be. If you’re interested in a tankless unit, determine the highest demand per minute instead.

Once you know how much water you need, decide how you want to power it. Water heaters almost always use electricity or natural gas, with propane a distant third. If you use electricity, you may need to install stronger circuit breakers or call an electrician out to wire things. If you use natural gas, you should have an expert fit those pipes.

After determining all of these criteria, look for a high-quality water heater that meets all of your requirements. Pricing for water heaters varies, going from less than $200 for some tankless water heaters to about $5000 for a large, high-end storage tank. Anything higher than that is probably a commercial unit, which is only necessary for the largest homes or families.

Finally, look at the reviews for each water heater that makes your final list. These can provide useful information like what percent of units tend to fail and how easy of a time people have getting coverage under their warranties.

Water heaters are an important part of our daily lifestyles. From taking hot showers or baths to doing laundry and washing dishes, easy access to hot water is as much a health issue as a comfort issue.

As such, don’t rush your decision when deciding what type of water heater to get. A high-quality model should last you at least ten years, so it’s worth taking the time to find the perfect unit for your needs

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