According to studies, water heating is among the top largest energy uses at home, accounting for more than 15% of one’s overall energy consumption. It is also an all-important appliance; on 2010, Energy Star reported that eight million water heater units were shipped and sold in the US alone. Modern technology, along with the change of consumers’ demands pushed for much changes with water heaters, when it comes to design and use. And from its different varieties (heat pumps, water tanks, tankless, gas pumps) we have discovered the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 as the present-day best water heater that seamlessly suits most homes and lifestyles.
Find the perfect water heater for your home
Residential water heaters are smaller units used in single and multifamily homes. This equipment relies on either of these three fuels: electricity, oil and natural gas. Gas water heaters have been predominant since the conception of this appliance. More than 50% of US homes make use of burned pipe natural gas, while 4% employs bottled propane gas. Electric water heaters come in second with more or less 40%.
There are water heaters that serve 50-gallon tanks and there are those that work with less. As of 2015, Energy Star has required gas-fired heaters to increase efficiency up to 30%, while tankless waters must meet 32% above the 2010 standard. Households, in return for this investment, can save from $40 to more than $250 in their utilities per year.
In this review, we will focus on residential water heaters and how to find the best choice that fits your home. If you already have a water heater installed, take note that its lifespan lasts in approximately 13 years. If the water starts to harden, or if your heater has become difficult to maintain, perhaps it is time to replace your equipment with something modern and efficient.
Our top pick is the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24, a tankless whole-house water heater that is among the most loved utilities in the market, to date. It replaces the need of a conventional tank with no difficulty, taking up less space and energy than the regular water heater. Highly-upgraded electronics, single flow sensor and a tasteful design makes it a highly recommended equipment to install in homes. Easily select your desired temperature with its digital control, and enjoy long hot baths with its consistent temperature output, no matter how big the water demand is.
For homes with larger hot water demands, the Westinghouse 50-Gallon 97% High Efficiency water heater will be a perfect choice. It’s a stainless steel designed, 50-gallon storage water heater that makes efficient use of natural gas. The Energy Star rating ensures that you get to save both energy and funds from your utilities. This water heater is perfect for mid-sized households.
If you require less-than-average water heating in certain areas of your home, this mini tank from Bosch fits the bill. It’s a handy, point-of-use water heater that offers instant hot water by your own sink. The best part? No hard wiring required; just plug it into a nearby outlet and it activates at once. The Bosch GL4S Ariston works best as a companion to your heating system, helping you achieve an instant supply of hot water without adding too much strain on your home’s water heater.
Why install a water heater?
Hot water is essential to every home, especially, for those living in colder areas. Before, consumers are forced to manually heat water when washing or bathing. Water heaters eliminate that unnecessary chore. This appliance provides a consistent supply of hot water to your sink and shower on demand. More than that, it also offers other functions, such as keeping your plumbing fixtures in shape.
Water and energy conservation are among the top features of an excellent quality water heater. It delivers hot water on demand without the wait, quickly eliminating excessive use of water and gas to add temperature to the cold water. Modern water heaters with Energy Star seal promises greater efficiency as well as a big cut on the consumer’s utility bills. This means you save time, effort and money in enjoying hot water, consistently supplied in the temperature you prefer.
A look into Health and Hot Baths
Hot water and baths have long been associated with each other, primarily, for health reasons. A long, hot bath, Telegraph UK discloses, can help stimulate blood circulation and cell movement. Water pressure aids in relieving organs, which improves relaxation. Bath therapy, they call it, offers solutions for pain relief, skin condition and even arthritis.
It must be noted that hot baths are not only reserved for chilly weathers. The Daily Mail reveals a study that showed how diabetics could lower blood sugar levels by spending at least 30 minutes in a hot tub. This particular research, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, states that heat dilates blood vessels, helping the body to efficiently use its own insulin. The result: sugar levels are down by 13%.
The elderly also benefits in long, hot baths. 10 minutes of soaking, according to a Japanese study, improves their cardiovascular health. Other researches denotes that baths implemented with hydrotherapy helps keeps the body in its best condition, detoxifying it, reducing stress, and keeping it from potential viruses which might cause colds and flu.
And how to indulge in a good, hot bath? With a high-quality water heater. Further down, we’ll give you a list of remarkable water heaters to look at, but first, let’s discover the basics about these utilities so you’ll know which one you’ll need.
Types of Water Heaters
Heating water consumes about 15% of a home’s energy use. A big step from their previous models, modern day water heaters make use of 10-50% less energy, helping owners save carbon footprints as well as utility bills. The actual energy consumption, however, largely depends on family size and plumbing design.
If this is the first time you’ll install a water heating system in your property, you’re in luck; you’ll have many options available regarding the heating method of your equipment. You can look into many kinds of heating systems and choose which complies to your needs the most. Let’s take a closer look at the different fuel types.
- Electric. Electric water heating systems are usually affordable and are easy to install–perfect for DIY homeowners who wanted to conveniently add a quick new utility in their property. However, be wary; this fuel type is perhaps the most expensive to run on continuous use. Households with four members typically requires about 120-160 liters for continuous systems. Despite these drawbacks, electric water heating systems can be installed anywhere in the home, and ranges within $200 to $1500.
- Gas. This could be your best option, especially if you have the connection. This fuel allows consistent supply of hot water as needed, all credited to the fact that gas rates do not change throughout the day. Due to its venting requirements, gas-powered water heating systems are usually installed outdoors. Users can replace natural gas with LPG, but this also means raising utility costs. If you’re looking to buy this system, be prepared to invest about $800 to $2000, installation not included.
- Heat pump. Working with the same principal like that of an air conditioner, heat pump water systems make use of the heat from the air and applies it to the tank. This outdoor-installed water heating comes with a tank and a compressor; the latter of which produces a loud sound. Thus, it is essential that you find a safe, secluded area for its installation, away from neighboring homes. Heat pumps are best employed in warm regions. These water heating systems require a tank that holds about 270-310 liters for a four-person household. If this is your choice heating system, you might need to invest $2000 to $4000.
- Solar. Solar-paneled tanks transform sunlight into electricity which then heats the water. An ideal location for this water heating system is outdoors, with at least 4 square meters for the panel installation, and a 300-360-liter tank for storage. On days with less sunlight, a gas booster element, usually coupled with the system, will keep the water in the right temperature. While this can be the most expensive water heater–ranging from at least $2000 to $7000, your investment will be paid off with low utility costs.
Next, you’ll need to know which water tank fits your needs. This is where you’ll store your hot water until such time you require its use.
Storage tank. These insulated containers are common to all water heating system, regardless of the fuel. Usually made from steel, these tanks can last a full decade before requiring to be replaced. In order to know which type is best suited for your property, you need to know your water quality; some elements may corrode your tank, wearing it out easily.
Instantaneous flow. This type of water tank heats water as needed. It provides hot water at the rate of two to five gallons, enough for a warm dishwashing errand. However, it must be known that some models need a few seconds before water starts heating, especially when there’s a large distance between the tap and the water heater. Instantaneous flow tanks usually make use of gas and electric powered heating systems. It is cheaper to run, compared to the usual storage tanks. Instantaneous flow tanks are also called tankless water heaters.
How to buy the right water heater
If you are looking to buy a water heater for your home, you may want to look at this checklist to fully understand which one is right for you. Among the main factors you need to consider are:
- The demand for hot water in your home
- The location where the heater is to be installed
- The chosen energy source (electric, propane, natural gas, heat pump, solar, etc.)
- The purchase cost and other expenses associated with it (installation, maintenance, utilities, rebates)
While there are highly recommended water heaters in the market, there is no one size fit all heating system. Since this will be an investment you will use for a long time, it is good to discover your options. The Energy Star website is a good place to start, as they offer highly rated, well-made water heaters, marked for their efficiency in the environment and home.
Energy factor is also one of the best things to consider. The higher the number, the more efficient the appliance is. Many places have a required energy factor, stimulating the community in making the right decision in buying their water heater. Electric-powered heaters costs more than the ones fueled by natural gas. On this note, Energy Factor vary from product to product, depending on their models and fuels.
Don’t be afraid to shell out a bit more when it comes to water heaters; once you purchase the right item, you get more savings when it comes to operational and maintenance costs. Now that’s a smart buy!
Tip #1: Size matters
One thing you need to consider is if the water heater is enough to fulfill the needs of your entire household. One person typically uses about 50 liters of hot water a day, including long showers, laundry and dishwashing. A small household with 2 members may use a tankless water heater or a small gas-powered storage tank. Medium households, with about 4 members, will benefit from gas water systems.
Tip #2: Compliancy is key
Only buy water heaters that is compliant to your building code. Tankless systems are usually convenient options, but should you choose a gas-powered water heater, you might be asked to retrofit it according to the community standards.
Tip #3: Make that math
You may want to look into the water heater’s first hour rating, which denotes how many gallons can the system supply per hour. Usually, this is found on the manual. A 50-gallon tank may only supply about 35 gallons of hot water because rest is replaced by cold water in the first hour. From there, you can discern whether the water heater’s production satisfies your requirement. If you take less than 10 minutes of shower per day, you will be using about 17 gallons of hot water. From the 35 gallons denoted in the first hour rating, two people can enjoy a hot shower in an hour.
How we picked
Purchasing a water heater can sound so confusing at first, especially with the many requirements consumers have to look into. We hope to make your selection easier for you with this review. After looking over dozens of water heaters available in the market, we have picked our top product choices, sharing with you some of their pros and cons, and why these items may be the perfect fit for your home. Some of the factors we considered are:
- We wanted to give you a set of affordable water heaters that will fit your budget and future utility bills.
- Ease of use. Temperature selection, design and installation are three of our topmost priorities in handpicking choice water systems.
- Efficiency rating. We looked over the heat recovery feature of each water heater, and we give you details about potential energy loss as well as energy savings during the time your water is heated and stored.
Ready to see our best water heater choices? Read on below.
Our top pick for best water heater is Amazon’s 4.8-star rated Tempra 24 from Stiebel Eltron. It’s a tankless electricity-powered water heater that offers hot water, simultaneously up to 2 showers (which is less than 20 gallons per shower). This well-loved utility has been purchased by more than 120 consumers and is backed by great reviews. What makes Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 phenomenal? Let’s go down to the specs.
This highly popular water tank has been a consumer’s choice for years, thanks to its patented flow control technology, digital display and easy to use thermostat. It supplies up to 5 gallons per minute, perfectly filling your tub with hot water. Its micro-processors regulate temperature, allowing you to choose heat between 86 and 140 F. So far, it is among the rare gems in the market that offers true thermostat control on both the flow rate and the incoming water temperature. The unit has sensors which detect whenever the demand exceeds its capacity – very helpful in cold climates and critical applications.
Just like regular tankless water heaters, Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 runs on 200 Amps. It has a hinged case in silver, with a digital control on the front case; this makes the thermostat easy to view and control. This Energy Star rated appliance offers a cutback on your carbon footprint, helping you conserve energy and at the same time, save on your utility. The product comes with a three-year warranty.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Despite garnering a high review from many of Amazon’s consumers, Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24 has experienced some complaints, mostly, installation related. While the manual has released a straightforward direction, some DIY enthusiasts experienced difficulty and has required the help of a professional installer. One thing to consider: consumers should check the water chemical composition within their area, as high or low pH levels may cause some damage on water heating systems.
The Westinghouse 50-Gallon 97% High Efficiency water heater may sound like a huge investment at first, but for smart consumers, it offers a bigger payback. Powered by natural gas, homeowners can save a huge chunk from their utility bills, and still enjoy the luxury of unspoiled hot water supply. The laser-welded, stainless steel finish is made with great taste and would suit any home’s aesthetic. Not only that; its well-insulated interiors offer resistance from corrosion.
The Westinghouse 5-Gallon water heater is powered by a 76,000 input burner paired with an ultra-low-nox technology’a new feature which reduces emissions. It comes with a 3/4″ NPT connection for your inlet/outlet. Add to that, its digital thermostat shows details of the thermostat and flow. Users can switch for the eco-mode for minimized fuel consumption and hence, better savings.
Bosch GL4S Ariston mini-tankless water heater is a dedicated, point-of-use utility that provides hot water upon running your faucet. This item is perfect for those who desires location-specific hot water without changing the plumbing system of the house. Use it solely on its own, or pair it with a larger heater line if you require a bigger supply. With this gadget, you’ll have 4 gallons of hot water, ready for use. The best part? No hard-wiring necessary. This handy little tank can be activated by plugging into a 120-volt outlet.
Reminiscent of the original GL4, the GL4S is 13″5 deep and comes with an improved thermostat feature. You can easily adjust the temperature using the knob on the unit. Upon purchase, this product comes with a 6-year warranty for the heat exchanger, and a year’s warranty for its parts.
Other than the prime water heaters listed above, we’ve uncovered a few more products that may suit different wants and needs. Take a look at some of our curated picks below:
Best High-End Water Heater
Raising the bar is Takagi’s T-H3 High Efficiency Indoor Water Heater, which makes use of natural gas and heats about 10 gallons of water per minute. Designed for multifamily homes, purchase this highly-digitalized water heater for your comfort and convenience. Credits go to its condensing function, which efficiently uses vapor heat to produce steam, and in turn doubles the effect of its heating features. Takagi has long been noted for its straightforward design and easy installation, making it a top choice for users who require a larger dose of hot water.
Best Gas-Powered Water Heater
This natural-gas powered tankless heater from Japanese brand Rinnai promises 82% thermal efficiency and can be adjusted to both residential and commercial settings. A digital controller allows temperature to be change in the most convenient way possible. Crafted in sleek, silvery color, Rinnai’s water heater is as impressive as its performance. This utility is Energy Star certified and offers a 12-year warranty on heat exchanger and 5 year warranty on parts.
Best Mid-Size Water Heater
Offering 50% savings on water heating costs, Ecosmart is a consumer’s practical choice. The Eco 27 supplies a high amount of high water, making use of the company’s patented self-modulating features. This tankless water heater is perfect for large, Roman-style baths and other high demand water application. Releasing 6 gallons of hot water per minute, this China-made product is perfect for medium sized families. Ecosmart is certified by Watersense and offers a lifetime warranty on element, exchanger and electronics.
Best Outdoor Water Heater
Specifically made for outdoor use, Rheem Low-Nox Outdoor tankless water heater runs on natural gas and promises a satisfying supply of hot water. It produces more than 8 Gallons per minute at a 35-degree rise, giving consumers ways to enjoy their outdoor Jacuzzi during leisure time. It is Energy Star certified and weighs 54 pounds, drabbed in matt gray and bright red colors. Consumers loved its easy-to-install features (no need for additional venting) and the reduced turnout cost of their electricity.
Budget Gas Water Heater
This highly compact, propane powered tankless water heater from Marey is among the most highly rated water heating products in Amazon. With a 4.5 star review, this natural gas water heater provides more than 2 gallons per unit, allowing multiple points of use within a household. It delivers 87% efficiency level, with a flow rate of 2.7 GPM and a maximum pressure of PSI. Consumers loved its easy installation features, but most especially, its budget price!
Best Large Capacity Water Heater
Featuring a powerful heat pump technology, this 50-gallon water heater from General Electric is certainly a keeper. It offers 2.9 energy factor and complies to the 2015 Energy Star standard for water heaters. This hybrid water heater weighs 185 pounds and runs on 240 volts; its size also reflects the homeowner’s annual savings. Among its special features is the Vacation settings, which keeps energy usage to a minimum when the family is on a holiday.
Best Compact Water Heater
Reliance 6 is a compact water heater that is perfect for homes with less demands. It fits crawl spaces and stores 6 gallons of hot water, keeping it warm for your next use. Inlets are found on the side mount for easy installation. This device runs on a 120-volt outlet.
Best Portable Water Heater
Covering about 1.4 GPM of hot water, this small but sensible gadget allows you to enjoy warm baths wherever you are. It is packed with 2-D Cell Battery ignition and is powered with liquid propane fuel. Hang this on your bath area whenever hot water is not available, and enjoy a healthy bath without constrictions. This lightweight utility only weighs at 13 pounds and can easily be brought to camping trips and off-the-grid sites.
Maintaining your water heater
Your water heater works hard every day, to keep you supplied with the right temperature you want in your baths and other applications. It is an investment that offers good returns, and it’s just right that you preserve it in its best shape to keep it running for a long time. Quality water heaters last for more than 10 years, but some devices break easily, and this can also be attributed to maintenance. To prolong your water heater’s longevity, here are some tips:
- Adjust the thermostat to 120 F. This produces a sufficient supply of hot water and still reduce energy consumption.
- Always check your faucet for leaks.
- Use efficient showerheads. Loosen up clogs and deposits on old ones to maximize every water run.
- In order to reduce heat loss, insulate your exposed water pipes. You may also choose to insulate your water heater by enveloping it in an insulating blanket.
- Keep 2 feet off your water heater. This is to avoid potential damage to the appliance.
- If you’re using a tank storage, drain it a few times in a year to remove air and sediment.
- Test your temperature relief valve with a quick drain. Watch out for small leaks; if found, have it repaired at once.
- Check the anode rod and see if parts of it is exposed or is coated with deposits.
- If you’re going out on a holiday, change the thermostat to its lowest setting to preserve energy.
Wrapping it up
Having a water heater opens up many benefits in our home. Other than taking showers and washing off the hard-to-remove debris in the dishes, hot water can also be used in laundry, in cleaning, and even in maintaining plants. This appliance takes away the hassles of manually boiling water to enjoy a warm water supply. It is no secret how a water heater has become a standard utility in every home.
However, along with its use is the energy consumption and in return, the higher electricity bill. Good thing, makers of water heaters have created a high standard for this appliance, helping homeowners make right purchasing choices. Certifications make these utilities safer and easy to install, even by non-professionals. With these modern devices at hand, consumers can easily pick their desired water heaters and experience the luxury of warm water.
Through this review, we have uncovered the best water heater: Stiebel Eltron Tempra 24. This much-loved appliance has achieved many commendations from consumers and stores alike. Environment-friendly, electricity-efficient and greatly economical, Tempra 24 is your top choice among the many, delivering a good amount of water supply for you and your family’s needs. Packed with multiple features, adjusting the settings and maintaining your water heater are both made easy. If you’re looking to make a switch, we highly recommend this product.
However, if you’re a homeowner searching for a small device to complement your already-installed water heater, Bosch GL4S Ariston may be the right choice. This little plug-in device lessens the strain on your heater, giving you a substantial hot water supply whenever needed. It can also work on its own, independently delivering 4 gallons of water during your demand.
Pick the Tempra 24 if you desire long-term, full-house use, or the Bosch GL4S Ariston for a shorter, on-demand water heating. Whatever you choose, you can be assured that these products are the most efficient ones in the market, promising great returns and delivering consistent hot water supply you can enjoy for a long time.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.