5 Best Water Heaters Consumer Reports 2019 – Top Rated

If your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life and you’re thinking of replacing it before disaster strikes, you’ll be happy to know that you have better choices, thanks to recent federal regulations that require water heaters to be more energy-efficient. New storage tank water heaters are required to operate more efficiently, and tankless (on-demand) water heaters are even more efficient than that.

Typically, homeowners replace their old water heater with one of the same type that runs on the same fuel—natural gas or electricity. Switching from a tank water heater to a tankless unit can be expensive because it requires you to retrofit your plumbing and possibly your electrical system. But if you’re building a new home or adding to an existing one, installing a tankless water heater may make economic sense.

Top 5 Water Heaters

Bestseller No. 1
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 2.5-Gallon (ES2.5)  - Eliminate Time for Hot Water - Shelf, Wall or Floor Mounted
1040 Reviews
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 2.5-Gallon (ES2.5) - Eliminate Time for Hot Water - Shelf, Wall or Floor Mounted
  • CONVENIENT HOT WATER HEATER: 2.5 gallon point-of-use mini-tank fits under your sink to provide hot...
  • LONG LASTING QUALITY: This electric water heater is easy to maintain and has premium glass-lined...
Bestseller No. 2
American Standard CE-12-AS 12 gallon Point of Use Electric Water Heater
33 Reviews
American Standard CE-12-AS 12 gallon Point of Use Electric Water Heater
  • Heavy gauge Steel tank
  • Inner Dura glas lined tank fired at 1,600°f for optimum protection from the effects of corrosion
Bestseller No. 3
Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG Indoor Tankless Water Heater, Natural Gas
306 Reviews
Takagi T-KJr2-IN-NG Indoor Tankless Water Heater, Natural Gas
  • 140,000 BTU. Voltage: AC 120V
  • 6.6 GPM max flow rate. Water connection location- bottom
Bestseller No. 4
ECOTOUCH Electric Tankless Water Heater Point-of-Use Hot Water Heater Digital Display for Energy Efficiency 5.5kW at 240V, White
18 Reviews
ECOTOUCH Electric Tankless Water Heater Point-of-Use Hot Water Heater Digital Display for Energy Efficiency 5.5kW at 240V, White
  • 【INSTANT & SUFFICIENT HOT WATER】Applied with 5.5KW heating system, the electric water heater...
  • 【SMART SELF ADJUSTMENT】The hot water heater adjusts power input based on flow rate and temp...
Bestseller No. 5
Rheem 240V 2 Heating Chambers RTEX-18 Residential Tankless Water Heater, small GREY
45 Reviews
Rheem 240V 2 Heating Chambers RTEX-18 Residential Tankless Water Heater, small GREY
  • External digital thermostatic control with LED display (+/1 degree accuracy)
  • Most advanced self-modulation, adjust power to meet hot water demand

Types of Water Heaters

Depending on how much hot water you use and how you’re heating the water (gas or electric), there are several choices. Some types are claimed to cut energy costs by up to half that of regular storage models. But their added up-front costs mean payback time might be longer.

Tankless (On-Demand) Water Heater

Rather than storing water, tankless water heaters use heating coils to heat the water as you need it. They’re more energy-efficient than a storage tank but provide only a limited flow of hot water per minute—about 3.5 gallons, depending on inlet water temperatures. They’re best for people who typically aren’t drawing water for more than one user at a time—such as running a shower and dishwasher simultaneously.

Storage Tank Water Heater

Storage tanks are the most common type of water heater. As the name suggests, these consist of an insulated tank in which water is heated and stored until needed then emerges from a pipe on top of the water heater. There is also a temperature- and pressure-relief valve, which opens if either exceeds a preset level.

Solar Water Heater

A roof-mounted cell absorbs the sun’s heat and transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a closed-loop system that runs to the water tank. The best deliver stellar savings in summer, making them attractive for warm, sunny regions. But savings suffer on cold and cloudy days. Most models employ a backup system that kicks in when needed.

Condensing Water Heater

Condensing water heaters are an option if you heat with gas and need a unit with a capacity of more than 55 gallons. These models have a tank like a conventional water heater, but they capture exhaust gases that would normally go out the flue, which wastes energy. These gases are blown through a coil in the base of the unit, where incoming cold water can absorb most of the heat.

Heat Pump (Hybrid) Water Heater

These capture heat from the air and transfer it to the water. They use about 60 percent less energy than standard electric water heaters. And while they cost more than electric-only models, installation is similar and payback time is short. But they don’t work well in very cold spaces and need to be placed in an area that stays about 40° F to 90° F.

And because the heat pump is on top, a hybrid water heater needs as much as 7 feet of clearance from floor to ceiling. You’ll also need up to 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space to capture enough heat from the air as well as a nearby drain to discharge the condensate.

Features to Consider

Warranty: Coverage for water heaters typically runs three to 12 years. While you’ll usually pay a bit more for longer-warranty models, we’ve found that they tend to have larger elements or burners that can speed up water heating and have thicker insulation for less heat loss. Choose a water heater with the longest warranty available.

Anti-scale devices: Some brands advertise features that are supposed to reduce the buildup of mineral scale at the bottom of the tank by swirling the water. While the scale can shorten the life of the heating element, you don’t need to invest in fancy features to get a water heater that lasts. Just look for one with a 12-year warranty, which typically includes a longer or thicker element.

Brass vs. plastic drain valves: These are situated near the base of the water heater for a garden hose that drains the heater. Look for brass drain valves, which are more durable than plastic.

Glass-lined tanks: Designed to reduce corrosion.

Digital displays: Help you monitor levels and customize operation. Some electric/heat pump hybrid water heaters let you set a vacation mode that uses just the heat pump for added efficiency when you’re away. Displays on solar water heaters often show tank and collector temperatures, along with pressure readings and other info.

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