The Rheem 42VR40-40F natural gas water heater offers great value for its purchase price. Its Energy Factor rating is just a few points lower than what's required for Energy Star compliance, but reviewers vouch for its efficiency. It is a bit taller and heavier than most, but this is attributed to the added insulation, which helps maintain the water temperature without using additional energy for re-heating.
Quiet and capable for the average family. The Rheem 42VR40-40F water heater is the "best bang for the buck" among 40-gallon water heaters, according to owners posting feedback at Amazon.com. They say the unit is practically silent while operating, and most agree it maintains even temperatures, even when several water sources are being run simultaneously. The Rheem offers a good recovery rate and flow rate (about 40 gallons for natural gas, and 34 gallons for liquid propane), allowing it to heat sufficient water for the average home's needs, as one owner notes, "The HWH supplies our 2,000 square foot home, kitchen, two bathrooms, dishwasher, washer, four person family with plenty of hot water all the time."
A few owners say the Rheem 42VR40-40F is larger than comparable units, but that's partly due to the added insulation that aids efficiency.
No Energy Star rating, but still efficient. The Rheem 42VR40-40F has an Energy Factor of 0.62, just a few points lower than the 0.67 needed to qualify for Energy Star certification. It isn't Energy Star-rated but does use natural gas -- which is more affordable and efficient than electricity. It's also well-insulated, reviewers say, so it doesn't use as much energy to re-heat water. The extra insulation adds to the bulk of the unit, but owners believe it is worth it for the savings. Several report seeing a reduction in their utility bills whether previously using a gas or electric water heater.
Value-packed durability. The Rheem 42VR40-40F, 40 Gallon is backed by a six-year warranty on its tank and parts, but is only valid if a professional plumber installs the unit. There are a few isolated complaints of malfunctions over time, including the hot-water and temperature-gauge valves. One contributor complains a defective part wasn't included in the warranty, so he had to pay to have it replaced. Overall, however, owners report no problems with performance or warranty -- the other few complaints are related to damage during delivery.
Nearly 30 owners review the Rheem 42VR40-40F, 40 Gallon, which earns an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Owners say the unit is a great value and about two-thirds give it a perfect 5-star rating.
Review: Rheem 42VR40-40F High Efficiency Natural Gas Water Heater, 40 Gallon, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
About 45 owners offer feedback on the Rheem 42VR50-40F, 50 Gallon at Amazon.com. This model is identical to the Rheem 42VR40-40F other than its 50-gallon capacity. It earns an average rating of 4 stars out of 5, and contributors report installation is straightforward.
Review: Rheem 42VR50-40F High Efficiency Natural Gas Water Heater, 50 Gallon, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
This forum thread discusses water heater brands overall. The original poster says he's owned a Rheem water heater that finally started leaking after 46 years of service. Several posters agree Rheem is one of the top water heater brands.
Review: Best Electric Water Heater, Contributors to DoItYourself.com, As of October 2013
This brand study surveys more than 3,000 builders and contractors on their brand awareness and usage of various building products, including water heaters. Rheem is the most well-known brand, with 70 percent of respondents saying they've heard of the company. Thirty-one percent say they've used or installed a Rheem water heater within the past two years.
Review: 2008 Builder Brand Study, Editors of BuilderOnline.org, March 31, 2008