Water Heater Rating Sources
Total of 29 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
Solar Hot Water Heaters
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentEditors compare the savings provided by four solar water heaters of three different types, using each one in conjunction with a standard electric storage-tank water heater. A separate review of tankless water heaters in October 2008 reports on tests of two gas tankless models by Takagi and Noritz, comparing them with three storage-tank water heaters based on energy costs, installation costs and ease of use. Durability is tested by simulation, running about 11 years' worth of very hard water (45,000 gallons) through a Rinnai tankless water heater and one tank-style heater. This review also tests the A.O. Smith Vertex, an expensive but energy-efficient model. A separate August 2009 review ranks six big retailers of large appliances, comparing them with independent appliance retailers bunched into one category, based on a survey of more than 24,000 subscribers. Although the tests done in 2007 on regular storage-tank water heaters don't result in ratings of specific brands or models, editors discover by sawing 18 different tanks in half that a 12-year warranty is the best guide to overall quality and durability (with the exception of one brand).
Review of the GE GeoSpring Electric Heat-Pump Water Heater
by Dave Trezza and Gian Trotta
Our AssessmentEditors test the GE Hybrid water heater, running it in hybrid mode, which supplements the heat pump with the regular electric heating elements when needed. Quite a few readers add comments. A January 2009 review of the GE Hybrid also evoked quite a few comments from readers, including some valuable information and a few reports from early users of the GE Hybrid. A related March 19, 2010, blog post provides an overview of water heaters that qualify for federal tax credits and state rebates.
Upgrade Your Water Heater
by Jefferson Kolle
Our AssessmentThis review in a publication aimed at home builders recommends retrofitting an existing storage-tank water heater by adding the AirTap heat pump to it. It requires a drain, but the cool air the heat pump produces can be hooked into the home's air-conditioning system or vented elsewhere with an optional kit (*Est. $80). This review includes a link to an earlier Fine Homebuilding video review of the AirTap. A related October 2008 article, "Cheaper Hot Water" by Dave Yates, suggests six ways to lower water-heating costs. He recommends adding a thermal-expansion tank to any storage water heater that lacks one, to extend the life of the entire plumbing system as well as the water heater itself. Yates also discusses replacing an older storage water heater with a sealed-combustion gas model with better insulation and 90 percent efficiency. But he notes that more efficient water heaters can have lower recovery rates, so you may need a bigger tank. He also discusses recirculation systems, tankless water heaters, water-based heating systems and solar hot water systems (which he himself uses, along with a gravity-fed recirculation system). The fall/winter 2008 issue also reviews the Marathon water heater, recommending it for its leakproof construction and excellent warranty, and a November 2007 article discusses solutions to several problems often encountered with tankless water heaters, with cost estimates and full details.
2008 Builder Brand Study
by Editors of BuilderOnline.org
Our AssessmentThis 2007 survey of 3,428 builders and contractors compares 13 major brands of water heaters (among many other products), with results analyzed by region of the United States. Conducted by market research company Hanley Wood, the survey covers brand familiarity and actual usage, but it's the quality ratings that are the most useful. Rinnai Tankless holds the lead among all 13 brands. Water heaters branded as A.O. Smith rank much higher than other brands made by that company (including Whirlpool); Kenmore and Maytag rank last. Rheem and A.O. Smith rank higher than GE, Whirlpool or State Industries. This builders' site also has a succinct guide to choosing a water heater, as well as an excellent article on the pros and cons of tankless water heaters versus storage-tank models.
HVAC and Water Heater/Boiler Subcontractor Satisfaction Study
by Editors of J.D. Power and Associates
Our AssessmentThis study discusses a survey of nearly 900 contractors and subcontractors about their satisfaction levels with water-heater and boiler manufacturers. Seven factors were measured: warranty and repair service, ordering process, credit/billing, delivery, price, sales and marketing support, and product, based on a 1,000-point scale. It's especially interesting that warranty service and repairs are more than twice as important to professional subcontractors as the product itself, which matches pretty well with owner-written reviews elsewhere. The actual product accounts for only 10 percent of the total satisfaction rating. Two water-heater manufacturers are considered above average: Bradford White, followed by Rheem/Ruud. Contractors rate A.O. Smith below average; this company makes water heaters sold under various brands, including Kenmore, Maytag, State, Reliance and Penfield.
Water Heater System Test
by Editors of the Okaloosa Gas District
Our AssessmentObjective tests here done in 2002 compare a Rinnai gas tankless water heater, now the Rinnai R75LS, with a natural gas storage-tank water heater and an electric water heater. The tests are based on the average use of a four-person household and cover fuel costs for all three. The two tank water heaters are also compared for the amount of hot water delivered before the tank runs out, plus the recovery time to get hot water again. The natural gas storage-tank model costs about half as much to operate as the electric water heater and provides over 32 more gallons of hot water before running out -- then takes 40 minutes less to recover. The Rinnai tankless water heater is superior, though, on all three factors.
Editor's Choice 2009 Products
by Editors of Contractor Magazine
Our AssessmentThe Rheem HP-50 hybrid water heater wins a 2009 Editor's Choice award at this publication aimed at building contractors. The January 2010 issue also gives an Editor's Choice award to the American Hometec tankless water heaters, praising the 15-year warranty as well as the coilless design that keeps the heating element away from water. A June 2009 article by the magazine's editor-in-chief discusses the potential impact of tax credits and other incentives on water-heater choices.
Condensing Storage Water Heaters
by Jim Lunt
Our AssessmentThis review aimed at plumbers discusses condensing water heaters, recommending storage-tank models (such as the A. O. Smith Vertex) over tankless condensing heaters. One section of this article also discusses some of the drawbacks of tankless water heaters, noting that it's much easier to replace an existing water heater with a condensing storage-tank model, with better energy savings than most tankless water heaters provide.
The Truth about Tankless
by Bill Link
Our AssessmentThis article on tankless water heaters explains how they work, clears up some common misunderstandings (for example, that they provide unlimited hot water), and details the requirements for a tankless water-heating system. Bill Link concludes that for new construction, "they're almost a no-brainer." For replacing an existing storage-tank water heater, however, the installation costs and difficulties may be greater than any benefit. Seven manufacturers are listed, but no specific brands or models are recommended.
Water Heater Reviews
by Editors of 411plumb.com
Our AssessmentWater heaters by several manufacturers get reviews here by an experienced plumber, but without any evidence of testing or head-to-head comparison between water heaters of the same type. The site is hard to navigate, and many reviews are not on the main list. However, the site is still useful because the reviewer does recommend some specific models and series. A separate review here recommends Bradford White water heaters that use the Defender FVIR technology, explaining why it's superior to that used on some other brands -- adding that a "second best" (but not the worst) design is used on water heaters by Rheem, Ruud, Richmond and GE.
Heat Pump Water Heaters -- GE vs. Rheem
by Contributors to WaterHeaterRescue.com
Our AssessmentThis forum discussion compares the GE Hybrid water heater with one made by Rheem. Even though GE water heaters are made by Rheem, there are significant differences between their hybrid water heaters. The GE hybrid takes the edge because its anode rod is replaceable, and the design is more efficient. It also gets reviews here, once right after installation and another after a month or two of use.
Water Heating Topics
by James Dulley
Our AssessmentJim Dulley is a mechanical engineer and home-improvement specialist who writes a nationally syndicated column about energy use. All of his water-heater bulletins are detailed and informative, and the three bulletins on tankless, electric and gas water heaters do recommend specific brands, though they're getting a bit out of date. He also has four-page bulletins on solar water-heater kits (with specifications for 10), building your own batch solar water heater, heat-pump water heaters and systems for rapid hot water.
Tankless Water Heating
by Editors of and contributors to GreenerBuilding.com
Our AssessmentNone of the five tankless water heaters reviewed here get good ratings. These include the Rinnai Tankless, Seisko R-22, Takagi TK-Jr., Takagi Flash TK-2 and Titan SCR-2. The average ratings for the Takagi models are based on about two dozen reviews each, but some of the other models have been rated by many more.
Best Water Heaters
by Mariette Mifflin
Our AssessmentThe comparison reviews here are done by the site's indoor living expert, whose credentials include being the About.com guide to housewares and appliances. The reviewer's recommendations aren't based on any actual testing but do reflect expertise in comparing water-heater models for important specifications and features. Separate lists of recommended models cover tankless, point-of-use and regular storage-tank water heaters -- but some of the models are no longer available.
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentAmazon.com makes it very convenient to browse through the list of water heaters because you can sort the list by average rating, by best sellers, or search for a specific brand. Few traditional storage-tank water heaters are reviewed here, though two Rheem natural gas models stand out. Several Bosch Ariston point-of-use water heaters get mostly positive reviews here, as do a few Rinnai and Bosch gas tankless water heaters and an electric tankless model by Stiebel Eltron.
by Contributors to Lowes.com
Our AssessmentLowe's posts each water heater's average rating on the list of models, along with the number of reviews on which it's based. This makes it easy to browse through the list. Most models don't get comments, but many do get ratings for features, design, value, ease of use and quality. Unfortunately, most get low ratings. The GE Hybrid stands out as an exception. Most of the other storage-tank water heaters, though not all, are branded as Whirlpool, made by A.O. Smith (which also makes water heaters sold under the Kenmore brand).
by Contributors to HomeDepot.com
Our AssessmentHome Depot publishes owner-written reviews and ratings of the water heaters it sells. Brands are limited, but sizes and types cover the gamut. Most models get mostly positive reviews here, but a few stand out.
by Contributors to Sears.com
Our AssessmentSears sell water heaters under its own Kenmore brand, manufactured by A.O. Smith. Not all the water heaters sold here have accumulated owner-written reviews and ratings, but several have been reviewed by owners after several years of use. It's important to study the review dates in addition to the ratings, since many owners are very satisfied early on, while others report problems months or years later.
Whirlpool Water Heaters
by Contributors to TerryLove.com
Our AssessmentPlumbing and building contractors discuss water heaters and other plumbing topics here. This particular discussion includes quite a few brand comparisons. You can also search the forum for "water heater" to see other relevant topics. Some of the brand comparisons and stories about getting repair parts are quite illuminating.
Hot! Hot! Hot!
by Peter Warwick
Our AssessmentThis Canadian publication doesn't recommend specific models, but it compares the relative costs and pros and cons of three types of water heaters: traditional storage-tank, solar and tankless. The article warns against setting the temperature of a storage-tank water heater lower than 140 degrees Fahrenheit because of the risk of contamination from legionella bacteria, recommending control valves at the faucets instead. We'd rank this article higher if it covered newer types such as electric hybrid water heaters, condensing gas models and coilless tankless water heaters.
GE Hybrid Water Heater install
by Chris Spannagel and contributors to ElectricWaterBoiler.org
Our AssessmentThis brief video and print review covers the installation of the 50-gallon GE Hybrid water heater plus its initial use. About a dozen readers add comments, including a warning from an HVAC technician that high summer humidity can reduce the heater's efficiency. This site contains many useful videos and articles on water heaters of all types.
Hybrid Electric Water Heater
by Editors of Popular Science
Our AssessmentThis brief review just highlights the energy savings of the GE Hybrid water heater without documenting any testing. A handful of readers add comments.
23. Ryan's Inter-Online Web Blog
by Ryan Tucker
Our AssessmentThis is an update to an earlier review of the 180,000 BTU Rinnai 2520 tankless water heater that was done shortly after its installation. The author replaced a regular storage-tank water heater with the Rinnai, so installation took two days and wasn't cheap. He still figures he's saving a significant amount of money over the best storage-tank water heater available at the time, and despite some minor drawbacks, is very happy about his choice.
40 Gallon Gas Hot Water Heater Reviews
by Editors of CompareTheBrands.com
Our AssessmentSeparate reviews here rate budget-priced, gas, tank water heaters and tankless water heaters, comparing a few brands for each. The comparisons are based on analysis of reviews found elsewhere, and while they're not exhaustive, the sources are well documented and ratings and top picks are based on clear reasons. They haven't been updated, though, for more than a year.
Archive for the Water Heater Category
by Editor of AlpineHeat.com
Our AssessmentThis plumbing contractor posts lots of photos of the tankless water heaters he installs, describing details of how various problems are solved and how the systems work. If you're curious about tankless water heaters in real homes, this is a good blog to check. The author is enthusiastic about the condensing technology and recirculating systems used with the Navien NR series -- which he notes are a slight update to the Navien CR tankless water heaters.
Saving Money with Tankless Hot Water Systems
by "Past Master"
Our AssessmentThis article covers a lot of details about tankless hot water heaters, used alone or with a solar hot-water heater.
Whirlpool Water Heaters
by Contributors to ConsumerAffairs.com
Our AssessmentThis site publishes owners' complaints, so there are no positive reviews here. Some are hair-raising, covering more than one brand, including American Water Heaters, Whirlpool (made by the same company) and American Home Shield. The site also has an article on the Whirlpool class action suit covering certain water heaters sold before a redesign in 2007. Many complaints focus on gas water heaters with defective pilot lights.
Attitude Survey Among Participants in the Gas Network's Tankless Water Heater Program
by Editors of Nexus Market Research
Our AssessmentThis long, rather outdated article submitted, reprinted on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy website, reports the results of a survey of 101 households using gas tankless water heaters. The report notes that 100 percent of the owners are satisfied with the water heaters' overall performance if they installed them close to the points of use, compared with 61 percent of those who installed them in basements or attics.
by Contributors to Berkeley Parents Network
Our AssessmentThis is a page of assorted comments from Berkeley-area residents about their experiences with tankless water heaters -- primarily by Aquastar, Noritz and Takagi -- giving a good overview of pros and cons of tankless water heaters in various situations.