What every best Water Heaters has:
- Energy efficiency.
- Ample hot water capacity.
- Sufficient first hour rating (FHR).
Amazon.com makes it very convenient to browse through their water heater selection because you can sort by average rating, best sellers or for a specific brand. Traditional storage-tank water heaters get few reviews, but some tankless models receive feedback from hundreds of customers.
HomeDepot.com is a good source for user feedback regarding water heaters. Though some reviews are originally posted at manufacturer web sites, several still get feedback from hundreds of owners, and some from well over 1,000, so it is easy to see those that edge past the pack. Some reviews also offer subratings for things such as ease of installation, value, and overall quality.
Water heaters sold at Lowes.com earn less feedback than at HomeDepot.com, but some still garner well over 100 reviews. While many of the reviews are from site users, others were originally posted at manufacturer sites. In addition to leaving comments, owners can say whether or not they would recommend a specific hot water heater.
FurnaceCompare.com is an independent site where consumers can post reviews of heating and cooling products that they have purchased. While reviews can extend back over several years, this page lists the ones sold in 2016 that have rated tops with users thus far (and some of these ratings include reviews left in 2015 and 2017 as well). All reviews -- which vary in length from a few lines to detailed descriptions of pros and cons -- can be accessed elsewhere on the site.
ConsumerReports.org doesn't rate or rank water heaters, but they do offer an informative buying guide. Editors offer tips on choosing the right storage capacity for your home and compare the different types, including storage tank, tankless and hybrid hot water heaters. Testing of tankless water heaters has been promised, but that had not yet been done at the time of this update.
Author Gale Steves reports on experiences using a Rinnai tankless water heater and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using tankless water heaters in general. Cost savings over time are the biggest benefit noted. A few readers also weigh in with comments. Feedback is mixed on whether tankless water heaters actually save money.
Sears.com sells water heaters under its own Kenmore brand name as well as a few others. Not all the water heaters sold here have accumulated owner-written reviews and ratings, though others have received enough feedback to be helpful.
Jim 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, including information on solar water heater kits, tankless water heaters and energy-saving tips. He mentions some specific models in the downloadable bulletins, but much of that seems to be dated. Still Dulley's general buying advice on different types of water heaters is useful.
SupplyHouse.com is a plumbing supply company that sells water heaters online. Many water heaters get feedback, and a few get lots. Though lots of products are listed, only a few manufacturers are carried.
Energy.gov is the official website for the nation's energy department, offering advice and resources to consumers on making energy-efficient choices for their homes and lifestyles. This article is a buyer's guide to selecting an energy-efficient water heater, including the various types available, fuel types and costs. Links to type-specific resources are also included, with more in-depth articles outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each type of water heater. Elsewhere on the site you can find searchable lists of Energy Star qualified water heaters.
Reuben Saltzman, a home inspector and blogger for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, weighs in on the pros and cons of tankless water heaters. He outlines some important considerations for prospective tankless buyers to consider, though he says that given their drawbacks, he is likely to stick with a standard storage tank water heater when it comes time to replace his own.
Plumbing and building contractors discuss water heaters and other plumbing topics here. Multiple contributors frequently update the forum, with posts dating back to 2006. There are some troubleshooting questions and answers, as well as general feedback on brand quality. Some of the brand comparisons and stories about getting repair parts are quite insightful.
At DoItYourself.com, users can participate in an open forum regarding water heaters. There doesn't seem to be a lot of specific recommendations, though the general discussions of water heaters, types of water heaters, and troubleshooting water heaters when things go wrong can be insightful.
This website is dedicated to water heater products, tips and resources for both contractors and consumers. While no specific models are mentioned or discussed, site owner Randy Schuyler describes what the best water heater should have, and discusses some brands and how they relate to aftermarket products that he sells. Elsewhere on the site you can find a fairly active forum that's a good resource for specific advice as well as troubleshooting tips.