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When was the last time any of us peeked into our garage or utility room to check on our water heater?
It’s very possible that we’ve done 0 inspections on the heater as long as we still get the same hot water with the same waiting time at approximately the same electricity cost.
Some of you were probably convinced that instant water heaters are particularly energy efficient as they don’t have to spend any to conserve water. And then, there are hybrid or heat pump water heaters that cost thousands of dollars for each of them.
For the people who have been living well with their $150 point-of-use water heaters and a central heating system, purchasing a $4,000 80-gallon hybrid water heater doesn’t sound ‘economical’.
We’ll explain why a hybrid water heater is feasible for all families, especially in the long-term and how these machines work. We’ll then review 4 best hybrid water heaters this year and things you need to take note of before making your first purchase of a heat pump water heater. We also have a FAQs section that you can return to once you’ve made your purchase or if you have additional questions about these energy-saving water heaters.
Four Best Hybrid Water Heaters in 2020
Voltex Residential Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater comes in various sizes from 50 to 80 gallon big. We are reviewing the 50-gallon size which, obviously, comes with a 50-gallon tank for hot water reservoir. It has an energy saving factor of 2.78 and is an SHPT model while the 80-gallon size is a PHPT model. The only difference is the panel controls where the user interface in the 80-gallon size is slightly easier to see.
This SHPT model utilizes LED indicators to indicate what mode you’re in and allows you to communicate with the unit through your smartphone. This water heater relies on a heat pump to heat your water and aside from that, has the hybrid mode to switch to electrical mode during peak times. It uses a standard voltage 240 V with two heating elements that work with an upper limit of 4.5 kW and the lower limit at 2.5kW.
This Heat Pump is also Energy Star compliant thanks to its hybrid mode and 2” thick insulation. And, it also uses R134a refrigerant which is known to be environmental-friendly. At half the operating cost, this unit is a ‘green’ way to get your daily hot water.
It also has 4 different modes you can run it on high efficiency, hybrid, electric and vacation mode.
A 10-year warranty comes with this model for both its tank and parts.
Rheem is another popular brand that manufactures HP40RH HP-40 hybrid water heater with a 40-gallon storage tank. It’s also given a 2.0 rating for its energy saving factor. It also has a LED control panel with a cover that allows you to easily configure the settings of this unit. It is, however, a little bit on the heavy side, weighing at 256 pounds as opposed to, for example, Stiebel’s 80-gallon unit that weighs less than 150 pounds.
And while most units dimension makes it hard to carry them through a standard residential doorway, this one is only 65.5 inches high and 21 inches wide. This is thanks to its smaller storage tank which will still supply a family of four or more sufficiently. It also follows the Energy Star standard by using 2.5” non-CFC foam insulation. It’s also equipped with a sacrificial anode rod that you can replace to extend heater’s life.
A heat pump works on providing 40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a T&P valve to release build-up pressure and have three settings you can use it on: Energy Saver (heat pump) mode, Normal (heat pump with element backup) mode and Electric Heat only mode (two heating elements).
This model requires 240 voltage to work and has a first-hour rating of about 67 gallons. It has a built-in freeze and overheats protection to keep the unit steady even when you leave on vacations. It comes with a 1-year warranty on labor and a 6-year warranty on limited parts (may extend to a lifetime if the unit remains installed in the house you own).
The American Water Heaters GH-90N Hybrid Water Heater runs on both electricity and natural gas. This option is great for those who don’t want to alternate with an electric heater for cost or other reasons. The unit delivers ‘90% thermal efficiency’ in terms of energy savings.
The unit combines both tankless and tank-water heaters technology which, instead of pulling in hot air from the surrounding, rely on the latent heat from the gas. It comes with a small storage tank for instant hot water transfer and 100,000 BTU output that allows water to be heated instantly. These two technologies combined ensure that you get your hot water constantly and eliminate cold-water sandwiching.
It has a first-hour delivery of 189 gallons and a recovery rate of 121 gallons. Exhaust fan automatically turns off the unit when the temperature of exhaust gasses exceeds the limit. Thermal fuse shuts the unit off when the temperature exceeds 287 degrees Fahrenheit. And what’s nice about this is that it’s smaller than your typical hybrid water heater since the tank is not as big. But you still get the hot water that you want.
The unit can be set to run on several modes: ECO Mode when you want to save during summer, Boost Mode during peak times such as when a friend comes to visit and Vacation Mode when nobody’s home. The unit comes with a 6-year warranty on the heat exchanger, tank and other parts.
StiebelEltron ACC300 Accelera 300 has many sizes and if you really need a high influx of hot water every now and then, we recommend this one with an 80-gallon storage tank. And right now, you are probably wondering if it’s ever going to be possible to carry this in. Yes, you can because it weighs less than 150 pounds compared to Rheem’s 40-gallon at 250+ pounds.
It has a 2.5 rating energy saving factor. Operates on between 208 to 240 volts and when consumption -reaches 50 out of the 80-gallon of water it’s stored, it will turn on its backup electric heating element. Wattage consumption is about 2.25 kWh and it comes with a 10-year warranty if installed by a professional, licensed plumber or geothermal devices expert.
The good thing about this unit for many others is the fact that it lacks a control panel! Flipping the circuit breaker on and off is enough to regulate your water heater. Aside from that, it is always on energy saving mode when the tank is full and hybrid mode when it’s less than half. The stainless-steel tank has very good insulation (2.5” non-CFC insulation) that your water will remain warm for a long time. It has an Energy Star certification.
It also comes with a sacrificial anode that you should replace every few years to prolong the tank’s lifespan.
What is a hybrid/heat pump water heater?
A heat pump water heater can be said as the apex of all types of water heaters. They store a large amount of water in constant temperature and can switch in between pump to standard electric resistance mode. This is why they are called a hybrid. But it’s also possible for owners to disable the auto-switching capability on the control panel and set it to regular pump mode.
A heat pump water heater works in the same concept a refrigerator does. Whereas refrigerators expel warm air out of the fridge, a heat pump water heater absorbs hot air to warm the water. It transfers heat from one place to another and when that is not enough, the electric resistance mode kicks in to deliver the needed heat. This is why the unit is highly versatile even if you have a big family who can’t live without hot water.
The reason why this thing is so much more worth it compared to a tank water heater is the pump heater. Thanks to this, coupled with its ability to go hybrid, you can still get hot water on energy savings when, say, the showers are on and you’re washing the dishes.
Advantages of a Hybrid Water Heater
A hybrid water heater costs a lot more compared to tanked or tankless water heaters. They are also bigger in size and not the kind you can put under your sink, in the utility room or your garage. But there are reasons why this is definitely the kind of water heater you will never switch away from:
- Versatile: Thanks to its hybrid mode that allows you to automatically switch to standard electric resistance mode. On the other hand, most hybrid water heaters have control panels where you can configure the settings of the water heater. Some even have the smart capability to connect to your smartphone, so you don’t have to go to the water heater directly just to set the thermostat.
- Saves energy: Because compared to other water heaters, tankless or not, this giant uses a heat pump that generates little heat for consistent warm/hot water. Conserving hot water doesn’t take much, just like how your refrigerator is simply keeping hot air out, the tank’s job is to keep hot air in and pump them when necessary.
- Activate sleep-mode when you are away to save energy.
- Saves electricity cost according to Energy Star. If every household in the US switches to a heat pump water heater, we can save $8.2 billion dollars a year. You can save more than $300 if you are a family of four and the bigger is your family, the more you save with your heat pump water heater.
- No fuel needed! Since this thing relies on heat around you to warm the water, you don’t have to calculate additional yearly fuel cost which can fluctuate over time and increase risk of fire if it leaks! It is different if you purchase a hybrid that alternates between heat pump and gas.
- Natural dehumidifier and cooler because they absorb hot air around them!
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Hybrid Water Heater
Owning a heat pump water heater is no simple thing. Since these things are huge, there are a lot of things that you need to consider so you don’t have to go through the hassle of returning this huge thing or be stuck with a giant water tank in your garage.
- Hire a professional to install your hybrid water heater unless you are a professional yourself. When you hire one, be sure to know how long it will take and how much it cost per hour. The price of a professional can go anywhere from $600 to thousands of dollars, but what you want to be sure is that it’s someone who does a neat job within a reasonable amount of time. Check if they have the licenses and understand the regulations.
- Calculate the space you will need to place your heat pump water heater. Most people are stuck with the issue that it won’t fit into the designated room or that there is no way to bring the unit inside the room. Plan all these things thoroughly because you definitely do not want to be burdened with returning the heavy tank. A rough assumption would be about 1,000 cubic space around the pump, but it could be less or more depending on the product’s dimension.
- Temperature limitation: A hybrid water heater should only be installed in areas that remain between 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit. And since they pump heat from their surroundings, you will save the most energy by putting them next to a heat source, like a furnace.
- Read the reviews! We are reviewing four reputable heat pump water heaters and while ours might have come in good conditions, we cannot assure that yours will. And if you are looking at some other products from other brands that we didn’t get to review, it’s very important that you check the reviews for design flaws, customer service quality, and troubleshooting tips & tricks.
- Check warranty requirements for your unit because sometimes, they only cover the tank, not the whole unit or the heat pump. If this is the case, even if you had a professional did your installation, if your heating element melts, you won’t be able to get it covered or replaced.
- Replace sacrificial anode at least every 5 years or earlier than that. By replacing them, you prolong the life of your water heater and prevent corrosion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why do I still need to hire a professional plumber/geothermal heat pump installer for my hybrid water heater?
There is a high probability that you have never installed one before and if you have. There might be other factors that failed to enter your vision. These professionals know what they are doing and are able to set up your water heater at the most energy saving mode. You can also learn from them on how to maintain your water heater to ensure it stays alive for as long as possible.
If professional plumbers install your heat pumps only then some companies gives you the warranty for your heat pump. If that’s the case, you don’t really have a choice!
Q2. Which one is more energy saving: heat pump or electric heat?
A heat pump doesn’t generate its own heat, but rely on whatever is out there to heat the water. The electricity is to keep the pump on. Meanwhile, electric heat relies on electricity to generate heat and they draw a lot of power to do this in within seconds. A heat pump uses less than 50% of what electric heaters use. However, the heat pump cannot generate heat instantly.
Q3. I live alone. Would this still be a good choice for myself?
It really depends – are you planning to have a big family or is your home a vacation home for your other family members? This heat pump water heater is good for the continuous need for hot water, so if you need a large amount of it, then yes. AWH Natural Gas-fueled hybrid water heater is a good one if you don’t want to get such a big tank but still, want that hybrid benefit.
But generally, those who live alone should suffice from tankless water heaters or point-of-use heaters. You can check out our other articles for that!
A heat pump water heater is a very good investment if you want to save energy. The price has caused many to choose tankless water heaters or under sink models as they have cheaper installation and unit price. However, the price that you pay for installing and purchasing a heat pump water heater can really cut your electricity bills and still provide the hot water your household needs.
Make sure to check our FAQs and ‘Things to Consider’ section before purchasing one. It’s a big pain to return such a big and expensive tank water heater, so you want to make sure you got the right one.
We have reviewed four different water heaters from different manufacturers and from many of them, you might not be able to find a review. But after a thorough use of them, you will realize that they are quality products and are totally worth it in the long run.
See other Related Buyer’s guides:
- Best Under Sink Water Heaters
- Best Propane Tankless Water Heater