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Old 06-16-2008, 10:34 PM   #1
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Recommend brand of Water heater


What is the best brand of water heater? I'm looking for a 50 gallon electric. Home Depot and Lowes sell GE and Whirlpool respectively. The 12 year warranty lines are only $339. How much better are Rheem, AO Smith, and Bradford White? Also, is the price a lot higher?

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Old 06-17-2008, 01:00 AM   #2
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Recommend brand of Water heater


Navysuit:
Basically, the heart of any water heater is the "glass lined" (more correctly: powder coated) tank inside the water heater. It is really the lifespan of this tank that determines the lifespan of your water heater.

However, powder coating is a "mature technology" which means that there are no major breakthrough's happening any more, and everyone is making good quality tanks. So, it's not like one company is going to have an appreciably better quality powder coating on their tank than the next guy.

What DOES determine the lifespan of your tank is how much thermal shocking it endures in service, and thermal shocking refers to how cold the tank gets before it heats up again, and how hot parts of the tank get when it heats up. A tank that's too small is going to cool down a lot and heat up a lot (on it's bottom where a gas flame may impinge), and it's going to go through several of those cooling and heating cycles a day, causing more thermal shocking than a larger tank.

So, the most important thing is to get a tank that's properly sized to you or your family's needs. Any bigger a tank won't last appreciably longer, it'll just cost you more in thermal heat losses.

Hope this helps.

If you're planning to replace an existing water heater, there's some wisdom in staying with the same company that made the old one. That way the gas connection or wiring will be in the same place and that might save you on installation costs.

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Old 06-18-2008, 03:38 PM   #3
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Recommend brand of Water heater


maybe you should look at tankless...
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Old 06-18-2008, 08:52 PM   #4
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Recommend brand of Water heater


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Originally Posted by UFoPilot View Post
maybe you should look at tankless...
Tankless, and more specifically ELECTRIC tankless are not for everyone. I see no evidence suggesting that a tankless water heater would be the way to go.
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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Recommend brand of Water heater


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Tankless, and more specifically ELECTRIC tankless are not for everyone. I see no evidence suggesting that a tankless water heater would be the way to go.
Ditto.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:01 PM   #6
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what are downs of tankless?
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:05 PM   #7
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I'm not a plumber, but my understanding is that they just can't keep up with more than one demand at a time. For example, you typically couldn't run your dishwasher and have a shower at the same time.
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:36 PM   #8
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It's all about GPM and BTUs. I have owned a Noritz tankless that had a 7.5 GPM flow rate with 199,990 BTUs. I could run 2 showers and the dishwasher in the middle of winter without issue.

You spec out the wrong tankless unit, you can have problems.

A tankless heater needs to be spec'd and installed by a qualified contractor.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:00 PM   #9
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Recommend brand of Water heater


I agree that there is very little difference between most brands of water heaters. In fact, many of the brands on the market are made in the same plant and just labeled differently. Most of them use the same components. There are a very few small manufacturers that do an exceptional job, but they aren't widely available.

According to studies done by the major manufacturers, the factor that has the most influence on the lifespan of a water heater is water chemistry. Some municipalities just have more "aggressive" water than others. So, although Nestor is correct that the "glass lining" technology has been around a while, the manufacturers are constantly tweaking their product in an attempt to deal with this problem.

The single biggest thing that you can do to extend the life of your water heater is to do regular maintenance. This includes flushing your heater out at least yearly. All of the water heater makers recommend this but they don't really tell you why it helps.

In a nutshell, sediment can build inside the bottom of the tank, especially on gas models which are shaped like an upside down funnel due to the flue tube running up the middle. This sediment build up is typically right where the bottom of the tank is welded. The sediment then insulates the weld from being in direct contact with the water in the tank. That in turn prevents the anode rod from protecting the welded seam from electrolysis.

This can get pretty technical quickly but the main thing is to keep the sediment out so the anode rod can do it's job. If you really want to try to maximize your water heater's life you can add another specially designed anode rod in the hot water opening. Many of the water heaters with the longer warranties already do this. That's why they have longer warranties.

In choosing a water heater look for one with a hex nut visible on top of the tank. This indicates a replaceable anode rod. If it's possible to find out, a magnesium anode rod is better than an aluminum one.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:38 PM   #10
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Downside : Your electrical service is not large enough, now you have to upgrade in order to run the electric tankless. This is expensive.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:52 PM   #11
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Alan is right, an electric tankless almost never makes sense. Their ability to supply enough hot water is extremely limited and they usually require extensive electrical upgrades.

A gas tankless usually requires an upgrade to the gas line but this is probably less of an expense.

Another choice, which is a little more expensive, is a condensing type water heater like the A.O.Smith Vertex. It offers a higher efficiency than a tankless with almost the same benefits. Check it out at: http://www.hotwater.com/products/res...rg-vertex.html

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Last edited by mstplumber; 06-20-2008 at 11:54 PM. Reason: typo
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