A water heater is a major appliance in your home, office or even out on the road. Not only does it produce the hot water you need in your bathrooms, kitchen and elsewhere, but it is also responsible for a large portion of your monthly energy bills. This is why it’s important to choose the best water heater for your needs.
Aside from residential use, they can be used commercially, as well as in your RV or for camping. Each installation is unique, and therefore, water heaters come in all kinds of shapes and forms; suitable for different spaces, household sizes and power requirements.
You can buy tankless units, gas-powered, electric models, classic boilers and more. Because this is one of the more expensive items you will purchase for your home, choosing the best model is important. This is a large and long-term investment and you should consider your options carefully.
Throughout this post, we’ll list some of the best water heaters you can buy. We provide a short review including the uses, description, pros and cons for each model.
Then we will also touch on the water heater types, brands and a number of notable buying tips to consider.
8 Best Water Heater Models and Key Features
EcoSmart ECO11 Electric Water Tankless Heater
Tankless water heaters have changed the market. The convenience they offer in terms of space and energy saving is a big draw point. EcoSmart is one of the leading brands, and the electric tankless ECO11 is highly rated, offering continuous hot water flow, great energy savings and a lifetime warranty.
This unit comes with EcoSmart’s patented self-modulating technology, which regulates how much energy is used to heat the required water output. It can heat up to two gallons per minute, and the brand claims you can save up to about 60% of your water heating costs with this unit in place.
Size-wise, the ECO11 is compact and can be wall-mounted to save space. It is better suited for smaller applications such as in a small apartment or RV.
Overall, it works optimally in temperatures of 67° F and above. The warmer the better – you can run two sinks and a shower simultaneously in warmer climates. However, in colder places, it’s limited to just two sinks at a time. Read our full review on the Eco 11.
- An electric, tankless unit
- Can heat 2 gallons per minute
- Advanced energy-saving features
- Produces an endless supply of hot water on demand
- Small, sleek and convenient for smaller spaces
Gas Tankless Water Heater – Rinnai RUC98iN
When it comes to tankless models, gas-powered units are also a good choice. Like their electric counterparts, they cut down your energy bill while increasing the water heater’s efficiency. The Rinnai RUC98iN gas-powered, tankless model features incredible thermal efficiency and is a great choice for the home.
It runs off natural gas and has a flow rate of 9.8 GPM. This allows you to enjoy an unlimited supply of hot water at a very efficient rate. Rinnai’s condensing technology offers 95% thermal efficiency and can heat the water to between 98° F and 140° F.
This heater also produces ultra-low NOx emissions – making it a more eco-friendly option. You even have the purchasing freedom to choose between concentric or PVC venting. Note that the RUC98iN is for indoor installation only.
One of the great things about this gas heater is how compact it is. Seeing as there is no tank, the slim, space-saving design allows you to easily incorporate this model into practically any space.
- Up to 0.96 energy factor
- A gas-powered tankless heater
- Ultra-low NOx emissions
- 8 GPM flow rate
- 199,000 max BTU
- Uses a small, space-saving design
High Capacity Electric Tank Unit – AO Smith Promax 50
If you are in the market for an electric tank appliance, then the AO Smith Promax 50 model is one of the best water heater appliances available. It has a tank capacity of 50 gallons, and despite its size, is relatively energy efficient.
One of the reasons why the Promax is so popular is because it has been built to last. The tank is coated in permaglas to protect it from corrosion and maximize its lifespan. There is also a durable, tamper-resistant brass drain valve, as well as a stainless steel core to help protect the tank from any damage.
The heater is equipped with a Dynaclean dip tube that helps to reduce any lime and sediment buildup. Furthermore, thanks to the heater’s non-CFC foam insulation and energy-saving properties, this unit is also a more eco-friendly choice.
Because of its high capacity tank, the AO Smith is a great option for larger households with higher hot water demands.
- An electric tank water heater
- 50-gallon capacity
- Permaglas coating
- Meets all regulations set out by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act
High Capacity Gas Tank Water Heater – Westinghouse 80 Gallon
One concern that many people have about tank models is their energy consumption. Luckily, appliances like this gas tank heater by Westinghouse take that concern away. This unit has an impressive 97% thermal efficiency – keeping your water hotter for longer.
The capacity of this tank is 80 gallons, which makes it a great choice for family houses and larger spaces. In fact, this tank can easily be used by families of 5 or more. As the heater operates from gas, it is also an economical option in the long run.
The Westinghouse doesn’t just do the job well, but it also looks good with a sophisticated finish. It features LCD display panels and faux stainless steel exterior. The LCD screens allow you to easily adjust, program, and check up on the water heater.
The Westinghouse heater is energy star rated, and it features an eco-mode for those who want to lower their fuel consumption.
- A gas-powered tank heater
- 50-gallon capacity
- Ultra-low NOx technology
- The unit offers 97% thermal efficiency
Hybrid Water Heating Unit – AO Smith HPTU-50
Enjoy the best of technology that powers a tank and tankless model with this innovative hybrid water heater. The A.O. Smith HPTU-50 is a smart appliance that features a number of different settings.
The different modes that you can switch between include efficiency, hybrid and electric mode. There is even a vacation mode that you can use when the house is empty. This will reduce the operating costs, as well as provide the heater with freeze protection.
This hybrid model is one of the best water heater options for those concerned about saving energy. Compared to a standard electric model, this unit can reduce heating costs up to an impressive 73%. Furthermore, it is also Energy Star Qualified.
The HPTU-50 hybrid features a washable air filter and an electronic user interface. To take the heater to the next level, its compressor also helps to dehumidify and cool the ambient air.
With a 10 year limited warranty, you also know that you are investing in a product that is backed by the manufacturer.
- A fully hybrid appliance
- Energy star qualified
- Choose between several different modes
- Dual voltage capable
RV Water Heater – Suburban SW6DE
Just because you are in an RV, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice on comforts. This unit by Suburban is one of the top water heater choices for an RV thanks to its quality build and efficient heating capabilities.
This small and compact heater can easily fit into any space. It features an attractive white face that can seamlessly blend into your RV and style. Another bonus is that it’s very easy to install.
A sure standout feature is how this heater can switch between its power sources. Sometimes, you might find yourself at a campsite without any electricity or, other times, without gas. This model can use either liquid propane (LP) gas or electricity so that you can always enjoy hot water. And if you need hot water fast, both power sources can be combined for super efficiency.
The heater has an impressive 12,000 BTU input, as well as a recovery rate of 10.2 gallons per hour. You can read more about this unit in our full Suburban water heater review.
- Can use gas or electric power sources
- 6-gallon heating capability
- Easy to install
- Compact and attractive
- Great recovery time
Portable Outdoor Water Heater – Camplux 5L Propane Unit
Water heaters don’t just have to be for your home. You will see from the full review that this awesome little Camplux 5L portable outdoor water heater can be brought along on camping trips to allow for hot water wherever you may be. The unit is convenient, compact size and has a folding handle. You can easily set it up outdoors for an endless supply of hot water whatever your location.
Your camping showers don’t need to be cold or limited just because you’re outdoors. The Camplux can heat water to a maximum temperature of 114.8° F at a rate of 1.32 GPM. All it requires to start up is a water pressure of just 3.0 PSI.
The unit is powered by propane gas, with a maximum power output of 28,000 BTU/hour. It also features useful anti-freezing protection, as well as oxygen depletion shutoff protection. Furthermore, it is completely CSA approved and utilizes powerful energy-saving technology.
- A fully portable model, perfect for camping or other outdoor uses
- Propane gas-powered and tankless application
- 32 GPM hot water output
- Powered by 2 “D” cell batteries for ignition
- Works well with even low water pressure
Point-of-Use Unit – Bosch Electric Mini Tank
Heaters can be found in all kinds of different forms – including mini point-of-use models. The Bosch Tronic 2.5 gallon mini water heater is one of the best water heater choices for anyone who wants a point-of-use hot water supply. It provides 2.5 gallons at the ready and can fit perfectly underneath a sink. As a result, you get hot water right where you need it.
This little model is completely electric and can be easily installed by any homeowner. The unit has a very fast recovery time, as well as an impressive thermal efficiency of 98%. The heater is made using premium glass-lined material for a long-lasting lifespan.
The major drawcard to an appliance like this is how easily it can be incorporated into different spaces. This little heater can be mounted on the wall, floor, or even on a shelf. It can supply up to 2 sinks at a time with instant hot water.
A point-of-use unit is all about providing you with a small but instant source of hot water. This model by Bosch is one of the absolute best of its kind with a fast and efficient system.
- Provides 2.5 gallons of hot water on demand
- Fast recovery rate
- Can be easily mounted in tight spaces
- Easy to install and use
- 98% thermal efficiency
What’s the Best Water Heater to Buy?
With so many different options out there, considering a heater’s power source, size, and efficiency isn’t easy. Let’s take a brief look at the different types of options out there.
Tankless vs. Tank
Water heaters can be split into two main categories: tank and tankless models. Both of which have their pros and cons.
Tankless units are slim and easy to fit into any space. The major advantage of these heaters is that they only heat water on demand, saving you a great deal in electrical bills.
However, tankless models can be limited to the amount of water that they can supply at once around a household. If you have a big space that requires hot water for many people, then a tank model might work well for you.
Gas vs. Electric vs. Hybrid vs. Solar
The power source that is best for you will differ depending on your plumbing setup, hot water requirements, and where you plan to position the unit.
Gas models will lower your energy bills but are more complex to install.
Electric heaters are generally affordable upfront, as well as easy to install and control.
Hybrid heaters switch between heating technology to offer more efficient energy consumption.
Solar heaters are the most eco-friendly, although you need adequate solar input for the unit to work.
Indoor or Outdoor
Most appliances will be installed indoors, although some gas units have to be placed outdoors to allow for proper ventilation.
If the unit you have your eye on requires outdoor installation, first ensure that it can withstand your climate and temperatures.
RV or Camping
Their are many top models and brands that are fitted to your Boat, RV or portable camping heater. These models are convenient, easy to carry around, and will allow you to bring hot water with you wherever you go. These models are tankless and generally operate on gas.
Which is the Best Brand?
When choosing the brand you want to know that you are investing in quality that you can trust. Picking the right brand is important. Here is a list of the top 10 brands to choose from, with a bit of background on each company.
For more than 80 years, AO Smith has been delivering some of the world’s best hot water systems. The key ideas behind this brand are sustainability and innovation. This has led them to produce some amazing gas, electric, solar, hybrid, and tankless models.
Rheem is a leading producer of quality hot water systems. This brand is known for producing durable and efficient appliances at an affordable price. They make a wide range of heaters – including gas, electric, tankless, solar, and Rheem hybrid styles.
Bradford White caters to both homeowners and commercial markets. Because of this, they produce quite a range of units, including gas, electric, indirect, boiler, and tankless models. The company has been around for over 135 years and is proudly American, employee-owned, and based in the USA.
American Standard is a reliable brand that puts a great emphasis on quality. All of their units are built to deliver a high volume of hot water at an efficient rate. The company produces commercial and residential heaters, mainly focusing on tank models.
If you are after a tankless model, then Noritz is one of the best brands to consider. They produce premium quality units that are powered by gas and propane.
They have been in the water heating industry for more than 60 years and introduced their first modern, electronically controlled unit in 1981. Today they focus on releasing superior units that are energy-saving.
Rinnai’s philosophy is to provide society with a more comfortable way of life – something which they reflect in their quality products. Expect very high safety standards when you purchase one of their models.
Their offering is gas heaters, including tankless, hybrid, and commercial models for the market.
As a brand, Stiebel Eltron is known for its energy-efficient products that prepare homes for the future, today. Their product offering focuses mainly on on-demand electric tankless whole house water heating, along with several point-of-use models as well. That said, they also offer a larger tank model too.
EcoSmart delivers a patented, self-modulating heating technology in its models, helping each one to produce hot water instantly for as long as you need it. The brand prides itself on producing tankless models with a compact design and offers up a limited lifetime warranty on each.
Bosch is a household name when it comes to appliances. Their water heaters carry the same quality you have come to expect from the brand. The company produces a range of units – including indoor, outdoor, tankless, gas, electric, and point-of-use heaters.
Although they are known as the best water heater brand if you need a portable outdoor camping model, Camplux does offer a range of residential units too. The brand manufactures both electric and gas appliances, tankless as well as mini-tank models.
Other notable brand names outside of our top 10 include:
What Size Heater Do I Need?
The first thing to consider is whether you will be using a tank or tankless heater. Tank models are measured in gallons and come with a set amount of hot water available at a time. A tankless unit, on the other hand, works slightly differently.
Basically, calculate what size you need by the bigger your household, the bigger you need the tank capacity to be. A capacity of 50 to 60 gallons is ideal for two to three people. An 80-gallon tank will be good for up to four people. Anything more than this may require a larger tank.
A tankless model can produce a never-ending stream of hot water, but it can be limited by its flow rate (gallons per minute). Make sure that all of the appliances that you will be connecting to the appliance have a suitable flow rate when combined.
If you are planning to run several showers and hot water faucets at once, then a tank model would be best.
Other Buying Points To Consider
Different units can vary greatly in price. With these appliances, you get what you pay for. More expensive heaters may seem daunting, but they will most likely have a much longer lifespan and be more energy-efficient over the long run. But you always consider the water heater installation cost into your budget.
Be sure to check out any warranty details before making a purchase. Some products require professional installation for the warranty to be valid.
Consider a model that doesn’t cost a great deal to operate over the long run. Be sure to consider the kind of energy usage that your appliance will require monthly.
No matter how DIY savvy you may be, it’s always best to get a licensed professional to install a new system. There are often regulations around working with gas, and getting professional help can go a long way.
With so many different options out there, choosing the best water heater can be a challenge. We hope that this guide helps you to find the perfect product for your needs! Visit our home page for more water heater reviews and helpful information.