26 Feb. 19

Factors to consider when buying a new water heater


Water heaters are critical home appliances. However, most homeowners pay them no mind until they break down or it is time to change them. We use water heaters for different tasks. Without these devices, simple activities such as washing plates and taking a shower can suddenly become very difficult.

Like a large number of people, you have no idea about the different metrics that have to be considered before you buy or rent a water heater. Even if you have previously owned one, replacing it can prove to be a bit of a bother.

There is no shame in this. All you have to do is pick up the requisite information about buying a new water heater.

If you suspect that it is time to change your water heater or you are planning to replace it before it breaks down finally, there are many options out there for you. Recent federal energy regulations require newer models of water heaters to be more energy efficient. Similarly, storage water heaters operate efficiently and so do their tankless counterparts.

Let’s break it down for you.

When buying a new water heater, there are a few factors that you have to put into consideration. Tank capacity, type of energy source, warranty as well as the overall efficiency of the tank are especially important.

Keep reading as we break these factors down and guide you to choosing the water heater of your dreams.

Factors to consider when buying a water heater

The most critical factors that determine the efficiency of your new water heater include:

1.Water heater capacity

Typically, water heaters have a capacity that ranges between 40-60 gallons.  They are even designed to hold more water in some newer models. The size of water heater you will purchase depends entirely on a term known as peak water usage. The peak water usage of your home refers to the highest amount of water used at a particular period.

For instance, for a family of three, they would probably take several showers and use the washing machine daily. Their total water use for a day may amount to 100 gallons of water. However, this doesn’t mean that they would buy a 100-gallon water heater. If this family uses 40 gallons of water during their periods of peak usage, then they only need perhaps a 50-gallon capacity water heater.

Tankless water heaters don’t hold a lot of water. When considering their capacity, the figure you should be looking out for is their gallons-per-minute-rating (GPM). This number gives you an accurate measurement of the amount of water the tank can deliver within a specific period.

Consequently, the higher the GPM of the water heater, the more hot water it will be able to deliver. Depending on the size of your household and your water usage, you may need a water heater with higher GPM values.

When it comes to storage water heaters, you may also want to look at its first-hour rating. This is a measurement of the total number of gallons your unit can provide you with within an hour. You may need to consult with your HVAC expert to help you with appropriate FDR calculations for your home.

Finally, you should know that new energy efficiency standards have impacted the efficiency of water heaters. Nowadays, water heaters under the 55-gallon mark now have a 4% boost in operating efficiency. On the other hand, those with capacities over 55 gallons have received efficiency gains of 25-50%.

2. Energy source

Before you make a final decision, the energy source of prospective water heaters should be considered. Commonly, water heaters for residential use often use gas or electricity as their source of fuel. Switching from one variety to the other can cause additional costs for you.

Gas water heaters use piping and vents that may not be compatible with their electrical counterparts. Similarly, if your heart is set on a gas water heater, confirm with your utility provider whether your gas supply is propane or natural gas.

You don’t want to be riddled with a water heater that isn’t compatible with your gas supply.

Apart from gas and electric water heaters, there is another variety of water heater that is used in residential settings. They are powered by a central hot water boiler. These heaters are described as high-recovery, and they also use a heat exchanger.

Before buying a water heater, you have to consider the availability of the different fuel sources to you. You should also consider your already existing piping and heating system.

3. Warranty

Warranty is an important factor that should be considered when buying any tech device. Water heaters are no different. Usually, the warranty period for water heaters ranges between three and twelve years.

Most of the time, water heaters with more extended warranty periods tend to be expensive. We have also found that these models have larger burners that increase their heating rates and capabilities. They also have thicker insulation that prevents excessive heat loss.

Additionally, there is the added coverage that you would enjoy if your water heater suddenly develops a fault. For the best possible experience, you should buy a water heater with a longer warranty period.

4. Anti-scale devices

Many a time, some brands advertise water heaters with safety features in the form of anti-scale mechanisms. These anti-scale devices are supposed to reduce the rate at which mineral scale and deposits build up at the bottom of your tank. They do this by continually swirling the water in your water heater.

This feature may increase the life-span of your tank. However, it also has negative consequences on the life-span of the heating element. We believe that you don’t have to invest a lot of money in fancy mechanisms to make sure your water heater lasts.

Just buy a water heater with a 12-year warranty, carry out regular maintenance checks on it and you are good to go. If this water heater comes outfitted with an anti-scale device, all the better.

5. Drain valves

Drain valves are components situated at the bottom of your water heater. They are put in place to help you drain your water heater tank entirely for repair and maintenance reasons.

When buying a water heater, make sure that it has a brass drain valve as opposed to a plastic one. For obvious reasons, brass drain valves tend to last longer.

6. Artificial Intelligence

There are now water heaters that can be considered as smart due to advances in technology. They come with digital displays that allow you to monitor water temperature levels and customize the mode of operation.

With smart water heaters, you can set a vacation mode that reduces the energy consumption levels for when you are not around. It can even be controlled remotely. Imagine turning on your water heater before you get home so you can hop in the shower immediately.

However, these models are expensive. It all depends on your personal preferences and the size of your budget. Regular water heaters also work just as effectively.

Types of Water Heaters

Another important factor that should be considered is the type of water heater that you are looking to buy. There are different types of water heaters available for your home. They include:

1. Storage tank water heater

These are the most common types of water heaters available to the general public. Just like the name implies, storage water heaters have an insulated water tank.

Water is heated and stored in this tank until such a time as it is needed. A specialized pipe at the top of this tank connects hot water to your home’s plumbing system.

When the thermostat sensor near the bottom of the water heater reaches a preset temperature, it powers down. When the temperature levels of the water drop beyond a certain point, it powers up again. This way, you will always have hot water available to you.

Gas water heaters of this variety are typically more expensive than electric models. However, you should keep in mind that they use less energy and therefore cost less to run.

2. Tankless water heaters

Also known as on-demand water heaters, this type of water heater doesn’t store water. Instead, tankless water heaters make use of a heating coil to heat the water you need on demand. Tankless water heaters conserve more energy than storage tank water heaters. However, the flow of water they can provide is limited and dependent on the temperature of inlet water.

On-demand water heaters are an excellent investment for people who don’t use water from multiple sources at the same time – such as using a dishwasher and shower at the same time. Similarly, tankless water heaters are recommended if you already have a gas supply line in place.

Electric models sometimes need an expensive overhaul of your home’s electrical system.

Related article: What are the differences: Tankless Water Heater Vs. Tank Water Heater

3. Heat pump water heater

Heat pump water heaters are designed to absorb heat from the atmosphere and transfer it to your water. They are extremely energy efficient, using about 60% less water than other conventional types of water heaters. On the flip side, they tend to cost more than other types of water heaters.

However, installation is pretty straight-forward, and they are cost-effective over a long period. Heat pump water heaters are not effective in cold regions. They need to be placed in a space with temperatures between 40°F to 90°F.

Conclusively, they are large. They need about 7 feet of clearance as well as 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space to capture heat from the atmosphere.

4. Solar water heater

Solar water heaters have solar panels that absorb heat energy from the sun. This energy is then transferred to an anti-freeze liquid which runs through a closed-loop system to your water tank.

This type of water heater offers the best savings, especially in summer. They are an attractive option if you live in a warm, sunny region. However, savings tend to suffer during cold winter months. They are best paired with a backup system.

Solar water heaters save you thousands in energy costs. But, they are costly. It can take you as many as ten years to recoup your initial financial outlay.

Related article: What are the differences: Heat Pump Vs. Solar Water Heater

5. Condensing water heater

If you have a gas supply line and need a water heater with a capacity of over 55 gallons, then you should consider a condensing water heater. They have a tank just like your standard storage water heater.

The main difference is that they capture exhaust gases that would typically have escaped through a flue vent.

These exhaust gases flow through a coil where inlet water absorbs a large proportion of the heat. The remaining exhaust gases are then turned into condensation and evicted via a drain type.

Which water heater is best for you?

Choosing a water heater can be an overwhelming process. We are sure that the tips listed above would make things easier for you, despite this. It is important that you consider your home’s hot water demands as well as the availability of fuel sources.

Your budget also determines the type of water heater you would buy. Try as much as possible not to skimp out on quality. A water heater is an effective long-term expenditure that you will enjoy for a long time.

Don’t assume that a new unit would automatically fit in where your old one used to be. Newer models may be taller or wider than older models. If you have any other questions, our HVAC professionals can help you with them. Contact us today!

Related article: How Much Does a Water Heater Cost?