Skip to content

Water Heater Buying Guide

best water heaters

Hot water is a luxury that many of us take for granted. If your water takes a long time to heat up, or if it is quickly depleted and you’re left shivering in a frigid shower, you likely understand the value of having hot water on demand. This is especially true in winter, or for those who live in colder climates.

We’re here to guide you through the best water heaters of 2023 so that you can be well on your way to warmer, more comfortable mornings.

Types of Water Heaters

Before you purchase a water heater, it is important to understand the different types of hot water heaters available. There are two things to consider here.

The first thing to determine is whether you want a tankless water heater or a traditional storage tank unit. 

Tankless water heaters

As the name suggests, tankless water heaters do not use storage tanks. Rather they heat up the water as needed. Tankless models have the advantage of providing hot water on demand and are more energy-efficient, but they can be a bit more expensive upfront. They are also known as on-demand water heaters.

Pros: 

  • On-demand heating
  • Unlimited hot water
  • More energy-efficient, since they only heat the water as needed
  • More compact

Con:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Limited throughput

Storage tank water heaters

Storage tank water heaters are good for large families that use several showers at once and have a lower upfront cost. However, they can be less energy efficient and offer a limited supply of hot water in a given time period.

Pros:

  • Ideal for larger homes / families
  • Better with simultaneous use
  • Lower acquisition cost

Cons:

  • Less energy-efficient
  • No on-demand heating: only a limited amount of hot water is readily available

Heat pump water heater

These utilize heat from the air to warm up the water. Because they use heat trapped in the space, they are considerably more energy efficient than traditional electric water heaters. 

However, they require room to work correctly: up to 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space, and 7 feet of ceiling space. They are also ideal only for warmer spaces or climates, between 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

As heat pump technology continues to improve, more options are becoming available. Some use a separate tank and heat pump that allows for more flexibility.   

Pro:

  • Up to 60% more energy efficient than electric water heaters

Cons:

  • Higher upfront costs
  • Requires space
  • Not ideal for colder regions

Indirect water heaters

There are also hot water heater systems that connect to a boiler. Also known as indirect water heaters, they use heat from the boiler or furnace. A pipe is connected from the boiler or furnace to the water heater, where a heat exchanger heats the water in the tank. 

Indirect water heaters are more efficient than fuel-powered water heaters since they use the residual heat from the furnace or boiler, without requiring a separate source of fuel. However, not all furnaces or boilers are compatible.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient 
  • Lower upfront cost
  • Faster recovery time

Cons:

  • Not compatible with older furnaces or boilers
  • Requires space
  • Not ideal for areas with hard water

For more information on water heater models, check out our guide to The Different Types of Hot Water Heaters.

Hot Water Heaters by Fuel Type

The second thing you’ll want to decide is fuel type for the water heater. The three main fuel types are: 

  • Natural gas – lowest cost
  • Liquid propane – higher cost, but more environmentally friendly
  • Electric – least expensive to install, but less efficient than and more expensive over the long term

Each has its own pros and cons and are dependent on the type of power source or fuel supply you have installed at home, whether it’s a gas line, LPG, or electrical main. 

Sizing

When shopping for a hot water heater, you will want to consider other factors such as cost, efficiency, and the size of your household. It’s also very important to purchase an appropriately sized system for your needs. Our water heater sizing guide is a handy resource for finding the right size needed for your home.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types available out there, we’ll narrow down the best water heaters of 2023 by category.

What is the Average Cost to Replace a Water Heater?

The average cost to replace a water heater depends on the design. Tankless are more expensive than storage tank models. Tankless water heaters range in price from $839 to upwards of $2,000. On the other hand, storage tank systems vary widely in price due to the tank size. Typically, the larger the tank, the more expensive the product. Smaller storage tank water heaters (i.e. less than 19 gallons) range in price from $450–$570. Larger storage tank systems (i.e. 40 or more gallons) typically fall in the $500–$2,000.

However, keep in mind that efficiency and technological advancements can also impact the cost of storage units. Expect to pay more for higher end products compared to the more basic options.

The Best Water Heaters of 2023

Rising fuel costs and their consequent effect on utility bills are the main concern of homeowners this year. As such, cost and efficiency are the primary considerations to look at when choosing a new water heater for 2023.

Other factors to consider include BTU and flow rate.

Best Tankless Water Heater System

Rinnai RUR199i 9.8 GPM Sensei+ Condensing Tankless Hot Water Heater with Built-In Re-Circulation Pump for Indoor Installation

This is the most efficient, top rated tankless water heater we carry. It has all the bells and whistles for someone who is looking for maximum efficiency and performance. Available in both natural gas and liquid propane fuel types, the Rinnai RUR199i offers 199,000 BTUs of power and a hot water flow rate of 0.26 – 9.8 GPM, making this a great option for using three to six water fixtures (showers, washing machines, sinks) simultaneously.

Rinnai RSC199iN 9.8 GPM Sensei+ with Smart-Circ Condensing Tankless Hot Water Heater with Built-In Re-Circulation for Indoor Installation - Natural Gas
Price: $2,244.00 Rinnai RSC199iN 9.8 GPM Sensei+ with Smart-Circ Condensing Tankless Hot Water Heater with Built-In Re-Circulation for Indoor Installation - Natural Gas

The RSC199i is no longer available in Liquid Propane. It is only available in Natural Gas (RSC199iN). RXP199iN for a multi-use installation replacement will be ...

View Product

Budget Tankless System

Rinnai V75i High Efficiency Non-Condensing, 7.5 GPM Tankless Hot Water Heater for Indoor Installation

For a tankless water heater, the Rinnai V75i is an absolute steal for the price. Ideal for a home with two to three bathrooms, this heater provides 180,000 BTUs and a flow rate of 0.26 – 7.5 GPM. The Rinnai V75i is ideal for simultaneous use of two to four water fixtures at a time, making this a great option for a smaller household. The Rinnai V75i is perfect for those who want the efficiency of a tankless system without the high upfront cost.

Rinnai RE180i High Efficiency Non-Condensing, 8.5 GPM Tankless Hot Water Heater for Indoor Installation
Price: $1,184.00 Rinnai RE180i High Efficiency Non-Condensing, 8.5 GPM Tankless Hot Water Heater for Indoor Installation

  The Rinnai RE Series is a non-condensing line of tankless hot water heaters. The RE180 is for residential use and is available in either Natural Gas o...

View Product

Best Storage Tank Water Heaters

Best Natural Gas, Basic Tank Type

GE GG50T12BXR 50 Gallon, RealMAX Platinum Tall Atmospheric Vent Water Heater – Natural Gas

GE’s RealMAX Series of gas-powered water heaters feature Real Capacity, which means their tanks hold what they say they will hold. They also feature a best-in-class performance that delivers great First Hour Rating. 

This 58” tall model is capable of delivering up to 82 gallons of hot water in the first hour of use, as measured through the DOE’s First Hour Rating. The 40,000 BTU burner allows for maximum performance to quickly aid in replenishing the hot water in your tank. It is ideal for households between 3 and 5+ people. Temperature settings range from 45° to 160°.

Other features include an Anode Rod specially designed to last against corrosion, a rust-proof brass drain valve, and GE’s Smartshield safety system that  monitors the surrounding air and automatically shuts off the unit if abnormal temperatures are detected. The GE unit is made in America and is backed by a 12-year warranty.

GE GG50T12BXR 50 Gallon, RealMAX Platinum Tall Atmospheric Vent Water Heater - Natural Gas - 12 Year Warranty
Price: $788.00 GE GG50T12BXR 50 Gallon, RealMAX Platinum Tall Atmospheric Vent Water Heater - Natural Gas - 12 Year Warranty

Is your hot water heater is more than 10 years old? It might be time to consider a new one. The lifespan of a conventional storage hot water heater is between 1...

View Product

Best Power Vented Tank Type

Bradford White RG2PV75H6N 75 Gallon, Power Vent Water Heater, Natural Gas

If you’re looking for a workhorse of a system for a larger household, you’ve found it. The Bradford White RG2PV75H6N delivers highly efficient performance for high-demand households. Its power vented design is more efficient than atmospheric vent water heaters, and it features an input of 76,000 BTUs. The Bradford White RG2PV75H6N features a 90 degree recovery rise in about 82 minutes. This means that when cold water enters the tank, it will take about 82 minutes for it to rise 90 degrees. For large families who want an efficient storage tank system, it doesn’t get any better than this U.S.-made system.

Bradford White RG2PV75H6N 75 Gallon, Power Vent Water Heater, Natural Gas
Price: $2,875.00 Bradford White RG2PV75H6N 75 Gallon, Power Vent Water Heater, Natural Gas

Hot water is not something we give much thought to on a daily basis. We know when we turn on the shower, hot water will come out and steam will be filling our b...

View Product

Basic Electric Storage Tank

GE GE50S10BMM 50 Gallon Electric Water Heater with Flexible Capacity

Electric storage tank water heaters are inexpensive, making them a great option for those who don’t want to front the bill for a tankless. The GE50S10BMM is a 50 gallon real capacity hot water heater with flexible capacity up to 80 gallons. This model has a First Hour Rating or First Hour Delivery of 75 gallons, enough for a family of six.

Flexible Capacity gives you the option of choosing from three capacity settings to enjoy up to 60% additional hot water when you need it versus comparable water heaters without mixing a valve at 120°F set and 58°F water temperature. 

A built-in Wi-Fi model allows for remote control and monitoring via smartphone from anywhere with an Internet connection. Two 5500 W heating elements allow for quick recovery and are made of ultra-durable stainless-steel for improved rust and corrosion resistance. An anode sensing feature notifies users conveniently when the anode needs replacing.

GE GE50S10BMM 50 Gallon Electric Water Heater with Flexible Capacity 240 Volt
Price: $1,048.00 GE GE50S10BMM 50 Gallon Electric Water Heater with Flexible Capacity 240 Volt

Let's be realistic - your hot water heater is probably one of the last things on your mind. Most likely it has not been seen or talked about, in way too long. I...

View Product

Heat Pump Electric Storage Tank

Bradford White RE2H50S6-1NCWT 50 Gallon AeroTherm Heat Pump Water Heater

Though higher in cost than basic electric storage tank systems, heat pump electric water heaters are much more energy efficient — in fact, the Department of Energy states that they are two to three times more efficient than standard electric units. Unlike standard systems, which generate heat directly, heat pump heaters work by drawing in heat from the surrounding air and storing it in the tank. The RE2H50S6 is Energy Star Qualified and features four operating modes: heat pump, hybrid, electric, and vacation mode. This gives you flexibility and control over your hot water usage. This model features a 90 degree recovery rise of about 21 minutes.

Bradford White RE2H50S6-1NCTT 50 Gallon AeroTherm Heat Pump Water Heater with Microban Technology - 208/230 Volt
Price: $2,249.00 Bradford White RE2H50S6-1NCTT 50 Gallon AeroTherm Heat Pump Water Heater with Microban Technology - 208/230 Volt

This item CANNOT be shipped to the state of Washington. When was the last time you even looked at your hot water heater? Hot water should not be something we t...

View Product

What Brand of Water Heater is Most Reliable?

We believe that Rinnai and Bradford White are the best water heater brands, and each brand has its own unique benefits. A water heater is one of the most important home appliances you’ll purchase, and it’s best to replace yours every 10 to 15 years. That being said, you want to make sure whatever systems you purchase gives you the quality and performance you expect.

Rinnai manufactures state-of-the-art systems and leads the way in tankless design. The brand has superior quality standards, making sure that all products meet industry standards and undergo rigorous testing before they make their way to customers’ doorsteps. Rinnai water heaters feature an array of advanced technology to help improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.

With a reputation for durability and quality, Bradford White’s storage tank water heaters also feature industry-leading technology and innovation. All Bradford White systems are made in the USA, which serves as a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality. The brand is known for its quality performance, energy efficiency, and superior design.

General Electric has long been synonymous with quality appliances, and their hot water heaters are no exception. GE’s water heaters are noted for their real capacity, which means that tanks display the true hot water capacity they can hold, as opposed to DOE-rated capacity used by other brands. In addition, GE water heaters deliver the best in class first hour rating. GE models are designed for longevity and are backed by industry leading warranty. 

Choosing a System for Your Home

Doing the dishes, taking a shower, doing laundry — all of these basic everyday things demand hot water. If you’re in the market for a new water heater, we hope that this information helps you determine the best system for your home. Shop our selection of hot water heaters and rest assured that we’ll be here to assist you every step of the way.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *