Investing into an energy-efficient water heater is one way to save money on your monthly utility costs. If you purchase one of the best electric water heaters, then you’re getting the most affordable large-scale option that is available for your home today. Electric models are usually 10% lower in product price compared to similar gas water heaters and up to 50% lower than tankless models.
- 1 All the Best Electric Water Heaters in One Chart
- 2 What Size Do I Need?
- 3 How Long Will an Electric Model Last?
- 4 How Much to Install an Electric Water Heater?
- 5 Should I Get a Tankless Electric Model?
- 6 Electric vs Gas
- 7 Pros and Cons of an Electric Water Heater
- 8 How Much is an Electric Water Heater?
- 9 Electric Water Heater Reviews
All the Best Electric Water Heaters in One Chart
No one wants a water heater that will break down on them a year or two after it is installed. You demand the best. These are the top-rated water heaters in this category that will get the job done for you.
|Westinghouse Residential High Efficiency|| 4.3 ||Lifetime|| 4,500 ||52 Gallons|| $$$$$ |
|Reliance K-6 Compact|| 4.5 ||6 Year|| 1,650 ||6 Gallons|| $$ |
|EcoSmart ECO 11||4.1||Lifetime|| 1,300 ||Tankless|| $$ |
|Westinghouse 316L Stainless Steel|| 4.3 ||Lifetime|| 4,500 ||80 Gallons|| $$$$$+ |
|AO Smith PHPT-80 Residential|| 4.0 ||10 Year|| 4,500 ||80 Gallons|| $$$ |
|EcoSmart ECO 36 Tankless|| 4.3 ||Lifetime|| 3,600 ||Tankless|| $$$ |
|Westinghouse WER040C2X055N09|| 4.3 ||9 Year|| 5,500 ||40 Gallons|| $$$$ |
|Bosch Mini-Tank Under Sink|| 4.5 ||1 Year|| 1,440 ||2.5 Gallons|| $ |
|EcoSmart ECO 27 Self-Modulating|| 4.3 ||Lifetime|| 2,700 ||Tankless|| $$$ |
|AO Smith ENS-50 ProMoax Short|| 5.0 ||10 Year|| 4,500 ||50 Gallons|| $$$$ |
What Size Do I Need?
Most hot water heaters that run off electricity are designed to work on a 240v circuit. Smaller models that are faucet-specific may work on a standard household outlet. Your first step is to determine what outlet you need at your preferred installation point. You will need to run the higher-grade circuit before the water heater is installed if it is necessary.
You will then want to decide if one of the best tankless water heaters is a better option for you. If it is, then be sure to visit our page dedicated to tankless models and their reviews.
If a traditional design is what your home needs, then your next step is to determine the size of tank you’ll need. Most families can do this by taking a look at their current and future size expectations.
- Singles or couples can make do with a water heater that is under 40 gallons in size.
- Families of 3-4 will typically need a 50-gallon water heater at minimum.
- Families of 4-5 benefit from a water heater that is 60-80 gallons in size.
- A family of 6+ may need a hot water heater of 100 gallons or larger.
As a final consideration, you’ll also need to consider the recovery time of your hot water heater. Electrical models can be 3 times slower to recover from hot water use compared to gas-powered models. If your home uses hot water heavily, then you may wish to double or triple the gallon-size listed to make sure everyone has access to what they need.
How Long Will an Electric Model Last?
Most electric hot water heaters are rated to last for 10 years or less. Many manufacturers offer a 6-year warranty or less on these models because of their reduced lifespan.
Certain factors can shorten the length of a water heater’s lifespan. This appliance requires annual maintenance and regular supervision. The amount of use that it receives will also increase or decrease the risk of a premature failure occurring.
There are certain ways you can check to see if your current electric unit might be on its last legs of life. By looking for these signs of disruption or damage, you’ll be able to replace or repair your current water heater with a lower risk of flooding or other form of catastrophe.
- Check the age of your current water heater. You can find the age of your current water heater by finding the serial number on the unit. It is typically found on the manufacturer’s sticker near the top of the unit. The date is offered in code. There will be a letter first. “A” represents “1,” so it would mean January. The next two digits are the year, so “A11” would mean January 2011. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, consider a replacement instead of a repair.
- Take a close look at your water. Hot water heaters that are failing will typically produce red, rust-colored water. You will only see this color with the hot water plumbing. Some homes have galvanized pipes, however, so this may require you to flush out your hot water heater before testing it in this manner.
- There are strange noises coming from the appliance. Most water has some mineral scale to it. This will settle to the bottom of a hot water heater tank and eventually harden. Over time, this will make the hot water heater less efficient and it may not heat up to the correct temperature.
- You have water around your appliance. If you have a puddle sitting around your hot water heater, then the tank may be fractured. As the appliance heats up, the metal expands. If there is a fracture, then you will see intermittent flooding around the hot water heater.
How Much to Install an Electric Water Heater?
Most hot water heaters must be professionally installed. Since electrical models typically plug directly into your home’s wiring, the only labor that is usually required is to connect the plumbing to the appliance.
Installation costs can vary greatly because every home is a little different. One option you can take advantage of today is to purchase a flat-rate installation directly from Amazon as part of the checkout process. It is convenient and pricing often starts around $700. A local contractor or plumber would then come in to provide you with a professional installation.
If you hire a contractor or plumber yourself, make sure they are licensed, insured, and bonded. This will give you some protections against inferior craftsmanship.
Ask for at least 3 estimates before deciding on a final provider. It can take some time to get the estimates completed, so you may be waiting up to a week before you know what your cost options will be. It is a good idea to begin the estimation process before your hot water heater fails whenever possible.
The final installation cost is generally about 35% of what the total appliance cost would be. If you have any drainage issues, require new venting, or permits, then this will add to the cost. For a $320 water heater, you’d be looking at a labor charge of around $130. Permit costs can range from $20-$200 and you may need to have flex lines or fittings installed with your water heater so it works correctly.
If the plumber or contractor needs to get the permits, then you’ll be paying labor costs for that time as well. This means you can expect about $400 in total installation costs, no matter what the size of the water heater happens to be. Larger tank models may cost even more. Electric tankless models that require special venting may have an installation cost of $2,000 or more.
Should I Get a Tankless Electric Model?
Electric tankless water heaters are an option for homeowners who are looking to reduce the environmental impact their home makes. Because tankless systems provide on-demand hot water instead of using a tank to store 50-100 gallons of water that is constantly heated, a home’s utility costs can be dramatically lowered.
The one issue that some homeowners encounter when using an electric tankless water heater is the maximum flow rate of the unit. Electrical systems require more time to heat the water that passes through the appliance, which means they have a lower flow rate rating than gas-powered tankless models.
On the other hand, an electric water heater may be rated to last 12+ years longer than a tank-based system. Although the cost of a tankless system can be much higher, over the course of 20 years, it is an appliance that will usually pay for itself and eventually save money.
It’s a long-term vs short-term debate. If you need hot water now and your budget is limited, then a tankless system will not be the right option for your budget. For a long-term investment, however, a tankless system is often the best way to go.
Electric vs Gas
Electric models don’t carry the same risks of failure that a gas hot water heater provides. If you have an electrical surge in your home, then the components of the appliance might fry out and cause a leak. If something happens to the gas line and there’s a spark involved, a large explosion could be the outcome.
Electric models do have a higher operational cost compared to gas water heaters, but they also have a lower product cost. Many electric designs are at least 10% cheaper than similar gas models and usually offer a higher level of energy efficiency. Some gas water heaters are rated as only being 60% efficient.
This type of water heater also has a longer cycling time than a gas water heater, but that can be easily managed. If everyone in the house takes a shower in the morning, the tank will be refilled before lunch. That’s not as fast as the 20-minute cycle that some gas appliances offer, but you don’t have the same risks either.
Pros and Cons of an Electric Water Heater
- They are more convenient. Electric models don’t generally need a pilot light that requires fuel. There is no need to install a gas line for the appliance to operate. This means you can adjust your thermostat with ease without worrying about a gas leak.
- They are more energy-efficient. Although most homeowners find that natural gas or propane is cheaper than electricity, gas water heaters are not usually as efficient as electrical ones. You can also easily install insulation products to improve the efficiency of most units.
- They only heat water when it is needed. Tank-based systems do keep a large amount of water heated for use, but this isn’t always required. That means when temperatures are appropriate, the power to the appliance shuts off so you’re not wasting energy needlessly.
- They waste less water. You don’t need to worry about needing to flush all the cold water out of your plumbing before you can gain access to your hot water every time you need some. Most systems can provide you hot water in seconds, even when pulling from an upstairs faucet.
- They have limited capabilities. The cycling times on electric models can be up to 60 minutes. Gas water heaters may have cycling times that are just 20 minutes. Even in tankless models, you’ll get a higher flow-rate from a gas model compared to the best electric tankless water heaters.
- They cannot be used during a power outage. Some gas water heaters can continue to operate from their pilot light, even if there is a power outage affecting the home. Electric designs do not have this option. If the power goes out, the appliance would require a back-up generator to continue operating.
- They may have lower available pressure levels. Entry-level water heaters may not provide the same amount of water pressure for the hot plumbing compared to the cold plumbing. This can make it difficult to take a bath or shower because of the delay in water delivery.
- They must continuously operate. Even though the hot water heater might shut off, the thermostat is still being powered on an electric hot water heater. At least one component on the water heater is always on to monitor the system, which means power must always be consumed by the appliance.
How Much is an Electric Water Heater?
You can find a 50-gallon water heater for around $300 right now. There are smaller faucet-specific models that are priced lower than this as well. For models that are in the 80- to 100-gallon range, expect to pay between $500-$750 for the appliance.
High-capacity models are also available, with pricing starting around the $1,000 mark. Most families will typically find that a 50-gallon or 60-gallon model is large enough for general use purposes.
Installation costs are not included with this pricing.
Electric Water Heater Reviews
This water heater offers a first-hour rating of 62 gallons that is spot-on with our own observations. As for recovery, this AO Smith model offers 21 gallons per hour. We found that it took about 2 hours to completely refill this tank with temperature-specific water, which is a little faster than the rating. This coating is further benefitted from a PEX cross-linked polymer that helps to reduce sediment build-up and reduce lime from difficult water sources. Even if your pH is a little off and you’re dealing with tough scale, this design helps to create a better source of hot water.
Some small water heaters are designed to sit on their side or in alternative positions, but not this Bosch model. You must mount it to have it operate properly. If it sits without the bracket and could get tipped over, which is easier to do than one might think, then this could destroy the appliance. If you opt for the 7-gallon size, you’ll need a 20-amp breaker to support the water heater. If you have it on a 15-amp breaker, the start-up draw will cause it to trip on you more often than not. Under regular use conditions, we could get about 3 minutes of good hot water before noticing a temperature decline on the 2.5-gallon model. For basic needs, it does an excellent job.
There are specific water quality stipulations which are included with the warranty literature. Households that have hard water, high levels of scale, or shifting pH levels will want to read this documentation carefully before purchase to make sure the warranty will apply to them. It is a 240-volt unit, pulling a maximum of 4,500 watts. You can also upgrade this model to a 5,500-watt unit, which also gives you the option of having a 52-gallon tank and a 9-year warranty if you prefer. If you upgrade to the 5,500-watt model then it can produce an extra 5 gallons of hot water per hour. The 52-gallon model delivers 71 gallons in the first hour.
This water heater has been designed with a Permaglas glass coating on the interior of the tank. It does an excellent job of protecting the steel housing from premature corrosion, giving you a good lifespan with this water heater when its recommended maintenance schedule is followed.
Controls are handled through the large LCD temperature display. It offers degrees in Fahrenheit and Celsius, accommodating the needs of most households. It has a 3-line, 13-character backlit LCD display that can current operational data, the current set point, and the status of the water heater. For homes with children, this model offers a child-resistant safety lock that reduces the chances of the temperature being accidentally changed or done so without authorization.
This is not a whole-home hot water solution. The 6-gallon capacity wouldn’t power a shower for more than a minute or two… and that’s assuming there’s a low-flow showerhead installed. This is a faucet-specific solution that can reduce the load that is on your primary hot water heater. Let’s say you have an older home. The plumbing tends to be centrally-sourced in those homes, which means your water pressure and hot water demands cycle through the entire system. You can tell if you have this type of system by flushing the toilet while someone is in the shower. If you hear screams because the water went suddenly hot or suddenly cold, then you can benefit from this hot water heater.
Installation is extremely easy with the design of this model. The inlets are positioned on the top of the tank. You’re also giving an alternate T&P valve for a hot outlet. This is supported by two stainless steel incoloy elements that help to keep the water quality surprisingly consistent with this water heater. We also appreciated the overall construction of the tank with this Westinghouse model. Many tanks have welds that look like they were made by first-week students. This model has been laser-welded to give owners a precision result.
This electric tankless water heater is a solid option for households that have low hot water needs. Not only does it give you the opportunity to save up to 60% on your water heating costs, you may never run out of hot water ever again if this appliance is used as indicated. It can save you up to 12 cubic feet of space compared to the other best electric water heaters, but there are some limitations. It has a maximum GPM of 2 and is optimally used when outside temperatures are above 67F. If you live in a warmer climate, this water heater will handle two sinks running at the same time and a shower.
If you like the idea of having a low maintenance electric model, then Westinghouse is the manufacturer for you. The only problem is that if you have a large household, the standard models from this brand aren’t usually large enough to meet your needs. That’s where this 80-Gallon option steps up to fulfill your needs. It has the same 98% thermal efficiency you want, with a 20 gallon-per-hour recovery when using a 90F-degree rise. You’ll get 84 gallons in the first hour of delivery. And if this model isn’t large enough, upgrade to the 100-gallon or 115-gallon models.
You’ve got a large household. You run out of hot water a lot because your tank size just isn’t big enough. Now there are three options: install a second water heater, upgrade the capacity of your current model with an extender tank, or go tankless. If you decide on the latter, then this is the model you’ll want. Even in cold weather conditions, it can produce 3.5 GPM. In warm weather conditions, it maxes out at 6 GPM. You have 1-degree temperature change controls at your fingertips with this model as well. Just one note of caution: it requires a dedicated 150 amps to operate.
This electric tankless water heater is a good compromise for those who need more than a basic appliance, but don’t want to spend the money on a premium model. For the price of the best electric water heaters that are based on tank technologies, you can have an endless supply of hot water with a minimal installation hassle. It does require a single phase 3×40 breaker and has a 112.5-amp maximum power draw. With copper and stainless steel components, this is a solid purchase that you’ll enjoy using for years to come.
The best electric water heater reviews will help you find a cost-effective solution for your hot water needs today. Stop settling for lukewarm success and start enjoying what a great hot water heater can provide your home and household today.