For large homes and families, a 50-gallon water heater is often the optimal tank capacity.
Since it perpetually heats piped water, a gas-powered water heater provides you with hot water quicker than an electric water heater. It also operates in the event of a power outage. For that reason, gas powered water heaters are suitable for areas that are prone to frequent storms.
Since there are a lot of gas hot water heaters for residential and commercial applications, selecting the right model can be difficult. So I’ve tested and reviewed the leading 50-gallon gas water heaters on the market today using a meticulous seven-step research methodology to help you make the right choice.
Here are my findings.
1. Rheem Performance Platinum — 9/10 (Best overall 50-gallon gas water heater)
The Rheem Performance Platinum is arguably the best 50-gallon gas water heater for the average American home. It can supply enough hot water to a five-person household without tearing a crater-sized hole in your pocket.
Featuring a low NOx (nitrogen oxide) burner that produces 40,000 Btu/hour, this water heater can provide a lot of hot water at a cheaper cost than its competitors. A self-diagnostic gas-control valve and a maintenance-free combustion air intake system provide even more cost savings.
The presence of a high-quality corrosion-free magnesium anode rod extends the life of the tank, while a simple push-button ignition method provides for safer combustion.
The heater is fully compliant with the 2015 NAECA standards and comes with a 12-year limited warranty on the tank and components and a 3-year warranty on in-home labor service. This gas tank water heater is particularly effective for most households with its Uniform Energy Factor of 0.62, delivering 86 gallons in the first hour, in residences at elevations of up to 10,200 feet.
What’s more, this hot water heater is Energy Star certified. This means that you may be eligible for federal tax rebates.
With the addition of a $49 WiFi module, you can turn the Rheem Platinum into a smart and programmable hot water heater. This module enables you to monitor and operate your Rheem gas water heater remotely, receive alerts and notifications on your mobile smart devices, integrate the water heater with your home automation system, and set up the “vacation mode,” which drops your water heater’s temperature and reduces energy consumption while you’re not at home.
But perhaps the best aspect of the Rheem Performance Platinum is its price. Most gas water heaters are usually expensive at the point of purchase, with some models costing between $1,500–$6,000. Despite lower annual energy costs than an electric water heater, $6,000 for a water heater can still put off a lot of potential customers. This Rheem unit retails for $729, which makes it within the reach of most homeowners.
Here’s a full list of features of the Rheem Performance Platinum:
- A 50-gallon tank sufficient for three to five people
- A premium-grade protective magnesium anode rod for long-lasting tank protection
- An automatic diagnostic gas control valve for enhanced monitoring and maintenance
- 97 gallons of water in the first hour
- Energy Star certification with a Uniform Energy Factor of 0.68
- An electronic ignition technology to streamline the start-up procedure and remove the need for a pilot light
- System performance monitored via a gas valve with electronic sensors
- Installation at ground elevations of up to 10,200 ft
- 2015 NAECA energy-efficiency standards
- A 40,000 Btu/hour environmentally friendly low NOx burner
- 3/4 in. water connections and a factory-installed temperature and pressure relief valve for simple installation
- No filter in the heater’s burner system, implying this unit is maintenance free
- A 12-year limited warranty on the tank and parts and a 3-year in-home labor warranty
- A recovery rate of up to 40.4 GPH (gallons per hour) at a 90°F temperature rise
Despite the manufacturer’s specifications sheet claiming that the Performance Platinum has an environmentally friendly low NOx burner, a spot check of a couple retail stores proves
otherwise. Numerous advisory messages for California (and Utah) residents warn that this gas water heater does not meet the state’s emissions regulations.
However, after a bit of research, I found out that this is not a problem with the heater but rather a regulation issue, as there are laws against installing this type of water heater in certain air quality zones.
Another minor drawback of the Rheem Performance Platinum is that it does not come with an LCD control panel for more precise temperature settings, which would help save time and energy and allow users to enjoy better levels of comfort.
Other criticisms focus on the warranty support, which has left many consumers without hot water for extended periods or with restricted replacement alternatives. However, most people who have used this model for a long time attest that it never leaks and always supplies hot water without problems. Customers who received units that were damaged during shipping have claimed that the replacement process was simple and swift.
The Rheem Performance Platinum is an excellent choice for a 50-gallon gas water heater for a household of four or five people.
At $729, this affordable gas water heater comes with a slew of features including electronic ignition technology (so you don’t scurry for matches when you need hot water), a flow rate of 97 GPH, a recovery rate of up to 51 GPH at a 90°F rise, a 40,000 Btu low NOx gas burner, self-cleaning technology, Energy Star certification, maintenance free burner system, and a 12-year tank and parts warranty coupled with a 3-year labor warranty.
Also, with the addition of a $49 WiFi module, the Rheem Performance Platinum turns into a smart water heater that can be operated and monitored remotely.
If you need an affordable and reliable gas water heater that will serve you for years without frequent maintenance, order the Rheem Performance Platinum 50-gallon natural gas water heater today.
2. A.O. Smith Vertex 100 Power Direct Vent — 8.5/10 (Best premium 50-gallon gas water heater)
Water heater manufacturers often make premium models, allowing them to test next generation technologies. The A.O. Smith Vertex 100 Power Direct is as premium as they can get. In fact, this model is so energy efficient that it qualifies for a 30% federal tax rebate!
A.O. Smith’s Vertex 100 has a power direct vent. This vent is connected to your water heater and utilizes a fan to draw combustion air from the outside of your house. Exhaust gases from the combustion process are expelled using the same blower. A power direct vent water heater may minimize installation expenses by using PVC plumbing.
The Vertex 100 is also recognized for its condensing technology, which delivers ultra-efficient and continuous water heating with fewer energy losses than typical natural gas water heaters, minimal gas emissions, and outstanding performance.
If your home has a high demand for hot water, you will be pleased to find that the Vertex 100 has a flow rate of 164 GPH, which is sufficient for up to four or five showers (or hot tubs) running simultaneously. With this model, you and your family can take showers for as long as you want!
Here’s the full list of features:
- A spiral heat exchanger to prolong the time that hot combustion gases remain in the tank, thus extending the heat transfer cycle
- An integrated large touchscreen digital display that enables precise temperature control and sophisticated diagnostics
- A tamper-resistant, enhanced-flow, ball-type valve made of solid brass that extends the life of the heater
- A common female hose connection that enables quick and simple drainage during maintenance
- Inexpensive PVC, CPVC, or ABS pipe for intake and exhaust
- A sophisticated heat exchanger with a 100,000 Btu output that ensures a constant flow of over four gallons per minute
- Blue Diamond glass coating that offers better corrosion resistance in comparison to industry-standard glass coating
- iCOMM connectivity that not only allows you to monitor and regulate the water temperature, but also allows the manufacturer to monitor the heater remotely
- Side-mounted hot and cold recirculating taps that enable the Vertex 100 to be fitted in conjunction with space heating and water heating systems
- Energy Star compliance and an annual energy cost savings of around $187
- A federal tax rebate of around 30% when you purchase this natural gas water heater
The A.O. Smith Vertex 100 has significant disadvantages. The first and most obvious is the price. This being a premium product, the Vertex 100 is not cheap. It costs between $6,200 and $7,000, and that’s without considering the installation cost. When you add in delivery and installation costs, you could end up paying close to $10,000 for this gas water heater. This price is too high for most homeowners, especially those who only require a simple and inexpensive water heating solution for their homes.
Furthermore, the warranty period is not as attractive as you’d expect. While the Rheem Performance Platinum comes with a 12-year warranty, A.O. Smith provides only a 6-year limited warranty.
Despite the outstanding features of this gas water heater, it’s not sensible for you to pay close to $10,000 for a water heater with such a short warranty.
The A.O. Smith Vertex 100 is an amazing natural gas water heater. It provides endless hot water to every fixture in the house at a steady rate of four gallons per minute without any interruptions to the water supply.
Its helical coil heat exchanger prolongs the time that hot combustion gases remain in the tank, thus extending the heat transfer cycle. This exchanger is positioned in the middle of the tank for more uniform and efficient heat distribution, resulting in lower running expenses than a conventional gas water heater.
Other important features include iCOMM wireless connectivity for remote monitoring, glass coating for corrosion-free protection, an ultra-low NOx 100,000 Btu burner system, a flow rate of 164 GPH, and a large touchscreen display that allows for the precise operation of the Vertex 100.
In all, this is an awesome natural gas water heater. If you don’t mind an expensive unit with a short warranty period, and you want a water heater at the forefront of gas water heating technology, check out the AO Smith Vertex 100 Power Direct Vent.
3. Richmond Essential 50 Gallon — 7.6/10 (Best value 50-Gallon gas water heater)
Rheem owns Richmond Water Heaters. The main difference between the two is that Rheem focuses on innovation, while Richmond focuses on customer experience and value. The Richmond Essential 50-gallon natural gas water heater is one of the most affordable gas water heaters on the market.
At $647, the Richmond Essential 50 Gallon is the most affordable natural gas water heater I’ve reviewed. It features an energy efficiency rating of 0.63, a recovery rate of 40 GPH at a 90°F rise, and a first hour rating of 87 GPH. This means that the Richmond Essential can effectively provide an endless hot water supply for a household of four.
This Energy Star compliant gas heater has the following extended features:
- A flammable vapor detection system with an exclusive air/fuel shut-off device for double protection, this mechanism also disables the heater in the presence of flammable vapor accumulation
- A 40,000 Btu eco-friendly burner that meets low NOx design 40 ng/J NOx requirements
- A premium grade anode rod which provides long-lasting tank protection
- An estimated annual energy cost of $293
- Maintenance free operation since there is no filter to clean
- An altitude certification of 10,200 ft
- Self-cleaning technology in the dip-tube to avoid sediment buildup
- A 6-year limited warranty on the storage tank and parts, and a 2-year in-home labor warranty
The Richmond Essential is made to be affordable. This means that Rheem has to cut a few costs just to ensure this gas water heater maintains its retail price. It has a lower first hour rating, a lower flow rate, and, as it turns out, lower build quality than the Rheem Performance Platinum.
There have been a few customer complaints about the efficiency of this natural gas water heater, with some claiming that their units failed within a year. Others claim that the gas valve and the thermocouple failed and they had to pay out of pocket, as Richmond’s short, 6-year limited warranty service (shorter than Rheem’s Performance Platinum) does not cover their locations.
If you need a water heater that will provide an endless supply of hot water for a household of four without breaking the bank, the Richmond Essential 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater is the best choice for you.
It has a 40,000 Btu low NOx gas burner, a premium grade anode rod, a flammable vapor detection system, Energy Star certification, certified operational use at 10,200 ft, a 6-year limited warranty on the storage tank and parts (including a 2-year labor warranty), and an estimated annual energy cost of around $293.
At just $647, this water heater is the most affordable and reliable model I’ve reviewed to date.
To learn more about the Richmond Essential 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater, check it out here.
4. Bradford White 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater
The Bradford White 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater incorporates a few advanced technologies that make it an option worth your consideration.
Bradford White tanks are coated with a specially designed enamel composition (Vitraglas) that offers exceptional resistance to the corrosive impact of hot water. This strong enamel coat is then fused with the steel exterior for better protection.
This $1,828 gas water heater also has an intelligent gas control system called ICON, which uses millivolt-powered technology and an integrated piezo igniter. A conventional thermopile transforms heat energy from the pilot flame into electrical energy, which is then used to power the gas valve and microprocessor. There is no requirement for external power. The flame arrestor is intended to prevent combustible vapor from igniting outside of the water heater.
A sophisticated microprocessor regulates the burner to provide stable and exact water temperature levels of up to 160°F. Other technical specifications include a 40,000 Btu gas burner, first hour rating of 81 GPH, a recovery rate of 43 GPH at a 90°F temperature rise, Uniform Energy Factor of 0.63, and a 6-year warranty on tank and parts.
The Bradford White 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater has a couple of issues that new owners should bear in mind. The general consensus among most users is that this gas water heater is both very pricey and has questionable build quality. There are reports of gas leaks appearing in the second or third year and a high installation cost that adds onto the unit’s price tag.
5. Kenmore 50-Gallon Tall Natural Gas Water Heater
For a gas water heater that costs $899, the Kenmore 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater does not have enough features to justify its cost. For instance, it doesn’t have an Energy Star compliance certification, which means it’s not as energy efficient as the previous units I’ve mentioned. It has a 40,000 Btu burner that is not rated for low NOx emissions and has a plastic drain valve that you’ll have to replace often.
In a quest to make this natural gas water heater as affordable as possible, Kenmore cut a lot of corners. This unit has a recovery rate of 41 GPH at a 90° rise in temperature, a first hour rating of 84 GPH, a self-cleaning cold water inlet tube, a cobalt blue glass-lined tank with dual anode rods that help against corrosion, and Kenmore claims that it can support a household of five.
But perhaps the best aspect of the Kenmore 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater is the warranty. It comes with a 12-year warranty on the tank and parts.
6. Reliance 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater
The Reliance 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater is equipped with a flame arrestor made of stainless steel, ensuring its endurance. It is equipped with a door-mounted manual reset temperature switch and a self-powered Honeywell millivolt generator gas control valve. This self-cleaning heater has a glass-lined tank with twin anode rods and pex-lined heat trap nipples.
Other features include a Piezo igniter, CFC foam insulation, an eco-friendly low NOx 40,000 Btu/hour gas burner, a first hour rating of 81 GPH, a recovery rate of 41 GPH at a 90°F temperature rise, and a nine-year limited tank & parts warranty plus one-year labor warranty.
For an off-brand that tries to compete with the big boys, the Reliance packs some impressive features. However, compared with the Rheem Performance Platinum, the Reliance has a lower first hour rating, is not Energy Star qualified, has a shorter warranty, and offers no remote access.
I should also mention that some users complained about issues with the thermostatic mixing valve, slow water recovery, and discharge pipe leakage and accompanying water odor.
With all this in mind, it’s not justified to pay close to $1,400 for this water heating system. The Rheem Performance Platinum is a more efficient and much more affordable natural gas water heater.
7. Westinghouse Stainless Steel 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater
The Westinghouse Stainless Steel 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater uses condensing technology to produce hot water. This process retains more heat and greatly improves the water heater’s energy efficiency.
This water heater features a Cupronickel combustion heat exchanger that boasts excellent heat transfer properties and resists corrosion, automatic spark ignition with flame stabilization monitoring, and an integrated control system with a digital display.
In terms of performance, the Westinghouse Stainless Steel 50-Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater has a 76,000 Btu/hour gas burner, a high UEF rating of 0.90, a first hour rating of 154 gallons, a max temperature limit of 160°F, and a recovery rate of 90 GPH at a 90°F temperature rise. These are quite impressive numbers! This Westinghouse water heater even comes with a 10-year residential warranty.
However, this water heater has a fair share of faults that need mentioning. In order to access the full 10-year warranty, you’ll need to register your heater online. Otherwise, the warranty is shortened to 7 years. The warranty is also void if you connect stainless steel corrugated pipes to the hot water tank.
Users have complained about a loud rumbling noise coming from this water heater. The only fix is to adjust the fuel mixture using a combustion gas analyzer, which costs a few hundred dollars.
Other issues include ignition system failure and a fickle digital management system that needs resetting every couple of weeks.
Another bothersome issue is that, according to the Westinghouse website, all water heating, space heating, and combination heating products will be discontinued effective December 31, 2021. It’s not clear what this means for existing customers who may need continued support.
The Westinghouse Stainless Steel 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater goes for $2,300. This is quite a hefty amount considering the faults.
The Bottom Line
After a thorough review process, I’ve concluded that the Rheem Performance Platinum is the best 50-gallon gas water heater you can get for your home.
This $729 gas water heater bears a multitude of features, such as a self-cleaning dip tube that prevents sediment buildup, a premium grade protective magnesium anode rod for long-lasting tank protection, automatic diagnostic gas control valve for enhanced monitoring, a 40,000 Btu/hour environmentally friendly low NOx burner (with auto-ignition), a filterless design that reduces the need for constant maintenance, and Energy Star qualification, and it can be used in altitudes of up to 10,200 ft.
Additionally, the Performance Platinum has a Uniform Energy Factor of 0.68, a recovery rate of up to 51 GPH (gallons per hour) at a 90°F temperature rise, a first hour rating of 97 GPH, and it comes with a 12-year limited warranty on the tank and parts, and a 3-year in-home labor warranty.
With the inclusion of a $49 WiFi module, you can transform the Performance Platinum into a smart gas water heater capable of sending real-time performance data to any smart device in your home. You can control your heater from virtually anywhere.
The Rheem Performance Platinum 50-gallon natural gas water heater is the perfect option for your house if you need an affordable, dependable gas water heater that will last for many years without regular maintenance.
Best 50-Gallon Gas Water Heaters Review Methodology
This section outlines the methodology I employed when researching the leading 50-gallon gas water heaters.
Step 1: A list of every 50-gallon water heater available
To begin my analysis, I created a list of all the available 50-gallon water heaters on the market. This includes all models with power outputs ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 Btu/hour. I learned that some manufacturers (such as Rheem) have more than two product lines of the same type. This first step assisted me in identifying the products offered by each company.
Step 2: Online reviews
I went online with my list of gas water heaters to see what users had to say about each model. This required days of research on many websites, including Consumer Affairs, Amazon, Lowes, Walmart, and the Better Business Bureau. I was eventually able to identify which manufacturers made the most reliable 50-gallon gas water heaters and which models were the most well liked by consumers.
Step 3: Product analysis
Here is a rundown of everything I look for in a 50-gallon gas water heater, as well as some questions about the variations across models:
- How does a gas water heater differ from an electric water heater?
- What are the advantages of a gas water heater with a water storage tank over a tankless water heater?
- Is there any intuitive technology incorporated into these units that improves their energy efficiency?
- What is the warranty period for each model?
- What level of after-sales support is provided by each manufacturer?
- Are any accessories available with every purchase?
- Are any energy saving technologies incorporated into these water heaters?
- What are the distinguishing features for each water heater model (including cost differences)?
Any water heater that failed to satisfy my stringent evaluation criteria was withdrawn from consideration.
Step 4: Interviews with real customers
With the remaining list of reliable and efficient gas water heaters in hand, it was time to find real customers and get their feedback. I thereby arranged a door-to-door visit of every house within a 10-mile radius with the help of a few pals. With the information I obtained, I was able to eliminate a few more firms from my list, despite the time-consuming and difficult nature of the procedure.
Step 5: Interviews with manufacturers
This step involved contacting the marketing and customer service departments of the remaining producers of gas powered water heaters in order to request reactions to some of the negative customer reviews they’ve received. This allowed me to grasp how each organization responded to criticism and interacted with customers.
Step 6: Test drives
I then requested that the manufacturers send over several units to evaluate. I wasn’t certain of their response, but I thought it was worth a gamble. Surprisingly, almost fifteen companies replied. Therefore, I rented a warehouse, acquired two water bowsers, and began putting each brand of gas water heater to the test.
Step 7: Ratings
Now that I was familiar with various water heater brands, it was time to compare them. I evaluated each water heater based on the following features:
- Number of Btu (British thermal units) that each heater produces per hour (between 40,000 and 100,000 Btu/hour)
- First hour rating and recovery rate for each unit
- Presence of anti-scaling technologies that prevent sediment buildup
- Uniform energy rating
- Length of the warranty period
- Affordability and availability
- Ease of installation
- Type of after-sales services available
The Best 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater
Using a seven-step meticulous analysis, I determined that the Rheem Platinum Performance is the best 50-gallon gas water heater available on the market.
Affordably priced at $729, this gas water heater features electronic ignition technology, a flow rate of 97 GPH, a recovery rate of up to 51 GPH at a 90°F temperature rise, a 40,000 Btu low NOx gas burner, self-cleaning technology, Energy Star certification, a maintenance free burner system, and a 12-year tank and parts warranty with a 3-year labor warranty.
In addition, a $49 WiFi module transforms the Rheem Performance Platinum into a smart water heater that you can remotely control and monitor.
The Rheem Performance Platinum 50-gallon natural gas water heater is the perfect option for your house if you need a low-cost, dependable gas water heater that will last for many years without requiring regular maintenance. For the leading 50-gallon gas water heater on the market, order the Rheem Performance today.