The 7 Best Electric Water Heaters for Your Home: Reviewed and Ranked(2024)

Updated on:
January 6, 2024

The Department of Energy estimates that homeowners spend an average of $400–$600 annually on water heating alone, or 14%–18% of their utility bill. It is therefore important to invest in a water heating system that will provide adequate hot water for your home without breaking the bank.

Electric water heaters are the most efficient water heating systems available on the market. They are safer than gas water heaters because they eliminate the risks and issues involved with heating water through combustion.

To help you find the most well-rated and efficient electric water heater for your home, I’ve compiled a well-researched list of the seven best electric water heaters on sale today.

Here are my results.

1. A.O. Smith Voltex Hybrid Heat Pump Electric Heater: 9.2/10 

  • Overall best electric water heater
  • $3,027.23

The AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater is an energy-efficient water heater that uses a combination of heat pump technology and traditional electric heating elements to provide hot water for your home. This model is a 50-gallon capacity water heater designed for residential use.

Pros

One of the key benefits of the AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater is its energy efficiency. The heat pump technology allows the unit to extract heat from the air surrounding the unit and use it to heat the water, resulting in significant energy savings compared to traditional electric water heaters. 

The A.O. Smith Voltex has an Uniform Energy Factor (EF) rating of 3.42, which means it is highly efficient and can help you save on your energy bills.

To enhance efficiency and savings, the A.O. Smith Voltex has four operating modes:

  • High-efficiency mode, which only uses heat pump technology for water heating 
  • Electric mode, which utilizes the heating elements and works as a conventional electric water heater (recommended during winter and cold weather)
  • Hybrid mode, which uses the heat pump for efficiency and heating elements for faster recovery during high hot water demand
  • Vacation mode, which you can activate when you are away to prevent your heater from freezing during the winter period

Other features worth mentioning include a user-friendly electronic control panel with an easy-to-read LED display, two heating elements—one for backup and one for heating during high demand periods—Vitraglas-enamel tank lining to protect against corrosion, CFC-free foam insulation for improved efficiency, and inlet and outlet connections on top of the unit for easy installation.

This heat pump water heater is fitted with a dry fire prevention feature. This feature is designed to prevent the heating element from running when the tank is empty or there is insufficient water flow. If the water level in the tank drops below a safe level, the dry fire prevention feature will automatically shut off the heating element, preventing it from overheating and causing damage to the unit. This is an important safety feature that can help prolong the life of the water heater and prevent damage to your home.

Here is a list of pros:

  • This tank-style water heater is Energy Star rated, which means that every purchase is liable for a federal tax credit.
  • The user-friendly electronic interface provides for simple management of temperature settings, operation mode, and diagnostics.
  • Advanced diagnostics provide error alerts to service providers, and the control system memory stores the last four error messages.
  • Long-lasting backup heating elements heat water based on the weather, the demand, and the operating mode that’s been chosen.
  • It’s designed to be more efficient so that hot water is always available at the lowest possible cost, saving you as much as $153 annually. 
  • Coregard anode rods have a stainless steel core that makes them last longer and protect the tank better than regular anode rods.
  • Available with a six-year limited warranty.
  • The Voltex is available with an optional air duct adapter kit that allows you to install the unit in confined spaces
  • This water heater allows up to three hot showers at the same time or four back-to-back hot showers.

Cons

People who have used the A.O. Smith Voltex water heater have mostly complained that it is loud and that it costs a lot up front. Customers whose heat pumps were installed in a closet or attached garage near their bedrooms or home offices were the ones who complained a lot about the high noise levels emitted by the unit.

With regards to cost, the Voltex hybrid heat pump water heater is one of the most expensive 50-gallon electric water heaters on the market. It goes for around $3,027. Even if you factor in the federal tax credit, you still have to pay a high price for the installation. Still, the money you’ll save on energy will make up for it in the long run.

Some users have also complained about the reliability of the heat pump. Apparently their heat pump failed after a year of service and they had to pay close to $1,500 to replace the whole heating system as the manufacturer does not swap out just heat pumps. This seems to have been an isolated incident, though, because I could find no other similar complaints.

The Voltex removes heat from the surrounding air to heat the water, which can result in a cooling effect on the surrounding space, which may be undesirable in certain environments.

Overall

The A.O. Smith Voltex heat pump hot water heater is best suited for large households. It is more costly than a conventional electric hot water heater, but it is more than three times as efficient and often qualifies for refunds from utility companies and federal tax credits. 

If you have a big family and you’re sick of paying oodles to the energy company, switch to the A.O. Smith Voltex. You can get it here.

2. Rheem Marathon Electric Heater: 8.7/10 

  • Best conventional electric water heater
  • $1429.00

The Rheem Marathon Electric Water Heater is the second best electric heater on this list.

Rheem water heaters are generally regarded as average, with no distinguishing features. Their Marathon line of water heaters, however, has become one of their best-selling products. Their extended life-span, lifetime warranty, and energy-saving features have proven popular among homeowners.

Let’s take a deeper look at the unique characteristics of these water heaters that set them apart from the competition.

Pros

Marathon electric water heaters are available in a variety of sizes: compact point-of-use water heaters for as little as 15 gallons; conventional tank electric water heaters ranging from 30 to 100 gallons; and thermal storage tanks ranging from 50 to 105 gallons.

Due to the wide range of models available, there is a Marathon electric water heater to meet any household or domestic water heating demand. 

Rheem Marathon hot water heaters have an unusual construction that permits them to last many years longer than most electric water heaters. The inner tank of all Marathon models is made of seamless, blow-molded polybutene (also called PermaGaurd) that will never rust or corrode. Combine this with a scratch- and dent-resistant exterior tank (which also keeps out salty air) and you have a water heater that will last as long as you own your home!

Rheem actually backs up this bold claim with a lifetime warranty and round-the-clock customer support in case of any problems. But, realistically, Marathon water heaters have a lifespan of up to 40 years. 

Every Rheem Marathon water heater includes four inches of inner lining composed of Envirofoam, a patented material created from ecologically acceptable materials and containing no ozone-depleting additives. As a result, Marathon tanks lose fewer than 5°F of heat through the tank’s walls. This makes Marathon heaters substantially more energy efficient than other brands. So they are also far less expensive to operate and maintain.

Another reason why I picked the Rheem Marathon range of water heaters is the lack of complex technology. Most water heaters today are shipped with complex WiFi remote technology that almost never works appropriately and is too confusing for most people to grasp. A Rheem Marathon electric heater is just a bare-bones unit that doesn’t require a degree in computer science to operate.

Here is a list of features that make the Rheem Marathon Electric Water Heater better than the competition:

  • A wide range of models are available, from 30 gallons to 100 gallons. 
  • Polyurethane insulation improves energy conservation.
  • The bottom of the inner tank has a bowl shape for simpler, more thorough drainage.
  • The top element is thermally fused, which protects against dry-firing. The lower element is made from titanium for improved resistance to lime buildup.
  • Brass union connectors allow for simple installation or reinstallation.
  • If a customer registers online, they will receive a free warranty upgrade from 10 years to a lifetime warranty.
  • The Uniform Energy Factor rating ranges from 0.90 to 0.94.
  • The First Hour Rating (FHR) ranges from 52 to 104 gallons depending on tank size.
  • Marathon water heaters are built with eco-friendly components in order to be as energy efficient as possible.
  • Rheem water heaters require significantly less maintenance than other types and brands of water heaters, saving the owner even more money.
  • All models have a guaranteed life-span of more than 40 years.

Cons

The initial cost is one of the most significant aspects to consider when purchasing a water heater. A water heater is only useful if the price is reasonable, and this Rheem electric water heater is no exception.

The smallest 15-gallon Marathon electric water heater costs an average of $850, while the larger 30-gallon tank model goes for $1390. These heaters are modest in size but are ideal for a single-person apartment or other compact residences or facilities.

The largest residential Marathon water heaters may cost up to $2,615, but this heater has a 105-gallon capacity tank and a 3800W heating element. This type is best suited for bigger homes with greater hot water demands.

The Marathon water heater series is more expensive than other conventional electric water heaters, but the features and longevity of these models are unrivaled in the industry.

Also, due to increased customer demand, Marathon models are not widely available compared with other brands. 

Overall

The Rheem Marathon’s guaranteed 40-year life-span implies it will be the last water heater purchased by homeowners, avoiding the need to replace a water heater every 10 years.

I especially like its simple operation, the wide range of models available, and the incorporation of environmentally friendly yet highly durable materials. 

The cost of this electric water heater can be discouraging for most people, but there really is no other traditional electric water heater brand that provides this level of performance, durability, and efficiency than the Rheem Marathon Electric Water Heater.

3. EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater: 7.5/10 

  • The best tankless electric water heater
  • $739.48

The EcoSmart 27 is a tankless water heater from the Eemax series. This tankless system is one of their newest models and derives its name from its energy consumption, which is 27 kilowatts. 

The EcoSmart 27 tankless water heater has the potential to heat up to three gallons of water every minute, making it an excellent choice for any home. It is intended for use in regions where the average water temperature may drop to 37 degrees.

Pros

The EcoSmart 27 tankless water heater system is an environmentally friendly replacement for conventional water heating systems in townhomes, apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes.

Depending on the water temperature in your natural environment, the EcoSmart 27 can provide between 2.7 and 6.5 gallons of hot water per minute, which is more than enough for most standard-sized houses.

This tankless water heater has dimensions of 17 by 17 by 3.62 inches, making it one of the smallest and most space-efficient water heaters available. It has a steel shell to protect it from the elements no matter where in your house you decide to place it, and it comes with a lifetime warranty and a stellar reputation to boot.

There will be no more wasted water or energy thanks to this tankless heater’s self-modulation technology, which ensures that it will only heat what you need. EcoSmart has patented this technique, and it is installed in all of their heaters, from the smallest to the most powerful (the 27).

Here are some key features:

  • This hot water heater has a 99.8% energy efficiency rating.
  • Digital controls provide precise temperature management of hot water down to a degree.
  • The ECO 27 is capable of producing three gallons per minute of hot water and is therefore ideal for use in colder locations.
  • The hot water thermostat has a range of 80°F to 140°F.
  • This system can cut your home’s energy use by as much as half.
  • Copper and stainless steel parts are small and easily replaced, while also being efficient and long-lasting.
  • The EcoSmart ECO 27 tankless electric water heater can provide hot water for up to three fixtures simultaneously.
  • Eemax provides a lifetime limited warranty for this model.
  • This unit is affordable at around $480. 
  • The EcoSmart has a flow rate of 2.8 GPM (gallons per minute) at 40° F & 7.4 GPM at 80° F.

Cons

This tankless water heater has many impressive features, but EcoSmart could benefit from addressing certain areas of criticism. First, when compared to other tankless water heaters, it is a pricey alternative. However, because it is a well-known brand and has a stellar reputation, customers are often ready to pay a premium price.

Also, homeowners who want to install their own tankless water heater will not be covered by EcoSmart’s lifetime warranty on parts. There are also reports of sensors malfunctioning, warranty denials due to water mineral content, frequent maintenance due to the erosion of the copper elements, tripping circuit breakers in homes, leaks, and unresponsive customer service.

Overall

The EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater is among the most powerful models of its kind currently available. A large single-family household might benefit from its capabilities. It can handle your hot water needs, even in frigid locations. Despite the drawbacks, this model is a good option for meeting your household’s hot water demands while cutting costs and taking up less space.

4. Bradford White Hydrojet Electric Water Heater 

Founded in 1881, Bradford White is one of the oldest manufacturers of thermal appliances in the US. Their RE series electric tank-style water heaters use proprietary technology dubbed the Hydrojet Total Performance System. 

This is basically a cold water supply tube with jet apertures that generate counter-rotation and dynamic turbulence to successfully blast suspension and stop its buildup. The lower “jet ports” direct the flow inward to increase pressure and turbulence.

The primary cause of a water heater failing prematurely is sediment accumulation. In contrast, the Hydrojet method used by Bradford White extends the water heater’s service life, boosts the first-hour rating, boosts its efficiency, and speeds up the delivery of hot water.

Some other key features include a low-restriction brass drain valve, a highly responsive surface-mount thermostat with a high-limit energy cut-off (manual reset) for safety, Vitraglas lining—an enamel formula that provides superior tank protection from the highly corrosive effects of hot water, simultaneous and non-simultaneous operation, and up to 10 months of warranty on components and parts.

Frequent issues with Bradford White water heaters include leaking tanks, broken anode rods, a limited life-span of around 15 years, and extinguished pilot lights. These units are also not as common as the previous water heaters on this list. I struggled to find a single soul that could attest to their performance, and I had to rely on online reviews.

Another issue is that they are only available in 30-, 40-, 50-, and 55-gallon models. This is a far cry from the likes of the Rheem Marathon and A.O. Smith Voltex, which have a wide range of models to choose from, including 60-, 66-, 80-, and 100-gallon models.

5. Stiebel Eltron Accelera E Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat pump hybrid water heaters from German company Stiebel Eltron’s Accelera series are not cheap. There’s little to justify their $2,400 asking price for the 220 E (58-gallon) and $2,600 for the 330 E (79.8-gallon) models.

These Energy Star-certified units include a rollbond wrap-around condenser that prevents refrigerant from contaminating the water. The self-cleaning evaporator coating protects against corrosion and also allows quick water drainage for increased air flow. The cold water outlet is designed to prevent incoming cold water from cooling the hot water in the tank during a draw. Both units come with a 10-year warranty.

Both the Accelera 220 E and the Accelera 300 E include an intuitive, user-friendly menu system that is accessible through a digital control panel. Additional performance data, such as the available volume of hot water, is also shown on the screen.

Compared with the Voltex model reviewed earlier, this Stiebel Eltron Accelera E hybrid heat pump water heater does not provide enough features to justify its price.

6. Rheem RTEX-27 Tankless Electric Water Heater

There’s not much difference between the EcoSmart ECO 27 that I mentioned above and this Rheem RTEX-27 tankless electric heater. They both have self-modulating technology with an adjustable thermostat and LCD display, bottom 3/4″ NPT (national pipe taper) water connections, easy-to-replace heating elements, and almost similar energy cost savings.

However, unlike the ECO 27, the Rheem RTEX-27 has a slower flow rate of 2 GPM at 40°F & 5 GPM at 70°F, and a shorter warranty period (five years on the heating chamber, and one year on parts). 

The Rheem RTEX-27 also costs $100 more than the ECO 27, at $580. I struggled to justify this price difference.

7. Westinghouse Stainless Steel Tank Electric Water Heater

The Westinghouse Electric Water Heater is a hot water heater that combines high-quality stainless steel construction with energy-efficient performance, allowing for lengthy pulls of hot water without excessive electricity use. 

To reduce the potential for scalding, the water supply is intelligently routed such that cold water enters the tank at the bottom, where the heating element is located. The Westinghouse Electric Water Heater is a safe option for electric water heating because of its dependable construction, minimal standby heat losses, high recovery rates, and lifetime warranty option.

The reason this unit is so low on my list is that Westinghouse discontinued all its water heating, space heating, combination heating, and hot water products as of December 31, 2021. After several hours of investigation and telephone inquiries, I was unable to determine why they decided to discontinue this product and how this action affects current customers with pending warranties or maintenance issues.

The Bottom Line

After months of researching electric hot water heaters, I concluded that the AO Smith electric heat pump water heater is the best electric hot water heater on the market. 

The AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater, model FPTU-50, is a highly efficient and versatile water heater that uses heat pump technology to extract heat from the surrounding air and use it to heat the water, making it highly energy-efficient and capable of significant energy savings compared to traditional electric water heaters. The FPTU-50 features a 50-gallon capacity and four operational modes: Efficiency, Hybrid, Electric, and Vacation, giving you a variety of options for hot water delivery and energy savings.

The FPTU-50 is also designed to be durable and reliable, with a glass-lined steel tank that resists corrosion and CFC-free foam insulation. The unit comes with a 10-year limited warranty on the tank and parts, providing you with added peace of mind. Overall, the AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater, model FPTU-50, is an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a high-quality and energy-efficient water heater that is capable of significant energy savings while providing reliable hot water.

The price tag on this heater is quite high, but you really are getting the most out of your money compared with the other brands on this list in terms of efficiency, energy savings, and durability.

If you’re interested in an efficient, long-lasting, durable water heater that can provide significant energy savings and reliable performance for your home, look no further than the AO Smith electric heat pump water heater.

Best Water Heaters Review Methodology

This section outlines the procedure I used to arrive at my conclusions.

Step 1: A big list of every electric hot water heater available

To kick off my research process, I came up with a list of every electric hot water heater available on the market today. That includes both electric tank water heaters and electric tankless water heaters. I realized that there are manufacturers (such as A.O. Smith and Rheem) with more than two competing product lines on the market and some that still sell heaters despite having discontinued the product. This initial step helped me understand the products that each company had to offer.

Step 2: Online reviews

With my list of electric heaters at hand, I went online to see what customers had to say about each item on my list. This meant hours of scouring through sites like Consumer Affairs, Amazon, Lowes, Walmart, and the Better Business Bureau. In the end, I was able to determine which manufacturers made reliable water heaters and what type of heater (tank type or tankless) was most preferred by customers. 

Step 3: Product analysis

This is where I got into the meat of the matter at hand. First, I had to compare each electric heater to a gas water heater in the same class. I created the following checklist of all the important features that I would expect from an electric hot water heater: This included asking questions about how specific types of heaters differed from others:

  • What are the advantages of electric hot water heaters over gas water heaters?
  • Are tankless water heaters better than tank water heaters?
  • How does the tank size of a water heater affect my hot water supply?
  • How many gallons of hot water does each model supply in the first hour?
  • What are the energy costs of using a hybrid system instead of a conventional water heating system?
  • What are the different types of warranties available (such as lifetime, parts, and in-home labor warranty)?
  • What are the energy savings when using electricity over natural gas?
  • What are the costs of the different electric tankless water heaters on the market?
  • What are the costs of the different electric tank heaters on the market?
  • What is the thermal efficiency rating of each water heater?
  • Is there any intuitive technology incorporated within each water heater?
  • What household size does each water heater support?
  • Are there any accessories available with every purchase?

This questionnaire was applied to every unit on my list. Any water heater that did not meet at least 75% of the requirements on my stringent evaluation was excluded from consideration.

Step 4: Interviews with real customers

With the remaining list of dependable water heaters in hand, it was time to locate those who had made a purchase and ask questions about their experience. So, along with a couple of friends, I organized a door-to-door visit to every home within a 10 square-mile radius. It was a long and arduous process, but at the end of it, I had all the information I needed to eliminate a few more brands from my list.

Step 5: Interviews with manufacturers

This stage involves contacting the marketing and customer service departments of the remaining water heater manufacturers to press them for responses to some of the negative customer reviews they have received. This allowed me to understand how each firm responded to criticism and how they dealt with customers.

Step 6: Test drives

Next, I requested the water heater manufacturers to send over some units for a test drive. Granted, I wasn’t sure about how they would respond, but it was worth a try. To my surprise, more than 10 brands responded! So I leased a warehouse, brought in a couple of water bowsers and started the process of test driving each brand of water heater.

Step 7: Ratings

With my knowledge of various hot water heaters at hand, it was time to evaluate them. I assigned points depending on whether a water heater provided any of the following features:

  • A high number of intuitive features available (such as a pilot light, digital control panel, and electronic ignition system)
  • The gallons of hot water that each brand of water heater supplied in the first hour
  • Distinguishing features (such as ceramic-fused tank shield, self-cleaning dip tube, and active ventilation system)
  • High energy efficiency rating
  • High energy costs per annum
  • Low prices and affordability
  • High hot water supply or flow rate.
  • Increased longevity or durability

Best Electric Water Heater

After months of research, I can comfortably state that The AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater, model FPTU-50, is the best electric water heater on the market

It is a highly efficient and versatile water heater that is designed to save energy and money. The FPTU-50 uses heat pump technology to extract heat from the surrounding air and use it to heat the water, making it highly energy-efficient and capable of significant energy savings compared to traditional electric water heaters. The unit can also be used in standard electric mode for faster recovery times if there is high demand for hot water.

The FPTU-50 features a 50-gallon capacity and a user-friendly electronic control panel that allows you to select from four operational modes: Efficiency, Hybrid, Electric, and Vacation. The Efficiency and Hybrid modes are the most energy-efficient and can help you save on your energy bills, while the Electric mode can provide faster recovery times during periods of high demand for hot water. The Vacation mode is useful when you’re away from home for an extended period and want to save energy.

In addition to its energy efficiency and versatility, the FPTU-50 is also designed to be durable and reliable. The unit features a glass-lined steel tank that resists corrosion, as well as environmentally friendly CFC-free foam insulation. It also comes with a 6-year limited warranty, giving you added peace of mind. 

Overall, the AO Smith Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater, model FPTU-50, is a high-quality and efficient water heater that is ideal for homeowners looking to save energy and money while enjoying reliable hot water.

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Phil

Is there a difference in water heaters bought at say Lowes or Home Depot compared to plumbing supply companies?
If so what is the difference?
Just the plastic drain valves or does it go deeper than that?

James Layton

Phil,
I have friends who work in the plumbing and water treatment business. They have told me that there is a difference between big box store water heaters and brands that are sold through plumbers only. I have been going with Bradford White electric heaters myself. I have the plumber supply it. So far they have outlived their warranty. I have hard water but use a water softener. Before the softener my big box water heaters leaked right after the warrant expired.