Your energy bills can be significantly impacted by the type of water heating system you have installed in your home. The Department of Energy estimates that homeowners spend an average of $400–$600 annually on water heating alone, or14%–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. Another advantage of electric water heaters over gas water heaters is that they do not require a gas line to operate. While gas line connections are widespread in the United States, they are not ubiquitous. However, pretty much every American home is connected to the electricity grid.
To help you make the right choice 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. Rheem Marathon Electric Heater — 9.2/10 (Overall best electric water heater)
The Rheem Marathon Electric Water Heater kicks off this list as the best electric water heater that money can buy.
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.
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 life-span of up to 40 years.
Most standard residential water heaters have an 8- to 12-year life-span. The reason for this is that they have an anode rod composed of aluminum or magnesium, which prevents water from interacting with the inner tank of the heater, preventing rust and corrosion within the tank. Because these rods have a limited life-span, the life-span of most electric water heaters is likewise limited. The Marathon hot water heater doesn’t utilize anodes, which greatly enhances the heater’s durability.
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 tough polyethylene jacket avoids transportation damage and will not rust.
- 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.
- Even in the harshest environmental conditions, the watertight outer jacket provides reliable service.
- 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.
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.
The Rheem Marathon is the best electric water heater on the market today. Its 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 brand that provides this level of performance, durability, and efficiency than the Rheem Marathon Electric Water Heater.
2. A.O. Smith Voltex Hybrid Heat Pump Electric Heater — 8.7/10 (The best hybrid electric water heater)
The A.O Smith Voltex Hybrid Electric Heat Pump water heater is one of the most advanced water heaters on the market. A hybrid water heater, also known as a heat pump water heater, generates heat by drawing outside air into the appliance’s evaporator coil. This evaporator coil contains refrigerant, which allows it to absorb heat from the surrounding air.
The Voltex series, like the Rheem Marathon, is a series of hybrid water heaters by A.O. Smith that uses both electric technology and a heat pump incorporated into the tank’s top section. The heat pump technology is employed as the primary source of high-efficiency water heating, with a backup set of two electric heating elements used for rapid hot water recovery.
The Voltex line of A.O. Smith heat pumps is available in a range of sizes, including 50-, 66-, and 80-gallon tank capacities. All Voltex heat pump water heaters include a modern electronic user interface that includes an LCD display, safety-lock features, status icons, diode indications, and touch buttons. You may even use the communications port to link your hybrid water heater to your home automation system.
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 (this mode is 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 can be activated when you are away to prevent your heater from freezing during the winter period
These tank-style water heaters are built with modern electronics that allow for easy management and monitoring while also showing error signals if there is a problem with the device, making troubleshooting easier. The Voltex also incorporates dry-fire protection technology, which prevents the heating components from failing when the water tank is not full.
Here is a complete list of features included in this smart water heater:
- All Voltex tank-style water heaters are Energy Star rated, which means that every purchase is liable for a $300 federal tax credit.
- To prevent dry fire of the heating components, the dry-fire prevention control system ensures that the tank is full with water at start-up.
- The user-friendly electronic interface provides for simple management of temperature settings, operation mode, and diagnostics.
- Advanced diagnostics provide error alerts to service providers. The control system memory stores the last four error messages.
- Long-lasting backup heating elements help heat water based on the weather, the demand, and the operating mode that’s been chosen.
- Designed to be more efficient so that hot water is always available at the lowest possible cost. Energy is saved up to a 3.45 Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) Rating.
- Coregard anode rods have a stainless steel core that makes them last longer and protect the tank better than regular anode rods.
- All Voltex tank-style water heaters come with a 10-year limited warranty.
- Estimated energy cost savings can be as high as $153.
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 heating units available. The top-tier 80-gallon model can fetch upwards of $4,000, and if you consider installation and shipping costs, you might end up paying close to $8,000. The low-end 50-gallon model is also quite expensive compared with other conventional tank water heaters, as it goes for around $3,050. Even if you factor in the $300 federal tax credit and the seller’s rebate (around $700 to $1,000), you still have to pay through the nose for the installation.
Another problem with this hot water heater is its longevity. Unlike the Rheem Marathon water heater mentioned earlier that has a life-span of 40+ years, the A.O. Smith Voltex has a life-span of around 15 years (if properly maintained).
I can’t, for the life of me, imagine paying $8,000 for a water heater with the life-span of a pug. No offense to pugs!
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 provide swapping just heat pumps.
The A.O. Smith Voltex heat pump hot water heater is best suited for bigger households. It is more costly than the 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.
To learn more about these electric tank water heaters, visit their website today.
3. Ecosmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater — 7.5/10 (The best tankless electric water heater)
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.
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.
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.
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 Rheem Marathon Electric is the best electric hot water heater on the market.
In order to prevent rust and corrosion, the Rheem Marathon electric water heater does not use any metal components. The inner tank is made of seamless, blow-molded polybutene (patented as PermaGuard), while the exterior tank is made of filament-wound fiberglass, both of which are meant to be flexible under pressure.
The Marathon’s titanium bottom and copper upper parts prevent lime accumulation and provide corrosion resistance without the need for an anode rod. This Rheem water heater has two and a half inches of insulation to help keep heat in and drafts out, maximizing its effectiveness. The Marathon hot water heater is available in a range of capacities (40, 50, 50 short, 85, and 105 gallons), has a FHR (first hour rating) of 52–104 gallons depending on tank size, and a Uniform Efficiency Factor (UEF) of 0.90 to 0.94.
The lifetime warranty on the water storage tanks is one of the main benefits, if not the best feature, of the Rheem Marathon hot water heaters. There’s no tank leakage for as long as you own this unit, and no need to replace your heater every 6–10 years due to rust issues. In fact, the manufacturer assures customers that with proper use, this water heater has a life-span of 40+ years!
If you’re interested in an efficient, long-lasting, bare-bones water heater that will never disappoint you, look no further than the Rheem Marathon series of electric hot water heaters.
Visit the Rheem website today to find out more about their Marathon range of hot water heaters.
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 ascertain which manufacturers made the best tankless water heater or the best tank type water heater and which type was the most preferred by customers.
Step 3: Product analysis
This is where I got into the meat of the matter at hand. 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 Hot Water Heater
After months of research, I can comfortably state that the Rheem Marathon electric hot water heater is the best hot water heater you can purchase for your home.
Rheem Marathon water heaters are among the most durable on the market due to their superior design. The tank is built of seamless blow-molded polybutene, which makes it lightweight and rust resistant, and the concave bottom of the tank allows for full draining and prevents sediment buildup.
The non-metallic construction removes the need for an anode rod and avoids the rotten egg stench that plagues the majority of traditional water heaters. The filament-wound fiberglass inside gives the tank more flexibility, enabling it to tolerate greater pressure than conventional electric water heaters. The water heater is encased in a polyethylene jacket that is resistant to corrosion and damage.
All these features translate to increased longevity. The Rheem Marathon hot water heater has a guaranteed life-span of 40+ years.
The Marathon water heater is available in capacities ranging from 15 to 105 gallons, with the most common size of 50 gallons available in both tall and short varieties, and all models have an energy efficiency of more than 90%.
If you need an energy-efficient electric water heater that will provide years of service without requiring frequent maintenance, check out the Rheem Marathon range of electric heaters today.