Whether outfitting a new home or upgrading an old water heater, choosing the right heater is an important decision. Tank water heaters will last for 10-15 years, while tankless can last for upwards of 20 years, sometimes longer. They can both do a lot to save money and boost home efficiency over the years. There is a lot to consider when picking the right hot water heater. Different models, whether tank or tankless, fuel types and sizes all play a role in the final decision-making process.
That’s why it’s important to understand all your options to ensure you get the best pick for your home. This handy water heater guide will provide you with the information you need to make the best decision for your home.
Types of fuel sources
Before looking at heaters overall, there are three types of fuel sources to consider. Most homes are readily outfitted with gas, while others have been built for electricity. It may also be worth considering to retrofit your home with a new fuel source. Electricity, for example, offers even greater savings, especially when paired with a new, efficient, hot water heater.
Electric-powered water heaters have metal coils that hang into the water and heat up to warm the water. The immediate benefit is that no ventilation needed, so the initial installation cost is much less. From an efficiency rating, electricity is a top contender. Gas water heaters range between 0.5 to 0.7 efficiency, while electric heaters can go up to 0.9. However, electricity itself does cost more than the other fuel sources. Without backup power as well, there won’t be any hot water during a power outage. Still, if you have a smaller home with less hot water demand, this is a great option.
Natural gas is the most common fuel for hot water tanks in Canada. Proper ventilation and airflow are essential with a natural gas heater to prevent deadly gas build-up. A professional can easily handle that, so never DIY the process. The water is heated via a gas burner at the base and a gas pilot light that creates the fire. While the hot water tank cost is more expensive than electric water heaters, they are much more efficient to run and heat up much faster. For large families or homes with a high demand for water, readily available hot water is a must. In the long-term, natural gas can offer great savings and will suit any sized home.
This fuel type works just like natural gas and is mostly used when your home isn’t already outfitted for natural gas. The main difference is while natural gas is readily provided, propane must be bought and delivered. Over the long-term, natural gas will be more cost-effective. Still, the initial cost to reoutfit your home is a costly investment. It will pay off but may take years to do so. If your home supports propane and the cost is effective, there’s no need to change.
Tank vs tankless vs heat pump
With the matter of fuel options aside, it’s time to consider the storage options for your best water heater Canada. When you finally choose one, you’ll have the option of a tank or tankless model or with a heat pump. All three have their benefits and considerations, depending on your home and budget.
Tank water heaters
As its name suggests, these models store water in a large tank that heats and distributes the water. Depending on the size, varying gallons of water can be stored at any given time. Most heaters can store from 20 to 50 gallons or more of hot water. Families of one to two will only need a smaller 20- to 30-gallon tank. Larger families of five or more will need a tank for 40 or more gallons.
An immediate benefit is that there is less upfront cost, and with ENERGY STAR certified models, the tanks are highly efficient. Gas-heated models can range from 0.67 to 0.70 efficiency. The downside is that since the water is heated and stored, there is the risk of running out of hot water. If that happens, there is a waiting period while more is heated. Getting the right-sized tank will help prevent that, which a professional can help with. They’ll consider how many people are in your family, what appliances you run, and measure how much water is used on a daily basis.
Tankless water heaters
Tankless models provide hot water on demand, without ever risking running out. The water itself is only heated as it passes out of the tank and towards the open faucet. Not only does this make the unit more efficient and very eco-friendly, but it also takes up much less space. Tankless water heaters can be wall-mounted, so any sized home can benefit from the unit. Since it frees up both visual and floor space, you don’t have to install it in the basement.
Still, the right size is just as important to consider. Too small and the heater can’t produce enough hot water on demand. Some homes might require more than one tankless hot water heater to keep up with demand. Too large, and the cost to install and run the heater is actually wasted money.
The downside is the cost is much higher than a traditional tank water heater. There will be energy and cost-savings over the long-term. If you plan to sell soon you might want to invest in the best hot water tank models instead. Otherwise, if you plan to stay in your home for many years, you can enjoy the benefits of a tankless water heater and recoup your purchase.
Heat pump water heaters
This less common type of heater is a hybrid heater that relies on a heat pump and electricity to heat the water. The heat pump uses electricity to move heat around instead of directly generating it. That makes it even more efficient than a regular electric water heater. To do so, heat is drawn in from the air surrounding it into the tank to heat the water. The pump itself can either be bought as a stand-alone unit, or an existing water heater can be retrofitted with one.
The initial cost of a heat pump is higher than traditional heaters, but it comes with fewer costs to operate. Where the hot water tank and pump are installed is a key part of an efficient heater. Cold areas in the home mean the heater can’t heat as efficiently, so install the hot water tank in someplace warm like the furnace room.
All water heaters will provide your home with hot water to use for showering, cleaning, or cooking. Understanding how that hot water is provided can help you make an informed decision about the water heaters listed below. Any of these recommended models could make a great addition to your home, but remember to factor in your budget and fuel source when choosing.
1. Rheem Elements Electric Tank Water Heater
An all-around great heater if you have a small family or have a stricter budget. As an electric heater, the initial installation is less expensive. You also save costs by not needing to add extra ventilation and piping. This model offers 40-gallons of water, which is enough for families of three or four members. It uses a 240-volt connection with dual 4500-watt heating elements that quickly heat the water as needed. Quick heating capabilities make it great for those busier mornings.
Fuel source: Electric
2. Rheem Natural Gas
For a natural gas alternative, this Rheem model is also efficient. It has a higher uniform energy factor (UEF) of .58 to .64, which means better efficiency. This best water heater Canada tank houses 40-gallons, so you get more heated hot water and less cost. For families of two to four, this is a great size and fuel source to consider. As a natural gas model, it comes with some added features and perks. It is self-cleaning, meaning no sediment will build-up, and no maintenance is needed to clean the filter. A fuel shut-off device provides twice the protection against leaks or health risks. Plus, the tank comes with a 6-year warranty to cover any issues that may come up in the future.
Fuel source: Natural gas
3. Ecosmart ECO 11 Electric Tankless Water Heater
This model offers the perfect balance between low cost and high efficiency for your home. As a tankless model, you get an endless supply of hot water without worrying about running out. The model heats water as it comes to the source, so as soon as you turn on the faucet, you can enjoy hot water. It can support the high demand for hot water, whether for showering and running the washing machine together or other duo hot water needs. The Ecosmart has a self-modulating feature that better controls the energy output of the model. That means increased efficiency, lower energy bills, and higher overall satisfaction. If you plan to stay in your home, this is a great option cost-wise.
Fuel source: Electric
4. Rheem Performance Platinum Indoor Tankless Water Heater
If electric power water heaters aren’t for you, but a tankless model is, consider this heater as an alternative. As a natural gas fuel source, you still get that quick heating time, but you save more space as it’s tankless. According to the Rheem website, the water-saving settings on this model can save upwards of 1,100-gallons of water per year. It does so by decreasing the amount of water flow until the right temperature is reached. That way, you don’t waste time and money running cold water until it heats up. It’s easy to maintain the model and easy to install, so you can start enjoying the benefits right away of this best hot water tank.
Fuel source: Natural gas
5. Westinghouse Ultra-High Efficiency/High Output Water Heater
If you have a large family or constantly have lots of guests over, you need a water heater that can keep up. That means a larger than a typical heater, which is where the Westinghouse model is ideal. It is gas-powered, so you get heat quickly. Its size means you can support multiple water demands at once. The heater can hold upwards of 60 gallons of hot water and provides 157 gallons of hot water in the first hour. It also comes with advanced controls, so you get more temperature control and better efficiency. The tank itself is stainless steel and so resists corrosion and premature breakdowns. With a 7-year warranty, this is a water heater that can last your family for many years.
Fuel source: Natural gas
6. Rinnai High-Efficiency Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater
Need a small yet mighty savings water heater? The Rinnai tankless water heater offers just that with its compact 1 foot by 2 feet dimensions and 6.5 gallons per minute efficiency. It can also help cut down energy bills by nearly 40%, so you get all-around savings. As far as safety features go, the temperature lock ensures no accidental temperature changes. The vent system is concentric, allowing exhaust and intake to run through the same vent. With less visual clutter and its smaller size, it’s one of the best hot water tank Canada.
Fuel source: Natural gas
7. A.O. Smith Signature Premier Natural Gas Heater
Despite being a large tank heater, this unit is able to fit into compact spaces without compromising its efficiency or water storage. It stores 40 gallons of hot water with a 40,000 BTU heater that provides 65-gallons of hot water in the first hour. The heater has extra safety and features meant to extend the lifespan of the heater. An LED indicator shows the status of the heater. An easy-to-use push-button starts the ignition. The built-in safety system prevents any accidents while the 12-year warranty gives you peace of mind for years.
Fuel source: Natural gas
Final water heater considerations
After you purchase your new water heater, the final important step is to hire a professional to do the installation. While it may be tempting to DIY and save money, it isn’t worthwhile in the long run. Plus, any retrofitting to a gas line must be installed by a certified gasfitter. A professional can help when picking the right size and even recommend the right fuel source. The actual installation will be done with ensured quality, so there is no risk of unexpected leaks or premature breakdowns. Professional installation also comes with warranties that will protect your best water heater Canada over the years.
Regular maintenance and routine servicing are another essential part of proper water heater care. While some DIY checks are a good start, nothing beats the eye of a professional. They can do a more detailed inspection, tune any parts that need it, or do minor repairs. Annual servicing also maintains the warranty of any insurance on the heater.
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