In this Buying Guide we will try to cover many of the different options to make your decision an easy one.
There are many different types, sizes and fuel sources that you can use for your homes water heating needs. The decisions you make on which type of heater is right for you will be based on Cost, Ease of install and long term benefits.
Since most people will be replacing and not installing a new water heater in a new home you should rate the quality of service your last water heater provided before getting a new one.
If your home now has a small whole house water heater below 60 gallons ask yourself if you ever run out of water. If you do you may want to increase the storage tank size. I say may because older water heaters will fill up with sediment and they will not run at peak efficiency.
Another choice would be to install an on demand water heater. This system does not store water but provides it when you need it. Some home furnaces, mostly oil heat, will provide hot water from an on demand type system.
As well as buying a heater that can supply enough hot water when you need it you also do not want to buy one that is too large for your needs. Buying a 80 gallon unit if you are a retired couple or single person will require your heater to run more often costing more money for the initial purchase and for the operation of the heater over a long period of time.
On the other hand if you enjoy a whirlpool bath nightly and need many gallons of hot water you may want to either upgrade the whole home heater or buy an addon or point of use water heater for your whirlpool.
Homes with children and teens will need larger amounts of water.
If you are in doubt you can ask a plumbing contractor to visit your home and give you a free estimate and size rating.
Common sizes for water heaters with storage tanks are as follows:
Point of Use – up to 20 gallons
Small – Up to 50 gallons
Medium – 50 to 70 gallons
Large – 80 gallons or above
On Demand – Unlimited Water – Tankless Design
Fuel or Heat Source Choices
There are 3 common ways to power your Hot Water Heater.
Electric – Easiest to install most expensive to run
Gas – May require a Contractor to install Cheaper then Electric to Run.
Solar – Large initial expense – very cheap to run when sun is available.
Both Gas and Electric hot water heaters are priced very close together however the initial cost does not mean the overall expense will be the same. At this time in most locations Gas is less expensive to run over an extended time however with new Obama Administration taxes on carbon fuels this may change.
The initial cost of a Solar Hot Water heater will be anywhere from double to triple that of a standard tank based gas or electric system. The cost to run a solar hot water heater is minimal in all but the coldest winter months. During that time a backup electric heating element will provide hot water for the home.
Most solar hot water systems are installed by professionals because it requires work on your roof for the collector and also may be required to qualify for a Tax Rebate.
We have seen Solar systems in New England that can serve much of the hot water demands of a home even when there is snow on the ground.
On Demand Tankless Hot Water heaters will cost at least twice the price of a standard tank type model. They are easy to install but may require a contractor.
Choice for Replacement
The easiest choice is to replace your current model with the exact same type you have. Changing to Gas from Electric will require a contractor to install Gas Line to the location.
If you will be living in your home for more then 5 years you may want to purchase a model that will fit your current and future needs. If you are planning to sell your home then size the model based on the number of people that can live in the home IE bedrooms.
When approached by a sales person about Insurance ask if it covers 100% or a prorated amount for Parts and Labor. If your system dies again in 5 years and it is rated for 6 years you will probably only get 20% of the cost of a new one. Most manufacturers have their own warranty which will cover parts only.
If you are installing a gas Hot Water heater in your home’s garage or living space you will need to make sure it is properly vented.
In Garages it is important to raise the Heater so the ignition won’t ignite gasoline vapors that stay close to the ground. Local codes will dictate location and height of Gas Heaters and an inspection will be necessary if you are doing a change over.
Getting Rebates is always a good thing. Solar Hot Water Heaters are often covered under Federal, State and Local Tax Rebates.
You may also find rebates if you are upgrading from a low efficiency to a high efficiency model.
Finally your Electric or Gas company will provide discounts on models they contract to sell and possibly rebates for systems you install yourself.
If you are in doubt on the type or size of the system you need you can contact a local HVAC or Plumbing contractor or talk to your local building official and sales people.
The YouRepair Store sells a full line of Hot Water Heaters for every application.
Our Discounts are some of the best you will find and free delivery on many models can make your total cost even cheaper.