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Some of the best hybrid water heaters are available in stores such as Amazon, and you can get one whenever you want. It seems like a simple purchase process, but it can be incredibly complicated. This is because there are different models of these devices from various manufacturers. Some, we might add, would make terrible purchases. As such, it falls to you to ensure you don’t make a blunder when choosing the heater to buy.
Ideally, the right hybrid water heater for you should fulfill the needs of your household. By that we mean it should have enough capacity for all the people in the house. Another thing to look at is the first-hour rating. This will tell you all you need to know about the machine’s performance. Lastly, the device should make installation feasible and easy, which is why you should consider the dimensions and weight of the tool. Notably, these are some of the standard features shared across most of the best hybrid water heaters in the market. That said, most manufacturers opt to add extra features to the devices as well. Finally, you can find examples of top hybrid water heaters listed below.
Our first hybrid water heater pick of the day is the A.O. Smith FPTU-80. As you can see stated above, the heater’s capacity is 80 gallons making this a medium-sized option. As such, the water-heating machine should easily serve the needs of a medium-sized family of between three to four people.
Compared to an electric water heater, this A.O. Smith FPTU-80 also allows you to save up to 73% of the electric cost. This should add to the incentives to buy this machine. This may also explain why the water heating machine is energy star qualified.
One of the use modes of the device is the vacation mode. If you’re leaving your home for a while, you should activate this mode so that operation is reduced. This will again help you save on some energy costs and provide freeze protection for a while.
There are three other use modes available in the machine. They include efficiency, hybrid, and electric. You should thus choose the mode to work with depending on the hot water needs at the moment. Some of these modes heat water faster than others, while others conserve more energy. Notably, you have a digital display that should be handy when switching between modes.
You should know that the water heater is relatively large and heavy compared to some of the other options listed. Also, thanks to its hybrid nature and the fact that it can use ambient air as a source of heat, you should install this machine in a relatively open space. It could be your garage or basement as long as it has enough space.
Another performance metric to note for the water heater is the first-hour rating of the machine. As a result, this heater is a better performer than most other water heating devices listed. Lastly, all parts of the heater are covered by a decade-long warranty.
What we liked: The 10-year warranty is one of the highlights of the machine. Also, the capacity and first-hour rating seem to be enough for a medium-sized family. The cost of running this machine is significantly lower as compared to electric water heaters. Additionally, you can activate vacation mode when you aren’t in the house, leading to more energy savings. The energy star qualification is another reason for you to have confidence in the machine.
What could be better: This tool will take up a lot of space wherever you decide to install it. Also, since it sucks the heat out of surrounding air, it might be an inconvenience in cold climates where you need all the heat you can get.
Our second favorite hybrid water heater is another pick from A.O. Smith. As is visible from the images provided, this machine is almost identical to the editor’s choice. However, this A.O. Smith HPTU-50 is smaller, lighter, and more in tune with the needs of a smaller household.
The tank in this machine has a maximum capacity of 50 gal, which is synonymous with its smaller size. That said, the water heater is just like its predecessor in that it can save you up to 73% in energy costs. This is obviously in comparison to traditional electric water heaters. As such, one would understand the reason for the energy star qualification.
Notably, this tool has 4500W heating elements that may come in handy when using the electric mode to heat your water. That said, the efficiency and hybrid modes are also present, and you can choose either one. Over time you’ll realize that the time it takes for water to heat up is different from one mode to another. The power consumption in these modes is also different.
The fact that the heater has a washable air filter is another tangible benefit. As you probably know, the machine continuously sucks in warm air to act as a heat source for your water. This is why the air filter is included. Over time the impurities trapped in the filter may hamper the heater’s efficiency, which is why it should be replaced or washed. The option to wash it is cheaper.
We should also mention the vacation mode. This should be handy if you’re leaving the house for an extended period. Lastly, the electronic interface that controls the heater has been made to be easy to figure out.
What we liked: The water heater has an easy to use electronic interface. You get a reusable and washable air filter. The machine has dual voltage capabilities. There are three heating modes to choose from, depending on environmental factors and how fast you want your water heated. You can get up to 73% in energy cost savings from the machine. Lastly, the vacation mode can be activated to save on energy and provide freeze protection if you’re leaving the house for a long time.
What could be better: This machine is not capable of serving medium to large households.
For relatively large households, we feel the Rinnai CHS199100IP would work best. As you can see, the size and weight point to a relatively large device. As such, you may need more space in your garage or basement to install the machine. The capacity of 119 gal. also seems suited to the needs of more than seven people.
The first-hour rating of 315 gal. is quite impressive. Part of the reason why this heater has such a high first-hour rating is its 199,000 BTU energy output. Also, the machine works with 120V sockets, which just might take some of the stress off the installation process.
Another pro of this heater is that it works well in both low and high altitudes. This might be because almost all components in the machine are top-notch and individually certified. These parts are all replaceable, making the machine easy to maintain and repair should the need arise.
Notably, the warranty coverage varies according to the different parts of the machine as well. The heat exchanger and tank, for instance, are covered for six years. As for the other components of the heater, their warranty coverage is five-years long.
Lastly, you have an integrated temperature controller incorporated into the machine.
What we liked: You can control the temperature of the water coming out of the device. The capacity and the first-hour rating are relatively high; hence this machine is ideal for large families. The parts used in making this heater are of high quality and individually certified. These parts are also replaceable.
What could be better: The machine is bulky and will take up a lot of space. This heater also costs a pretty penny.
Next, we have the 40-gal Ruud HP40RU option. The device has the lowest capacity of all the heaters listed here today. However, the weight is relatively high compared to the A.O. Smith HPTU-50. Also, the heater’s dimensions are provided above so you can plan for installation.
The first-hour rating is also the lowest on the list. That said, if you’re a family of one or two in the house, the heating capacity of the tool may be enough for your needs.
The water heater’s performance may also be dependent on the heat mode you chose to work with. One of these modes is the energy saver option, which will use the heat pump for all your heating needs. Next, the high demand mode is when you need a lot of hot water and fast. This mode will make use of both the heat pump and the built-in heating element.
Lastly, we have the electric heating option. While this option may be relatively fast at heating water, it does use up a lot of energy. Notably, you’ll also get a touchpad to control the water heater.
What we liked: This water heater comes with a touchpad that should make the machine easy to use. With the energy saver and high demand modes, you get to save on energy costs.
What could be better: The first-hour rating isn’t the best in the market. The tank capacity is also relatively small for such a large device.
Things to Consider
Having hot water in your faucets is incredibly important, and one of the ways you can get that is by buying a hybrid water heater. The tool is efficient and saves you a ton in terms of energy costs. However, as we mentioned before, choosing the right hybrid water heater can be daunting. That said, it is incredibly less so if you have a buying guide to help you along.
What is a hybrid water heater, and how does it work?
A hybrid water heater is one that can use either electricity or heat drawn from air to raise the temperature of your water. The machine draws air from the surroundings into its evaporator coil. After that, the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the air using refrigerant. Lastly, a heat exchanger transfers the heat from the coil to the water in the tank.
Also, a hybrid water heater will have an electric heating element as well. This might kick in when the demand for hot water is high to help the machine keep up with your needs. Sometimes these machines use the electric heating element and the heat exchanger simultaneously to achieve the fastest heating results.
Benefits of hybrid water heaters
The hybrid water heater will have a high heating efficiency compared to electric water heaters. In some cases, you can get up to 70% heating efficiency, leading to lower energy use. As a result, you can save hundreds in terms of energy bills.
Features to consider when choosing a hybrid water heater
As evident from the list above, each hybrid water heater will be unique in terms of features. Of course, the benefits of each will be wholly dependent on the inbuilt features. These include capacity, dimensions, tank material, first-hour rating, and more. Notably, these heater features should dictate what hybrid water heater you purchase. If you’re unsure of the importance of each of these features, you can look at the section below to see which ones to prioritize.
Each household is different in terms of the number of people living there. Some are as few as one person, while others have ten people or more. Of course, the latter will need more hot water from the machine for their daily needs. This is one reason why you look at the heater’s tank capacity.
To put this into context, the Rinnai CHS199100IP may work for a household of eight with its 119 gal tank capacity. On the other hand, the Ruud HP40RU can’t possibly hope to meet the hot water needs of all those people. This is especially true if they tend to shower in the same period, e.g., in the morning.
On the other hand, the Rinnai CHS199100IP would prove too expensive and surplus to requirements in a one-person home.
Remember that you’ll need to have ample space in your garage or basement to install the machine. In preparation for this, always check the dimension of the hybrid water heater. This will tell you whether you have enough space for the product. It can also help with planning. Finally, you should avoid installing the heater in a cramped space as it needs ambient air to heat your water.
Of course, the tank is one of the more crucial components of the hybrid water heater. This is where your hot water will be stored before it is released to your faucets. Needless to say, if the construction of the tank is flimsy, you could be in some trouble.
Notably, if the material of the tank is not top-notch, the hot water may strain it to the point where it leaks. Water damage in your home may then follow suit, and you’ll have to deal with the added cost of constant repairs. That said, if the tank material is robust, you can go a long time without having to worry about this.
Next, we have the first-hour rating, which is probably the most significant performance indicator in any potential hybrid water heater purchase.
Notably, the first-hour rating will tell you how much water to expect from the device during the first hour of use.
During the first hour of use, the machine starts off with a tank full of hot water. Consequently, performance may dip a bit in the second and other consecutive hours of use.
Of course, the highest performer on the list is the Rinnai CHS199100IP, with a first-hour rating of 315 gal.
You are likely buying a hybrid water heater for the efficiency of the device and the savings it allows you to make in terms of energy consumption. In the A.O. Smith HPTU-50, for instance, you can get to save a lot on your electric bill. This is because the machine uses up to 73% less energy to heat your water. As such, you’ll find that you can even recoup the initial cost of installation and purchase in the long run.
Another metric that you can use to judge the quality of your hybrid water heater is the noise level. The most efficient water heaters are quiet in operation. Notably, it might be a tad inconvenient for the machine to be loud. This is because the noise may prove to be a nuisance, especially when trying to do other things in the house, e.g., studying, reading a book, watching tv, sleeping e.t.c.
Next, we have the display. As seen above, most hybrid water heaters come with several modes that control water heating processes. Switching between these modes is easier if you have a display as it will show you exactly what mode you are using at a particular time.
Also, this display will be crucial even when controlling other aspects of the machine, such as the maximum water temperature. Notably, the displays in the A.O. Smith FPTU-80 and the A.O. Smith HPTU-50 are quite impressive.
In addition to the tank, other components of the hybrid water heater also have to be durable. One example of this is in the Rinnai CHS199100IP. As mentioned above, the components of this heater are individually certified. Also, they are exceptionally durable and can be replaced at a moment’s notice. The fact that they come with a five-year warranty is another testament to their quality and durability.
You also don’t want a hybrid water heater to give you headaches because it continually needs to be fixed. Remember that fixing any component of the water heater may be an expensive affair. Also, if it constantly breaks down, it won’t do the job it is needed for, which is to heat water.
One of the things that sets the A.O. Smith FPTU-80 apart from other hybrid water heaters is the vacation mode. This is a shared feature that is seen in the A.O. Smith HPTU-50 as well. If you’re taking an extended break from your house to experience other parts of the world, you should leave after activating this mode.
Notably, the vacation mode will reduce performance even lower because no one will be using hot water. Of course, with this, you save even more on energy costs. Additionally, the vacation mode provides the machine with freeze protection in the winter.
How to install a hybrid water heater
Installing a hybrid water heater in your garage or basement might be a little more than what most DIYers bargain for. However, if you know what steps to follow, you likely won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on hiring a plumber to do it for you. We have explained these steps below so you can have an easier time completing the installation.
First, shut off the water supply. You are going to be detaching some of your existing plumbing, and as such, you don’t want to spill too much water. Next, you should cut off the power being supplied to your current heater.
You can then drain your current water heater of all water. You do this by opening a faucet or your shower and letting the water flow out. Ensure the tank is empty before you move to the next step.
After that, sever all electrical and plumbing connections to your old water heater. This may involve cutting some wires and pipes. Notably, some of the pipes may be threaded, and hence you can detach them quite easily by turning them anti-clockwise.
Once you are done detaching your old hybrid water heater, you can remove it and set it aside. This is followed by replacing it with the new one.
Make sure all the electric connections match, including the hot, neutral, and ground wires. Of course, the electrical wires need to be well connected if the device is to do its job. This is followed by attaching the plumbing as well.
There should be a pipe to provide the heater with water as well as another pipe connection to the shower and other faucets. Ensure that the connection is liquid-tight. For this, you might need Teflon tape, a liquid thread sealant, or wicking string. These options can also be used in combination with each other to ensure the pipes are watertight.
Additionally, remember that the machine derives heat from the air, which it then uses to raise the temperature of your water. By doing so, the air is going to condense and turn into moisture. This moisture then needs to be drained from the machine. As a result, the tube for the condensate has to be put in the ground.
Alternatively, the condensate drain tube can be connected to other drains in the house.
Also, remember to put the air filter in place. Do a last round of checkups to ensure all the connections have been made right before turning the water supply and power back on.
Lastly, you go down to the basement or wherever it is that you installed the heater and select the device’s working mode. Notably, your mode options will likely use electricity, the heat pump, or a combination of the two to heat your water. After that, you’re done and can now enjoy hot water in your house.
Typically a hybrid water heater can last anywhere between ten and 15 years. However, there are a couple of things that affect the heater’s lifespan that you should pay attention to.
The first is water quality. For some of you, your supply contains hard water with lots of minerals. As a result, you find scale builds up in the water heater leading to a shorter life. If, however, you decide to add a whole house water softener to the plumbing in your house, you can add to the lifespan of your heater.
Where your water heater is installed is another thing that might affect how long the device lasts. Notably, in some of these installation areas, the water heater might have to work harder in a bid to maintain high water temperatures. This is especially true in wintery conditions. As a result of overworking the water heater won’t last very long. As such, it is imperative that you find the right place to install the device.
How well you maintain the water heater could be an indicator of how long the machine will last. For example, if you don’t take the air filter out of the A.O. Smith HPTU-50 for regular cleaning, then the device could have a shorter lifespan than it is capable of.
During the purchase process, you might have to fork out more money than you would need for a conventional water heater. However, the installation allows you to save up to 300 dollars or more in energy costs per year. Since you’ll probably have the heating tool for a long time, you get to recoup the initial cost of the machine and save some extra money as well compared to other heaters.
The hybrid water heater should also undergo regular maintenance if it’s to live up to its potential. Notably, some maintenance features have been built into some of these hybrid water heaters. One example is the A.O. Smith FPTU-80 that has vacation mode. This mode provides freeze protection.
Nonetheless, if you choose a heater that doesn’t have this kind of protective feature, it would do you good to drain it of all water when going on vacation. You should also take the same course of action if the electricity has been shut off and there is a danger of freezing.
Also, in some cases, you might need to clean the air filter regularly. Remember that the water heater sucks in air and uses it as a heat source for the water. Consequently, if the device’s ability to suck in air is impeded, the machine won’t be as efficient in heating water as it should be.
Notably, debris and dust can block the airways in the filter and thus needs to be removed. To clean the filter, you first need to remove it from the machine. However, before you can do so, you have to turn the power supply off. Once the filter is separate from the rest of the heater, you either use a vacuum or wash it with soap and water. For the latter, you’ll need to air dry the filter before returning it to the heater.
Another regular maintenance check you should do is look into the accuracy of the machine’s temperature controller. If this component is inaccurate, the water could either be too cold or too hot to use. In either of these cases, the controller needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
Additionally, inspect the heater and all its components for leakages whenever you can. Also, check whether there are any loose electrical connections and correct the issue if there are. Lastly, if you can eliminate some of the sediment in water passageways, you should do so for the machine to be more efficient.
As for our top three hybrid water heater selections, they are the A.O. Smith FPTU-80, the A.O. Smith HPTU-50, and the Rinnai CHS199100IP. The A.O. Smith FPTU-80 is just about right for the needs of three or four people. Considering that the average household size in the United States is 2.6 people, the machine’s capacity and performance should be enough. The vacation mode, construction, build, and even the controller are impressive as well.
Next, we have the A.O. Smith HPTU-50. By all intents and purposes, this option just seems like a smaller version of the A.O. Smith FPTU-80. A lot of features are similar, including the vacation mode. Also, the washable air filter should prove an asset in the long run.
Finally, we have the Rinnai CHS199100IP. If your house has more than five people, this device is for you. After all, not many other options in the market have the capacity or the performance to service your needs. That said, the heater is bulky and will take up a lot of space where you do the installation.
If you know of a high-quality hybrid water heater that we may have missed out on, you can notify us in the comments section below.