Thanks to today’s technology, water heaters are becoming more efficient, but finding out which ones are made in the USA can be time-consuming.
After researching, I have compiled a list with pictures of fourteen water heaters made in USA, including:
- Tank and Tankless.
- Natural Gas, Liquid Propane, and Electric.
- For Residential, Commercial, and RVs.
- And are conveniently available online.
In addition, I cover some important aspects related to water heater sizing, cost, and durability, to help you choose the correct one for your home.
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Table of Contents
- How to Choose the Correct Water Heater
Tankless and Tank Water Heater (Explained)
- Tankless Water Heater
- Tank Water Heater
- The Big Difference Between a Tank and Tankless Water Heater
- Do Water Heaters Need Expansion Tanks
- When to Install a Water Heater Expansion Tank
How to Choose the Correct Water Heater
I recommend figuring out the right water heater size before buying a house.
You don’t want a water heater that’s too small because you will run out of hot water.
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But you also don’t want a water heater that’s too big because you’ll spend a lot of money keeping the water hot.
How to Size a Tank Water Heater
First, see if you always run out of hot water with your current tank water heater; if so, you may increase its size.
Before doing this, remember that today’s water heaters are getting thicker because they are more energy-efficient, which is a good thing.
Suppose you had a 50-gallon water heater tank in a closet that barely fit. If this new water heater is two inches bigger, it may not fit.
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So whichever option you choose, measure your opening first to ensure that the new water heater will fit in the same place you took the other one out.
Maximum Hourly Load: Another thing to know is when your peak hour load is, i.e., when you run most of your shower, dishwasher, and washing machine simultaneously.
Knowing your maximum peak gallons of hot water is crucial because that tells you how much water you need.
So you’ll learn this by taking the number that adds up.
The average gallons per activity includes:
- Washing machine: 32 gallons
- Shower or bath: 20 gallons
- Shaving: 2 gallons
- Hand or face washing: 4 gallons
- Dishwashing by hand: 4 gallons
- Automatic dishwasher: 14 gallons
- Hair and shampoo washing: 4 gallons
These are the numbers that will give you a baseline to go by.
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I suggest monitoring your home meter when using hot water appliances to get more accurate numbers.
Let them go through a complete cycle one at a time on hot water to see exactly how much hot water it takes to run each of them.
Water Heater First Hour Rating: Another thing you need to know is the first-hour rating of your water heater.
The first-hour rating is a yellow energy code guide usually glued to the water heaters.
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The first-hour rating means how many gallons of hot water you can get out of that water heater in one hour, which will be necessary.
Suppose you’ve gone through and calculated that you need 80 gallons of hot water per hour, then make sure that the first-hour rating on the water heater you’re looking at is 80 gallons.
You can get a 60 or 70-gallon per hour water heater. Still, you won’t be able to use all your hot water appliances simultaneously.
There are different methods to look at it, but that’s how you figure out what size water heater you need.
So look at the numbers and figure out what it will cost you to run that water heater for a year and find out where you can save the most money.
How to Size a Tankless Water Heater
When sizing a tankless water heater, you must know how many gallons per minute you need.
As I mentioned, a tank water heater is rated in gallons per hour. In contrast, a tankless water heater is rated in gallons per minute.
You need to know the temperature of the water going in and figure out how hot water you want to get out of it.
Suppose you want 140 degrees; 140 degrees is the maximum temperature you want to come out of a water heater.
A commercial water heater puts out up to 180 degrees, but even 140 degrees can be scorching.
So a tankless water heater slows the flow to keep the water in the heat exchanger long enough to heat it to that different temperature. And that’s what determines how many gallons per minute it can put out.
For example, in a tankless water heater, the gallons per minute can increase if you lower the temperature.
Let’s say you turn it down to 100 degrees; you’ll get more gallons per minute. So look at how many gallons per minute you need.
To calculate the amount of water, you need to use the same example I mentioned above with a tank water heater. Still, it will be gallons per minute with a tankless water heater.
And you want to go with a tankless water heater with the maximum gallons per minute allowed through it that it’s going to make.
So take the time to find out what you need to replace and what you need to replace it with, and do it wisely.
Tankless and Tank Water Heater (Explained)
Tankless Water Heater
A tankless water heater does not give instant hot water at the tap. Still, it gives you hot water on demand, i.e., unlimited hot water once you get it.
“On-demand” for a tankless water heater doesn’t mean you’ll get instant hot water at the faucet. Instead, hot water from the tankless water heater to the tap will take just as long, if not longer.
As I mentioned earlier, how a tankless water heater works is that it slows down the movement of the water going through the heat exchanger to heat it to a specific temperature.
For example, suppose the inlet water temperature is 70 degrees, and you are trying to get it to come out at 140 degrees. In that case, that 70 degrees is what you are trying to heat.
So you may have to slow it down as it flows through that heat exchanger to get that high.
That’s one of the only bad things about tankless water heaters until you look at the cost, which I will cover below.
When Installing a Tankless Water Heater (Essential Step)
One of the first things you have to do if you’re putting in a tankless water heater is to make a gas load calculation chart.
You must measure the gas piping system and the primary inlet to know how many BTUs are coming.
So you have to know how many BTUs, how long each section of pipe is, and how many BTUs are in that load chart.
You have to put it all together to ensure that the pipe coming into the house is big enough and the distribution pipe is big enough. This is one of the most important things to remember.
You don’t want to install a tankless water heater and have the plumber return and replace the main.
Understanding a Retro-Fit Installation of a Tankless Water Heater
I like tankless water heaters only if it checks all the boxes.
Suppose your current tank water heater is downstairs in the garage; you have to open up the walls to run the tankless vent and the new gas line through the upper floor.
It doesn’t make sense to install a tankless water heater because the ROI isn’t worth it unless you’re not worried about the cost, which I will cover below.
So there will be times when it is not worth doing a tankless water heater retro-fit replacement.
And remember that a tankless water heater typically costs a little more than a tank water heater.
Tankless Water Heater Installation Cost
Tankless water heater installations can cost anywhere from $3,800 to $12,000.
High-end tankless water heaters with a retro-fit can cost about $12,000 because of the scope of work involved in raising the service yard, opening the walls to pass the new gas line, and venting.
Does a Tankless Water Heater Save Money
A tankless water heater will save you more money if you run a lot of hot water.
If you don’t use a lot of hot water, suppose you use around 40 to 50 gallons of hot water a day, then a tank water heater will save you quite a bit of money.
And the cost-effectiveness over time would be more beneficial for you to stay with a tank water heater.
Consider each water heater installation as a stand-alone because each installation depends on the particular situation, including extreme weather.
Many homeowners know that their tank water heater works for them, so they opt to keep it.
How Long Will a Tankless Water Heater Last
A tankless water heater can last about 8 to 12 years and possibly 12 to 20 years if stretched reasonably well with proper preventive maintenance.
Tank Water Heater
If you replace a leaking water heater, using the same water heater aspect may still be the best way to go.
A tank water heater is an easy replacement, meaning you take the old one and put the new one in.
Now you may have to do a coating upgrade which means you may have to put a drip leg in, a fresh air inlet pipe, an exhaust pipe; other than that, that’s really about it.
If you compare gas and electric tank water heater, a gas water heater is probably 50% more efficient.
Also, a tank water heater keeps the water hot all day long, which means that while you are at work, the tank is kicking to keep the water warm.
Manufacturers continue to make them more efficient by adding more insulation, keeping the water hotter longer, and not turning on more often. That’s a good thing for a homeowner because you’re saving money.
However, the disadvantage for the homeowner is that if they make the water heater two inches bigger.
And as I mentioned earlier, it may not fit in the closet that the old one came out of or maybe even in an attic.
Suppose the tank water heater is in the attic, and you put one of these efficient tank water heaters. In this case, because of its size, you might have to get the stairwell out of the attic to get the water heater up there.
Tank Water Heater Installation Cost
Installing a tank water heater can range from $1500 to $3500.
Now, the installation cost will depend on what needs to be done, including the quality of the water heater you want, or maybe you want a six or twelve-year warranty or even a lifetime warranty.
There are different options, so you must consider what you want before choosing a tank water heater.
I always tell homeowners to think about how long they’ll be in the house and if they plan on living here forever.
If you plan to live in your current or future home forever, you may opt for a high-end water heater.
And even add a water filtration system to make it last longer.
So a filter and an anti-scalar can make your tank water heater last two or three times longer.
So the cost of installing a tank water heater, basically if it’s a simple switch from one to another, will be much less expensive.
And you’ll not have to pay for additional gas lines, electrical lines, different mounting brackets, or wall plates, to name a few accessories.
However, I always recommend changing the valves and lines, upgrading the drip leg, and doing everything you need to do while you are there: changing the water heater and all the fixtures that go with it.
Now that cost a little more, you’d rather pay a little more than have the plumber return a year or two because one of the fixtures failed.
How Long Will a Tank Water Heater Last
A tank water heater can last 8 to 12 years and sometimes over 20 years.
My tank water heater lasted about 25 years; it was one of the old Rheem tank water heaters.
The Big Difference Between a Tank and Tankless Water Heater
The big difference between a tank and tankless water heaters, as far as I’m concerned, is the gas line to it.
A tankless water heater can be up to 199,000 BTUs. A tank water heater is probably 30,000 to 50,000 BTUs, depending on its size, efficiency ratings, and other aspects that is almost four times the difference in BTUs.
Do Water Heaters Need Expansion Tanks
Expansion tanks are sometimes required by code, but even if your water heater doesn’t need one, it will still be a great idea to install one because it will prolong the durability of your water heater tank.
Here’s how it works.
When the water heater heats the water and cools down, there is an expansion and contraction inside the tank.
So when expansion and contraction occur inside the water heater tank, the expansion tank will allow and absorb any thermal expansion occurring from the water heater.
Remember that when the water heater tank is constantly high-pressure, it will wear out faster than expected.
That is why expansion tanks are recommended to help the water heater tank absorb that pressure, as I mentioned above, while simultaneously prolonging its durability.
When to Install a Water Heater Expansion Tank
An expansion tank is necessary when the city pressure exceeds the water heater pressure relief valve.
Typically, a residential water heater pressure relief valve is rated at 150 psi.
And it doesn’t matter if you have a pressure regulator regulating your home’s pressure; still, if the city pressure is higher than 150 psi, the pressure relief valve will open and start leaking water.
So if you see the pressure relief valve leaking, the water heater potentially has a thermal expansion problem and might need a thermal expansion tank installed.
Another reason to install an expansion tank is when the water heater has a check valve.
You will only have a check valve in a residential application running a hot water recirculation line.
However, that check valve interrupts the ability of the thermal expansion to bypass the city main.
Therefore, if a check valve is installed in your home, it is vital to have an expansion tank.