Storage Water Heater Buying Guide


This specialist water heater consumer report helps you pick the best storage hot water heater, consisting of the right size, gas or electric, and cost considerations.

Storage water heaters are the familiar tall, round white tanks that use gas, electrical power, propane, or fuel oil to heat water. They store from 20 to 120 gallons of water, depending upon the size of the tank. For a more detailed look and contrast of other types of water heaters you might wish to consider, please see Warm water Heaters.


Even within the classification of storage hot water heater, your options are many. In figuring out the right hot water heater for your home, you should consider some specific concerns, such as how big it must be, where it will go, and whether it will need to have a vent. You’ll also have to decide whether you’ll purchase a hot water heater that uses natural gas, lp, electricity, or a less common fuel such as wood or wood pellets.
This purchasing guide will assist you sort through your many alternatives.

Energy Efficiency

Energy performance ought to be a big issue. On average, storage water heaters last from 8 to Ten Years, so one that operates effectively can pay you back in energy cost savings in time.

Check the yellow EnergyGuide label, your best tool for comparing models. provides an energy cost calculator for gas and electrical hot water heater online.


New federal effectiveness standards that trigger on April, 16, 2015, require higher effectiveness ratings on all property tank-style water heaters offered in the United States. These requirements will substantially affect how water heaters are built, affecting their cost– and, in many cases– increasing their size, which may affect installation. According to the DOE, “The new standard will prevent about 180 million metric tons of co2 emissions, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of about 35.3 million automobiles.”
Water heaters affected consist of gas-fired, oil-fired, electrical, tabletop, and instantaneous gas- and electric-fired.

Gas or Electric Water Heater?


If you’re thinking about purchasing a new hot water heater, you may be wondering whether you must get one that is gas-fueled or electrical. Gas fuels majority of all water heaters; electrical energy warms most of the remainder. A small portion of hot water heater burn lp (LP), oil, or kerosene. And some use wood heat or solar batteries to heat water.
If natural gas is offered, your next hot water heater need to be gas-fueled. Electrical energy is the fuel of option just where it is the only choice– or where it is difficult to run a flue out the roof to carry the water heater’s combustion emissions.
Gas is both more affordable and much quicker at heating up a tankful of water. So are lp, kerosene, and oil, but they’re less practical because they need to be delivered (not piped) to a house.
According to 2011 information provided by the Department of Energy (, property energy sources by the average dollar cost per million BTUs of heat they produce were:

  • Gas: $10.54
  • Heating oil: $19.08
  • Propane: $23.07
  • Kerosene: $23.73
  • Electrical energy: $32.55

Obviously, these amounts differ with regional energy prices and change in time, however in the relative world of energy, natural gas is by far the cheapest, most hassle-free fuel.
The fuel your water heater uses will affect both the yearly cost of heating water and the water heater’s performance (how well it converts the energy into heated water). Some water heaters use fuel more efficiently than others.
An electric heatpump hot water heater, for example, usually is more effective than a traditional storage hot water heater and, as an outcome, might have lower yearly energy expenses than a gas water heater since of its high performance.
On the label, check the energy aspect (EF). This shows how well the unit converts its fuel to heat. The greater the EF number, the more efficiently the water heater uses its energy. Electric water heaters have EF numbers in between 0.75 and 0.95, and gas systems are ranked in between 0.5 and 0.7. Although electrical units may use their fuel more effectively, in the majority of areas electrical power is far more expensive than gas.

Water Heater Size & Capacity

Another label on the hot water heater need to reveal its first-hour score (FHR) number– this indicates how much warm water the heating unit can supply per hour at peak usage. The minimum FHR to choose for your home will depend on the variety of bathrooms and citizens it has.

Though the term “capability” describes a tank’s size, the genuine capacity of a hot water heater is a result of two aspects: storage and recovery time (how rapidly it can heat a tankful of water).
Storage water heaters vary in tank size from 20 to 120 gallons; the most typical sizes are 40 to 80 gallons. (Brief “low-boy” models are available in smaller sized sizes.) It is very important to match size to your family’s needs. If you get a tank that’s too small, you’ll frequently find the water cooling off just about the time you lather up in the shower. On the other hand, if you buy one that’s too large, you’ll be paying more than needed to keep the tank heated

Needs can be measured by the number of bathrooms in the house, though some circumstances can skew these standards– a laundry-heavy household with kids, the overall number of homeowners in your home, or a house with an especially big bathtub, for example. Undoubtedly, simply a couple living in a large house or a large family living in a small house require adjusting the size of the hot water heater needed.
The minimum-size system for a one-bathroom house need to be 30 or 40 gallons, in either a gas or electrical model. For a one-and-a-half-bath house, 40 gallons is minimum. For a two- to three-and-a-half-bath house, select a 50-gallon gas heater or a 66- to 80-gallon electric one (since electric hot water heater take longer to heat water, big tanks ought to be larger than their gas-fired counterparts). For a big, four-bath house or a home with an extra-large bathtub, get a 75-gallon gas heating system or a 120-gallon electric heater.
Recovery of gas-fired water heaters is a function of the BTU input and total effectiveness. Input varieties from about 32,000 on a 30-gallon unit to 88,000 on a 100-gallon tank. A typical input is 34,000 BTUs on a 40-gallon tank and 36,000 BTUs on a 50-gallon tank. The greater the BTU input and effectiveness, the much faster the recovery.
Electric water heaters normally have one 5,500-watt or 2 4,500-watt components. Two lower-kilowatt aspects will warm much faster than one higher-wattage component.
Both gas and electrical storage water heaters are ranked by the number of gallons they can raise to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in one hour. The majority of electric heating systems are ranked from 20 to 25 gallons per hour; numerous gas units can recuperate more than a full tank.

A high-recovery 50-gallon Rheem gas model can recuperate up to 81 gallons per hour. When buying a high-BTU gas design, understand that it may require a 4-inch flue rather than the standard 3-inch flue that most likely currently exists in your house.


Last updated on September 16th, 2019

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