Tank water heaters, also known as conventional water heaters, are the most popular water heaters in the country. They come in a wide variety of sizes and can be powered by natural gas, propane, oil or electricity. They are one of the most affordable water heater systems to buy, but because of their constant energy usage required to keep your water hot, they can be expensive to operate in the long run.
How Do Tank Heaters Work?
Tank water heaters have a heating system that warms the water up to a set temperature. Cold water enters through the water inlet located at the bottom of the tank, and hot water is released from the top of the tank when one of the hot water lines is open.
As this happens, more cold water comes in to always keep the water tank full. They always maintain the water’s hot temperature, even when not in use, so they use more energy than other water heaters.
Note that if you use all the water in the tank, getting more hot water at the set temperature takes a while.
What’s the Price Range of Tank Water Heaters?
Tank water heaters come in a variety of sizes and prices. Expect to pay around $200 to $500 on the low end and up to about $1,500 to $2,000 on the high end. The factors affecting the total price include size, brand, fuel used and device efficiency.
What to Look for in a Tank Water Heater?
There are several factors to consider when picking the best tank water heater for your home, including size and storage capacity of the tank, first-hour delivery — also known as first-hour rating (FHR), fuel required and price.
Tank Size: Tank water heaters can be bulky and tall. Make sure you have enough space to fit the one you select. Small tanks can be a couple of feet tall, but large tanks can average 5 feet high.
Storage Size: There are several different sizes of tanks for homes. The most common types have a capacity of 20, 30, 40 and 50 gallons or more. Plus, there are even mini-tanks that hold only a few gallons of water at a time. These are great for a dedicated unit or sink.
Tanks in the 20- to 40-gallon range are a good choice for one to four people and ones in the 40s and above can provide enough water for more than four people at the same time, depending on their use. Each company has a chart that offers specific recommendations based on the number of people in the household.
First-Hour Rating: The FHR refers to the time of the day when you use hot water the most. So, it is important that you pick a tank water heater that will deliver the amount of hot water you need in that hour. The FHR is labeled on each tank and is typically slightly higher than the actual storage space of the tank.
Fuel: This is important because you want to have a tank compatible with the fuel source available in your area. The most common tank water heaters can be fueled by electricity, natural gas or propane. Other types of water heaters can be fueled by oil.
Price: When it comes to pricing, you have a wide selection of options to choose from, but mostly the cost will come down to the water tank size you need. In general, small tank water heaters cost around $300, and the price increases based on the size and features and can cost somewhere between $500 and up to $2,000 or more.
1. Rheem Performance 50 Gal. Medium 6-Year 4500/4500-Watt Elements Electric Tank Water Heater
This affordable, efficient, and reliable Rheem electric tank water heater can provide enough hot water for up to five people in a household. It delivers up to 61 gallons of hot water in the first hour, and it comes with a warranty of six years for the tank and its parts. It is an excellent choice for new construction or when you are replacing your existing water heater. Note that this unit requires an electrical connexion of 240V.
Rheem Performance 50 Gal. Medium 4500/4500 Watt Elements Electric Tank Water Heater
2. A.O. Smith Signature 100 50 Gal. Short 4500-Watt Double Element Electric Water Heater
As a highly rated and reliable tank water heater, this A.O. Smith unit is a great choice and the first one for your home. It has a compact size of fewer than 50 inches in height and 23 inches in diameter, delivers up to 57 gallons in the first hour and has an excellent price tag. And similar to the overall pick, it requires a 240V connection.
A.O. Smith Signature 100 50-Gallon Short 4500-Watt Double Element Electric Water Heater
3. Rheem Performance 40 Gal. Tall 6-Year 36,000 BTU Natural Gas Tank Water Heater
BEST FOR NATURAL GAS
If you are looking for a tank water heater fueled by natural gas, this is it or any from Rheem’s gas line. This 40-gallon water heater is great for small households of up to four people; it has a maintenance-free burner system, an overheat protection and a temperature relief valve. Keep in mind that this product is tall and measures shy of five feet, and requires an atmospheric vent.
Performance 40 Gal. Tall 6-Year 36,000 BTU Natural Gas Tank Water Heater
4. Rheem Performance 50 Gal. 10-Year Hybrid High-Efficiency Smart Tank Electric Water Heater
When it comes down to energy efficiency with excellent water storage, this Performance 50 gallon is the one. Its hybrid heat pump is more efficient than other tank water heaters and can save you up to $500 in energy a year. Plus, it may qualify for a rebate at your local jurisdiction. In addition, it has built-in WiFi, which allows you to control the unit using the mobile EcoNet app. And if all that wasn’t enough, it comes with a 10-year warranty and a one-year in-home labor warranty.
Rheem Performance Platinum 50 Gal. 10-Year Hybrid High Efficiency Smart Tank Electric Water Heater
5. Westinghouse 80 Gal. Lifetime 4500-Watt Electric Water Heater with Durable 316 I Stainless Steel Tank
BEST FOR LARGE FAMILIES
Westinghouse 80 gallon water heaters are reliable, durable, sleek-looking, and can provide enough water for the whole family. They deliver 84 gallons of water in the first hour, have a high recovery rate and are 98% thermal-efficient. Plus, they are made of stainless steel and come with a lifetime warranty. Take note that the price is around $1,400 and requires a 240V connection.
Westinghouse 80 Gal. Lifetime 4500-Watt Electric Water Heater with Durable 316 l Stainless Steel Tank
6. Rheem Performance 50 Gal. Tall 6-Year 43,000 BTU Liquid Power Vent Water Heater
BEST FOR PROPANE
There is no doubt that Rheem’s tank water heaters are reliable, and this one fueled by propane is not an exception. It provides enough hot water for up to five people, is Energy Star rated, and can be ventilated using PVC, ABS or CPVC. It has an easy-to-start system, only requires a 110V three plug outlet, and of course the propane gas to work.
Rheem Performance 50 Gal. Tall 6 Year 42,000 BTU Liquid Propane Power Vent Tank Water Heater
7. Bosch 4 Gal. Mini-Tank Electric Water Heater
If all you need is a little extra hot water in a designated sink or your RV, this mini-tank electric water heater will do it. This highly rated, compact, lightweight, and super-efficient water heater is easy to install, fits underneath a cabinet and only needs a 120V outlet connection to run. Best of all, the price is under $200.
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 4-Gallon