Water heaters are fairly expensive, generally you aren’t going to run out replace it every year; so when it comes time to finally buy a new water heater, you want to make sure you get the best one that fits your household’s needs. To help you pick out the best water heater, here are 10 things to avoid when considering a new hot water system.
When buying a new water heater, it can be tempting to buy a smaller unit to try and save a couple bucks. But, if you buy a smaller water heater, you run the risk of not having enough hot water, which means your water heater will have to work overtime in order to meet the hot water demands of the household. So, if you have more than 2 people living in your house, make sure you get a water heater that can meet the needs of everyone in the house.
At the same time, you want to be careful about buying a water heater that is too large. If your water heater is too large, you’re just going to end up paying for hot water you never use. So before you actually commit to purchasing a water heater, sit down and seriously think about how much hot water your household uses. Once you have a rough idea of how many gallons your family uses, you can easily find a water heater size that works for your household.
Solar water heaters are slowly becoming more popular options, although they are still years away from being as popular as more conventional water heaters. You may decide you want to get a solar water heater, which isn’t a bad idea, since solar water heaters use less energy and thus are less expensive to run. However, if you are getting a solar model, make sure it is a hybrid model, that can use both solar and electricity. The reason being that the energy the water heater takes from the sun may not be enough to meet the demands of your household, and so having the ability to power the water heater with electricity can help you in times of high demand.
Most people when shopping for water heaters will stick with what they know, which are conventional gas or electric tank heaters. But there are plenty of different types of water heaters that work just as well as traditional ones. For example, tankless water heaters use less energy and take up far less space, all while working just as well as traditional tank based water heaters.
When shopping for a water heater, you should consider more than just the initial price tag. Certain types of water heaters cost more at the start, but will eventually pay for themselves by reducing your monthly energy usage. To give an example, think of heat pump water heaters, these capture heat from the air and use that to hear the water. These types of water heaters are more expensive, but they use a lot less energy (over 50% less) than traditional water heaters. So while the initial price of a heat pump water heater may be high, it will more than pay for itself in the long run.
You may think that you can get a water heater for cheap if you buy used. While that is true, you are also taking a big risk. Water heaters can be finicky and can be damaged easily, and you have no way of knowing if a water heater was damaged and then hastily repaired so that it could be sold again as “used.” If you still insist on buying a used water heater, at least make sure that it is only a couple years old (any water heater that is 4 or 5 years old should be avoided) and that it has all the relevant information on it still (model number, serial number, etc.).
Some water heaters will try and suck you in with extra features like “anti-scale systems” (which reduce the buildup of minerals) or digital interfaces. While these are nice features, they are not actually necessary. Many of the features are completely unnecessary if you know how to preform proper maintenance on your water heater. Take anti-scale systems, they prevent the buildup of minerals in your water heater (minerals can cause your water heater to start rusting; yet you can prevent the buildup of minerals by draining your water heater once a year.
In Australia, water heaters (and many other appliances) are general given an energy rating, which ranges from 1 star to 6 stars. The higher the stars, the more efficient the water heater. Make sure you stay away from inefficient models, regardless of what features they may have. Inefficient models are both worse for the environment and worse for your wallet. High efficiency water heaters are just as good, if not better, than low star models, so there is no reason not to buy a model with a high rating.
Your average water heater should last anywhere from around 10 to 15 years depending on the model. So, if you water heater breaks after only a couple years, you have not, in anyway, gotten the full amount of value out of your water heater. This is why it is important to get a long warranty. Some companies will offer warranties as low as 3-5 years. Some will go much higher. Generally, you should aim for a warranty of around 7 years or more (some companies will even offer 10 year warranties).
Drain valves on water heaters are located near the bottom, and as you can probably guess from the name, they are used to drain the water heater. There are two types of drain valves, plastic and brass. Do yourself a favour and go with brass, it is more durable and is easier to work with. We covered earlier how proper water heater maintenance involves draining the tank once a year, so it is important that the drainage valve be as durable as possible.