When you are looking to combine the features of a traditional water heater, but you want to strive to be even more energy-efficient, a hybrid water heater may be the best choice for you.
They work best in warmer climates because they pull air in from the outside to use as a heating source. The hybrid water heater is roughly the same size as an electric standard water tank, but if you are running out of the water often, this hybrid water heater will help you alleviate this issue.
There are numerous hybrid water heater options on the market, and many people are not even aware that they have this option.
Over the lifespan of the hybrid water heater, you will save thousands of dollars in energy costs and reap the benefits of endless water.
Choosing the best hybrid water heater can be a daunting task if you are not familiar with them, but fear not, we are here to help. By following our in-depth buying guide and reviews of our top 4 favorite hybrid water heaters, you will have all the knowledge to make an educated decision on the best hybrid water heater for you.
What is a Hybrid Water Heater?
A hybrid water heater is the most efficient type of tank water heater on the market today. It uses a combination of the features of a traditional tank electric water heater with an added pump that allows you to use the environment around you to heat the water.
Most hybrid water heaters will come with multiple different settings that allow you to run the standard tank water heater like normal, or you can choose from an efficiency mode that will utilize the air pump mentioned previously.
Hybrid water heaters are proven to be the most efficient choice in terms of water heaters. Because they are not relying solely on the power or voltage like a traditional tank-style water heater, they use less energy to heat the water and will save your wallet some cash each year on utility costs.
How Does a Hybrid Water Heater Work?
Another name for a hybrid water heater is a heat pump water heater. It is called this because it has a pump that uses the air surrounding the system to heat the water.
It is important to note that hybrid water heaters are designed to work with electric tank-style water heaters. The power supply uses the same power supply to run the pump, so we need to make sure we are set up for electric tank water heaters before digging into the hybrid water heaters.
The way the hybrid water heater works is that it combines the traditional heating elements created by the electric tank-style heater with the heat pump. If your hybrid unit is set up to be running on its most efficient setting, you are telling the system that you want to use the air from around the unit to heat the air, rather than solely relying on the heating elements within the tank.
By doing this, we are relying less on high-powered heating coils and splitting the workload with the hot water pump. It is the most efficient way to heat your water because it is using less energy overall, but still providing enough to heat the water effectively for your entire home.
Hybrid Hot Water Heater VS Standard Hot Water Heaters
The ongoing argument over the effectiveness of standard tank-style water heaters versus hybrid water heaters is a lengthy conversation. There are certain factors like up-front costs, climate, water demand, efficiency, and operating costs that will all have an influence on which one of these two options is the best choice.
Hybrid Water Heaters
On average, you will see hundreds of dollars saved annually with the hybrid water heater. Because all hybrid water heaters are combined with an electric tank water heater, you will appreciate this because electric water heaters are notoriously expensive to run when compared to gas systems.
You will see decreases of over 70% with many hybrid water heaters. You will spend more money up-front on a hybrid model, but you should make up the difference in the 2-3 years thanks to the money you are saving on operating costs.
Hybrid water heaters typically keep up better with water demand than a standard electric water heater. Because the heating pump function uses the air in real-time to heat the water, it can provide you with more water than the typical standard tank that uses one heating source.
The best way to think about this is that standard water heater tanks are limited to the tank size, with the heating pump, it can provide more water.
Standard Tank Water Heaters
It is strongly suggested that you install a hybrid water heater into warmer climate homes. They will be much more effective when installed in warm or at least semi-warm environments. Because the heat pump uses the air around it to heat the water, it is much more effective at heating water if that air is warmer.
If you are in a cold environment, you may see some benefits from the hybrid style, but it will not be nearly as effective or efficient due to the power it will need to warm that air and water up. Standard heaters are better for all climate types.
Because of the added functionality and efficiency, so you will get from the hybrid water heater, it is expected that they would be pricier than the standard water heater. In many cases, you can double or triple the cost of the standard water heater, and that is what you can expect to pay for the hybrid model.
Essentially, you must weigh the pros of spending less money up-front on a standard system, but you will have to eat the higher operating costs in the future.
Features of a Hybrid Water Heater
Hybrid water heaters are loaded with bonus features that are well received by most homeowners. There are two features that every homeowner we have ever helped with a hybrid water heater has appreciated more than others.
Efficiency And Operational Costs
We have covered this within the article a few times, but I want to take a minute to explain exactly how much more energy you will be saving, and the money associated with this. Electric water heaters are much more expensive to operate than any other water heater type. If you are running an electric unit now, I am sure you realize this and are curious about hybrid water heaters for this exact reason.
Depending on the model, you will save on average $300-$800 PER YEAR on energy costs with a hybrid water heater.
The total amount of energy required to heat the water is much less than the standard water heaters. Remember, water heaters are a high-powered appliance; they need a lot of power to work! With a hybrid system, you are using less energy to heat the water and, therefore, saving money.
We are constantly getting complaints about the noise level associated with standard tank water heaters. They can be loud, and if they are not well insulated or not in a utility room that has a door, it can be annoying! With the hybrid model, you already have a quieter water heater style given that it is electric, but you are now adding an ultra-quiet pump that is taking on a bunch of the work.
The first thing homeowners always tell me is that unit is so quiet! If this is something, you would value, a hybrid water heater might be a good choice.
Hybrid Water Heaters VS Tankless Water Heaters
Over the last 5 years, hybrid water heaters and tankless systems have become the two most popular choices for residential water heaters.
They both have great benefits, and it will largely depend on your personal preference if you prefer one over the other. There are a few factors that are important to understand regarding the comparison between these two systems.
Hybrid Water Heaters
The operational costs of hybrid water heaters are the best in the business. There is no comparison between the costs associated with running a hybrid unit versus a tankless system.
Standard and hybrid water heaters are popular choices because they can handle so many different bathrooms and rooms at one time. They have reserve water with them so it is widely regarded that they can provide hotter water for more rooms within your home.
Sometimes with larger homes, tankless systems will struggle to keep up the water flow rates because the water needs to be brought into the system AND heated before being expelled into your home.
Tankless Water Heater
The biggest difference between hybrid and standard tank-style water heaters and tankless models is the size. Tankless water heaters are much smaller and can fit into the smallest of rooms, and they have the versatility to be installed virtually anywhere in your home or garage.
Hybrid water heaters come with a large tank that can sometimes weigh hundreds of pounds! Installing them and the space that they take up can be problematic. Remember though, if you are going from a standard heater to a tankless, you will have a longer install due to the need to rework the water lines and venting if you are going with gas.
While larger homes may run into issues with enough water to keep up with demand, one thing you will have with a tankless water heater that you do not get with a hybrid tank system is unlimited water.
Because the tankless system heats water on contact, you can run the machine for hours on end. This will get expensive and you may see water flow reduce if multiple rooms are using it, but you will not run out of hot water!
Best Hybrid Water Heater Reviews
1. A.O. Smith HPTU-50 Voltex Hybrid 50 Gal Electric Heat Pump
A.O. Smith has been a pioneer in the water heating game for many decades. They are constantly pushing the industry to new heights, and with the emergence of hybrid water heaters, they are the forefront again with the HPTU-50.
This hybrid water heater is loaded with user-friendly features, strong and durable components, and has many features that make it easy to install.
You will notice that all the components of the hybrid water heater are made from brass, we always prefer these when it comes to valves and water connectors. You can choose from 3 different operational modes that all serve a purpose, and each one is more efficient than a standard water heater.
On average, you will see a decrease in energy costs of 73% when compared to standard electrical tank water heaters. This hybrid water heater is a great deal for the cost, and you will see a return on your investment much quicker than other water heating systems.
Why We Love It
- The system is designed to work with multiple different voltages for easier install times.
- You will see a reduction of 73% in operating costs when the system is using efficiency mode.
- The vacation mode is to set, and when it is in vacation mode, it automatically goes into anti-freeze mode, too.
- The included 10-year manufacturer’s warranty is solid when compared to other models.
Keep In Mind
This tank is extremely large, and it may be difficult to find space for it in some homes.
2. Rheem Performance Platinum 80 Gal. Hybrid Water Heater
The Rheem platinum hybrid water heater is full of fresh and new technology that makes it a joy to have in your home.
It has a massive 80-Gallon holding tank is enough water to successfully heat five bathrooms simultaneously, and if you are looking for a smaller tank, Rheem was nice enough to make that available to us as well.
The Energy Start certification gives me peace of mind that the system is not wasting water or energy, and with an energy score of 3.7, it is one of the most energy-efficient appliances we have seen.
Our favorite part of the Rheem hybrid water heater is the mobile application and alert system. With traditional tank water heaters, the most common failure starts with the holding tank and a water leak coming from it.
Without the combination of the Rheem leak-detector and mobile app alert system, you may not know about the leak until all 80 gallons of water are on your floor!
All the components are made from quality brass and will not bend or break at any time. If you are looking to save energy and money in your long-term water heating costs, this may be the best hybrid water heater for you.
Why We Love It
- All the water connectors and valves are made from indestructible brass.
- The LED-display is easy to read, and the control is simple to adjust as well.
- This is the quietest water heater we have ever installed; it truly is a whisper-quiet water heater.
- There are numerous protective alerts like leak detection that will immediately send a notification to your mobile device.
Keep In Mind
The water does not heat up as quickly as standard tank water heaters.
3. Stiebel Eltron 80 Gal. Heat Pump Hybrid Electric Water Heater
The Stiebel Eltron is the best-selling hybrid water heater in Europe for a reason. It is a simple to use, yet effective hybrid water heater that blows all the Energy Star minimum ratings out of the water (no pun intended.)
The system is one of the quietest water heaters we have had the pleasure of installing, and with its 80-Gallon capacity, you will rarely run out of the water, even in homes of 5 people.
The LED-screen is crystal clear, and one of our favorite parts is that it shows you the temperature the unit is set to but also how much water is left in the holding tank.
You should never have to worry about durability with this machine. The Stiebel is made in Germany, and they are known for the elite engineering practices, and they do not skimp on quality components throughout the hybrid water heater.
The first-hour rating is among the best for hybrid water heaters, and you will love the money you save from installing this system.
Why We Love It
- If the system is installed in a cooler climate, it acts like a dehumidifier by taking the error into the system and using it to heat the water.
- A family of 4 will see an energy cost savings of $740 per year with this hybrid water heater.
- The anode that helps combat mineral build-up is electronic and never needs cleaning or any kind of maintenance.
Keep In Mind
This tank weighs nearly 300 pounds; installation can be difficult because of this.
4. TriangeTube 36 Gal. Indirect Hybrid Electric Water Heater
The TriangleTube indirect hybrid water heater is a unique water heater that takes some simple concepts and uses them to its advantage. It uses multiple tanks and levels of heating to ensure that all the water that comes in contact with the water tank is heated.
In many traditional water heaters that use a tank, there is a small area on the bottom that does not encounter the heating element. With this two-tank system, you will not have any issues with this as the secondary tank handles this heating element from the outside.
Our favorite thing about this unit is the power supply. It runs from a single 120-Volt electrical outlet, which means you do not need to worry about hiring an electrician to run a 240-Volt conversion in your utility closet.
It can work with virtually any plug in your home. The inside of the tank features an anti-scaling heat exchanger that protects the tank from erosion and scale build-up.
Why We Love It
- This hybrid water heater features a self-cleaning function that ensures the tank will not corrode.
- It is insulated with 2-inches of foam to keep water from freezing and damaging the unit.
- For a tank water heater, this system heats water way faster than other comparable electric water heaters.
- It runs from a 120-Volt plug, which makes installation much easier.
Keep In Mind
We have heard reports of leaking issues after a few years.
How do I Install a Hybrid Water Heater?
Installation of a hybrid water heater is no different than the standard electrical tank-style water heater installation. We will go through those steps, but because hybrid water heaters run on electrical outlets, you will see that there are not that many steps, especially compared to gas water heaters that need multiple venting pipes and a gas valve connector.
Before you begin the installation process, there a few things to be aware of. If you are replacing an older electrical tank water heater, you should essentially just place this one in the same spot. It makes it much easier to install it this way, and another thing that helps is if you find one that is close in size to your original unit.
This will lessen the amount of work that you need to do. Just make sure you turn the water supply leading to the unit off before removing it! The other thing to make sure of is that you have a 240-Volt plug available nearby the location you want to install the hybrid water heater.
Most units require a 240-Volt supply to run. If you do not have one, an electrician can make this happen for you no problem. If you are replacing an old electric water heater, odds are you will just use the same one.
Once you have the new tank in place, you must simply reconnect the water lines to the inlet valves. The easiest way to do this is with flexible hosing but you may be required to reconnect copper pipes to the unit if that is what you are dealing with.
There is also a drainpipe on these units that needs to be placed correctly and that valve needs to be closed!
Once these connections are tightened and leak-proof, you can plug the unit in. You should now be able to turn the water line back on (the valve should be parallel to the pipe) and then adjust the settings to your new hybrid water heater!
Frequently Asked Questions & Answered
Is a hybrid water heater worth it?
When determining the answer to this question, you must understand the goals that you wish to obtain. Short term, you will be spending more money on a hybrid system than a typical water heater. But the money you will save in operational costs will greatly outweigh the upfront costs in just a few years. If you are planning on staying in your home for a long time, I strongly believe it is worth it!
How long do hybrid water heaters last?
Hybrid water heaters will last for quite a while. They usually come with standard warranties of 10+ years for the tank portion and around five years for all the components like valves and connections. You can expect it to last for many years longer than the warranty as well.
If you prefer the tank-style water heater over the tankless system, then a hybrid water heater may be the best choice for you.
They are loaded with features that make them a great choice for any home, plus the amount of money you will overtime over energy adds up to thousands of dollars.
We understand that choosing the best hybrid water heater may seem like an overwhelming task. There are dozens of different choices, and each one boasts features that may work better for some people than others. By taking into account our buying guide and in-depth reviews, you have all the information you need to make an informed and educated decision.
We are confident that you will be able to make the correct decision about which is the best heat pump water heater for you.