Anyone Have Experience with Electric Water Heaters?

Any of you have experience with Rheem (or any) Electric Water heaters?

How much annual kWh consumption are you experiencing? Are there any downsides to going with an electric water heater versus a natural gas water heater?

I am not talking about the tankless electric water heaters (though I guess I’d also be interested on feedback in this area as well)…

With my recent solar panel installation, I am trying to move as much from gas to electric as possible… But I want to also be sure that I have the solar capacity…

Back in the spring, we needed to replace our natural gas water heater as it had a leak. We didn’t have 220 run, but that was fixable. The DoE had a page that listed cost per BTU or something like that for natural gas and electric water heaters. Going electric would’ve been more expensive per month for us. The biggest and final nail in the coffin was we couldn’t find a single plumber in northern Illinois who installs, or even knew, what a hybrid heat pump water heater was. So we went with a straight nat gas replacement. Maybe in 10+ years we’ll get solar and replace it with a heat pump.

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Hi @MikeekiM

Where I live, all houses have electric water tank heaters. Our electricity is on the cheap side. Electric water tank heater have been used since decades without any problem. Electricity is better for our environment than any gas device if your electricity is not produce with gas, petrolium or charcoal.

Insurance companies request us to replace the tank each 10 years (to prevent flood). Most people are using a 60 gal tank, while some smaller family are using 40 gal tanks.

Tanks have either two or three electric heating elements of 4 500 W each. Elements are running alternatively, never at the same time. This means that 4 500 W is used when heating is required. It is either 0 W or 4 500 W, nothing in between.

My tankless electric water heater experience is for my water heating floor system. This system requires much more instant current than the electric water tank heater. My hydronic floor boiler draws either 0 W, 5 kW, 10 kW, 15 kW or 20 kW depending on the instant demand and water temperature. 20 000 W = 83 Amps requiring a 110 A breaker!

I am not using solar, but I would guess that if you want your water to be heated by solar, you are better go with a tank instead of a tankless system, if 4 500 W could be provided by your solar system.

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A resistance water heater is a resistance water heater. They are all the same, the same thermostats, the same elements. Just find one that has the capacity you want and a good warranty.

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Where I live in South Texas, I don’t have access to natural gas. So all water heaters are electric. Our 40-gallon A.O. Smith water heater uses around 1600 kWh per year serving a family of four. That’s WAY less than what’s printed on the yellow energy label on the side of the tank, which projects an annual usage of 4600 kWh per year. I’m guessing the difference is attributable to how hot it is here year round, but you might start by looking at the energy label of any model you’re considering to get an estimate.

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Wow… That’s a very helpful post…thanks…

We are relatively low electricity consumers… We just about 4,500 kWh/year… In anticipation of using more electricity, we added about 1,000 kWh/year to our solar production capacity…so 5,500 kWh… If our usage is like yours, it will represent 30% of my overall production… And if it approaches anywhere near the yellow energy label, it will double our annual consumption and pretty much consume most (83%) of my solar production!!! Yikes…

Thanks for the input…

I have solar and have a Hybrid Electric Water heater. I have the Rheem 60G hybrid platinum from Home Depot. It is not the most complex device to install but most installers are not familiar with it. The pipping is different from most devices. Got a local plumber to do the work.
The heat pump part uses very little energy compared to resistive heating. However, compared to the price of gas, you’re probably not saving a huge amount unless you have solar.
Most of these tanks have wifi and you can set heating schedules. If you have time of use, pre-heat the water heater during cheaper time periods using the heat pump. Get it with a mixing valve so you decrease the risk of scalding and can heat the water to higher temps. For a family of 2 adults and 2 kids, we’re seeing 60kwh/mo during summer and 70kwh/mo during mild fall(we live in Norther Califormia). We never use the resistive heating element.

BTW, the area around the heat pump will get pretty cold. We have it in the laundry/pantry and it can drop the temp by up to 10degrees(great in summer, not so good colder times). If you have it is the garage or basement, it should be fine as long as it doesnt drop below 40degrees.

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Just bought a Rheem 50 gallon hybrid unit last week. My electric water heater was starting to have a slight leak so I went to this to save some energy. The yellow and black sticker on my 55 gallon electric showed that a hypothetical family of four would consume $565 a year in electric, while the heatpump unit shows a projected usage of only $104 a year. Obviously actual will vary but the ratio should hold. Got a steal on it as I found a deal from slick deals where if you entered some zipcode in Oregon into home depot web page and paid the flat $75 for home shipping it took $500 off the price at check out. I did that and it worked plus there is a $300 Federal Tax credit on the unit.

Have it installed in my hot Florida garage so it should be very efficient and help cool off the garage.

The one thing I am still trying to figure out is which mode to run it. The two I am having a hard time understanding are heatpump only mode versus Energy saver mode. The app is telling me the Energy saver mode is the most efficient but I am having a hard time believing that as in that mode it uses the heatpump but also the resistance coils at time - don’t understand how that can be more efficient. Right now just using the heatpump mode. If anyone knows the answer to this please let me know.

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Is it this one?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-Performance-Platinum-50-Gal-10-Year-Hybrid-High-Efficiency-Smart-Tank-Electric-Water-Heater-XE50T10H45U0/312742081

Yes. Go to the homedepot website and change your store to 97322 zip code and pick the first one. The price will then change to $699. There is also a $300 Federal Tax Credit you can apply for.

OOPS BAD NEWS - looks like they fixed their error, the $500 they were taking off is now only good in store as it is an Oregon State energy credit - guess you had to act right away to have HD eat this before they caught the problem. You can still get $300 Fed credit though.

The good news is that PG&E (my local utility) is offering a $300.00 energy rebate… So when added to the $300 Federal Tax Credit, that makes it $600.00 off…

The not-so-good-news (not bad news) is that I am replacing a gas water heater in a location that does not have a 220V line… So I will need to add the cost of an electrician running a dedicated line to my garage…

If I do that, I may have him also put a 220V dedicated outlet for an EV charger as well… I don’t have an EV yet, but since the electrician will already be running a line for the water heater, it couldn’t cost much (incrementally) to put an EV outlet in the same general location, right?

Why don’t you want to stick with Natural gas? Natural gas is probably the cheaper way to heat water. The heat pump is much better than electric resistance, but if I had natural gas I would definitely stick with it, cheap with fast recovery. We only have access to Propane and unlike must parts of the country where it costs about $1.85 a gallon they rape us in FL and it goes for $4.00-$4.50 a gallon. Even pure resistance heating is cheaper than using propane here.

I have solar panels that produce more electricity than I need… So I can either leverage the over-production to get “free” hot water… Or I can sell back the excess kWhs to the utility company at $0.03/kWh.

To give you an idea of how little that is…my entire solar system produces 5,500kWh/year. If I didn’t use a single kWh of my solar and sold it ALL back to the utility company, I would yield $165.00.

Yup I understand. I wanted to install solar here in FL but my utility is the only one that does not have true netmetering and all I would get back is 3 cents as well and that is not for excess, it is for anything that gets pushed out to them. Suck. In NJ I had solar for 14 years, best investment I ever made. System paid for itself in three years and was a cash machine after that. I got $5,000 a year just for the credits of making solar power and that did not include the value of the power.

I have been reading up on this Rheem hybrid water heater… Did you get the Pro Terra model with the leak detection and automatic shut off protection?

Also…have you figured out how to best use the “Smart Wifi” functions? I imagine that you could turn off the heating during high TOU periods (and the tank would retain heated water just fine during those hours of high cost rates), and then turn it back on to recover any heat lost during this hours (my peak hours happen between 4pm and 9pm, 7 days a week). We only do laundry on the weekends, so I can imagine turning down the thermostat during the weekdays for “shower friendly” temperatures, and then raising the thermostat for laundry and other uses that require a higher temperature… Do you use any of these “smart” functions?

Also, my garage gets hot in the summer… Easily into the 80s-90s and maybe hotter during heatwave weeks… Winters outside can get as low as 32F outside…but I imagine my unheated garage wouldn’t get any colder than 40F… Maybe even warmer than that… Do you think I am a good candidate for running the hybrid in heat-pump only mode like you are doing?

It is possible to run a 120V HPHW that doesn’t go into “hybrid” mode, i.e. using the high wattage 240V resistive elements when the heat pump is deemed, by the fuzzy logic controller, to be insufficient for the required tank reheat. Meaning, if you can tolerate the slower heating a heat-pump only tank is the best option … and you can hook it up to a regular 120V circuit OR (local electrical code permitting) the lower gauge 120V wires may be more than adequate for a hardwired low current 240V circuit. Heat pump water heaters are a lot more efficient than resistive-element ones and will probably soon be required by many states. @32259fl I would definitely run an HPHW in HP-only mode. I think the “Energy Saver” mode is speaking to the Resistive Element Era vs the new world. If you follow the logic. The only reason to activate the resistive elements would be to get a quicker rise.

You also get “free” air conditioning. That’s usually great in summer but in winter you’ll want to consider the installation environment.

More here:

Mine is a Pro Terra but it is the Performance Platinum model which does not have the leak detection and shut off standard, although it can be added. Not concerned about that as mine is in a garage and a leak would not cause damage. Yes you can program it with the app to run in heatpump only mode or even be off during high priced power periods. You can also adjust thermostat remotely with the app for different temperatures at different times or days.

It would run great in heatpump only mode in the summer, not sure about how well that would work in your winter as long as you keep the door closed. I had a condensing furnace in my garage in Northern New Jersey for 25 years and it ran fine.

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I am currently running in heatpump on mode and it seems to work fine. I agree that it has to be less efficient running the resistance coils with one possible exception. If it has to run so many more hours on the heat pump I guess you could get to a scenario where it would be cheaper to just use the coils - but not sure that would ever happen in all but super cold weather with very cold water feeding the unit. As for running on 110VAC I don’t think that possible with my unit. It is wired with 230V only. There is no neutral wire, just L1 and L2 with a ground.

Cool… Thanks for the confirmation…

My main question was whether YOU have taken advantage of any of the smart, wifi or scheduling features personally yourself… Or is it just a water heater…you had it installed, set the thermostat to one temperature… Set and forget…

I am an info and tech junkie, so yes I have been playing with the wifi app and have set the unit to run in heatpump only mode and check what it is doing several times a day. Keep in mind I have only had this running for five days so far.