Anyone Have Experience with Electric Water Heaters?

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.

Just a tip for anyone that goes this route – the leak detection can be added separately from the shutoff valve and is only a $12 part. The Rheem part number is AP19134.

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Thanks. Where does the rope water sensor plug into the unit?

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I’ve started to reconsider my thinking on moving from my natural gas solution…

My total installed cost of a hybrid water heater will run me $2,250.00. This includes the water heater itself, as well as electrical work to run a 240V line to the installation location and repiping for the different sized tank. This pricing includes the federal tax credit and utility incentives…

On the other hand, doing a like-for-like gas water heater swap will run me a total of $1,100.00 installed. This is a $1,150 difference…

I only spend about $10/mo (or $120/year) for the natural gas for water heating…

The breakeven is nearly 10 years if I assume my electric water heating is free of monthly charges…

Of course, this breakeven assumes natural gas prices remain stable (which we know will not be the case)… But even so, this is not an overwhelming ROI… Thats my current thinking… I am sure the saved kWh production from my solar can be used for something more valuable (like maybe charging a future EV automobile)…

Anyway…that’s my current thinking at the moment… :slight_smile:

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Your thinking is spot on, unless the price of nat gas soars, you will almost always be better off with it when you factor in both the capital on operating cost. I wish I had natural gas, but our only option other than electric is Propane which is Northern Florida is crazy expensive at about $4.00 a gallon.

Maybe a dumb question, but - if the initial thought behind this was shifting the load to Solar - rather than a hybrid hot water heater, could you just get a regular electric?
General run of the mill electric hot water heaters are cheap. You can get a 50 gallon no frills electric for less than $400 or some basic frills for around $500

If you have the solar capacity to over produce and cover the electric, that may be an alternate option.
The hybrids are more expensive up front, but in concept, more efficient and less expensive to run in the long term as they use less electric, but as you have pointed out, for your use case, the increased cost isn’t worth it.

Of course, of your over produced electric is purchased back at a 1:1 as your consumption, then it may not be worth it. But if your over produced electric is purchased back at a crappy rate, and or is only “bankable” for a year, then adding more electric use to your home may make sense.

Just a thought.

Good thought…

The problem is that a regular, run of the mill electric water heater that heats water with electric elements is cheap to purchase, but the annual kWh burn rate is humungous… The yellow energy tag on the electric element water heater I was looking at showed an annual burn of ~4,600 kWh per year. My solar panels are only forecast to produce an annual total of 5,500 kWhs.

I am looking to utilize my excess over production… But I don’t have THAT much excess production! Having my water heater forecast to burn 84% of my total solar production is a non-starter…

A heat-pump or hybrid (in heat-pump only mode) only burns as much as a 100W light bulb. And as a result, the annual forecast burn is only ~850kWh…a mere fraction of what a standard electric water heater would consume…

Just for your reference, here are the energy tags that I am looking at:

This one if for the hybrid one that I was looking at (Cost of WH: $1,299):

This one is for a basic electric-element based water heater (Cost of WH $379):

Interesting that the electric water heater above is less than the one that I was looking at in the past (~3,500kWh/year, not the 4,600kWh/year model I was looking at)… But still significantly higher than what my excess production is…

Yep… Totally understood. I just wasn’t sure how much extra you may or may not have available. But in your case, totally not worth it.

OK… Here’s a question for those of you “in the know”… Now that I have decided to go with a natural gas solution…

I am thinking about going with a 50 gallon Bradford White natural gas water heater… My plumber recommends it… It’s not available for purchase at the big box stores… Apparently it is only available to contractors…

I have done a little research, and the water heater gets good reviews by plumbers… But I need to question their motivations… After all, these are the water heaters that are only available to them, and perhaps they have some incentive to move Bradford White units… I don’t know…

There is one YouTube video that compares the two and calls Rheem the best, and Bradford White complete garbage… He was so biased, that it sounded like he was getting paid by Rheem to do a PSA!!!

The Bradford White has brass threaded fittings for when you flush the tank (and I think most premium tanks have this, instead of the cheap plastic fittings)… So that’s a plus…

Plumbers seem to state that they can get to BW parts from their local contractor store same-day because they always have this stuff in stock since they specialize in BW… AND that the warranty claim process is almost instantaneous…

In comparison, the claim is that Rheem warranty is not a full warranty, it is limited pro-rated warranty… And that the call centers sometimes take 1-3 weeks to ship parts (at which point you have to deal with cold water for that time period)… Sounds like scare tactics to me…

Anyway, I like my plumber, and I want to trust him… but I also recognize that there could be some back-office motivations for his recommendation…

Any experience here???

I had the same thing with a fairly large plumbing company in Chicago. They had no clue about hybrid water heaters when they came out, but to their credit, called BW and was educated about them. The BW plus all the work would’ve been double or triple what a straight nat gas replacement ended up costing. They had the same arguments about parts in stock and east warranty, plus higher quality than the mass produced Rheems. We ended up with a Rheem Professional 50 gallon.

PLOT TWIST!

Ugh… I thought I had this decision behind me… My electric generation supplier, Silicon Valley Clean Energy or SVCE (they pass through my generation costs through my PG&E bill) is offering a $2,000.00 rebate towards the purchase and installation of an electric water heater (which includes the hybrid heat-pump Rheem I was looking at)…

I’ll give them a call tomorrow to learn more about the rebate, and how easy it would be to collect… Along with the Federal Tax Credit of $300, that gives me a $2,300.00 reason to go with this option… The PG&E rebate is only $300, and according to SVCE any piggybacking of similar incentives from other utility companies would reduce my SVCE rebate by $1,000.00.

So the drama continues…

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