a blue tesla on the left and a heat pump water heater on the right inside the garage corner with a buyers guide symbol

If you live in a moderately chilly area, a heat pump water heater is a must!

It is easy to install and ensures that your shower sessions have warm water but with just half the energy consumption of a standard heater.

So what makes a good heat pump heater?

Heat pump water heaters are energy and cost-efficient, easy to install, and provide plenty of hot water. They use less energy than traditional heaters, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Hybrid models include a traditional electrical heating element to boost recovery under high demand.

Keeping these points in mind, we will help you discover the best heat pump water heater for your home.

We will also highlight the crucial factors to remember before buying one and the benefits of investing in one for energy-efficient and affordable water tank heating.

This article also contains a few affiliate links to some of the products. There’s no difference in price or anything, but we get a small commission (1% or so) if you purchase them through these links. It helps support the team so we can afford more content like this.

Let us begin!

What Makes Up a High-Quality Heat Pump Water Heater?

A diagram showing the internal components and how heat pump water heaters work.
The inner workings of heat pump water heaters are quite similar to traditional electric element water heaters. A key difference is that heat pump water heaters move heat from the air into the water tank to heat the water instead of using electricity to generate heat directly.

A hybrid or a heat pump water heater is a unique domestic appliance that heats water and helps to keep your monthly electricity bill down.

Instead of generating heat directly to warm up water, heat pump water heaters utilize existing warmth from the air and transfer it to the water storage tank.

Moving heat from one place to another instead of generating it directly is a much more efficient way to heat your hot water.

Heat pumps achieve this by using the thermodynamic principles of the refrigeration cycle.

They make use of a refrigerant that is pumped through a circuit comprising four stages that adjust the pressure and phase (liquid or gas) of the refrigerant, allowing it to absorb heat from the air and release it to the water in the hot water tank.

Before finalizing your water heater purchase, check out the vital elements that make a high-quality heat pump water heater:

Tank

It would be best to source the correct size water heater tank to ensure that everyone at home can enjoy warm and fresh water.

Knowing the appropriate water tank size depends on several factors:

  • Number of family members
  • Age of each family member
  • Daily water consumption
  • Water availability in the locality

Depending on these, you can upsize your water tank to store substantial volumes for your home’s warm water needs.

Evaporator Coils

An evaporator coil like those use in heat pump water heaters.
The evaporator coils used in heat pump water heaters are very similar to those used in mini split heat pumps because they use the same underlying technology.

A heat pump water heater’s evaporator coils collect warm air. These coils have a refrigerant that evaporates while absorbing heat from the warm air that passes across them.

Compressor

The compressor is responsible for pumping the refrigerant around the system, and you will find it on top of the water heater. This vital component pressurizes and compresses the refrigerant, forming a high-pressure vapor that moves along into the condenser.

Condenser

As the refrigerant travels along the condenser coils, it condenses to become a high-pressure liquid. This process releases heat, which is transferred through the walls of the condenser coil into the water in the tank, which raises the water’s temperature.

A Water Heater’s Thermostat

A thermostat such as those used to control the temperature of water in a heat pump water heater.
The thermostat is the means by which you can adjust the temperature of your domestic hot water.

The thermostats inside the water heater help to determine if the tank water needs to be heated.

There are generally two thermostats present in a hybrid water heating system. One measures the temperature at the tank’s bottom. And the other measures the top.

The functions of these are to prevent:

  • Overheating
  • Water from cooling down before usage.

Fan

The fan on the top of the heat pump draws warm air into the unit from the room and blows it across the evaporator coil.

The heat from the air is absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator coil before passing into the compressor, where the low-pressure refrigerant becomes a high-pressure vapor.

Hot Water Outlet

Closeup of a chrome mixer faucet with hot water and steam coming out of it.
With a Rheem ProTerra heat pump water heater, you’ll have all the hot water you need.

After your tank has heated the water, this outlet transfers the hot water to various lines, through which the hot water is distributed around the house.

It ensures that you receive and use perfectly hot or warm water for your daily needs.

Hence, thanks to the water outlet, you will receive piping hot water for use in:

  • Showers
  • Basins
  • Kitchens
  • Washing Machine
  • Dishwasher, etc.

Cold Water Inlet

Located at the bottom of the water heater, the cold water inlet supplies the water tank with fresh water ready to be heated.

Heat Pump Drain

If there is residual or excess water in the tank that you want to drain out, you will find a release tap at the heater’s bottom.

All heat pump and hybrid water heaters come with this essential feature. You can clear the tank for maintenance, repairs, or regular cleaning.

All in all, these are the main components of a heat pump (or hybrid) water heater.

Each piece is responsible for the smooth operation of the water heater, and they all work together to save you energy and money.

These units are so efficient that incentives are available in the form of discounts, tax credits, and other money-saving incentives to encourage you to purchase one!

You can learn more about the available incentives here.

Purchasing a Heat Pump Water Heater: Factors To Consider

When choosing a heat pump water heater, you must look beyond price tags.

There are many features to check. Its size, usage frequency, and durability are to name a few.

So let’s check out these factors to help you find the heat pump water heater that’s best for you.

The Heater Size: Family Member Ratio and Tank Size

A hot water tank and expansion vessel in a closet.
The size of hot water tank and heater you need .can be estimated from the number of people in your home.

On average, an adult uses around 13 to 18 gallons (50 to 70 liters) of water for daily bathing.

Now take the number of people in your home, multiply by this number, and you get an approximate amount of water used daily. 

For example, if you have four family members total, multiply four by 18 gallons. Hence, your house needs a tank to store and heat 72 gallons (273 liters) of water daily.

By this calculation, the heat pump water heater you choose should have a tank large enough to hold 72 gallons of water.

But hold on a minute – surely, the tank doesn’t need to heat all the water for a single day in one go. If half the family showers in the morning and the other half at night, the water heater has several hours to heat the required water between those peak demand periods.

Well, that’s correct, and a better way to estimate the capacity of your water heater is by using the “peak hour demand” and “first-hour rating.”

These measures represent the maximum amount of hot water usage in a single hour for a given household and the maximum demand that a water heater can meet in one hour, respectively.

Estimate your peak hour demand and then ensure your water heater of choice has a first-hour rating capable of meeting this demand.

More information on how to correctly size a water heater is available here.

How Energy Efficient Is the Heat Pump Water Heater?

One fantastic thing about hybrid heat pumps is that they are way more energy efficient than their regular counterparts.

A picture of an old regular hot water heater on the left, and a new hybrid heat pump hot water heater on the right. There is a red X by the old one, and a green check next to the new one, indicating the new one is better for energy efficiency.
Changing out our conventional 50 gallon water heater for a 50 gallon heat pump water heater in our first net-zero solar home renovation project. The savings total over $450 per year!

They consume less power than electric or gas water heaters and can heat water faster. You will find that most heat pump models use 3x less energy than conventional heaters to heat water efficiently.

An ideal heat pump water heater will help you save more energy and money on your electricity bills.

A general 50-gallon (189 liters) heat tank consumes 2.5 kWh daily, less than its electric 50 gallons counterpart. This means it is more efficient.

You can read more about a heat pump’s efficient energy usage here.

And this is a crucial factor to consider when buying one for your home.

Keep in mind that the hotter your surroundings, the better the heat pump’s performance. And this is because the heat pump’s fan draws in hot air from its surroundings to heat the tank water.

Your Heat Pump Water Heater’s Warranty System

Since not all heat pumps come with a long-term warranty, check with the manufacturer about your warranty details. It will help you understand the type of help you will receive lest the system fails.

System warranties are crucial for all water heaters. So ask your heater’s manufacturer about the services you will receive and any other benefits they offer.

Ultimate Buyer Guide to the Best Heat Pump Water Heaters

Now that you know all about the components of a hybrid water heater and understand the criteria, it is time to look at some great products.

We will cover why each of our suggestions is the ideal choice, their benefits, features, and more!

Each of these hybrid water heaters fits perfectly with different ranges of affordability and domestic needs.

Let us check them out!

Best for Performance and Price: Rheem Performance Platinum

The Rheem Platinum is a range of highly efficient hybrid water heaters designed to be the quietest heat pump for noise reduction.

Not to forget, it is priced within an affordable range, making this series a must-have for all homes.

Rheem heat pump water heaters are also user-friendly, making them a safe option for homes with kids.

These systems can heat water between 37°F to 145°F (2.7°C to 62°C.) Hence, depending on your needs, you can expect a wide range of water heating options.

These water heaters come with various operations to help with all your hot water needs.

For example, if your family is in a morning rush and everyone needs the shower one by one, go for the high-demand mode! This mode uses a backup electricity supply and the heat pump to heat water as fast as possible.

Of course, it has an energy-saving mode for low-power consumption and energy-efficient operation.

And if you are away from home for a long time, you can return to hot water due to Vacation mode! The vacation mode keeps the water within 90°F (32°C) for up to 92 days.

And the best part of these features is their Smart Home (EcoNet app) connectivity!

You can access these modes and change or tweak them through WiFi compatibility. These Smart Home perks also come with the following:

  • Water sensory alerts
  • Audible alarms
  • LCD Screens

Not only is Rheem’s Platinum range pocket friendly, but they also help to save around $10 to $15 annually.

Where to Buy?

Best For Large Families: Stiebel-Eltron’s ACCELERAⓇ 300

An image of Stiebel-Eltron’s ACCELERAⓇ 300 heat pump hot water heater.
Stiebel-Eltron’s ACCELERAⓇ 300. Courtesy of Stiebel-Eltron.

As a German HVAC company, Stiebel-Eltron has done wonders in creating one of the most energy-efficient heat pump water heaters.

The ACCELERAⓇ 300 is bigger, making it a good purchase for large families and bigger homes.

You need to keep enough space for installation, as the units with larger tanks are around 300 lbs (136 kg.) And they can be about 6ft tall (182.8 cm)! And if you have a family of three or more, opt for an 80-gallon capacity.

These units have a 3.39 rating on the Energy Star Ⓒ certified energy factor scale. Meaning you need not worry about excessive energy consumption.

Its digital display comes with a simple and easy-to-use UI. You can check the available hot water and other performance-related details here.

Now keep in mind that the ACCELERAⓇ 300 does not have WiFi compatibility. Which means you need to access it to check on the settings physically.

Irrespective of the size, the exhaust vent and air intake pipes are angled, making them suited to compact installation.

Stiebel-Eltron has also increased the fan diameter and separated the refrigerant and airflow to reduce operating noises.

So if you are searching for a large family’s bigger heat pump water heater, the ACCELERAⓇ 300 by Stiebel-Eltron is ideal. It can help save energy and heat the water in no time.

Where to Buy?

The Stiebel-Eltron’s ACCELERAⓇ 300 is available for purchase!

Best for Energy Efficiency: A.O. Smith Signature Range

Check out the A.O. Smith Signature range if you want to save money and energy consumption on your hybrid water heater.

Did you know that A.O. Smith is North America’s largest marketer and manufacturer of electric water heaters? And while they might be an expensive investment, A.O. Smith’s hybrid water heaters are the pinnacle of durability.

A.O. Smith’s hybrid water heater has a 3.45 energy factor rating, which reflects its excellent energy efficiency, all thanks to its advanced heating system.

The appliance can significantly reduce energy consumption and draws in all excess warm air, redirecting it into the flow.

These ranges by A.O. Smith are all about saving! It reduces energy consumption by up to 73%. And doing so also eases your energy bill by saving 113 dollars.

You can opt for the 50-gallon (189.27 liters) tank, which will be sufficient for 4-5 people in a household.

Moreover, this product comes with a 10-year guarantee, so you need not worry about hefty repair bills!

It is a great product line for those who love to stay on budget but enjoy reliable hot water.

Where to Buy?

Conclusion

In short, these are the three most notable heat pump water heaters for families of all sizes.

They come with good warranties and are energy-efficient to save you money on your energy bills.

Moreover, these heaters are technologically advanced to help you tweak the water temperature to your needs.

So check out these options today!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in reading, “Water Heaters: The 10 Best Ways to Save Energy.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *