Heat pump hot water heaters are a great addition to any home. Deciding to invest in a heat pump water heater can take a lot of thought, especially when it comes to deciding where to place it.
This article goes through the most common locations in a home for a heat pump (also called a hybrid) water heater.
We’ll detail the pros, cons, and general information you need to make a decision. We’ll also consider climate, volume requirements, and potential noise issues when weighing the best location for a heat pump hot water heater in your home.
As with most appliances, certain locations in a home are better suited to housing a heat pump water heater. Basements, garages, and laundry rooms are some of the different options for installing a heat pump water heater.
The size of the room, location of the room in the home, and overall temperature of the room can affect the ultimate installation location of the unit.
Great Locations For A Heat Pump Water Heater In Your Home
We can skip most of the areas in your house, because it’s understood that you’re not likely to want a water heater in the bedroom, living room, or most of the other high-use parts of your home.
No matter what style of home you have, you can find a great location to install your new heat pump water heater. Before purchasing the unit, though, it is a good idea to look at the volume requirements and unit size to ensure you have a functional place to put it.
A Fair Warning – Heat Pump Water Heaters Make Noise
While hybrid heat pump water heaters have many technical reasons to install in ideal spots in your house (as listed below), one thing to be aware of is the noise they make.
For instance, have a listen to our A.O. Smith heat pump water heater installed in our first netzero home renovation:
I’ve since used the Rheem units you can find at Home Depot, and find them to be half the noise level of the A.O. Smith (found at Lowes).
For our renovation projects here in Florida, they are perfect for the garage:
- They take the hot air out the garage
- Transfer that hot air into the water to heat it up
- Cools down the extremely hot garage at the same time
The Airflow Heat Pump Water Heaters Need
Another thing to be conscious of is the amount of airflow and space these hybrid water heaters need to run efficiently. For instance, the Rheem and A.O. Smith unit mentioned above need 700 to 800 cubic feet if available space (air in the room) to circulate and utilize properly.
This means you realistically can’t stick it in a small room or closet with no airflow.
Not every home has a basement, but many in cooler climates do. For those who do have a basement, this can be a great location to put a heat pump water heater.
For those in a cooler climate, the heat pump hot water heater can be placed near the furnace and use its waste heat to heat the water. This is a very efficient setup that is common in northern areas of the United States. (Read more about How Your Location & Climate Affects Hybrid Water Heaters.)
Heat pump water heaters also naturally reduce humidity. Most basements can be hard to keep dry, so a secondary benefit of putting a heat pump water heater in a basement is its ability to act as a dehumidifier.
Garages can be a good location for the water heater in certain situations. In cooler climates, it can be less effective to have the water heater in the garage, unless the garage is climate-controlled. This is because garages are typically uninsulated, or just more exposed to the outside environment and temperatures. If the garage gets too cold the water heater is inefficient, because there is no heat for it to pull out of the air. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s spec/data sheets so you’re aware of the minimum temperature that the unit can actually convert heat in the air to heating water.
One thing to be aware of, if you do have a temperature-controlled garage, is potential energy waste. If you heat the garage and the water heater takes the heat from the air, it could increase your energy usage and costs instead of decreasing them.
A garage can be a good place to house the heat pump water heater in warmer climates because the air will stay warm enough year-round for the water heater to be efficient. Attached garages do make installation easier as they are closer to where the plumbing would need to go.
If you live in a home that does not have a basement, the laundry room can be an ideal place to put the heat pump water heater. A laundry room will usually have enough height or volumetric space to house a water heater.
It is also an area of the house where noise is less of an issue. Heat pump water heaters do make some noise, so it is important to put them somewhere that will not be bothersome.
Laundry rooms also already have a lot of plumbing infrastructure which can make adding a water heater into them simpler and cheaper. No matter what climate you live in, a laundry room can be a great option to install a heat pump water heater.
Location of The Heat Pump Water Heater: Considerations
There are several considerations that must be made when choosing a location for a heat pump water heater.
Because hybrid water heaters utilize the ambient air surrounding the unit, there must be ample space for the water heater. Unlike some standard water heaters, these cannot just be crammed into a small space and be expected to run efficiently. Most manufacturers recommend about 100 square feet of space for a hybrid water heater. Be sure to check with the manufacturer on their spatial requirements.
Additionally, it is important to check the height of the unit as compared to your room. Hybrid hot water heaters are generally a bit taller than standard water heaters. They typically would not fit in a crawl space or anywhere that has a low ceiling. The specs on the water heater will be available on manufacturer websites.
Hybrid hot water heaters do make some noise. It’s comparable to the noise level of a window air conditioner. You might not want it near a bedroom or living space. This could be less of an issue, though, if other appliances (such as the washer and dryer) are nearby.
Most manufacturers will recommend that the water heater be placed near a power source, have access to ductwork, and be close to a floor drain. This simply makes the installation of the unit easier and cheaper. Having all of these things near the water heater reduces the chances for things to go wrong or break over time.
Hybrid water heaters are a great investment for any household, no matter the climate or style of home. Finding the right location is important to make sure you have the best experience with your water heater and to ensure maximum efficiency of the unit.
When going through the location selection process, be sure to keep in mind different space and noise considerations as well as the location of the nearest power source and drain.
Basements, garages, and laundry rooms are some of the best places to install a hybrid water heater. Additionally, putting the water heater near other appliances that give off waste heat adds a layer of efficiency because the water heater can use that already hot air to heat the water.