An expert review of the AO Smith heat pump water heaters - Voltex. Find out important details about Voltex, also known as the hybrid water heater, with its features, pros, and cons and how this technology can save you money.
Voltex is a hybrid electric water heater that utilizes heating elements and heat pump technology to increase the recovery rate and energy efficiency while cutting the energy usage down by half. Saving energy on water heating means more money in your pocket.
AO Smith heat pumps from the Voltex series can be found in two sizes: larger PHPT-80 with the 80 gallons' tank capacity and SHPT-50, equipped with the 50-gallon tank. If your family requires lots of hot water, a high capacity model will provide enough hot water for the peak demand periods.
Voltex PHPT-80 is the high-capacity heat pump which is a larger model (82" in height, 25" in diameter) than the 50-gal unit (63" in height and 22" in diameter).
PHPT-80 is also a more advanced unit, as it utilizes the LCD touchpad control with the intuitive icons and power anode for superior corrosion protection and longevity of the metal tank.
While the PHPT-80 comes with the sizable 80-gal tank size, its energy factor is lower than the 50-gal model - it is 2.33 when running in hybrid mode, which is still much higher than the electric models and is also qualified for Energy Star.
A model SHPT-50 is a heat pump with a 50-gallon tank capacity, and it comes with an ultra-high energy factor of 2.78. Another noticeable difference between the SHPT and PHPT heat pumps is in the user interface.
Both controls are easy to use, have buttons for easy adjustment, but the PHPT-80 model has a larger LCD screen with status icons that indicate the operating mode, safety lock feature, efficiency, and heat source indicators.
The SHPT model utilizes LED diodes that signalize the mode setting and the communicating port for the remote control with the smartphone, for example.
Both 50 and 80-gallon models come with a 10-year warranty for the water heater tank and its parts.
Like other heat pump water heaters, Voltex uses the surrounding warm air to pre-heat the incoming water and compressor to increase the water temperature while dehumidifying and cooling the air at the same time. Voltex uses the same cooling/heating principle as your refrigerator or air conditioning unit, and it requires lots of fresh air. This is why the installation inside of the smaller rooms or closets is not recommended.
AO Smith heat pump is also an electric water heater that uses a standard voltage of 240 V and two heating elements, upper 4,5 kW and lower 2 kW. Yes, Voltex is an electric heater that provides the same amount of hot water as the conventional electric unit and has the same capacity but over two times the efficiency.
Voltex heat pumps are also Energy Star compliant due to the hybrid technology and insulation thickness of 2", making them eligible for the federal tax credit, rebates, and incentive programs. All the above advantages, together with the environmentally-friendly R134a refrigerant, make this unit versatile and "green."
AO Smith heat pump runs in one of the four modes, so your heating requirements can adjust according to the outside conditions. This allows the use most of the year, either using separate operations or combined.
High-efficiency mode draws the heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the water through the heat exchanger. This mode also allows your hybrid water heater to revert automatically to the heating element if the temperature of surrounding air or water is not optimal for heat pump operation (below 45 F or above 109 F). When Voltex is working in this mode, it can reach an energy efficiency of up to 2.78 for the 50-gallon model and 2.3 EF for the 80-gallon water heater.
Based on the heating requirements, the hybrid mode allows a water heater automatically to switch between the compressor and heat elements for maximum efficiency. This is a default mode that uses a heat pump as the primary source for water heating, while the electric heating elements will turn on if there is a need (high demand). When Voltex operates in the hybrid mode, its first-hour rating is the highest; 68 GPH for the 50-gallon model and 84 GPH for the 80-gallon water heater.
Electric mode uses heating elements only, where your Voltex works as the electric water heater. The recommendation is to use this mode during the winter and cold days.
Vacation mode is a great feature when you are absent as it helps you reduce the operating cost and prevent the unit from freezing during the wintertime. The water heater will maintain a water temperature of approximately 60 F by switching to the vacation mode.
AO Smith heat pump can produce hot water with temperatures from 95 F to 150 F, which can be adjusted using up and down buttons on the front panel.
The heat pump is integrated into the top of the Voltex. High capacity tanks enable the heat pump to operate more frequently than the heating elements. Correct condensate draining and the minimum amount of air will guarantee the proper work.
As explained before, the heat pumps are equipped with advanced electronics that allow easy control and monitoring while displaying the error messages if there is a problem with the unit, making the troubleshooting process simpler. Dry fire protection prevents failure of the heating elements when the water tank is not full of water.
The powered anode rod found on PHPT-80 unit is known as the non-sacrificial anode rod as it does not deteriorate over time. It protects the tank from corrosion longer, requires less maintenance, and eliminates the need for anode replacement, so the smelly and discolored water is not a problem anymore.
AO Smith heat pump is one of the latest advancements in the water heating industry and a great addition to an already wide selection of AO Smith heating appliances.