Best Water Heaters: What to Look for in 2023

Discover how to choose the best water heater for your needs, with a range of gas and electric storage tank and tankless options available.

We've compared top-ranked brands, including Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, Rinnai, Noritz, Takagi, and more to create a list of the most popular and highly rated models.

Did you know that water heating accounts for between 20-25% of home energy consumption, making it the second-largest energy consumer in North American homes?

That's why it's crucial to choose a device that can help you save on energy costs.

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Selection of the best water heaters: Online top-sellers

  • Rinnai V Series
  • Rheem RTEX-18
  • American Standard POU
  • A.O. Smith GCR-40

Having reviewed many water heaters, we've found that it can be challenging to identify one particular brand or model that stands out from the wide range of available options on the market.

So, how can you find the best water heater?

Several major players in the North American water heating industry offer excellent quality and versatile models:

  • AO Smith - tank and tankless
  • Rheem - tank and tankless
  • Bradford White - tank and tankless
  • Takagi - tankless only
  • Rinnai - tankless only
  • Noritz - tankless only

Each of these brands offers similar material quality, available features, longevity, efficiency, and warranty for their heating products.

While all of them make quality products, it's essential to know what you're looking for before deciding on the best gas water heater or top-rated electric model.

Reviews of the best water heaters in water tank and tankless categories

Best electric water heaters

AO Smith electric water heaterAO Smith electric water heater

In this article, we'll share information on what to look for when buying the best electric water heater and provide examples of the top models from manufacturers such as Marathon, Bradford White, and AO Smith.

Best gas water heaters

AO Smith Vertex as one of the best gas-powered water heatersAO Smith Vertex gas water heater

In this article, we'll review the best gas water heaters and share what features to look for to ensure a sufficient supply of hot water during peak times, with efficiency and without high bills. We'll specifically include reviews of the AO Smith Vertex and Polaris models.

Best tankless water heaters

Rinnai tankless water heater is one of the most popular brands in the USRinnai tankless water heater

This review focuses on the top gas-powered tankless water heaters available in the market today, including brands such as Rinnai, Noritz, and Takagi. These models are known for their advanced features, high-quality components, and superior energy efficiency, which are often found on condensing models.

What to look for when searching for the best water heaters

Before choosing a water heater, it's important to decide on the fuel type that suits your needs. Electric and gas water heaters come with different initial purchase and installation costs, as well as varying operational costs.

They also differ in design, size, and energy efficiency. Keep in mind that water heating is the second-highest energy-consuming activity after home heating, so it's important to prioritize keeping your costs low.

Top features. Whether you choose a tankless or storage tank-type, selecting the best one depends on several factors and personal preference. Tankless units have a higher initial cost but are smaller, wall-mounted, and provide hot water on demand as much as you need it. A single large tankless unit can supply hot water to up to five fixtures simultaneously.

The best tankless water heater is typically condensing, environmentally-friendly, has a high Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) of over 0.9, and can last for many years. On the other hand, storage tank-type water heaters can supply hot water to multiple fixtures simultaneously without the "cold water sandwich" effect and with no temperature fluctuations. The best storage tank-type water heaters can last for over ten years, heat water efficiently (look for UEF of 0.67 and higher), and meet your needs during peak usage times.

Selecting the right size. Choosing the right size water heater is crucial to ensure sufficient hot water, optimize efficiency, and save money. A 50-gallon model is typically sufficient for households of four people.

High efficiency. It's important to prioritize energy efficiency when selecting a water heater to save on energy costs. Look for models that are Energy Star rated or have a high Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) which indicates the efficiency of the insulation, tank, burner design, ignition system, etc. Thicker insulation with an R-value of at least 16 can also help reduce heat energy loss through the tank walls.

Electric water heaters are typically more energy-efficient than gas models. The most efficient and Energy Star qualified electric models are electric heat pumps or hybrids, while condensing gas types are the most efficient among gas-powered heaters.

The price and length of the warranty are among the first criteria used to select the best hot water heater. Cheaper heaters typically have lower quality and shorter warranties, while more expensive models offer advanced engineering, higher efficiency, and durability.

Most heaters come with a 6-year warranty, although better ones have warranties of 9 or 12 years. Extended coverage is also available for an additional cost. The main difference between models with short and long warranties is the anode rod. Heaters with longer warranties have larger anodes, multiple anodes, or non-sacrificial powered types. Some experts say that it is not worth paying extra money as you can replace the anodes yourself for less.

On the other hand, brands such as AO Smith include many beneficial features built into their best water heaters. These are easy to recognize as they have long 12-year warranties. These features include a self-cleaning system, high recovery rate, quality anodes, and stainless steel heating elements.


In conclusion, choosing the best water heater can be a difficult task, but it is essential to consider various factors before making a decision.

First, determine the fuel type, as it will impact the initial purchase and operational costs. Next, consider whether to buy a tankless or storage tank-type, as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

It is also crucial to select the right size of the water heater and ensure that it is highly efficient, with a high UEF factor and adequate insulation.

Lastly, check the warranty length and included features to ensure that you are getting a durable and reliable product.

By following these guidelines, you can select the best water heater that meets your needs and provides an efficient and reliable supply of hot water.

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