About six years ago, I wrote an article for GBA called “Heat-Pump Water Heaters Come of Age.” Since then, manufacturers’ offerings have changed significantly, so it’s time for a fresh look at available equipment.
My 2012 article mentioned five manufacturers of heat-pump water heaters: AirGenerate, General Electric, Stiebel Eltron, A. O. Smith, and Rheem. Two of these manufacturers have left the market. The first manufacturer to drop out was AirGenerate. (For more on AirGenerate’s trials and tribulations, see “AirGenerate and Electrolux Tier 2 Heat Pump Water Heater Units Removal.”)
Bradford White steps in
Toward the end of 2016, General Electric announced that it would stop making its GeoSpring heat-pump water heaters. A few months later, however, a rival manufacturer, Bradford White, purchased GE’s manufacturing equipment and began producing GeoSpring lookalikes under the Aerotherm brand. (For more information on GE’s exit from the heat-pump water heater market, see “Bradford White Buys GeoSpring Rights and Equipment.”)
Bradford White sells the Aerotherm in two sizes. The 50-gallon model has a first-hour delivery rating of 65 gallons, while the 80-gallon model has a first-hour delivery rating of 87 gallons.
Stiebel Eltron, the well-known German manufacturer of heat-pump water heaters, is still going strong, as are two American manufacturers, A.O. Smith and Rheem.
Stiebel Eltron’s heat-pump water heaters are branded as Accelera heaters. They are available in two sizes. The 58-gallon model has a first-hour rating of 50 gallons, while the 80-gallon model has a first-hour rating of 74 gallons.
Re-labeled appliances muddy the waters
For any consumers trying to make sense of the heat-pump manufacturing market, there’s a perplexing wrinkle to the story. The two best-known American manufacturers, A.O. Smith and Rheem, allow a very large number of appliance distributors to slap their own labels on the water heaters that they manufacture. The…