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Does anyone have experience with the Rheem Prestige heat-pump water heater?

Eric Whetzel | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I was excited about using the Sanden CO2 HPWH, but communication with the company was very hit or miss. The local installer they referred me to was very responsive and helpful with technical information. He gave me a quote for $5,900 installed. This was for a 43 gallon tank (the 83 gallon tank, oddly enough, would’ve been $6,100 installed). Because of the poor communication, and the cost, we had to move on.

The next option was the GeoSpring HPWH, but I read (I think on GBA) that GE is dropping this product line, which makes me nervous about getting parts in the future. I initially wanted to go with the GE product because it seemed to have better consumer ratings online than the Rheem.

Our current choice is the Rheem Prestige HPWH, but there are negative reviews about how loud the unit is. We will be installing it in our basement, which will get a lot of use (office and workout space), so this could be a problem. Anyone have this product? How loud is it? Louder than a fridge?

Just to add further confusion, it sounds like the version of the product sold in big box stores uses more plastic parts, whereas the units sold through plumbing supply houses uses brass (this is reflected in the price of the two different versions). The consensus online seems to be that the latter is definitely a better quality product.

Any other options? These were the three I could find, and that “green” builders seem to be using.

Anyone have feedback to offer on the Rheem?

Thanks!

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Replies

  1. Eric Whetzel | | #1

    Sorry - Heat Pump Water Heater

  2. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #2

    Eric,

    Take a look at the Stiebel Eltron Accelera.

  3. Eric Whetzel | | #3

    Thanks Jonathan --- I definitely will.

  4. John Semmelhack | | #4
  5. Stephen Sheehy | | #5

    Eric. You should be able to get sound data from the spec sheet. I opted against a HPWH because of the noise. Much louder than a fridge. Keep in mind also that they require a good sized room to work properly. The required size should be in the specs.

  6. Eric Whetzel | | #6

    Thanks John --- I'll definitely check out the AO Smith model.

    Stephen --- that's discouraging to hear that it's louder than a fridge. We felt like if it weren't any louder than a fridge, we would just get used to it. As currently drawn, the mechanicals are left open in the basement. I guess we could always wall around the mechanicals in order to deaden the noise. I'd just hate to do a change order and spend the money for walls and a door that I don't really want.

    I've read that producing hot water can represent up to 20% of an overall home's energy demand. Is this 20% number reflective of conventional builds, or do they mean Passive House/Pretty Good House level builds, like we're going for? We're hoping to do solar on the roof, so can I (should I?) rationalize the energy penalty associated with an all electric hot water heater if I can pay for it with solar? Or am I still better off seeking out the most durable HPWH with the lowest decibel rating?

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    Eric,
    Lots of factors affect the percentage of the total annual energy use devoted to domestic hot water -- the size of the family, frequency of showers, and efficiency of the water heater being some of the most obvious factors.

    As a general rule, in homes with good thermal envelopes -- high R-values, low levels of air leakage, and high-performance windows -- the percentage of total annual energy use devoted to domestic hot water tends to be higher than in homes with ordinary thermal envelopes.

    Here are links to three articles that discuss these issues:

    It’s Not About Space Heating

    Domestic Hot Water: No Perfect Solution

    Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead

  8. Stephen Sheehy | | #8

    Eric: we put pv on the roof and installed a regular electric resistance water heater. I decided against the HPWH after listening to one, but you may find the noise acceptable.
    The other factor that we considered us the added mechanical compkex of HPWH. Regular resistance water heaters are pretty simple.
    I suspect that our water heater uses more power than our minisplits, but overall our total energy consumption is less than 10,000kwh/year, 85% of which is produced by our solar panels.

  9. Eric Whetzel | | #9

    Thank you for the article suggestions, Martin!

    In fact, it was your "Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead" article that convinced us not to consider a solar thermal system even at the beginning of the design stage.

    Your "No Perfect Solution" article has me leaning towards electric. If we lived in a warmer climate I would go with the Rheem and just put it in the garage and not worry about the noise. But the concern regarding noise and the HPWH's potential to "steal" some heat from the basement in the winter makes electric more appealing --- especially if we can pull off having a solar array on the roof to offset the cost and energy penalty for using electric.

  10. Eric Whetzel | | #10

    Thanks for sharing your experience Stephen --- your post makes me feel less guilty about considering electric

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