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Community and Q&A

Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters in 2022

Moose1981 | Posted in Mechanicals on

Hi All,

Hoping to get some advice on selecting a new electric Heat Pump Water Heater.  A few things about my home that factor in:

– The HPWH would be installed in a finished basement (2 bedrooms, 1 living room, 1 bath in the basement level).  Overall it’s a small home, 2100 sq ft including the finished basement.  Noise volume is my highest priority.

– Climate zone 5A, Rhode Island. 

– Tank size/recovery rate needs to be higher.  Will have 3 showers running simultaneously, plus I’ll be adding a 4th (outdoor) eventually.  I live in a beach community and host friends/family a lot.  After a day at the beach, everyone comes back and showers at the same time unfortunately. 

There are some huge benefits for me to get a HPWH.  Aside from the energy savings, the water table where I live is extremely high and basement humidity/dampness is a big issue for me.  I run 2 dehumidifiers 24/7 from June through September and still can’t keep it dry.  

Thanks to this site, I’ve read the reviews on the Rheem Gen5 and already know about the excessive noise issues (after they marketed their product as the quietest).  So has anyone had luck finding a quiet HPWH they could recommend ?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks! 

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  1. kyle_r | | #1

    I assume you would install it in a utility room? What size is the space?

    1. Moose1981 | | #2

      Hi Kyle,

      Yes it would be in the utility room. It’s approximately 6’x7’ . I’ve read about the space requirements for a HPWH and planned on installing a louvered door and additional louvers on 2 of the surrounding walls to promote air circulation.

  2. paul_wiedefeld | | #3

    Can you incorporate a drain water heat recovery pipe? It pairs perfectly with your high capacity and low noise requirements.

    1. Moose1981 | | #4

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the idea. I’m not familiar with that device, I’d have to research it. It would be in addition to a HPWH? How would it help in noise reduction?

      1. paul_wiedefeld | | #7

        GBA has some articles on it. It’s silent so if you can limit the total energy consumed, the heat pump will be off more. Or you might just skip the heat pump entirely and go straight resistance.

      2. ThermoDrain | | #8

        With drain water heat recovery, the energy required to heat the water is less for showering and therefore would require less run time on the hot water heater. A drain water heat recovery can increase the incoming cold water by 25F and essentially triples your hot water capacity for showering. A must add on for any type of water heater.

        1. 1910duplex | | #12

          I have been intrigued by this idea, but have no idea how to find a plumber who knows what it is or whether it would work in our situation (shower on second floor, small access to pipes in bathroom, a little horizontal piping in kitchen on first floor, hot water heater in unfinished basement, plaster walls we don't want to tear up to install).

          When we've had plumbers out, we've mentioned it, and they have never heard of it. Live in Washington, D.C.

  3. nickdefabrizio | | #5

    I have an AO Smith 50 gallon. It has several modes: full electric, economy (full HP mode) and an efficiency mode that switches between the two. They make an 85 gallon version too. It does a good job of dehumidification when there is a lot of use, but I would be surprised if you could do without the dehumidifiers unless you do a lot of showers throughout the day. At the same time, it is a bit noisy, but not much more noisy than a big window air conditioning.

    GIven that most of your use is summer, you may also want to look at some of the newer split units-Sanden and the unit by SAHP....a UK company that combines a heat pump HW heater with a solar evaporator panel. These are more expensive units though-running $3-4k.

  4. norm_farwell | | #6

    Hp water heaters are not ideal in the situation you describe—heavy periodic use. Like mini splits they like moderate demand over long periods.

    In a small space I’d plan to duct the intake if the model allows. Ducting the exhaust can be problematic—condensation is hard to avoid.

    The latest Rheem/Ruud model addresses the earlier noise issue I believe.

    Stiebel Eltron Accelera is top of the line and I think worth paying for—fantastic warranty and product support and a lifetime powered anode. But you need 10’ by 10’by 8’

  5. bjarthur | | #9

    i have a rheem manufactured in 9/2021 and it is 60 dB at chest height a meter away and the sound is tonal. a friend has a GE geospring manufactured in 7/2016 and it is 50 dB and white noise. we have complained up a storm about the noise and fortunately our installer is going to replace it for free with a regular electric one.

  6. nynick | | #10

    Why don't you add some sound proofing to your mechanical room. Cheap and easy.

  7. user-6623302 | | #11

    How about an outside shower. Use an on demand propane water heater which uses a grill tank or maybe a batch solar water heater. I use a long hose left out in the sun. Save on the water bill.

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