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Who has a favorite heat-pump water heater?

ALAN Hart-McArthur | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

We are now underway with our “pretty good” house here in southern Oregon and I am committed to the hybrid heat pump water heater concept for our 2100 sq ft, three generation house. With four adults and a grandchild in the house, I felt that an 80 gallon unit would be desirable. We plan to locate the HPWH in a centrally located laundry room which is just under 700 cubic feet and have plumbed a floor drain into that room for condensate or tank failure (hope NOT). I had been inclined to go with the GE GeoSpring but I have heard a rumor that GE is going to discontinue manufacture. Does anyone in the GBA community have info about this or strong recommendations for other units? Appreciate any guidance as we dial in these details. Thanks.

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Replies

  1. ALAN Hart-McArthur | | #1

    And . . . I just found the Sept Q&A - "GE Will Drop Heat-Pump Water Heaters" with its many pertinent comments. With multiple credits and rebates, I still like the GE product but ultimately how the heck does one make this kind of decision? We will have PV by the end of the build, so perhaps dropping back to a quality standard electric HW is also justified. Hmmmn.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Alan,
    Here is information on three heat-pump water heaters that (to the best of my knowledge) are still available. The price information dates back to 2012, so it's probably out of date.

    1. A.O. Smith makes the Voltex in two sizes (60 gallon and 80 gallon). The larger unit costs about $1,850 to $2,100; its EF is 2.33 and its first-hour rating is 84 gallons.

    2. Rheem makes the HP-40 (with a 40-gallon tank) and HP-50 (with a 50-gallon tank). The larger unit costs about $1,300; it has an EF 2.0 of and a first-hour rating of 67 gallons.

    3. Stiebel Eltron makes the Accelera 300. It has an 80-gallon tank and costs about $2,400. Its EF is 2.51 and its first-hour rating is 78 gallons.

    Note that the Stiebel Eltron unit isn't a hybrid water heater -- it has no electric resistance element. [Later edit: Evidently I'm wrong on this point.]

    I don't think it makes much sense to buy a GE GeoSpring unit at this point, since you may end up having maintenance or parts problems in the future.

    The information above came from a GBA article which you may want to read. Here is the link: Heat-Pump Water Heaters Come of Age.

    If your local utility offers an attractive net-metering agreement for residential PV systems, there may be a strong argument in favor of an electric resistance water heater + PV.

  3. John Semmelhack | | #3

    AO Smith has 3 sizes available (50, 66 and 80) in their most recent models. Their models are the likely successor to the GE units for HPWH's for the masses. EF as high as 3.24. http://university.hotwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/AOSXE50004-Voltex-Spec-Sheet.pdf

    Stiebel Eltron is the Cadillac of the HPWH world (or maybe Mercedes, since it's German?). They have 2 models available (58 and 80 gallions). EF of 3.39 on the new 80-gallon model (Accelera 300-E) Expect to pay about 2x what the AO Smith models cost. http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/sites/default/files/pdf/tech-specs-accelera.pdf

    Rheem has a redesigned model out now...slightly higher EF (2.45), but still quite noisy based on the reviews. Their main selling point is the higher capacity compressor which helps give them the highest first hour rating (73 gallons) of any of the 50-gallon models. http://www.rheem.com/products/water_heating/tank/hybrid

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    John,
    Thanks very much for providing up-to-date information on these units. I appreciate it.

  5. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #5

    This is the most exciting one on the market: http://performancebuildingsupply.com/product/sanco2-heat-pump-water-heater/. It's been available in Europe for many years but just made it hear. CO² refrigerant and very high efficiency and the only split system on the market.

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    Michael,
    The Sanden heat-pump water heater (described in this 2015 GBA article: Split-System Heat-Pump Water Heaters) has pluses and minuses.

    My understanding is that the cost of the water heater is somewhere between $3,600 and $3,700.

  7. Chris Jorgensen | | #7

    Martin,
    The Stiebel Eltron does have an electric element.

    http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/products/accelera-heat-pump-water-heaters

  8. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #8

    Chris Jorgensen,
    Thanks for correcting me about the electric resistance element. If you're right, then Stiebel Eltron should edit the company's web page, which notes that its Accelera line of heat-pump water heaters are (and I quote) "Heat pump water heaters, not 'hybrids.'"

    See screen shot below -- from this page: http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/products/accelera-heat-pump-water-heaters

    .

  9. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #9

    Thanks, John.

  10. John Semmelhack | | #10

    The Stiebel Eltron units (at least the 58 gallon model) definitely have an electric resistance heating element, but my understanding from this report (http://neea.org/docs/default-source/lab-test-reports/hpwh-lab-report_stiebel_220e_07-15-2015.pdf?sfvrsn=4) is that the backup heat can only be engaged manually, only heats the top of the tank and the unit will revert back to the compressor after a delay. It seems to me that the electric resistance heater is only useful as an actual "backup" in the event of compressor malfunction...not as "supplemental" heat.

  11. Jon R | | #11

    Sounds like they now have various automatic options for use of the electric element.

    It's a lot of btus to extract from a small room - I'd vent the laundry room well to other rooms.

  12. Keith H | | #12

    Can we get a followup report ? What did you get? Do you like it? Pros? Cons? Etc.

  13. Peter L | | #13

    I bought the Rheem 50 gallon (Gen 4) heat pump water heater for $700 (clearance) at HD. I will give a report once it is installed and running for a month or so.

  14. Norman Bunn | | #14

    Any updates?

  15. user-7014439 | | #15

    I'm planning on replacing a 13 year old 50 gal electric water heater with a heat-pump water heater in an all electric house. I want to go with an 80 gal in order to keep the heater running in heat-pump mode. I'm considering the Rheem prestige or platinum or Stiebel Eltron Accelera. Do contractors ordering from Rheem get better quality for these tanks than what is sold at Home Depot? Also is the Accelera worth the extra cost? Thanks

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