Water Heaters

 
Water heater

Water heaters are sometimes taken for granted in our daily routines. But as soon as your water heater fails, you’re left standing in a puddle of water or a cold shower.
 

So it’s a good idea to plan ahead with an aging water heater and upgrade to a more energy-efficient model before a breakdown occurs.


No matter your situation, The Home Depot is here to help. We carry a vast selection of water heaters with the latest technologies, including high-capacity traditional tank units and tankless models that deliver a steady supply of hot water and save energy.

 

We also carry commercial-grade, hybrid and point-of-use models, and we can even handle the installation for you.


Model Considerations Before You Buy


Many factors determine which water heater is best for your home. The three main factors to consider when choosing your water heater are:
 
          •  Water Storage Capacity – Tank or tankless
          •  Function – Whole house or Point of Use
          •  Fuel Type – Natural gas, LP or electric
 

Capacity  


An undersized water heater will work harder and have a shorter lifespan.  So make sure to select a hot water heater that provides enough hot water for your home.
 
Conventional Tank: Determine the proper capacity for your household based on the number of bathrooms and bedrooms in your home.
 
If you choose to purchase a unit with a conventional tank, whether gas or electric, consult the table below for help in determining storage capacity.

 
Capacity Chart
 Tankless

Tankless: To determine the size of the tankless gas or electric hot water heater you need, you’ll need to calculate how much hot water you’ll need at one time, which is called the flow rate. Flow rate is measured in gallons per minute (gpm). The table below provides typical flow rates for typical household hot water applications.


Fixture/Appliance

Typical Flow Rates

Bathroom Faucet 0.5 - 1.5 gpm
Low Flow Kitchen Faucet 3.0 - 7.0 gpm
Shower 1.0 - 2.0 gpm
Dishwasher 1.0 - 2.5 gpm
Clothes Washer 1.5 - 3.0 gpm

To determine the GPM you need, add the GPMs of the major fixtures or appliances you expect to be using simultaneously. For example, if you typically run the kitchen faucet (1.5 GPM) and the dishwasher (2.5 GPM) at the same time, you’ll need to heat 4.0 GPMs of water.
 
Once you have identified the maximum GPMs required for your tankless unit, the next factor to consider is the temperature rise it needs to provide.

 

Water Storage


 Water Storage

To determine the GPM you need, add the GPMs of the major fixtures or appliances you expect to be using simultaneously. For example, if you typically run the kitchen faucet (1.5 GPM) and the dishwasher (2.5 GPM) at the same time, you’ll need to heat 4.0 GPMs of water.

 

Once you have identified the maximum GPMs required for your tankless unit, the next factor to consider is the temperature rise it needs to provide.

 

Hybrid water heaters use advanced heat pump technology to pull in the ambient air and extract the heat to warm the water. Each offers unique advantages, and you can compare features and benefits in the table below.

 


Type 

How it Functions

Factors to Consider

Conventional Tank Stores constantly heated water 

• Economical

• Can be positioned in closet, basement or garage

• Capacity ranges from 20 to 80 gallons

• Efficiency varies between models, brands and 
   fuel sources

Tankless Heats cold water with a gas burner or electric element as it passes through the water heater

• Require a larger up-front investment

• Hang on wall and frees up floor space

• Excellent option for residences occupied part-time

• Reduce energy consumption by as much as 30%

• Can run out of hot water during heavy usage

• Requires ventilation

Hybrid Heats cold water via an electrical heating element and heat pump that pulls in ambient air and extracts the available heat

• Require a larger up-front investment

• Magnesium anode rod extends life of the tank

• Heat pump delivers more hot water, up to 33 
  percent faster than standard electric water 
  heater

• Operating cost of $18 per month, saving
  more than $30 per month or $370 per year


Whole House and Point of Use Systems


Whole House and Point of Use Systems

Conventional tank and hybrid water heaters are whole house systems that send hot water from the tank through the house to the point where you want hot water. Tankless water heaters are typically whole house systems as well, heating water as needed. Whole house systems can provide hot water to more than one fixture at a time.   

 

Point of use systems are individual units that install directly under the sink or in a closet. These systems deliver instant hot water to a specific location. Point of use systems typically augment a whole house system when instant or additional hot water is needed.

 

Tankless and hybrids carry a higher price point, but they save on energy costs, so the return on investment is realized faster.


Fuel Type


Most water heaters are fueled by gas or electricity. Refer to the table below for comparison:
 

Type 

Factors to Consider

Gas

• Requires a slightly larger up-front investment

• Must be vented outdoors for safety

• Units with sealed combustion or power venting increase safety

• Usually cost less to operate

• Not affected by power outages (tank-style only)  

Electric

• Generally cost less than gas models

• Easy to maintain

• Requires no combustibles or venting

• Heats water quickly

• Offer high energy factor ratings

Hybrid (electric)

• Requires a larger up-front investment

• Requires no combustibles or venting

• Heats water up to 33 percent quicker than standard electric models

• Lower operating costs saves hundreds annually

• 8700 BTU/h compressor is the most powerful in its class


Dimensions


Once you know the capacity for your water heater, remember to take the unit’s dimensions into consideration.
 
          • A new conventional storage replacement unit may be larger than the old one because more insulation is 
            required to meet the latest strict federal energy standards. Keep this in mind where units are installed in 
            closets or other close quarters
          • If you are upgrading to a larger unit, you may need to have plumbing run to it if it has to be relocated. 
            One way to avoid relocating the unit is to select a model in a non-standard size, such as a unit that 
            is shorter but larger around, known as a “low boy” hot water heater
          • If you are purchasing a tankless water heater, be sure the location you choose for installation meets 
            ventilation requirements
          • The ideal location for a tankless unit is on an exterior wall near a gas supply line, water supply line and 
             electrical power source. This is also the easiest and most cost-effective way to run the venting
          • The unit should have ½-inch clearance on the sides, 12 inches on the front and 18 inches off the floor
          • Hybrids offer a narrow 21-inch diameter for access into smaller locations
 

Energy Efficiency


Whichever fuel source you use, a water heater can be the third largest energy user in your home, so you’ll want a unit that offers energy and cost savings. Fortunately, almost all water heaters offer increased efficiencies to meet increasingly strict federal energy standards. Look for the Energy Factor (EF) rating on the unit. This rating measures how efficiently a unit converts energy into heat as well as how much heat is lost during storage.
 
The higher the energy factor, the more energy efficient the water heater is. Look for EF ratings as close to 1 as possible. Electric heaters tend to have the highest EF ratings.
 

Features to Consider


Self Cleaning: Water heaters with this feature automatically fight time and sediment buildup to lengthen tank life and maintain peak efficiency for a longer period of time.
 
Recovery Speed: The amount of time it takes to heat a full tank of water. Look for a model with fast recovery speed if you have a tendency to use a lot of hot water.
 
Auto Shutoff Valve: In gas models, this valve helps prevent fires by shutting off the flow of gas if there’s movement in the ground or the gas flow experiences a sudden, sizeable increase.