Rated 3.4 out of 5 by 65
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by charlie So Far So Good (maybe I'm lucky)
Purchased this unit from HD for use in the renovation of an 800SF Camp in Mid-Coast Maine in 2013. Space is at a premium. Built a new construction 8x10 bathroom with 5' shower, utility sink, stacked front load washer/dryer all within a very small space with a wet wall also serving the kitchen sink. Well water starts out at about 45 degrees. This is a seasonal 8 month camp, so no winter use. Space saving was paramount. Since it was in the new construction area, I was able to have HD wiring laid out in advance so the two 220V 40A circuits in a new 200 Service Panel were not an issue. This is a very hard water area so I designed a 3-stage filtration system, mostly to remove iron and manganese beginning with 1mil sediment, KDF85, and GAC. I also designed the hot water heater to be on a removable panel so I could store the heater in a heated place during winter. This will be my fourth season using this RETE 18. I have to say that I have been very impressed with the On Demand hot water. I take long showers and this unit has never disappointed. I have yet to adjust the shower mixing valve to limit scalding and it could definitely do so as I never shower with full Hot on the valve. The kitchen and utility/vanity sink hot water is the same when washing dishes (no mechanical dishwasher) and the water gets too hot for washing without gloves. I originally set the temp control on medium and have never moved it. So I have tried to limit minerals from the system, I have never set the temp control above medium, and this unit has supplied hot water at about 1.5GPM for "vacation use only", making sure it does not freeze during winter.
I have had a small drip that is difficult to stop due to the compression thread input side of the unit. This year I left my heater in VA when driving to ME and had to have it shipped via UPS. I don't think this was an easy trip and - so far - it continues to work.
I do not have surge suppression on my Service Panel and worry about frying the circuit board, but since it isn't in service during winter, there is less risk involved. I can see how an electrical spike could take out the unit, as I can with low voltage/current, minerals, and/or too high a temperature setting, and/or expecting too much with long runs and/or too much demand.
My main worry about this unit is that my installation is VERY dedicated to this particular unit. I wish it did not use copper compression threads (5/8" I think).
It scares me to see all these Reviews (on this and other sites) with all the horor stories.
Some thoughts about the reviews: Hard Water, Too High Heat Setting, Improper Wiring, Long Pipe Runs, Long Wire Runs, Improper Wiring Size. Where is the unit installed and what kind of environment is it (wet, hot, cold?). And it would be good to compare it against other brands, costs, and experiences (none of which I have experience with to date).
Some thoughts about "Travis" at Rheem: Travis says the same thing and doesn't offer a lot of confidence in Rheem's Warranty or Customer Service. When you are charging $500+ for a product, your QC and CS Response should be better to protect your brand. This bothers me, especially if Rheem changes its design and makes my custom installation difficult to install a different unit. I'm worried about buying a "spare" unit and finding out when I need it, it might be a dud, like so many others have apparently found.
As for lights flickering, yes the do WHEN ON. That's a lot of current being drawn, BUT ONLY WHEN THE UNIT IS ON. That's the point, it only draws power when it's on. Think about it: bringing water from 45 to 110 Instantly is a BIG DEAL. We're talking about Thermo Dynamics here.
I had a problem with my Frididaire Washing Machine over the 2014 Winter Season. Even after following the Winterizing Instructions, it was so cold that a pipe broke inside the Washer. BUT I HAD BOUGHT A 4-Year Service Contract! Zip Zip, it was covered and fixed Parts and Labor On Site. If Rheem REALLY cared about its Brand and Customer Service - and Quality Control - it should offer a similar Service Contract. Quite often, the cost of Extended Warranties gives the consumer a gauge of the quality of the product. The lower the price for the contract, relative to its purchase price, the more likely the quality is there. Even if there is a QC problem, a Service Contract ends up removing the risk of failure during its life. But I invested $1,200 for the Washer/Dryer and paid about 15% extra for the contract. Service call and parts came out to be about the same $180 I paid for the contract. The RETE18 cost about $450. I'd pay an extra $75 for a contract if it gave me 4 years of warranty service. Looked at another way, my unit has cost me about $150/year so far, and another year of service will bring it to about $100/year - about the cost of one motel room shower for a day.
I seldom post Reviews. And I typically take them with a grain of salt, since they are often just a few lines of people who really aren't interested in contributing anything other than their sour grapes. I especially find it annoying when people offer a review that says: "I just got it in the mail today and it came really quick, but I haven't tried it yet." Hopefully my review offers some specifics about my experience over a 3.5 year experience.
I'll try to post a picture of my wacky installation that allows me to filter the water and remove the heater from the wall. Too bad it uses compression fittings. I think an earlier reviewer suggesting China could be on to something as the internals don't seem to aligned properly and the threads do seem to leak.
June 12, 2016
Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by Jake terrible, took it back, did not work at all, had 2 in the past both stopped after 1 year
Gave up went back and bought a 50 gallon tank water heater.
May 24, 2016
Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by pipemn35 Poor Quality - works for 2 years tops!!!
The first one I bought was DOA (red flag) and got this replacement ordered on 6/19/12 at Home Depot in Hurricane, WV. It was installed around August 2012 and it died right after Thanksgiving 2014. So about two years or less is all your going to get out of one of these. I haven't seen where anyone has had one longer than that. So I guess I was lucky. It was in a detached two story garage with a full bath and I bet it didn't have 1000 gallons through it. The board on these are extremely fragile. Remember only 1 year warranty. Should have done my homework before I bought this unit or paid attention to the red flag. Guess I will go back to tank heater. Even the other brands have similar problems.
February 5, 2015
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Veridicus Nice Heater
The first unit I received worked for one day and then died. Called Rheem they gave me an RMA, and I received a refund.
Purchased the second unit from Home Depot, and it has been great for 4 months. So far so good. I had an RETE - 9 that I used for four years. Still works fine, but did a renovation on my house, and upgraded to this unit.
If I get four years out of this, I will be completely satisfied.
Installation was easy for both plumbing and electrical. The wiring is expensive, but my run was relatively short.
Like the RETE-9, and any other tankless electric heater from any manufacturer, when this thing is working, the lights will flicker slightly in the house. Even with 200+ amp service. These are a great space saver, and can be put close to fixtures.
February 23, 2016
Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by Unhappy Rheem tankless water heaters are no good
Purchased two both failed within a year. They are Junk
January 22, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Jerry Great product
It delivers endless hot showers and see no difference on waiting for hot water vs. my old tank type heater. I like the maintenance free by having an electric unit. The electric hookup is designed where you can run on 2 separate breakers but I ran #6 wire (100 feet) on one 70 amp breaker and works just fine. The unit arrived in 3 days.
June 12, 2013
Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by singh bad product
bought 3 months ago. now it's turning off my breaker even though temperature setting is less than optimum. called customer service they want me to run trouble shoot to find defect. I don't know how to do it. After all spending that much money you get only 3 months good performance. not worthed.
December 2, 2015
Rated 3.0 out of 5.0 by Todd Great Performance, Poor Reliability
I bought this unit to replace a standard water heater that leaked and caused major damage. First, for any tankless unit, there are hidden costs, unless you do the extra work yourself. Tankless electric heaters draw a lot of current, and this unit uses two 40 amp breakers. Unless you have these near your water source pipes, you will have to run power from your breaker box to where the water heater will be located, cost: $700+. Water lines must also be configured to rise vertically and turn 90 degrees to be connected on the sides of the unit, cost $500. I used this unit for almost a year, and it performed well for a home with one bath/shower. Then a few days before the 1 year parts warranty ran out, it quit making hot water. A professional plumber diagnosed the problem as being a failed flow regulator, and the unit's design meant that the whole heater had to be replaced. I received a new unit free of charge, and had it professionally installed. Six days later, the hot water suddenly dropped off to luke warm, and yet another professional diagnosis was required (all of which costs a minimum of $89 per call). The verdict is that one of the two heating units in this product failed, and the unit is now operating at half power. I am now faced with removing the unit and sending it back a 2nd time, but I am becoming skittish about the reliability of the product. When it goes down, I spend at least a week without hot water, and I expected this product to last ten years, but so far, I can't get even one year out of two heaters. I'm going to get a third one because I don't want to have to reconfigure the water lines for a different brand, but if a third unit fails, I will switch brands anyway. This is a great product--when it works--but long term reliability is an issue in my experience.
August 8, 2012