Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters Review

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Who should buy a heat pump for water heating? Find out how electric water heaters can also be Energy Star compliant and perform with the twice as energy efficiency as the conventional tank heaters.

Heating water with the electric heat pump water heater is very efficient and economical - plus it makes the units Energy Star compliant. The heat pumps use very simple process of extracting the heat from the air to pass it to water; where the energy factor and first hour rating are significantly higher than found on conventional water tank heaters. They are also known as the eco-friendly hybrid water heaters as they move the heat instead creating it. Hybrid technology allows combined operation of both electric heating elements and the heat pump.

Components that make a heat pump unique

heat pump by rheemHeat pump water heater, HPWH, is similar to the electric tank-type heater. It has a storage tank to store hot water and the insulation to keep the heat inside the unit longer. Submerged anode rod protects the metal tank from corrosion. At the bottom there is a drain valve for easier maintenance and flushing and close to the top TPR valve is used as a safety element.

Two heating elements with thermostats are there for supplemental water heating and temperature adjustment.

Now, the difference is actually found inside and on the top of the water heater, where several components; fan, compressor, evaporator and condenser are making this technology unique.

Models such as Rheem, AO Smith or GE utilize the advanced monitoring with the electric circuit board and LED control panel with the touch pad buttons so you can easily change the temperature or efficiency setting, for example.

How heat pump works

The fan located at the top of the water heater forces the room air across the evaporator coils where the liquid refrigerant vaporizes. The compressor increases the pressure and temperature of the gas/refrigerant, which goes through the condenser, turns back into liquid and exchanges the heat with the surrounding water. This is how this electric water heater increases its efficiency to approximate 200%. While it heats the water, the unit cools and dehumidifies the surrounding air.


Where to use the heat pump

The best location for the installation is a room with higher temperature, such as the attic or where the furnace is installed. It is recommended for regions with the warm climate, southern part of US, or where the average temperature is between 40 and 90 F. The efficiency increases when the temperature of the surrounding air goes up.

If used in colder areas, it must be installed indoor where the heating is supplemented with the heating elements. It is a great choice for new homes, or as the replacement for your old electric water heater, in the basement, garage or attic.

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Popular models

  • Rheem with the energy efficiency of 2.0 offers three settings for economical and efficient operation. Two sizes are available: HP40RH as the 40-gallon and HP50Rh as the 50-gallon model, both with the 10-year warranty.

  • Stiebel Eltron Accelera is the 80-gallon hybrid water heater that is designed with the energy factor of amazing 2.5. According to the manufacturer this model can save up to 80% of hot water costs.

  • GE GeoSpring is the 50-gallon hybrid water heater with the greatest advantage in its multiple settings that can meet different home sizes and demand.

  • AO Smith Voltex is powerful hybrid that comes with the energy efficiency of 2.4. Voltex comes with the tank capacity of 60 (PHPT-60) and 80 gallons (PHPT-80), both with the warranty of 10 years. Great advantages are the four operating modes, powered anode and dry fire protection system.

See the reviews and prices on Amazon.com.

Summary

Electric heat pumps for water heating are expensive but a good investment on the long run as they are extremely efficient, and also Energy Star compliant, which makes them eligible for tax breaks and other rebates. They are recommended for high demanding homes due to the high recovery rate and cost reduction of up to 80% on some models. Other types of heat pumps can be found on heatpumpshq.com.

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Picture is courtesy of Rheem company

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