AO Smith NEXT Hybrid Review

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AO Smith NEXT water heater brings a new way of home water heating. Offers a great performance, efficiency, and fast hot water delivery. This review explains how AO Smith's hybrid heater works, shows the advantages and benefits for its users.

How NEXT hybrid water heater works

Before reviewing the NEXT model lets first see how it works and what makes it unique.

The NEXT hybrid water heater from AO Smith uses the innovative design which includes the secondary heat exchanger to capture the heat from the flue gases, generated by the tankless part, and buffer tank to extract more heat. As in tankless heating, water flows through the heat exchanger first and over the burner so the temperature is increased. After that hot water is stored in the storage tank - buffer.

A circulation pump is used to push water through the heat engine for efficient heating and optimum recovery rate. Such a design doesn't provide only a superior performance but high first hour delivery of 189 gallons and recovery rate of 121 gallons.


ao smith next hybrid water heaterAO Smith NEXT NYB-90N is a hybrid and condensing water heater that was designed as a combination of the tankless and water tank heater and it utilizes the best features of both.
It uses the tankless technology to meet the high hot water demand and precise outgoing hot water temperature with less fluctuation. 

Modulating water flow brings the constant temperature and reduced number of "cold water sandwiching". As opposed to tankless water heaters, NEXT hybrid technology does not require the minimum flow rate for the activation, which is 0.4 - 0.6. Tankless technology allows long draws at the steady flow rate and because of the stored water which is typical for water tank heaters, the hybrid heater will perform well for the simultaneous demand and bring hot water faster.

Such a great design combined with the gas input of 100,000 BTU brings the energy efficiency to high 90%, which makes it eligible for Energy Star program.

This model is also considered as condensing water heater which captures the heat from the flue gases, and instead of using more expensive vents, due to the reduced temperature of the flue gases, it can use cheaper PVC, ABS or CPVC pipes. Installation of the venting system is easy and can run horizontally through the wall or vertically through the roof, up to 100 feet.

Another great advantage is the electronic control panel with the one-touch buttons and the display that shows when the burner is in operation, fault indicator, temperatures and error codes for easy troubleshooting. A mode button allows an access to Energy Saver, Vacation and Boost modes for different hot water needs. A Boost operating mode is designed for peak demands where the temperature ranges from 140 F to 158 F.

An Energy Saver mode allows heating with the temperature range from 100 F to 135 F and in Vacation mode, when the heater is not used, the hot water temperature is kept at 90 F.


  • ECO or Energy Cut Out Temperature Switch turns the unit OFF when there is a temperature which exceeds the safe operating temperature of the heater.

  • Exhaust Gas Outlet Detection shuts down the system if there is an exhaust air passage obstruction.

  • Exhaust Vent High Temperature Switch ensures that water heater will not release flue gases at the high temperature which will melt down the plastic vents.

  • Flame sensor

  • Thermal fuse reacts when the temperature inside the combustion chamber increases over allowed.

  • Water Flow Restriction Valve and Sensor

  • Inlet and Outlet Temperature Limit control

  • TPR valve

AO Smith NEXT is smaller than the conventional tank-type water heater and is built for indoor home installation only. It is CSA and UL certified and comes with the 6-year warranty on the tank, heat exchanger and other parts.

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Pictures - courtesy of AO Smith company

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