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Question DetailsAsked on 3/5/2014

Hybrid electric water heaters -- are they a good option? It will live in my garage in Austin.

The current electric water heater is at least 18 years old and has started to leak slowly. It's not worth repairing. I need a 50 gallon unit that actually delivers 50 gallons of hot water, unlike the old unit. I know hybrid heat pump water heaters are expensive, but the lower operating costs are enticing -- although the sales pitch is probably exaggerated. Is it really worth the extra price? Do they recover a full tank of hot water faster? (for example, if someone is at the end of the shower list and is waiting for hot water.) Installation cost of a hybrid should be about the same as a regular electric heater, right? Anything else I should know?

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Check the savings here;

If we were Plumbers , I be offering these and educating consumers.


Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC


Hybrid will save serious money, but not to sure they recover faster , from "extra" showers.

At 18 years your old water heater was likely full of sediment,etc., and likely took more time to recover then a new one,or one that has been serviced, to prevent build up of sediment.

If you have low cost natural gas or LP, a "tankless" type can be sized to prevent running out of water in the shower. So if running out of how water is the main concern, you likely should go tankless, or a larger tank.

The hybrid will probably be the lowest operating cost.

Another thought is "lower" flow shower heads, so less gallons per minute is used.


Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC


I saw an analysis for a government job a few years back, but with comparable eficiency to current units - this was for about fifty 100,000 Btu duplex housing heaters, but similar economics for individual units. It showed a 26 year payback period - but a water heater is unlikely to last more than 20 years reliably, so it fell significantly short of being economic. They ended up going with individual 50 gallon heaters instead, as I understand it.

Fora homeowner, payback period is of little significance, however, as the average person moves every 5 yesrs or so. Therefore, unless you payback is 5 years or less, or this is your final home purchase and you expect to live there for a couple of decades, it is unlikely to pay off unless your energy costs are extremely high.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Thank you for your posts, Bay Area AC and LCD. Love the chart, too, and will defintely do the math.

I do not plan to move again, ever. If I have to move for some unforeseen reason, I imagine having the most efficient equipment already installed will be more attractive to potential buyers. I have done some research about hybrid electric water heaters, so, all things being equal, the time to recover the cost could be more than five years.

However, all things are not equal. The local energy company offers a significant rebate ($800!) that makes the hybrid heater actually cost not much more than a non-hybrid high efficiency water heater!!! With that in mind, the recovery period could be longer than 5 years, but probably not more than 7 or 8. I do like long showers, so I am out of hot water by the time I finish, wishing I had a another couple of minutes.

My current water heater is only 40 gallons and, as you say, is probably full of sediment.

So I suppose my main concern is whether these hybrids really do perform as advertised. I only recently became aware of them. I was looking at tankless systems and have discarded that idea primarily due to the high installation costs and potential plumbing glitches.

My energy costs are rather high. My utility bills seem to get more and more outrageous every year.

My next question may be about heat pump central air/heat units. ;-)

Answered 6 years ago by Oleron


Oleron - good point - I totally spaced on the energy credit potential, which can turn a conventional economic analysis on its head - Ain't gvntm wunderful. With that kind of "credit", your neighbors willl be paying for your water heater for years !

IF you google - GE hybrid water heater problems - you can find a number of articles covering the problems and benefits of hybrid water heaters. Not picking on GE - they just are probably the major brand name with the longest history in hybrid water heaters and their product history shows the long learning curve on this technology, and the potential for very significant maintenance costs and shorter than expected product life.

One thing that popped to me in case histories and class action lawsuit disclosures, which makes be no fan of hybrid water heaters OR tankless, is that the payback period (excluding credits) is commonly 15-20 years or more - yet the units are rarely warrantied for nor last near that long, so they are like ultra large tanker and ore ships - on paper the economics are wonderful, but since they actually are sold off or scrapped in 15 or fewer years in most cases, the long-term economics goes away, and it becomes a case of what do you get for your money in the 10-15 years it will actually be in use. That is where many of the "green" technologies like geothermal and solar and ultra high efficiency heat pumps and such fall apart - unrealistic maintenance and lifetime expectations.

In my house, at the last water heter change a decdade and a half ago, with growing girls and longer showers and such, I went for about $200 higher cost and a conventional gas 50 gallon water heater - can run 2 showers; or dishwasher, clothes washer and a shower at same time and still have very warm water at the end.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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