Is your current water heater running on its last legs? Or is your family growing and it’s time to upgrade to a larger water heater?
A 50-gallon tank is a great size for families, or people using multiple sources of hot water at the same time.
We’ve gathered the five best 50-gallon water heaters for you, and ranked them according to efficiency, price, installation, and first-hour rating.
- 98% thermal efficiency rating
- Stainless steel tanks
- Lightweight & easy to install
- Low energy consumption
- Well insulated for minimum heat loss
- Tough molded exterior
- Versatile use
- Over temperature protector
- Good temperature range
- 40,000 BTU burner
- Has a recovery rate of 44.7 GPM
- Has 3 position outlet blower
- Features Dynaclean diffuser dip tube
- Tank fitted with coregard anode rod
- Insulated with non-CFC foam
Gas vs. Electric
The fuel or power of a water heater will ultimately determine its annual operation cost. It will also determine its size and energy efficiency. Although you can get some boilers that use oil, most boilers will run on gas or electricity.
Gas Water Heater
A gas water heater consists of a tank with a burner at the bottom. As the water temperature within the tank drops, the burner is ignited to bring the temperature back up.
The gas heater is either fueled by natural gas or propane. Most American households use natural gas.
Gas powered water heaters are generally higher priced compared to electric heaters. However, the running cost of an electric water heater can make the unit more expensive over time due to the cost of electricity.
- Faster recovery rate: Gas water heaters have a faster recovery rate. This makes them more convenient for family homes.
- Heats considerably quickly: The heater should be able to heat a full 50-gallon tank in about an hour.
- Works without electric hook up: A huge advantage of a gas-powered heater is that it still works during a power outage.
- High initial cost: The initial cost is generally higher than with electric heaters. That said, they usually pay for themselves in savings on utility bills over time.
- Requires frequent maintenance: Maintenance is crucial with gas heaters. Failing this could result in wear and tear or a gas explosion.
Electric Water Heater
Electric water heaters are best suited for a home with less demand for hot water. Its recovery rate is slower than gas-powered units. It will take an electric 50-gallon unit about 80 minutes to heat up.
An electric water heater consists of a tall tank with two large coils inside. The coils resemble the ones you find in electric ovens.
One coil is close to the bottom and one close to the top of the tank. The two coils will heat the water from the top and bottom at the same time, which speeds up the process.
- Dry fire protection: Dry fire protection means the upper heating element can sense if it’s surrounded by water or not. If it isn’t surrounded by water, the heating elements will shut off to prevent the heater from burning out.
- Space-saving design: Electric water heaters are generally smaller and more compact than gas boilers. This is mainly because they don’t require venting and exhausts.
- Easy-to-use: They’re simple to use since it’s only a matter of plugging them in and setting the temperature.
- High running cost: Electricity tends to be more expensive than natural gas or propane. This makes an electric water heater more expensive in the long run.
- Long recovery time: An electric heater takes longer than gas-powered heaters to recover. If you’re home has a high demand for hot water at a certain time, it might not be able to keep up.
How to Choose the Best 50-Gallon Water Heater
After deciding between gas or electric, there are a few other points to consider.
First Hour Rating
One of the most important things to take into account is the first-hour rating of the heater you’re considering. The first-hour rating is the performance ability of your water heater (1).
It’s a calculated amount using the following formula:
Tank capacity x .70 + recovery time = first-hour rating.
It could look like this:
50-gallon tank x 0.7 + 55 = 90 gallons first hour rating.
0.7 represents 70 percent of the water heater’s capacity. This is because, as you’re using hot water in your home, new cold water is entering the tank. The colder water dilutes the hot water within the tank.
The water heater’s thermostat senses the change in water and then it begins heating again.
The first-hour rating matters because it helps you to determine if the water heater has the right abilities for you. If you get a water heater which is too small, you’ll run out of hot water before finishing your shower. However, if your heater is too big, you could be wasting money on heating water no one uses.
Simultaneous use is an important factor to consider. You need a water heater that will fit your needs. And, it should be able to provide hot water for multiple sources at the same time.
This goes especially for homes with a dishwasher or washing machine without an internal heater. The appliances then rely on your heater for hot water.
When you’re searching for a new water heater, figuring out the first-hour rating doesn’t require you to be a mathematician. The EnergyGuide label on the unit will tell you its first-hour rating.
However, you could consider a few points to determine which first-hour rating will suit you:
- Time of day: Try to figure out what time of day you use the most hot water. It doesn’t have to be specific, but try to determine whether it’s morning, noon, or evening/night. Keep in mind how many people live in your house as well.
- Average gallons: Next you’ll want to try to figure out the approximate amount of gallons you use during peak hour.
- Choose a tank: You should now have the approximate amount of gallons your home requires. You can then use this number as a guide when finding the right water heater.
The energy factor of a unit is determined by the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed during a usual day. The energy factor decides the energy efficiency of the unit (2). 50-gallon water heaters should have an energy factor of at least 0.62.
Not all water heaters will have an energy star. However, the 50-gallon water heaters with a star are 15 percent more efficient than standard units (3).
The Best 50 Gallon Water Heaters of 2022
Here are five excellent 50-gallon water heaters currently on the market.
1. Westinghouse High-Efficiency 80-Gallon Electric Water Heater
If your household consists of more than seven people, pay attention. This 80-gallon water heater from Westinghouse might just be what you need.
It’s a highly efficient electric heater, constructed to be both long lasting and lightweight. It’s made with 316L stainless steel material, ensuring a long life.
Although it’s powered by electricity and uses 4,500 wattage of energy, the tank stores heat and prevents heat loss, using up less energy, thanks to its thick insulation.
The temperature is highly adjustable thanks to its thermostat, giving you more control. The setting enables the unit to prevent overheating, thereby protecting you and your operational cost.
Thermal Efficiency Rating of 98 Percent
This heater is great for larger households with more than three working bathrooms. It also provides hot water fast, thanks to its thick insulation that prevents excessive heat loss. Because it’s up to 98 percent thermally efficient, less energy is lost, saving money and the environment.
Stainless Steel Tank
Thanks to its durable 316 stainless steel construction, the unit effectively prevents corrosion. Therefore, this will be your one time big time purchase for lifetime use as compared to traditional glass-lined carbon steel water heaters tanks.
Lightweight and Easy to Install
For a 80-gallon stainless steel water heater, this one’s very lightweight. It weighs approximately 151 pounds. Some users also pointed out that it only takes basic plumber knowledge to install.
This Westinghouse 80-gallon water heater looks very stylish as well. It’s coated with stainless steel material, giving it a sleek finished look.
Lifetime Limited Warranty
If there are any issues, the unit is covered by a lifetime limited warranty. Take note though that you only have 90 days to register this product for a warranty online.
Some users did note that it’s quite difficult to reach their customer service agents and would require some patience.
|Gallon capacity||80 gallons|
|First-hour rating||84 gallons|
|Dimensions||69 inches by 23.25 inches by 69 inches|
|Warranty||Limited lifetime when registered online within 90 days|
2. Rheem Marathon Tall 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater
Around 15 percent of people living in the U.S. get their water from domestic wells (4). The issue with this is that the water is usually colder and needs more power to heat sufficiently. What you need is a water heater that can provide such power, so take a look here.
This electric water heater from Rheem is made from non-metallic fiberglass material, resistant to corrosion and rust. It has immense strength thanks to the several layers of filament wound fiberglass around the tank.
Better still, it has an energy factor of 93 percent. This is primarily due to the Polyurethane Environfoam insulation that minimizes standby heat loss. It captures the heat, which keeps the water hot for longer.
Low Energy Consumption
Thanks to the insulation, the unit doesn’t consume a lot of energy. It keeps the leftover water hot for longer, so next time you need it, less energy is used on reheating.
The unit also utilizes electric immersion elements to heat the water. These elements transform 100 percent of their energy to heat. Additionally, due to the foam insulation, less energy is wasted reheating present water.
In all, the tank can hold 50 gallons of water. And, it has a recovery rate of 21 gallons per hour from a 90 degree Fahrenheit rise.
Well Insulated for Minimum Heat Loss
Rheem insulated the tank with Polyurethane Environfoam, which traps the heat, so it doesn’t escape. This also enables it to heat up faster, having a recovery rate of 21 gallons per hour.
Tough Molded Exterior
Although it’s made from a non-metallic material, the tough molded exterior keeps the unit safe from outside dangers. This is an especially helpful feature if you have kids.
You may also notice that this tank has a bowl-shaped bottom. If you wonder why, it’s so the water can drain completely. No need to worry about old, unsafe water building up at the bottom.
Lifetime Warranty on Tank, Six Year Warranty on Parts
The unit comes with a limited lifetime warranty — six years on the parts. By this, Rheem means that it only adheres if you install it in your own home. The general limit on water heater warranties is about six years, so this is a definite plus.
Parts Are Hard to Replace
Although you get a six-year warranty on parts, a few users pointed out that it was difficult to get a hold of support. The issue seems to be that Rheem doesn’t have the best customer service.
This is, of course, not a huge issue if the unit works as it’s supposed to. However, those who exceeded the six-year warranty had a hard time finding the parts in local stores. You’ll most likely have to go through your plumber.
|Gallon capacity||50 gallons|
|First-hour rating||61 gallons|
|Dimensions||28.25 inches by 47.25 inches by 28.25 inches|
|Warranty||Limited lifetime warranty on tank, six-year warranty on parts|
3. Rheem Residential Electric Water Heater
Electric water heaters are more gentle to the environment than gas, but only if they’re energy-efficient. This 52-gallon electric water heater from Rheem is currently one of the best water heaters for energy efficiency.
It has an Energy Factor of 0.95, so you can be sure that it will be kind to the environment compared to some other options.
Other cool features include a temperature protector to prevent overheating, an automatic thermostat, and a wide temperature range.
Whether you want to use this at home or work, this is a great option.
Over Temperature Protector
Another reason this scores a mark for energy efficiency is because of the over-temperature protector. It will prevent overheating which saves energy. It goes up to 160°F, and if it begins to exceed that, it will prevent wasted energy.
Good Temperature Range
This has a generous heat range from 120-160°F. So you know you’ll get nice warm water but that it won’t exceed a dangerously hot temperature and waste energy.
Some Leaking Issues
Some customers found that this tank leaked. This happened to be around the top threads where the eating elements are.
Not Super Durable
When buying something like this, you may expect it to last around a decade. However, some customers said that after a few years, this was done in, and they needed a replacement. Others said that it was starting to wear down after just a few months.
|Gallon capacity||52 gallons|
|First-hour rating||61 gallons|
|Dimensions||21.1 inches by 21.1 inches by 63.8 inches|
|Warranty||Six year limited|
4. A.O. Smith GPVL-50 ProMax Gas Water Heater
If you’re looking for a powerful gas water heater, then look no further. This example from A.O. Smith is worthy of consideration. It is Energy Star qualified and designed to optimize efficiency, with a uniform energy factor of 0.72.
It has a 50-gallon water tank that’s heated using a 40,000 BTU burner. This heater can provide enough hot water for a family of more than five people. It can produce enough hot water for a 33-minute shower, or three showers simultaneously.
Instead of the standard standing pilot ignitor, this unit has a hot-surface ignitor. This is much more reliable and durable, plus, it reduces energy consumption.
What we also love is the rotatable blower outlet. You can rotate it to fit three positions and that makes installation a bit easier.
Provides Lots of Hot Water
What this water heater is capable of is amazing. It can provide enough hot water for an 80-gallon tub! It’s plenty for an average family of four.
Has a Recovery Rate of 44.7 Gallons per Hour
This is one of the fastest recovery rates I’ve seen in a while. 44.7 gallons per hour in a 50-gallon tank — amazing!
Outlet and Inlet Heat Traps
Every year, a massive amount of heat escapes through the pipes, resulting in energy waste. With these fitted heat traps along the inlet and outlet, you don’t have to worry about wasting energy. The heat is well secured inside the tank, where you need it.
The Three Position Outlet Blower
A three position outlet blower is just one of those extra features that seem unnecessary until you have it. It makes it super easy to install the water heater in nearly all locations.
Creates Some Noise When the Exhaust Fan Starts Up
This is really only a minor flaw. Some users pointed out that it makes some noise when the exhaust fan begins. Luckily, it quickly becomes quiet once it’s started.
|Gallon capacity||50 gallons|
|First-hour rating||79 gallons|
|Dimensions||50.75 inches by 60.125 inches by 24 inches|
5. A.O. Smith ProMax Short 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater
If you’re looking for a water heater that is easy to maintain, then this might be the one. This electric water heater from A.O. Smith will provide enough hot water for two showers running simultaneously, or one 26-minute shower.
One unique feature is the Dynaclean diffuser dip tube. This is essentially a power cleaner that reduces the build-up of sediments and lime.
This feature is perfect for the busy family who doesn’t have much extra time to maintain their water heater. The Dynaclean diffuser also maximizes the outlet flow, delivering hot water faster.
On the inside of the tank, A.O. Smith fitted a CoreGard aluminum anode rod. These have a stainless steel center which preserves the anode rods longer than average.
Features a Dynaclean Diffuser Dip Tube
This is a very unique, yet amazing feature to have. It power cleans the inside of the tank, eliminating lime and sediments.
Tank Fitted With a Coregard Anode Rod
This type of anode rod should outlive the standard type that normally has to be replaced every six years, if not before. Because this is made from durable material, A.O. Smith promises a longer service.
Insulated With Non-CFC Foam
Insulation is key when it comes to energy efficiency and this non-CFC foam will minimize energy consumption.
Requires a Plumber to Install
This is not something the average Joe can install. So, be sure that you contact your plumber, and make sure they work with A.O. Smith water heaters. Some users pointed out that their plumbing company didn’t.
|Gallon capacity||50 gallons|
|First-hour rating||57 gallons|
|Dimensions||49.25 inches by 23 inches by 23 inches|
|Westinghouse Electric||Household of 7+||84 gal||81 gal||151 lbs||69″ x 23.25″ x 69″||N/A||Limited lifetime|
|Rheem Marathon||Well Water||50 gal||61 gal||100 lbs||28.25″ x 47.25″ x 28.25″||N/A||Limited lifetime (tank) 6-year (parts)|
|Rheem Residential Electric||Energy Efficiency||52 gal||61 gal||117 lbs||21.1″ x 21.1″ x 63.8″||N/A||6 year limited|
|A.O. Smith GPVL-50||Fast Recovery Rate||50 gal||79 gal||213 lbs||50.75″ x 60.125″ x 24″||40,000 BTU||6 years|
|A.O. Smith Electric||Easy Maintenance||50 gal||57 gals||176 lbs||49.25″ x 23″ x 23″||N/A||6 years|