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Best 50-Gallon Water Heaters of 2021

Updated
Never worry about running out of hot water again.

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.

Our Top Picks

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Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Westinghouse WGR050NG076 97-Percent High-Efficiency Gas Water Heater with Natural Gas, 50 gallon
Best for Household of 5+
Westinghouse High-Efficiency
  • 97% thermal efficiency rating
  • Minimal nitrogen oxide emissions
  • Lightweight & easy to install
Product Image of the Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater, 50-Gallon
Best for Well Water
Rheem Marathon Electric
  • Low energy consumption
  • Well insulated for minimum heat loss
  • Tough molded exterior
Product Image of the 50 gal. Residential Electric Water Heater, 4500W
Best for Energy Efficiency
Rheem Residential Electric
  • Versatile use
  • Over temperature protector
  • Good temperature range
Product Image of the A.O. Smith GPVL-50 ProMax Power Vent Gas Water Heater, 50 gal
Fastest Recovery Rate
A.O. Smith GPVL-50 Gas
  • 40,000 BTU burner
  • Has a recovery rate of 44.7 GPM
  • Has 3 position outlet blower
Product Image of the A.O. Smith ENS-50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater, 50 gal
Best for Easy Maintenance
A.O. Smith ProMax Electric
  • 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

Product Image of the Westinghouse WGR050NG076 97-Percent High-Efficiency Gas Water Heater with Natural Gas, 50 gallon

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

Product Image of the Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater, 50-Gallon

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Energy Factor

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.

Energy Star

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).

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The Best 50 Gallon Water Heaters of 2021

Here are five excellent 50-gallon water heaters currently on the market.

Westinghouse High-Efficiency 55-Gallon Gas Water Heater

Best for Household of 5+ People

If your household consists of more than five people, pay attention. This 50-gallon water heater from Westinghouse might just be what you need.

It’s a highly efficient gas 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 gas, it has minimal nitrogen oxide emissions. Thanks to its 2-inch thick insulation, the tank stores heat and prevents heat loss, using up less energy. It has a fitted combustion control system, which, in turn, allows for minimal levels of nitrogen oxide.

From the LCD display, you can control the temperature as well as choose an “eco-mode.” The eco setting enables the unit to use minimal fuel, saving energy and costs.

Why We Love It

Thermal Efficiency Rating of 97 Percent

This heater is great for larger households with more than three working bathrooms. It also provides hot water fast, thanks to its 2-inch thick insulation that prevents excessive heat loss. Because it’s up to 97 percent thermally efficient, less energy is lost, saving money and the environment.

Minimal Nitrogen Oxide Emissions

Thanks to its combustion control system, the levels of nitrogen oxide emissions are significantly reduced. Too much nitrogen oxide can have adverse effects on our health. Luckily, with this heater, it’s nothing to worry about.

Lightweight and Easy to Install

For a 50-gallon stainless steel water heater, this one’s very lightweight. It weighs approximately 155 pounds. Some users also pointed out that it only takes basic plumber knowledge to install.

This Westinghouse 50-gallon water heater looks very stylish as well. It’s coated with faux stainless steel material, giving it a sleek finished look.

Easy-To-Use LCD Display

The LCD control display gives it another luxury touch. With this control you can choose the temperature, set it in “eco-mode,” and it will warn you of any issues.

And if there are any issues, the unit is covered by a seven-year warranty. What’s more, if you register online, you’ll get a 10-year warranty.

Keep In Mind

Quite Loud

Some users did note that it’s quite loud. It seems to get a bit louder as it ignites. That said, this may not be a big issue unless you place it near a living or sleeping area.

Ignition Issues

It seems that it sometimes fails to ignite. You’ll then have to restart it to get hot water. The reviewers who mentioned this said that it seemed to fail three out of five times.

However, this may be due to an error in their specific product, since plenty of users don’t mention anything like this.

Additional Specs

Gallon capacity 55 gallons
First-hour rating 154 gallons
Weight 155 pounds
Dimensions 44.75 inches by 33 inches by 33 inches
BTU 76,000 BTU burner
Warranty 10-year warranty when registered online

Rheem Marathon Tall 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater

Best for Well Water

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.

Why We Love It

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.

Keep In Mind

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.

Additional Specs

Gallon capacity 50 gallons
First-hour rating 61 gallons
Weight 100 pounds
Dimensions 28.25 inches by 47.25 inches by 28.25 inches
BTU N/A
Warranty Limited lifetime warranty on tank, six-year warranty on parts

Rheem Residential Electric Water Heater

Best for Energy Efficiency

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.

Why We Love It

Versatile Use

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.

Keep In Mind

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.

Additional Specs

Gallon capacity 52 gallons
First-hour rating 61 gallons
Weight 117 pounds
Dimensions 21.1 inches by 21.1 inches by 63.8 inches
BTU Not specified
Warranty Six year limited

A.O. Smith GPVL-50 ProMax Gas Water Heater

Best for Fastest Recovery Rate

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.

Why We Love It

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.

Keep In Mind

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.

Additional Specs

Gallon capacity 50 gallons
First-hour rating 79 gallons
Weight 213 pounds
Dimensions 50.75 inches by 60.125 inches by 24 inches
BTU 40,000 BTU
Warranty Six-year warranty

A.O. Smith ProMax Short 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater

Best for Easy Maintenance

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.

Why We Love It

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.

Keep In Mind

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.

Additional Specs

Gallon capacity 50 gallons
First-hour rating 57 gallons
Weight 176 pounds
Dimensions 49.25 inches by 23 inches by 23 inches
BTU N/A
Warranty Six-year warranty

50 Gallon Water Heater Comparison Chart

Product Award Capacity First-hour rating Weight Dimensions BTU Warranty
Westinghouse Gas Household of 5+ 55 gal 154 gal 155 lbs 44.75″ x 33″ x 33″ 76,000 BTU 10 years
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

Headshot of Peter Gray

About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.