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Best 50-Gallon Water Heaters of 2022

Updated
Never worry about running out of hot water again.

If your current water heater is on its last legs or your family is growing, it might be time to upgrade to a larger water heater.

A 50-gallon tank is an ideal size for families or anyone else who needs multiple hot water sources at the same time. However, it can be tough to choose from the vast amount of heaters that are available today.

To help you choose, we have created this list of 50-gallon water heater reviews and ranked them by their efficiency, price, installation, and first-hour rating.

Our Top Picks

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Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Westinghouse 80 Gal. 4500W Lifetime Warranty Electric Water Heater with durable 316L Stainless Steel Tank
Best for Household of 7+
Westinghouse High-Efficiency
  • 98% thermal efficiency rating
  • Stainless steel tanks
  • Lightweight at approximately 150 lb
Best for Well Water
Rheem Marathon Electric
  • Polyurethane Envirofoam insulation reduces heat loss
  • Bowl-shaped bottom prevents stagnant water
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Product Image of the 50 gal. Residential Electric Water Heater, 4500W
Best for Energy Efficiency
Rheem Residential Electric
  • Suitable for almost any location
  • Over temperature protector reduces energy waste
  • 120 to 160°F 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
  • Recovery rate of 44.7 GPM
  • 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
  • Dynaclean diffuser cleans inside of tank
  • Durable Coregard anode rod
  • Insulated with non-CFC foam


Product Reviews

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

1. Westinghouse High-Efficiency 80-Gallon Electric Water Heater

Best for Household 7+ People

If your household contains more than seven people, this 80-gallon water heater from Westinghouse might be what you need.

This is an efficient electric heater, designed to be both long-lasting and lightweight. It’s made using 316L stainless steel material, ensuring a long life.

Although it’s powered by electricity and uses 4,500 watts of energy, the tank stores heat, and its thick insulation greatly reduces heat loss.

The heater provides a range of temperatures thanks to its thermostat, giving you more control. This also prevents overheating, protects you, and keeps operating costs down.

What We Like

Thermal Efficiency Rating of 98 Percent

This heater is great for large households with three or more bathrooms. It also provides hot water quickly, thanks to its thick insulation. Because it’s as much as 98 percent thermally efficient, it helps save money and the environment.

Stainless Steel Tank

Its durable 316L stainless steel construction effectively prevents corrosion. This can be your one major purchase for lifetime use in comparison to traditional glass-lined carbon steel water heater tanks.

Lightweight and Easy to Install

For an 80-gallon stainless steel water tank, this is very lightweight, weighing approximately 151 pounds. Some users also stated that it requires only basic plumbing knowledge to install.

This Westinghouse 80-gallon water heater has a sleek finish and is coated with stainless steel.

Lifetime Limited Warranty

If any issues occur, the unit is covered by a lifetime limited warranty. Make sure you remember to register the warranty online, as you only have 90 days to do so.

What We Don't Like

Customer Service

Some owners have complained that it can be quite difficult to speak to customer support due to long waits.

Product Specs

Gallon capacity 80 gallons
First-hour rating 84 gallons
Weight 151 pounds
Dimensions 69 inches by 23.25 inches by 69 inches
BTU Not specified
Warranty Limited lifetime when registered online within 90 days

2. Rheem Marathon Tall 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater

Best for Well Water

Around 15% of people living in the U.S. get their water from domestic wells (1). This water is usually colder and thus requires more power to heat properly. If you are in such a situation, this heater could be an ideal fix.

This electric water heater from Rheem is made using non-metallic fiberglass, which is resistant to corrosion and rust. It is very strong thanks to the several layers of filament wound fiberglass around the tank.

Thanks to its Polyurethane Envirofoam insulation, it has an energy factor of 93 percent. This minimizes standby energy loss and retains the heat, which keeps the water hot for longer.

What We Like

Low Energy Consumption

The insulation reduces how much energy is consumed by keeping the water hot for longer. This means next time you use it, less energy is spent on reheating.

The unit also uses electric immersion elements to heat the water. These elements transfer 100 percent of their energy to heat.

The tank can hold 50 gallons of water and has a recovery rate of 21 gallons per hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulated for Minimal Heat Loss

Rheem insulated the tank with Polyurethane Envirofoam, which traps and retains the heat. This also helps it heat up faster, at a recovery rate of 21 gallons per hour.

Tough Molded Exterior

Although it’s made using a non-metallic material, the tough molded exterior keeps the unit isolated from its surroundings. This is particularly important if you have kids.

You might notice that this tank has a bowl-shaped bottom. This is so the water can drain completely. This prevents old water from stagnating at the bottom of the tank.

Lifetime Warranty on Tank, Six Year Warranty on Parts

The unit includes a limited lifetime warranty, with a six-year warranty on parts. The lifetime warranty only applies if you install it in your own home. The usual limit is a 12-year warranty, so this is a definite positive.

What We Don't Like

Parts Are Hard to Replace

Although you receive a six-year warranty on parts, some users reported that it was difficult to contact customer support.

This isn’t a major issue if the unit works as intended. However, people who went beyond the six-year warranty struggled to find the parts in their local stores. You will likely need to obtain parts via your plumber.

Product 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

3. Rheem Residential Electric Water Heater

Best for Energy Efficiency

Electric water heaters are usually kinder to the environment than gas, but only if they’re energy-efficient. This 52-gallon residential heater from Rheem is currently one of the best electric water heaters for energy efficiency.

It has an Energy Factor of 0.95, indicating that it will be kinder to the environment than some other options.

Its useful features include a temperature protector to prevent overheating, an automatic thermostat, and a wide temperature range.

What We Like

Versatile Use

Whether you want to use it at home or work, this heater can be installed in a variety of locations.

Over-Temperature Protector

This heater’s energy efficiency is enhanced by its over-temperature protector. The heater limits water temperature to 160°F, at which point it will cut off. This prevents overheating, which reduces energy waste.

Good Temperature Range

The heater offers a generous heat range from 120-160°F. This allows you to choose your ideal temperature without the water becoming scaldingly hot.

What We Don't Like

Possible Leaking Issues

Some customers have complained that this tank leaks. This occurs around the top threads where the heating elements are located.

Not Very Durable

You can usually expect a large home appliance such as a heater to last around a decade. However, some customers complained their heater only lasted a few years before needing repairs or replacement. Others have said that it was showing signs of wear after just a few months.

Product 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

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

Best for Fastest Recovery Rate

If you’re looking for a powerful gas water heater, this unit from A.O. Smith is worth considering. It is Energy Star qualified and designed to optimize efficiency, with a uniform energy factor of 0.72.

It boasts 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 five or more. It produces enough hot water for a 33-minute shower, or three simultaneous showers.

Rather than the usual standing pilot ignitor, this unit has a hot-surface ignitor. This is far more reliable and durable and reduces energy consumption.

Another positive is the rotatable blower outlet. This can be adjusted to three positions, which makes installation a bit easier.

What We Like

Provides Lots of Hot Water

This water heater is capable of providing enough hot water for an 80-gallon tub. That’s plenty for an average family of four people.

Recovery Rate of 44.7 Gallons per Hour

This is one of the quickest recovery rates we have seen in a while. A 44.7 gallon per hour rate in a 50-gallon tank is remarkably fast.

Outlet and Inlet Heat Traps

Every year, a huge amount of heat escapes through pipes, resulting in energy waste. These fitted heat traps along the inlet and outlet mean you won’t need to worry about wasting energy. The heat stays inside the tank, where you need it most.

Three Position Outlet Blower

A three-position outlet blower is an extra feature that might seem unnecessary until you need it. By being able to turn this outlet, it becomes far easier to install the water heater in almost any location.

What We Don't Like

Noise When the Exhaust Fan Starts Up

This isn’t a major flaw but users reported that it makes some noise when the exhaust fan starts up. Fortunately, this stops quickly once the fan is up to speed.

Product 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

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

Best for Easy Maintenance

This electric water heater is ideal for anyone who wants a unit that is easy to maintain. This 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 sediment and lime.

This feature is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the 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 feature a stainless steel center that preserves the anode rods for longer than usual.

What We Like

Features a Dynaclean Diffuser Dip Tube

This is a unique and very useful feature. It power cleans the inside of the tank, eliminating lime and sediment.

Tank Fitted With a Coregard Anode Rod

This type of anode rod should outlive the standard type that usually has to be replaced every six years, if not sooner. A.O. Smith promises a long service life due to this durable material.

Insulated With Non-CFC Foam

Insulation is key when it comes to energy efficiency and this non-CFC foam will minimize energy consumption.

What We Don't Like

Requires a Plumber to Install

This is not something that everyone will be able to install. Contact your plumber and ask if they work with A.O. Smith water heaters. Some owners mentioned that their usual plumbers didn’t do so.

Product 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

Product Comparison Chart

Product Award Capacity First-hour rating Weight Dimensions BTU Warranty
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

Gas vs. Electric

The fuel type and how much is consumed by a water heater will decide its annual operation cost. Heaters of the same size can still differ greatly in how much fuel they use. Although you can still find boilers that use oil, most modern top-rated boilers will use gas or electricity.

Gas Water Heater

A gas water heater consists of a tank with a burner at the bottom. As the water inside the tank cools, the burner is ignited to keep the temperature at a specific level.

A gas heater is fueled by either natural gas or propane. Today, most American households use natural gas.

Buying a gas-powered water heater is generally more expensive than an electric heater. However, the increased energy cost of an electric water heater can make it cost more money in the long term.

Pros

  • Faster recovery rate: Gas water heaters have a faster recovery rate. This makes them more convenient for family homes.
  • Heats quickly: The heater should be able to heat a full 50-gallon tank in about an hour.
  • Works without electricity: A major advantage of a gas-powered heater is that it still works during power outages.

Cons

  • High initial cost: The initial cost is generally higher than with electric heaters. However, they can compensate for this with lower energy bills.
  • Requires regular maintenance: Maintenance is crucial with gas heaters. Failing to have your heater serviced could lead to increased wear and tear or, in severe cases, even a gas explosion.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters are best suited to homes with less demand for hot water. Their recovery rate is slower than gas-powered units. On average, 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 those found in electric ovens.

One coil is near the bottom and one close to the top of the tank. The two coils heat the water simultaneously, accelerating the process.

Pros

  • Dry fire protection: Dry fire protection means the upper heating element can detect whether or not it’s surrounded by water. If it can’t detect water, the heating element will shut off to prevent the heater from burning out.
  • Space-saving design: Electric water heaters are generally smaller than gas boilers. This is because they don’t require venting and exhausts.
  • Easy-to-use: Using an electric heater is a simple matter of plugging it in and setting the temperature.

Cons

  • High running cost: Electricity is generally more expensive than natural gas or propane. This makes an electric water heater more expensive in the long run.
  • Long recovery time: Electric heaters take longer than gas-powered heaters to recover. If your home has a high demand for hot water at specific times, it might be unable to keep up.

Things to Consider When Choosing a 50-Gallon Water Heater

Once you have decided on a gas or electric heater, there are some other points to consider.

First Hour Rating

It is important to consider the first-hour rating of the heater you’re considering. The first-hour rating describes the performance ability of your water heater (2).

This is calculated using the following formula:

Tank capacity x .70 + recovery time = first-hour rating.

A first-hour rating 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. As you use warm water in your home, new cold water enters the tank, diluting the hot water inside.

The water heater’s thermostat senses this temperature change and begins heating the water again.

The first-hour rating is significant because it helps you determine if the water heater is powerful enough. If your water heater is too small, you could run out of hot water before finishing your shower. On the other hand, if your heater is too large, you could waste money heating more water than you will use.

Simultaneous use is an important factor to consider. You need a water heater that will fulfill your needs and those of your housemates. This means it might need to provide hot water to multiple outlets at the same time.

This is especially true for homes with a dishwasher or washing machine without an internal heater. These appliances rely on your heater for hot water.

When searching for a new water heater, determining the first-hour rating doesn’t require a mathematician. The EnergyGuide label on the unit will display its first-hour rating.

Consider these points to decide which first-hour rating will suit you best:

  • Time of day: Think about the time of day when your household uses most of its hot water. This doesn’t need to be specific but try to determine whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening/night. Keep in mind how many people live in your house.
  • Average gallons: Next, you should try to figure out the approximate amount of gallons you use during peak hours.
  • Choose a tank: Once you have the approximate amount of gallons used by your home, you can use this number as a guide and find your ideal water heater.

Energy Factor

The energy factor of a unit is determined by the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed on an average day. The energy factor describes the energy efficiency of the unit (3). 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, a 50-gallon water heater with a star is on average 15 percent more efficient than a standard unit (4).

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FAQs

How Much is a Good 50 Gallon Water Heater?

In general, you should expect to pay in the region of $1,000 for a modern electric water heater and $1,200 for a natural gas equivalent. Although gas heaters are more expensive, natural gas is currently cheaper than electricity so your energy bills will be lower, effectively canceling this out.

How Long do Water Heaters Last?

On average, a new water heater should last you about a decade, ranging between eight to twelve years. This can vary greatly depending on how frequently you use the heater and how well it is maintained. Although some companies offer lifetime warranties, you will usually need to pay to replace parts after six years.

Is a 50 Gallon Water Heater Good?

A 50-gallon water tank will usually be large enough to fulfill the water demands of a four-person household. It should be able to supply water for three showers. You can get a rough estimate of how large your tank should be by adding 10 gallons per household member, so a family of seven might need an 80-gallon tank.


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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.