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? We’ve gathered the five best 50-gallon water heaters for you.
A 50-gallon tank is a good size for families, or people using multiple sources of hot water at the same time. But first, let us help you make an informed decision. Below are some points to consider before spending your hard-earned money.
First Hour Rating – Why It Matters
There are other things to think about besides the tank size (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.
Gas or Electric
The fuel or power of the unit 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 and those are the two fuels we will focus on.
Both of these fuels have their pros and cons, so let’s take a closer look.
Gas Powered 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.
Other Things Worth Considering
After deciding between gas or electric, there are two other points worth a thought. These can further help you to find a water heater which not only suits your needs but is also energy saving.
- 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 (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, the 50-gallon water heaters with a star are 15 percent more efficient than standard units (4).
The Best 50 Gallon Water Heaters of 2020
We’ve searched high and low and read countless user reviews. So, now we believe we have found the five best 50-gallon water heaters currently on the market.
1. Westinghouse High-Efficiency Gas Water Heater
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.
- Thermal efficiency rating of 97 percent.
- Minimal nitrogen oxide emissions.
- Lightweight and easy to install.
- Easy-to-use LCD display.
- Quite loud.
- Ignition issues.
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
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.
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.
|Gallon capacity||55 gallons|
|First-hour rating||154 gallons|
|Dimensions||44.75 inches by 33 inches by 33 inches|
|BTU||76,000 BTU burner|
|Warranty||10-year warranty when registered online|
2. Rheem Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater
Around 15 percent of people living in the U.S. get their water from domestic wells (5). 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.
- Well insulated for minimum heat loss.
- Tough molded exterior.
- Lifetime warranty on tank, six-year warranty on parts.
- Parts are hard to replace.
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.
|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. Westinghouse Electric 50-Gallon Water Heater
Electric water heaters are more gentle to the environment than gas, but only if they’re energy efficient. This 50-gallon electric water heater from Westinghouse is currently one of the best water heaters available.
It’s highly efficient, with an Energy Factor of .95. Every detail on this water heater screams efficiency — even the inlet and outlet will prevent heat from escaping.
As the water enters through the cold inlet, it’s moved to the bottom before mixing with the heated water. This provides hot water faster without using excessive energy.
Additionally, it features a high limit control which prevents the unit from overheating. The maximum temperature that you can set it to is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. But the high limit control stops it from ever going over 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Very energy efficient.
- High-grade materials.
- Features a high-limit control.
- It’s very tall.
Why We Love It
Very Energy Efficient
This Westinghouse electric water heater has all the features for high energy efficiency, and it delivers. The inlet and outlet insulation will prevent the heat from escaping and the cold inlet water isn’t mixed with the heated water until it reaches the bottom. The unit’s energy factor is at 0.95.
Westinghouse uses only high-quality, high-grade materials. This ensures a durable unit and no need for additional anode rods.
Features a High-Limit Control
With this unit, you can choose a temperature between 110 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent overheating, the high-limit control will safeguard the boiler and stop the water from exceeding 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep In Mind
It’s Very Tall
Some noted that you need to measure the location where you want to place it. The tank is quite tall, about 66.75 inches.
|Gallon capacity||52 gallons|
|First-hour rating||62 gallons|
|Dimensions||19.5 inches by 19.5 inches by 66.75 inches|
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.
- Has a recovery rate of 44.7 gallons per hour.
- Outlet and inlet heat traps.
- The three position outlet blower.
- Creates some noise when the exhaust fan starts up.
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.
|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 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.
- Tank fitted with a CoreGard anode rod.
- Insulated with non-CFC foam.
- Requires a plumber to install.
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.
|Gallon capacity||50 gallons|
|First-hour rating||57 gallons|
|Dimensions||49.25 inches by 23 inches by 23 inches|
|Westinghouse Gas||Best for Household of 5+||55 gal||154 gal||155 lbs||44.75″ x 33″ x 33″||76,000 BTU||10 years|
|Rheem Marathon||Best For Well Water||50 gal||61 gal||100 lbs||28.25″ x 47.25″ x 28.25″||N/A||Limited lifetime on tank, 6-year on parts|
|Westinghouse Electric||Best For Energy Efficiency||52 gal||62 gal||118 lbs||19.5″ x 19.5″ x 66.75″||N/A||6 years|
|A.O. Smith GPVL-50||Fastest Recovery Rate||50 gal||79 gal||213 lbs||50.75″ x 60.125″ x 24″||40,000 BTU||6 years|
|A.O. Smith Electric||Best For Easy Maintenance||50 gal||57 gals||176 lbs||49.25″ x 23″ x 23″||N/A||6 years|
Feel the Heat
A 50-gallon water heater is great for the average family of four. However, choosing the right unit requires a little more thought. It’s important to take into account how much hot water you actually need.
You can use our quick guide to figure out your home’s needs, then match it to the heater’s first-hour rating. Also, keep in mind whether you want an electric or gas-powered boiler. Now, you should be able to easily find the best 50-gallon water heater for you.
Did you find a potential 50-gallon water heater among our top five? Or do you have further questions you’d like answered? Please feel free to leave a comment or two in the section below.