There are a lot of things to keep in mind when choosing a new water heater. You’re probably looking for something kind to the environment and your wallet. A hybrid heat pump is the newest type of water heater.
Hybrid heat pump water heaters use less energy compared to older tank and tankless units. They can be two to three times more efficient than traditional heaters (1).
To help you choose a hybrid heat pump, we have written this buyer’s guide. In it, we take a closer look at the three best hybrid heat pump water heaters available today.
- Built-in hybrid heat pump design
- Integrated Wi-Fi connectivity
- Whisper-level quiet
- LED digital display
- Northern Climate Tier 2 certification
- Stainless steel construction
- Also works as a dehumidifier
- Uses less energy than a toaster
- Almost silent due to insulation
Having done extensive research, we’ve narrowed down our list of hybrid heat pump water heaters to a top three. Let’s take a closer look in our hybrid heat pump water heater reviews.
1. Rheem Hybrid Smart Tank Water Heater
Best High-Tech Hybrid Water Heater
If you’re searching for a high-tech water heater, this unit from Rheem is Energy Star rated and very efficient. It’s an electric water heater with a built-in hybrid heat pump design.
The water heater has five settings you can choose from: energy saver, heat pump, high-demand, electric, and vacation. This lets you set it exactly as you need. In the long run, you can save more money by not heating water you won’t use.
Rheem claims the heater is whisper-level quiet, so you won’t notice when it’s running. This is remarkable, given how much water it’s capable of heating.
It also comes with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity. You can manage the heater from a distance as well as be alerted to any issues.
What We Like
If you want to save money and the environment, this heater uses minimal energy while providing you with plentiful hot water.
This 80-gallon unit can provide enough hot water for a household of three to five people, or more than three bathrooms. You won’t have to worry about harmful gases being released into the atmosphere.
Thanks to the combination of electric and hybrid, this boiler is about four times more efficient than a conventional electric unit. Rheem estimated that you can save as much as $4,500 over 10 years.
This unit is stated to be among the quietest, almost whisper-level. If you have sensitive hearing or children who are light sleepers, you’ll appreciate this. Some users have described it as refrigerator quiet — you won’t even notice that it’s on.
Integrated Wi-Fi Connectivity
The water heater features integrated Wi-Fi. Your unit will send you notifications and alerts.
If the unit encounters issues, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone, such as during a water leak. It will also notify you when it requires servicing or other maintenance. All notifications are sent directly to your smartphone via the EcoNet app.
This allows you to set the heater as needed from a distance. You won’t need to run to the basement or garage to turn the heat down. Simply open your smartphone and adjust it from there.
The unit offers five different settings: energy saver, heat pump, electric, vacation, and high-demand. Energy saver mode is for your everyday tasks such as showering, cleaning dishes, and washing clothes. High-demand is for the times when you need extra hot water, such as during winter or when you have guests.
The standout setting is probably the vacation mode. When you choose this setting, the water heater will remain on hold for two to 28 days. If you’re going to be away for longer, you can leave it on hold indefinitely.
What We Don't Like
Recovery Time is a Little Slow
Some users pointed out that the recovery time of this unit is a bit slow. It seems to be slower in heat pump and energy saver modes. If you need hot water faster, a different setting should be better.
Doesn’t Produce as Much Hot Water as Advertised
Rheem claims that it can produce enough hot water for three to five people. However, multiple users have said the hot shower time is only around two minutes each.
|Gallon capacity||80 gallons|
|First hour rating||89 gallons per hour|
|Measurements||74 inches by 24.25 inches|
|Max temperature||145 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Warranty||10-year limited warranty plus one-year in-home labor warranty|
2. Electrolux EE66WP30PS Electric Hybrid Heater
Most Quiet Hybrid Water Heater
If you want a heater that is quiet and kind to the environment, you should consider the Electrolux EE66. This is thanks to its Energy Star qualification, versatility, efficiency, and near-silent operation. Don’t let a water heater disrupt your sleep or ability to focus.
You should also enjoy its durable construction. It has a sturdy steel exterior and interior to ensure it stands the test of time.
What We Like
LED Digital Display
Even when it’s dark, you can easily adjust the control panel on this unit. The LED display makes it easy to see the settings. This is very convenient at night.
Northern Climate Tier 2 Certification
This heater boasts Northern Climate Tier 2 Certification, which signifies a few things (2). First, it is eco-friendly as it uses fewer heating elements. It also features freeze protection and exhaust ducting. Last but not least, it notifies you when the compressor needs to shut down.
Stainless Steel Construction
The heater has high durability and reliability due to the heavy-duty construction. Made from stainless steel, both the interior and exterior should enjoy a long lifespan.
What We Don't Like
263 Pounds Heavy
The shipping weight is pretty heavy compared to other models. This isn’t an issue once it’s mounted, but it will make installation trickier.
|Gallon capacity||66 gallons|
|First hour rating||70 gallons per hour|
|Measurements||70.5 inches by 25.5 inches|
|Max temperature||135 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Warranty||Unit Labor: 1 year; Unit Parts: 10 years; Water Tank: 15 years|
3. Stiebel Eltron Heat Pump Hybrid Water Heater
Best for Warm Climates Hybrid Water Heater
Hybrid heat pump water heaters usually work best in warmer climates but this model from Accelera truly thrives when the temperature rises. This unit is perfect for the summer because the fans pump cool air into the room.
Stiebel claims that it helps cool the room, much like an air conditioner. They also say that if your local climate is cooler, you should place it in the basement, where it works like a dehumidifier.
It will save you up to 80% on your hot water costs. When in heat pump mode, it uses less energy than a toaster. It’s Energy Star rated and has an energy factor of 3.39.
Inside the tank, Stiebel utilizes electric anodes. These are excellent and rarely if ever require maintenance. The unit is also very quiet thanks to sound-deadening insulation at the top and bottom.
What We Like
At the top of this unit, there’s a compressor motor. On the other side, there is a fan. The compressor draws in warm air from its surroundings, then cool, dehumidified air is expelled from the fan.
If you live in a warm climate, this will help cool the room where the boiler is located. If the climate is colder, it can dehumidify the room.
Uses Less Energy Than a Toaster
This unit is very energy-efficient — Stiebel claims that it uses less energy than a toaster. It requires 240 volts and a single 15-amp circuit breaker. As a sign of its efficiency, DOE estimated that it uses around 1289 kWh per year.
In other words, this boiler can save you a lot of money that would otherwise be wasted heating water. Some reviewers stated that they only need it to heat water once a day, thanks to its superior insulation.
A loud boiler is never fun. Thankfully, most heat pump water heaters are quiet and this is no exception. The unit is insulated at the top and bottom, ensuring no loud noise escapes.
As it’s so quiet, you can place it almost anywhere in your home without it waking you up at night.
What We Don't Like
One of the biggest drawbacks of this boiler is its large size. It is approximately 74 inches high, 23 inches wide, and weighs around 297.6 pounds. You may have to sacrifice some space to accommodate this.
|Gallon capacity||80 gallons|
|First hour rating||74.2 gallons per hour|
|Measurements||73.625 inches by 23 inches|
|Max temperature||140 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Product||Award||Capacity||First hour rating||Measurements||Max temp.||Warranty|
|Rheem Hybrid||Best High-Tech||80 gal||89 gph||74″ x 24.25″||145 F||10 years (limited), 1 year (labor)|
|Electrolux Electric Hybrid Heater||Most Quiet||66 gal||70 gph||70.5″ x 25.5″||135 F||10 years (parts), 1 year (labor)|
|Stiebel Eltron||Best For Warm Climates||80 gal||74.2 gph||73.625″ x 23″||140 F||10 years|
What Is a Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater?
A hybrid heat pump water heater functions much like a refrigerator. However, a refrigerator removes heat from an enclosed space to keep it cooled. In contrast, a heat pump traps hot air inside the tank to heat the water, which is surprisingly efficient.
A fan mounted at the top of the tank pushes air across a radiator grid filled with liquid refrigerant. As the refrigerant has a low boiling point, the warm air quickly heats the liquid and turns it into gas.
The use of artificial refrigerants such as CFCs and HFCs has been criticized. However, as manufacturers focus on the environmental impact, technology is changing. There are now hybrid heat pump water heaters that only use a natural refrigerant, CO2 (3).
An air compressor inside the unit increases the pressure of the gas, forcing its temperature to rise. Via tubes, the gas is then pumped around a tank filled with cool water, heating the liquid.
As the gas cools and turns into a liquid, it is pumped back to a radiator to restart the process.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heaters
The main flaw is that a heat pump takes longer to warm up compared to conventional models. This is because the hybrid doesn’t use as much electricity as a regular electric unit.
It’s recommended that you buy a larger hybrid boiler, preferably around 80 gallons. This means you should always have warm water at the ready instead of emptying and reheating your entire tank regularly.
Most heat pump water heaters come with backup resistance elements, which are activated when the demand for hot water is higher. They assist the heat pump in creating more hot water, which is why it’s called a hybrid.
A hybrid heat pump water heater won’t be suitable for everyone. They need to be installed in warm surroundings, usually between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (4).
A hybrid heat pump water heater also requires quite a lot of space. It needs at least 1,000 cubic feet of air around the unit. The heat pump won’t work without enough air; if the space is tight, so is the air supply (5).
Benefits of a Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater
1. Environmentally Friendly
On average, a water heater accounts for about 18% of the energy used in a home. Installing a more energy-efficient water heater could cut this in half (6).
One of the main benefits of hybrid units is that they release almost no greenhouse gas emissions. By switching to a hybrid heater, you could significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Modes and Settings
A hybrid water heater usually features a range of operating modes. Almost all models feature digital, LED-lit panels which make them easier to operate. Some even have a remote control or can be operated via Wi-Fi.
Here are some of the modes or settings your unit might have (they could be named differently):
- Efficiency or heat pump mode: This setting only uses the heat pump, which saves energy.
- Hybrid or automatic: This is the unit’s default setting. It provides the required hot water while still saving some energy.
- Standard or electric: The unit only uses the electric elements to heat water. This is the quickest way to heat water but also the least efficient.
- Vacation mode: This is also known as sleep mode. It can be used whenever you go away to save even more energy (7).
When using a hybrid heat pump water heater, you eliminate the risk of toxic gas combustion and exhaust. The unit only uses the surrounding air and a small amount of electricity as fuel.
You don’t have to worry about boiling hot water coming from a showerhead or faucet. Hybrid heaters heat the water slowly but they don’t overheat it.
Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heaters vs. Regular Water Heaters
There’s no doubt that hybrid heat pump water heaters are very efficient. However, they won’t be appropriate for every situation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences between hybrid heaters and regular boilers.
A hybrid heater uses electricity to power the pump, which captures heat from the surrounding air. Even so, it uses a minimal amount of electricity compared to a standard electric unit. Heat pump units can be two to three times more energy-efficient.
To compare a hybrid unit to a gas-powered heater, let’s look at the models’ Energy Factor (EF). The Energy Factor is based on the amount of hot water the unit can produce, per the amount of fuel consumed in a day (8).
If a unit has a high Energy Factor, it is highly energy efficient. You can find a water heater’s EF on its Energy Guide label.
Gas-powered heaters usually have an EF of 0.57 to 0.62. Some models are better insulated which earns them a rating of up to 0.7.
Hybrid heat pump water heaters, on the other hand, reach an EF of 2.86 or sometimes even more. That’s a significant difference.
However, you should also consider the cost of fuel, as gas tends to be cheaper than electricity. This means a gas-powered heater with a lower EF won’t necessarily be more expensive to run than a hybrid. This all depends on the cost of your electricity and gas.
As tankless units don’t have a storage tank, they won’t cause any standby energy loss. This can also save money but tankless heaters won’t work as well in a house with a high demand for hot water.
A tankless system simply can’t keep up and you will likely need to purchase additional units. In this situation, the hybrid is probably your most efficient option.
2. Recovery Rate
Because heat pump water heaters use less electricity, they tend to have a much slower recovery rate. The unit first needs to collect heat from the surrounding air, then evaporate it into a gas that heats the water.
Electric heaters have two coils inside the tank that quickly heat the water. A gas heater uses burners at the bottom of the tank to heat the water.
The extra electric heating element of hybrid heat pump heaters is also known as an auxiliary electric resistance element. They automatically use this conventional element whenever demand is high, or when the tank is running low on hot water.
This element makes the unit less energy efficient as it increases the electrical demand.
This is another reason why it’s best to get a larger unit. A larger tank allows you to use more hot water before the conventional elements are called upon (11).
Although hybrid heat pump water heaters are more expensive than regular electric heaters, they can still be worth it. A hybrid unit should last you a very long time. They are also cheaper in the long run than electric units.
A gas-powered heater can last a long time depending on maintenance and water quality. However, a hybrid heat pump water heater should still outlast a gas unit.
Again, hybrid heaters and tankless units are close rivals. In fact, most tankless models have an estimated lifespan of 20 years. Hybrid units usually include a 10-year warranty.
Do Hybrid Water Heaters Save Money?
As with anything, this varies depending on your circumstances and the current energy rates in your area. Hybrid water heaters are generally more efficient but if your household uses a lot of hot water, you might rely on the electric element to heat enough water. This can effectively cancel out the benefits of using a hybrid heater but, in most cases, using one will save you money.
What are the Disadvantages of a Heat Pump Water Heater?
Hybrid heat pump water heaters have proven benefits but they won’t be suitable for every user. The nature of how they function means they will perform at their best in warm climates or rooms. Placing one in a freezing garage will hinder its ability to function properly. As they heat cold water relatively slowly, they might not be suitable if you have a large family or use a lot of water.
Are Hybrid Water Heaters Noisy?
Hybrid water heaters are generally quiet, with some barely being louder than a whisper. However, this varies from model to model. The majority of modern water heaters are relatively quiet anyway but individual features such as insulation can reduce the sound produced even further. It’s unlikely that any hybrid heat pump water heater will keep you awake at night.