If your household has a high demand for hot water you might want to consider purchasing an 80-gallon electric water heater. An 80-gallon tank is designed for households with 5 or more people, and they have many advantages over a gas fueled heater.
But finding the ideal 80-gallon electric water heater for your needs can be tricky, especially if you don't know what to look for, or which manufacturers to choose between. This buyers guide will cover 80-gallon electric water heaters in general, and give you several recommendations to help you get started in your search.
Electric water heaters were created after their gas-powered counterparts. But they served an important role in making water heating available in many Western societies. As electricity became more commonplace in the late 1800's through the mid-1900's, electric water heaters eventually became just as popular as gas or propane-powered units.
While today's modern electric water heaters are far and away superior to earlier models, the overall design of the appliance hasn't changed in many decades.
Electric water heaters use one or two direct immersion heating elements, which are immersed inside a large, cylindrical tank. These elements are controlled by thermostats which signal them to switch on and off to heat the water.
When an electric water heater fires on, the upper element will energize with electricity and heat the water in the upper third of the cylindrical tank. Once the water is heated, power is automatically switched to the lower heating element.
When a hot water tap is opened, the water is drawn from the upper part of the tank and replaced by cold water that travels down a long pipe called a dip tube to the bottom of the tank. The fresh cold water mixes with the warm water and triggers the thermostat to switch on the upper heating element again.
This video shows how an electric water heater operates.
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Many people wonder if an electric water heater is really the right appliance for their home. What makes them worth buying? and are they worth the effort.
In short, electric water heaters have lower initial costs both in terms of upfront price and installation. This makes them a more affordable option for many families.
Installation costs are less for electric water heaters because they don't require additional piping and ventilation systems. A gas water heater uses combustion to heat the water, and therefore, needs to vent the harmful gas exhaust from the room. And since natural gas or propane fuels the heater, gas lines will need to be run to the water heater.
Since electricity is available in nearly every home, the water heater simply needs to be wired to the main electrical panel, and because electricity doesn't require combustion, there is no need for venting.
This also makes them the safer option. Because gas isn't used to heat the water, there's no worry about gas leaks or improper ventilation. Although, they may have an occasional component issue, electric water heaters are rarely explosive and never poisonous to the air.
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Energy Efficiency of Electric Water Heaters
When it comes to energy efficiency, an electric tankless water heater is your best bet because the water is heated when needed and doesn't sit in an insulated tank waiting to be used. But between a gas and electric tank-style water heater, electric is by far the most energy efficient.
One of the challenges with tank-style water heaters is standby heat losses. Because the hot water is always available within the tank waiting to be used, heat is lost through the walls of the insulated tank and other areas. Standby heat loss is simply a nature of tank-style water heaters and its an issue with both gas and electric units.
Energy efficiency is measured using the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), and the higher the number the better. As a general rule, electric tank-style water heaters are more efficient than gas fueled appliances.
The quality and quantity of insulation that surrounds the tank will improve the energy efficiency of the water heater. Newer units are better insulated, and as a general rule, the same is true with higher-end models.
One thing to keep in mind is tank size. Larger tanks have more surface area where heat can be lost. With all things being equal, a larger tank, such as an 80-gallon tank, will run less efficiently than a smaller tank, such as a 50-gallon tank.
While you're shopping for an 80-gallon electric water heater there are a few aspects that you should consider. The following items can help you identify the best unit to meet your household hot water needs.
Obviously, if you're looking for an 80-gallon electric water heater, you should only target models that have an 80-gallon capacity. Capacity refers to the maximum amount of storage space the cylindrical water tank can hold.
A typical family of four might use 100-gallons of hot water every day when combining showers, dishwashing, and running a few loads of laundry. This doesn't mean that you'll use the 100-gallons of water at once.
An 80-gallon tank is typically more than enough for a family of this size, as hot water will continually be added to the tank as you draw from the reservoir. This guide can help you determine which size tank best meets your family. But remember, this is only a guide, your individual situation may require more or less hot water.
Recommended Tank Size
1 to 2 People
2 to 3 People
3 to 4 People
Energy Efficiency (UEF)
By many estimates the energy used to power your water heater can account for 14% of your utility bill! This is why purchasing an energy efficient model is critical.
Energy efficiency is a big part of what makes electric water heaters a favorite among homeowners. Selecting a heater with a higher UEF rating translates to lower energy bills.
Many homeowners select a water solely based on the size of the storage tank, but in reality the first-hour rating (FHR) is actually a better indicator. You can find the FHR on the bright yellow Energy Guide label.
Since the FHR measurement lists the amount of hot water the unit will be able to deliver during a busy hour, you'll want to determine your peak-hour hot water needs. Then you can shop for a water heater that's capable of delivering an FHR within your peak-hour range.
You might be surprised to know that a larger tank does not necessarily mean a water heater can deliver a higher FHR!
Energy Star Certified
Some 80-gallon electric water heaters are Energy Star certified. This certification (typically indicated by a big blue star sticker on the box or product) indicates that the unit meets strict requirements. It's a good idea to purchase Energy Star certified products if you can.
Most tank-style water heaters have some sort of lining on the inside surface of the steel tank wall to protect it from corrosion. Once a tank begins to leak, there's no way to fix it and your only option is to purchase a new water heater.
Although applying a tank lining is now the industry standard, the type used varies. Glass lining is widely used within the industry, and although good, the glass may crack or have other inperfections which will prevent it from doing its job.
Porcelain and polymer coatings tend to be your better choice when it comes to tank corrosion resistance. Of course, a good maintenance program of regular flushing and anode rod replacement go hand-in-hand to getting the maximum service life from your water heater.
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There are a lot of highly competitive manufacturers of electric water heaters, many have been in business for many decades. This is great for you as a consumer, as it drives innovation and ensures that each electric water heater manufacturer brings their best.
Rheem is one of the oldest names in the water heating business, and they also make top-tier air conditioners and furnaces. They've been at the forefront of water heater development and performance for quite some time.
To make things even better, all of their electric models have "Low NOx" or better emissions, marking them as particularly safe for you and the environment.
Rheem offers wide range of water heaters, but here's our pick for the best Rheem 80 Gallon Electric Water Heater:
Rheem Performance Platinum 80-Gallon
Rheem's Performance Platinum 80-Gallon Electric EcoNet Enabled Hybrid Electric Water Heater is one of the most environmentally friendly and advanced models on the market.
While it isn't available in Canada, it's a great choice for anyone living in the US. It's incredibly energy-efficient and Energy Star certified, delivering piping hot water on a moment's notice.
It's also very quick to install thanks to easy access side connections and a quick access electrical junction box. An integrated LCD screen and Wi-Fi connecting technology gives you ultimate control over your water systems from a distance.
It even includes several operation modes, such as energy saver or high demand, to fine-tune your electricity draw based on your current needs.
- UEF: 3.5 - 3.7
- FHD: 89-gallons
- Energy Star: Yes
- Wi-Fi: Yes
- Warranty: 10-years
Westinghouse is another big name in the electric water heater market, known for its industry-leading warranties and the fact that they produce all of their tanks with high-quality stainless steel.
They're also exceptionally well known for their high energy efficiency models, which are leading in the industry. Here's our pick for the best Westinghouse 80 Gallon Electric Water Heater:
Westinghouse's WEC080C2X045 80-Gallon 4500W High-Efficiency Electric Water Heater is a top-tier water heater that operates on 4500 Watts of power and a 240v electrical source.
The tank is made with stainless steel which will resist corrosion and last as long as the other high-quality parts of the entire ensemble. To make things even better, it's among the most efficient water heaters on the market with the ability to recover some of the water already heated: up to 20-gallons per hour!
It features thermal efficiency at around 98% and is Energy Star certified. All in all, it's a great choice if you need a water heater that is both high capacity and energy-efficient. It doesn't require an anode rod and it uses long-lasting low-density heating elements.
AO Smith makes both residential and commercial water heating equipment and is based almost entirely in the United States: a rarity in the industry.
They're well-known for the efficiency of their water heaters and are industry leaders in the proliferation of new water heater types, including tankless and solar water heater models. We have two picks when it comes to AO Smith:
A.O. Smith LTE-80D
AO Smith's LTE-80D 80 Gallon Light Service Commercial Electric Water Heater is a powerhouse. Whether you have a household that needs high levels of hot water or you require a commercial heater, this unit is a great choice.
There are two zinc plated copper sheathed 4.5kw heating elements, a stainless steel anode rod, and the tank is glass-lined to protect it from corrosion. The ball type brass drain valve is tamper resistant and designed for maximum flow.
A.O. Smith FPTU-80 Voltex Hybrid
AO Smith's FPTU-80 Voltex Hybrid 80-gallon Electric Water Heater is not a true water heater, but rather a heat pump. It "pulls" the heat from the surrounding air and leaves the air cool while it heats your water. Think of a refrigerator, only it works in the reverse.
This model comes with two anode rods with a stainless steel core. The design of the anode rods allows them to last longer than regular anode rods, yet add superior protection to the tank. It also has a user-friendly electronic interface, easy to read temperature display, and advanced diagnostics that even displays error codes. This heat pump is not only built for efficiency, but also ease of use.
One of the reasons heat pumps are so energy efficient is the ability to switch operating modes based on the environmental condition. Set the unit to Efficiency mode to maximize your savings, or select Hybrid mode where it can automatically adjust to the right mode based on the heating requirements. Or simply put it in Electric mode where the heating element draws electricity to heat the water as a typical water heater would.
Many 80-gallon electric water heaters can be found at retail stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot, and Costco even carries AO Smith heaters. Amazon sells many water heaters, although it's hit-and-miss when it comes to tank-style water heaters.
Ordering a water heater through the manufacturer's website can also help connect you to a professional plumber who is specifically trained on installing that specific brand.
Often the time to purchase a new water heater is when your old once suddenly stopped working. When this is the case, you may have had a plumber out to work on the appliance. He can typically help recommend a new water heater for you on-the-spot and get the job done the same day.
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The overall price of an 80-gallon electric water heater is not only determined from the price tag at the store. You also need to consider installation costs, maintenance costs, and your overall energy bill.
This can all easily add up to a few thousand dollars in initial installation and purchasing costs. However, remember that one of the big draws of electrical water heaters is their energy efficiency.
Installation of Electric Water Heaters
When it comes to installation, in most cases, electric water heaters are less expensive than gas or propane heaters. Without needing to ventilate the water heater or install gas lines there's less work involved. This of course means it's generally less expensive to install an electric water heater.
Although we always recommend having your water heater professionally installed for safety reasons, many DIYers feel comfortable taking on the task themselves, especially if the job is simply to swap out an old water heater.
Although, keep in mind, many manufacturers require professional insallation to maintain a valid warranty.
Before you take on the task, remember you'll be working with electricity and water and the two don't mix. Also, 80 gallons of water makes a big mess and can cause a lot of damage!
Maintaining an Electric Water Heater
The service life of a water heater is largely determined by how well its maintained. There are a number of tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis, such as flushing the tank to remove sediment, checking and replacing the anode rode, and testing the T&P valve.
Many homeowners are able to do the necessary regular maintenance themselves, but you can alway contact a professional to do them for you.
Operating Costs of an Electric Water Heater
The electric draw from your water heater can vary from unit to unit. Any electric water heater you purchase should have a label either on the tank, or in the manual that lists their average annual operating costs. Operating costs can be calculated by combining the UEF and the electricty rate per kilowatt-hour.
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