As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More.

    A.O. Smith Water Heater Reviews for 2020

    A.O. Smith on a wooden brick background

    The right water heater can make all the difference, and not just for your home's hot water supply. An energy-efficient water heater can also save you a bundle, but finding the ideal heater can be tricky. All manufacturers like to claim they produce the best tankless water heater, but clearly some are better than others.

    A.O. Smith water heaters are especially well known in the industry, and they have a reputation for quality and efficiency. This article will take a look at their product line to help you determine if they would be a good fit for your home.

    About A.O. Smith


    A.O. Smith was founded by Charles Jeremiah Smith in 1874. It started as a bicycle parts and baby carriages manufacturer and was originally named C.J. Smith and Sons. You might be suprised to learn, that in the beginning, the company didn't produce water heaters at all!

    Over the years, A.O. Smith Corporation changed hands several times. First in 1904, and then throughout the rest of the 20th century. Only in the early 1960's, after it was acquired by the Ohio company Whirl-A-Way Motors, did A.O. Smith open a water heater and boiler plant in Ontario, Canada. Even then, it took another three decades until they began producing water heaters in 1995.

    The 2000's saw A.O. Smith become progressively well known for its water heaters. In 2009, it entered the water purification industry and in 2010 the company expanded its water heater operations with a new water heater manufacturing plant in India.

    Today, A.O. Smith can primarily be reached through their website contact form or by phone at: 1-800-527-1953.

     

    A.O. Smith Water Heater Products

    A.O. Smith is committed to producing eco-friendly products. Not only are the majority of their water heaters energy-efficient and require fewer resources to heat the water, but the company is also concerned with their manufacturing process.

    As an example, their newest manufacturing facility in China recycles 80% of the water used during the development of their water heaters.

    A.O. Smith is also committed to producing a quality, long-lasting product. All of their tank-style water heaters are lined with a patented glass coating, called Blue Diamond Glass. This special coating is more effective at preventing corrosive damage, and the accumulation of rust than other interior linings on most residential water heaters.

    A propretary iCOMM app can be downloaded which will allow you to remotely control the water heater's settings and features from a distance. You'll be able to set your water temperature limits or restrict the use if your travelling.

    Low and Ultra-Low NOx

    A.O. Smith can proudly state that all of their gas and propane-powered water heater models are rated either low or ultra-low NOx, this is something that few manufacturers achieve. 

    Water heaters rated with these certifications emit less nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas that's harmful for both you and the environment. Many states now require water heaters to comply with low NOx regulations.

    Consult with a Local Professional Plumber

    Get FREE Quotes Today

    Energy Star Certification

    The majority of A.O. Smith's water heater products are Energy Star Certified. In a nutshell, appliances that receive this certification are 10 to 20% more energy-efficient than other appliances in the same category.

    Receiving Energy Star certification is no small thing and there's a number of criteria that must be met. One of the factors is that the heater must have a high Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), which marks the overall water heating efficiency. 

    Look for the blue Energy Star logo when shopping for a water heater. When you purchase an Energy Star certified water heater you'll save money in the long run because of lower utility use.

    A.O. Smith's Product Line

    A.O. Smith creates both tank-style and tankless water heaters, in both gas/propane and electric fuel sources. For each category of water heater, there are several different model options.

    Additionally, A.O. Smith has built a reputation for energy efficiency and low emissions, this is because many of their heaters are Energy Star Certified or categorized as low or ultra-low NOx. Let's take a closer look at A.O. Smith's product line:

    Gas and Propane Water Heaters

    Most of A.O. Smith's gas-powered water heaters use less energy than their competitors and many have reduced NOx emissions by around 33%. The list below is A.O. Smith's tank-style model line-up for gas and propane heaters:  

    Polaris - The A.O. Smith Polaris line of water heaters is defined by high-efficiency and an excellent heat recovery rate. Many of these heaters are extremely quiet compared to the competition.

    ProLine and ProLine Master - This line is comprised of two types of water heaters, both of which have extremely high recovery and efficiency ratings of 80% or above.

    Signature - The Signature line is only sold at Lowes stores. This series is worthwhile for its affordability and because it's one of the few water heaters that are easy to find in a big box store.

    Vertex - The Vertex line is the best gas and propane water heater line offered by A.O. Smith. Every one of the heaters within this line has extremely high thermal efficiency and is Energy Star Certified. 

    Electric Water Heaters

    A.O. Smith produces many electric powered water heaters as well. These are usually constructed with environmentally friendly materials, and all of them are LEED certified.

    Their electric heaters are advantageous because they can draw power specifically from a regular outlet, this allows them to be installed in smaller than normal spaces.

    ProLine XE - This offshoot of the main ProLine category of gas or propane heaters comes with the same ultra-high efficiency as its counter parts. These are middling in size and most come with digital displays for easy control.

    Signature - The electrical variant of the Signature line is also sold exclusively at Lowes. Like the gas or propane models, these Signature electric water heaters are both affordable and durable.

    Voltex - This line is the electrical counterpart of the gas Vertex group. Every Voltex A.O. Smith water heater is Energy Star compliant. In addition, they feature a unique dehumidifier capability which can both warm your home's water and remove excess moisture from the air to use for its own processes, thus lowering your overall cost of operation.

    Tankless Water Heaters

    A.O. Smith offers tankless water heaters that burn both gas or propane, depending on your needs. And just like their tank-style cousins, these heaters are either low or ultra-low NOx rated. 

    Tankless water heaters are smaller in size and take up less space, and all of A.O. Smith's tankless heaters come built with remote control options as well as digital displays. 

    Electric Tankless Water Heaters - A.O. Smith has recently produced a line of electric tankless water heaters. These provide the same space-saving and energy-efficient benefits that gas-powered tankless heaters do.

    Although, they come with an additional benefit. Because unlike the gas heaters, electric water heaters do not require venting. Without the need for venting, your installation costs will be far less and you'll have more options on where it can be installed.

    Consult with a Local Professional Plumber

    Get FREE Quotes Today

    Cirrex Solar-Powered Water Heater

    Perhaps the most advanced of all of A.O. Smith's water heater offerings are their solar-powered systems. These water heaters are a perfect choice for environmentally conscious homeowners and are capable of reducing your water heating utility costs by up to 70%!

    To make things even better, they come with OG-300 certification, which means the heaters are eligible for federal rebates or tax breaks depending on your state.

    Best A.O. Smith Water Heaters

    With so many excellent A.O. Smith water heaters to choose between, it wasn't easy to decide. However, we like these two because of their versatility. They're also consumer favorites, but whatever A.O. Smith heater you choose, you can expect the same focus on quality and efficiency.

     

    A.O. Smith ATI-540H-N Tankless Water Heater

    The ATI-540H-N is one of the best examples of a tankless water heater, as it combines many of the energy-efficient and eco-friendly aspects of A.O. Smith products into a single cohesive appliance.

    It's powered by natural gas and can burn up to 199,000 BTUs of heat every hour, which, at it's peak can supply enough hot water for up to four outlets at once.

    Like most A.O. Smith products, this tankless water heater is Energy Star certified with a UEF of 0.93, marking it as extremely energy efficient. It's also one of the best in terms of the warranty, as it offers limited protection for 15-years; which is higher than many other competing water heater warranties on the market.

    This model also comes with a number of safety features, including several inlet and outlet temperature monitors, a cutoff fuse to prevent overheating and a sensor to detect the heater flame.

    As a tankless water heater, the ATI-540H-N takes up less space in your home, allowing you the ability to install it in closets or other tight spaces, providing extra installation flexibility.

    • UEF: 0.93
    • BTU: 199,000
    • Emissions: Ultra-low NOx
    • Energy Star Certified: Yes
    •  
      Heat Exchanger: Commercial Grade Copper
    •  
      Secondary Heat Exchanger: Stainless Steel
    • Warranty: Heat Exchanger 15-years
    • Exhaust Technology: Condensing
    • Vent Type: Power Direct Vent

     

    A.O. Smith EJCS-20 Water Heater

    The EJCS-20 is another high-quality product from A.O. Smith. It's an electric heater that doesn't take up a lot of space, despite having a 19-gallon tank. Making it a perfect choice for smaller homes both due to its compact cylindrical design and its decent overall storage capacity.

    Standing at just slightly less than 25" tall, with the plumbing and electrical connection ports located on the side, this heater is a perfect choice to install both under a counter or in a traditional water heater space.

    There's also a tamper-resistant brass drain valve to prevent accidentally draining the tank and causing water damage to the surrounding area. 

    Like most A.O. Smith water heaters, the tank is protected by a durable glass coating on the interior, and for being so compact, it packs an amazing amount of power. The single element can deliver 2500 Watts for maximum heating capabilities.

    • Capacity: 19-gallons
    • Fuel Type: Electricity  
    • Energy Star Certified: No
    • Warranty: 6-years tank
    • Voltage: 120v
    • Wattage: 2500

    A.O. Smith Water Heaters vs. Other Brands

    A.O. Smith is one of the most well-known names in the water heater industry. They have a manufacturing hub that enables them to produce and maintain a broad product line with plenty of variety. 

    Compared to their competitors (Rinnai, Bradford White, Noritz), many of A.O. Smith's water heaters are more energy efficient, but they are also more expensive. Let's take a look at two of their main competitors.

    Rinnai Water Heaters

    Compared to Rinnai water heaters, A.O. Smith provides a much broader product line. Rinnai only offers gas and propane fueled water heaters, where A.O. Smith offers gas/propane, electric and solar options.  Both Rinnai and A.O. Smith offer tankless and tank-style heaters. 

    Each of these companies are known for their attention to quality and exceptionally well designed water heaters, but they're also both on the higher end of the price scale.

    Navien Water Heaters

    Naviens tankless water heater range is very narrow compared to A.O. Smith. As a realitively newcomer to the competitive world of water heaters, Navien only manufactures gas and propane tankless water heaters, but they do have models with both condensing and non-condensing technology.

    Navien and A.O. Smith each provide high quality products with higher price tags. However, since Navien is a newer manufacturer, it can sometimes be difficult to find a retailer and qualified service representative for their products.

     

    The Cost of A.O. Smith Water Heaters

    The cost of purchasing an A.O. Smith water heater can vary dramatically based on the model you select, and the installation variables that come into play. Installation should always be completed by a qualified professional.

    Many DIYers prefer to do the installation themselves, and if you have experience in working with electrical and plumbing you can probably handle the job, at least for their tank-style water heaters. But keep in mind, you may put your warranty at risk.

    Installation costs can vary dramatically depending on the type of heater you purchase and the complexity of the venting required. As a general rule, electric water heaters are less expensive to install since they won't require venting or tapping into a gas source.

    Consult with a Local Professional Plumber

    Get FREE Quotes Today

    We recommend having a professional help you choose the right heater for your home, they'll also provide you with an accurate installation bid, and best of all, you'll have peace of mind that the job was done right.

    One thing that is often overlooked, is the lifetime cost of owning a water heater. Certainly, you'll have the largest cost upfront with installation and the price of the heater itself, but each month you'll also be paying for the water heater's utility usage.

    Purchasing a heater that's Energy Star certified, will ensure that it meets the government's energy savings guidelines and save you money each month!

     

    Warranties for A.O. Smith Water Heaters

    Like most manufacturers, A.O. Smith's warranties vary depending on the style and model. They offer a 15-year heat exhanger warranty for their gas tankless water heaters, and a 5-year warranty for their electric.

    Gas and electric tank-style water heaters have 6 to 10 years of tank coverage, depending on the model. You can check for specific warranty coverage on their website.

    A.O. Smith Water Heater Maintenance and Life Expectancy

    A.O. Smith water heaters have a reputation for being extremely durable, even against limescale and other typical water heater problems. Most water heaters are expected to last without issue for at least 10 years, and if you perform regular maintenance, you can extend this lifespan significantly.

    A.O. Smith Water Heater Problems

    A.O. Smith has a reputation for building high quality, problem-free water heaters, but even the best brands have their challenges. From time-to-time the company has needed to place a recall on some of their models. If you own a A.O. Smith heater, you can use this portal to check if your unit was affected. 

    A.O. Smith Water Heater Manual

    All A.O. Smith water heaters come with a users manual, and if you're like most of us, after a few years you'll have no idea where you put it!

    Fortunately, the company has a centralized manual resource available on their website. We still recommend you put your orginal manual in a safe place, but it's nice to know that you have access to the same information online.

     

    Consult with a Local Professional Plumber

    Get FREE Quotes Today