Best Electric Water Heaters 2021: Top Picks, Reviews & Buying Guide

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Shopping for an electric water heater?

Look no further!

A water heater is an extremely important part of your home’s plumbing system. Usually hidden in the basement or a closet, it’s easy to forget about until you step into the shower and get blasted with cold water.

By picking the right electric water heater for your home, you can have hot water at your fingertips for kitchen tasks, showers, appliances, handwashing, and more.

With so many different types and models available today, choosing the best electric water heater for your budget can be difficult. 

Most people use tank-style heaters in their homes, but tankless units are gaining popularity because of their space-saving design and unlimited hot water supply.

So, which electric water heater best suits your needs & budget? 

Let’s find out!   

What’s in this Buying Guide?

This guide includes detailed reviews of the best electric water heaters available today. 

After we discuss our top picks and review them, we provide a comprehensive buying guide that covers the pros and cons, cleaning, maintenance, and other factors you should consider before purchasing a heater.


Best Electric Water Heaters  

Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com

  1. Best mini water heater: Bosch Tronic 3000 T
  2. Best for Bathroom Sinks: Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 Commercial Heater   
  3. Best for 1-bedroom homes: Atmor 18kW Electric Water Heater
  4. Best for Apartments: EcoSmart ECO 18 Water Heater
  5. Best for warmer climates: Titan SCR2 N-120 Water Heater

Title
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 7-Gallon...
Stiebel Eltron 074050 120V, 3.0 kW DHC 3-1 Single Sink...
Atmor 18kW 3.73 GPM Electric Tankless Water Heater, ideal for 1...
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 7-Gallon...
Stiebel Eltron 074050 120V, 3.0 kW DHC 3-1 Single Sink...
Atmor 18kW 3.73 GPM Electric Tankless Water Heater, ideal for 1...
Award
Best mini water heater
Best for Bathroom Sinks
Best for 1-bedroom homes
Tankless
No
Yes
Yes
Heating Power
Not Applicable
9.6 kW
18 kW
Recovery Rate
6.8 GPH
0.79 GPM (Minimum)
3.73 GPM
Weight
29.5 lbs
6.6 lbs.
13.32 lbs.
Dimensions
10 x 10 x 16 inches
19 x 7.9 x 14.25 inches
19 x 17.8 x 7.9 inches
Title
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 7-Gallon...
Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 7-Gallon...
Award
Best mini water heater
Tankless
No
Heating Power
Not Applicable
Recovery Rate
6.8 GPH
Weight
29.5 lbs
Dimensions
10 x 10 x 16 inches
Title
Stiebel Eltron 074050 120V, 3.0 kW DHC 3-1 Single Sink...
Stiebel Eltron 074050 120V, 3.0 kW DHC 3-1 Single Sink...
Award
Best for Bathroom Sinks
Tankless
Yes
Heating Power
9.6 kW
Recovery Rate
0.79 GPM (Minimum)
Weight
6.6 lbs.
Dimensions
19 x 7.9 x 14.25 inches
Title
Atmor 18kW 3.73 GPM Electric Tankless Water Heater, ideal for 1...
Atmor 18kW 3.73 GPM Electric Tankless Water Heater, ideal for 1...
Award
Best for 1-bedroom homes
Tankless
Yes
Heating Power
18 kW
Recovery Rate
3.73 GPM
Weight
13.32 lbs.
Dimensions
19 x 17.8 x 7.9 inches

Title
EcoSmart ECO 18 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 18 KW at 240...
Titan Electric Tankless Water Heater
EcoSmart ECO 18 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 18 KW at 240...
Titan Electric Tankless Water Heater
Award
Best for Apartments
Best for warmer climates
Tankless
Yes
Yes
Heating Power
18kW
11.8 kW
Recovery Rate
3.51 GPM
-
Weight
14 lbs.
2 lbs.
Dimensions
3.63 x 14 x 17 inches
12 x 10 x 5 inches
Title
EcoSmart ECO 18 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 18 KW at 240...
EcoSmart ECO 18 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 18 KW at 240...
Award
Best for Apartments
Tankless
Yes
Heating Power
18kW
Recovery Rate
3.51 GPM
Weight
14 lbs.
Dimensions
3.63 x 14 x 17 inches
Title
Titan Electric Tankless Water Heater
Titan Electric Tankless Water Heater
Award
Best for warmer climates
Tankless
Yes
Heating Power
11.8 kW
Recovery Rate
-
Weight
2 lbs.
Dimensions
12 x 10 x 5 inches


Best Mini Water Heater: Bosch Tronic 3000 T

Best Electric Water Heater

Features

  • Included bracket allows for wall and floor installation
  • 7-gallon tank delivers hot water whenever you need it
  • Offers a temperature range of 65°F to 145°F
  • Recovery rate of 6.8 GPH at 90°F rise
  • Water pressure range of 150 psi
  • Glass-lined tank and CFC-free foam insulation

Our review

The Bosch Tronic 3000 T is a point-of-use electric water heater that can be floor-mounted or wall-mounted. You can easily store it in a cabinet or seamlessly blend its attractive and sleek design with the existing décor by installing it in a visible location.

You can install this Bosch model under a sink or use it to supplement an existing primary water heating source. You can even use the unit as a buffer installed in line with tankless heaters that provide cold water intermittently to ensure a continuous flow of hot water.

The Tronic 3000 T comes with a pressure relief valve. Its thick CFC-free foam insulation ensures maximum energy efficiency, while its glass-lined tank enhances durability.

The front cover of the heater features a rotating knob that allows you to make quick temperature adjustments. 

Installation is also incredibly simple and does not require any significant plumbing work. However, you will have to hard-wire the 7-gallon model, so hiring a professional for installation is better. 

The Bosch Tronic 3000 T ES8 is a heavy water heater and weighs 29.5 pounds, so make sure you have a firm foundation for it. The 7-gallon unit can simultaneously supply up to two sinks and provide enough hot water for a short shower as well.

However, make sure you check its dimensions, as some verified users reported that it did not fit under their counters. The instruction manual is also missing a few important installation details.

Pros

  • Allows both vertical and horizontal installation
  • Delivers hot water on demand
  • Reliable and convenient
  • Compact design
  • Ideal for boats, RVs, and apartments
  • Boosts hot water supply

Cons

  • Anode might need replacing over time

Best for Bathroom Sinks: Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 Commercial Heater   

Electric Water Heater

Features

  • Consumes 50% less power than heaters with tanks
  • Hydraulic design ensures quiet operation
  • Copper-clad heating element
  • Never dry fires or fails prematurely
  • Resettable safety high limit switch

Review

The Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 heater delivers hot and warm water to a single point of use, making it perfect for bathroom and utility sinks.

A flow switch controls the heating element, preventing the DHC from dry-firing and failing prematurely, while its hydraulically-controlled operation makes almost little to no noise. 

The water heater also boasts a safety high-limit with a manual reset and rugged all-copper construction that ensure durability and longevity.

The reliability and simplicity of the Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 Commercial Heater make it an ideal point-of-use model for commercial and residential applications, including utility sinks, kitchen sinks, laundry areas, boats, and RVs.

Due to this heater’s small size, you can conveniently install it directly under the sink or in an adjacent closet, so you get hot water almost instantly. 

By placing the DHC 10-2 right next to the point-of-use, you’ll also be able to increase energy efficiency and eliminate the thermal loss that’s usually associated with long pipe runs.

The Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 uses up to 50% less power than heaters with storage tanks. However, it’s difficult to get a constant water temperature for an extended period of time with this heater.

Pros

  • Heats water instantaneously
  • Eliminates standby losses
  • Sleek, compact design saves a lot of space
  • Comes with a powerful copper-clad heating element
  • Extremely reliable

Cons

  • Water gets cold with a reduction in water pressure
  • Temperature range is not user-adjustable
  • Plastic cover may be a bit brittle

Best for 1-Bedroom Homes: Atmor 18kW Electric Water Heater

Best Electric Water Heater

Features

  • Tankless design provides continuous on-demand hot water
  • Needs two 40-Amo DP breakers
  • Saves up to 50% on costs compared to a unit with a tank
  • Perfect for residential and commercial use
  • Recovery rate of 3.73 GPM
  • Standard 1/2-inch NPT fittings

Our Review

The Atmor electric water heater is an efficient, convenient, and eco-friendly solution that provides a continuous supply of hot water, eliminating your worries of the water running out before your shower. 

The unit can deliver hot water to 3 appliances at a time, making it perfect for 1-bedroom homes.

This Atmor model’s innovative on-demand water heating technology automatically turns off and on by detecting water flow, helping you eliminate costly water waste, save on energy bills, and reduce water consumption.

The unit’s compact design also saves you space, as you can easily mount it against the wall near the point of use, or install it under the sink if you want to keep it out of sight. The heater boasts an elegant design that beautifully blends into your home decor as well.

Unlike a gas model, the Atmor 18kW electric water heater does not require any venting, giving you the flexibility of installing it anywhere in your office, garage, home, or RV. The unit also comes with a 7-year leakage-free warranty and a 2-year parts-only warranty.

However, the heater takes a minute to adjust the water temperature if there is a change in flow rate. Make sure you also check whether your house can handle the electrical load, as some verified users reported that their LED lights flickered when they ran the water.

Pros

  • Ideal for 1-2 bathrooms in hot climates and one bathroom in colder climates
  • Digital control is easy to use and allows you to set the desired water temperature
  • Non-corrosive and lead-free internal piping and canisters ensure durability
  • Advanced on-demand water sensing technology automatically turns on/off the unit
  • Comes with a long warranty period
  • Includes a pressure relief device with a built-in one-way valve for additional safety

Cons

  • Difficult to install
  • Instructions are slightly inaccurate

Best for Apartments: EcoSmart ECO 18 Water Heater

Electric Water Heater

Features

  • Activation flow of 0.3 GPM and a flow rate of 3.51 GPM
  • Compatible with two 40-Amp DP breakers
  • Saves up to 60% on water heating costs
  • Suitable for a wide variety of applications
  • Digital temperature control with 1-degree increments gives complete control over hot water

Our Review

This EcoSmart model is an 18-kilowatt electric water heater that’s perfect for supplying hot water to large point-of-use applications or small apartments and homes. 

Depending on the water pressure and inlet water, it can deliver between 1.8 and 4.3 GPM of hot water.

Instead of storing hot water in a tank, the ECO 18 heats water as it goes through the unit, so you get endless on-demand hot water. 

This model can heat over 2.5 gallons per minute, which is equal to one sink with a low inlet temperature and one water saver shower head with a water flow of 1.5 GPM.

This unit also boasts advanced self-modulating technology, so it only consumes the amount of energy required to heat water when you open the tap. Its on-demand heating and point-of-use installation further ensure that you don’t have to wait for hot water.

The EcoSmart ECO 18 water heater features a wall-mounted design, freeing up floor space for bathroom cleaning supplies and other storage needs. This tankless model is dependable, easy to install, and supported by a helpful customer support team as well.

Although this EcoSmart model comes with a warranty, it has a catch. The warranty will only be applicable if you get the water heater installed by a licensed electrician or plumber. The heater might also cause your LED lights to flicker, so make sure you consider its heating power before purchasing it.

Pros

  • Highly durable construction
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Lifetime warranty for residential use
  • Compact size allows you to save 12 cubic feet of storage space
  • Ensures you never run out of hot water

Cons

  • Might have leakage issues
  • Encased in low-quality sheet metal

Best for Warmer Climates: Titan SCR2 N-120 Water Heater

Best Electric Water Heater

Features

  • Manual thermostat allows you to set the desired temperature
  • Brass and copper construction ensures durability and longevity
  • Provides continuous flow of hot water
  • Compact size fits into smaller places

Our Review

The Titan SCR2 N-120 water heater can easily handle the hot water demand of a normal-sized home. It provides a constant flow of hot water and keeps the temperature of the water consistent throughout its use.

The manufacturer recommends this model for warmer climates, particularly if the water inlet temperature is above 65-degrees Fahrenheit. The Titan SCR2 N-120 can provide hot water for up to two baths in warm climates and function as a point-of-use heater in colder environments.

The heater boasts straightforward controls, and you can easily adjust the temperature of the water with the buttons located on the front of the cover.

However, this Titan model is a bit difficult to install, so you might have to hire an experienced electrician or plumber. Make sure you also don’t run too many appliances at the same time, as this model will be unable to provide hot water to all of them.

Pros

  • Ideal for medium-sized homes
  • Helps save on energy costs
  • Easy to use and control
  • Durable and reliable construction
  • Offers energy efficiency of up to 99.5%

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger homes in cold climates
  • Difficult to install

Electric Water Heater Buying Guide

What is an Electric Water Heater, and How Does it Work?

Best Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters work basically the same way as gas water heaters. 

Cold water flows in through the dip tube and heats up with the help of electric heating elements located inside the tank. The hot water then rises and flows throughout your house through the heat-out pipe.

Like gas water heaters, electric water heaters also have a thermostat, a drain valve, an anode rod, a temperature and pressure relief valve, and an insulated tank.

The only difference between the two is that electric water heaters use electric elements to heat the water and thus, need to be plugged into a power supply. 

Let’s take a closer look at how an electric water heater does its job.   

The thermostat of an electric water heater regulates the water’s temperature inside the tank. It’s usually located underneath a cover plate and features a dial or knob you can use to set the temperature.  

Most manufacturers recommend a temperature between 120°F and 140°F, as this is hot enough for household use but not hot enough to pose a burning risk. If you have children, it’s best to stick to the lower end of the range.

The dip tube carries cold water to the bottom of the tank, where it starts to heat up. The electric heating element works until the water reaches the set temperature. Hot water then rises to the top of the tank and exits through the heat-out pipe located near the tank’s top.

Although tank-style heaters are still incredibly popular in the US, tankless electric water heaters are also gaining popularity. A tank-style unit heats the water continuously, so you have hot water whenever you need it, while tankless systems create hot water on demand.

Although this can result in big energy savings, a tankless water heater can initially cost three times more than a standard unit.

Why Buy an Electric Water Heater vs. Other Kinds?

The ‘gas vs. electric water heater’ debate can be a bit confusing. Since both of them heat up your water, surely, they must be pretty interchangeable? Unfortunately, the answer is not that quite simple.

In this section, we discuss the differences between electric water heaters and other kinds to help you decide whether an electric system is worth the investment or not.

Some reasons why you should purchase an electric water heater over other kinds include:

Accessibility  

In terms of functionality, electric water heaters are usually easier to operate than other types. 

Since the unit purely functions on electrical power, you won’t have to go through the hassle of turning on the gas to start it. This makes electric systems much simpler to manage as well.

Efficiency

Electric water heaters are more efficient than gas systems. 

Although gas units are cheaper to run because of the low cost of natural gas, they use more energy and release waste into the environment. The gas byproduct also steals some of the heat, making them less efficient than electric models.

On the other hand, electric water heaters use most of the energy they receive to heat up water, making them more energy-efficient.

Lesser maintenance requirements  

Gas water heaters need more maintenance than electric systems. 

While you’ll have to flush all kinds of water heaters to prevent the buildup of deposits at the bottom of the tank, you’ll have to periodically check the gas tanks and gas line with gas heaters to prevent sediment buildup or gas leaks.

Environmental benefits

Naturally, electric water heaters are better for the environment. Since these units are energy-efficient and work with renewable energy sources, they cause less environmental damage.

On the other hand, gas units use natural gas, which is extracted from the Earth in a destructive process that releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the air. This makes gas water heaters less eco-friendly overall.

What to Look for in an Electric Water Heater

Best Electric Water Heater

A lot goes into choosing the right electric water heater. To help you select a model that best suits your specific needs, we’ve listed some factors you should consider before finalizing your purchase.

Water capacity

Make sure you consider the amount of water your family needs on a busy water day. The higher the amount of water they consume, the more gallons you’ll need. 

For instance, if your family uses around 100 gallons of water on a busy day, you’ll need a unit with a storage tank capacity of approximately 40 gallons.

However, it’s important to remember that a tank’s water capacity is not always an accurate indicator of the volume it can deliver. 

For example, tankless units don’t store much water, so their volume is measured by the number of gallons they can offer in a minute (GPM).

It’s better to opt for a model with a higher GPM if you have a big family and a unit with a lower one if you’re living alone or with a roommate.

Energy efficiency

It’s better to choose an electric water heater with a high energy factor. Although tankless units cost more than their traditional counterparts, their energy and cost savings more than make up for their higher initial price.

Space for setup

Electric water heaters usually don’t have a fixed size. The size of the heater primarily depends on the technology it employs instead of its capacity. So, make sure you check the dimensions of the heater before you purchase it.

Tank or tankless

Tank electric water heaters store a certain amount of hot water at any given time and can send it to multiple appliances at the same time. 

On the other hand, tankless units take up less space and heat water as you need it.

However, one tankless electric water heater might not be able to deliver hot water to several fixtures simultaneously, so you may need to purchase multiple units for your house.

Digital Displays

Digital displays provide you with complete control over the heater and give you all the information you may need. They inform you of the water pressure, level of the tank, water collectors, etc. 

Some displays also come with preprogrammed settings that help you optimize performance and save power.

Warranty

Electric water heaters usually come with a warranty that runs from three to twelve years. Models with longer warranties are usually more expensive but also have larger elements that heat up water quickly and boast thicker insulation that reduces heat loss. 

Of course, it’s better to choose an electric water heater with a longer warranty.

Recovery Rate

The amount of water that an electric system can heat in an hour is an important factor you should consider before making your purchase. As a rule of thumb, units with a high tank capacity have lower recovery rates because there’s more water available.

Pros and Cons

Even though an electric water heater is a popular option for home water heating, it’s still difficult to determine the benefits and drawbacks of installing this type of system over a gas model.

To help you decide whether you should invest in an electric water heater, here are some pros and cons you should know:

Pros

Lower initial costs

Electric water heaters are the most affordable water heater options available today when it comes to the upfront price. 

Most importantly, the cost largely depends on the type and size of the unit, regardless of the power source. 

For example, traditional tank models are less costly, while tankless, on-demand units are usually more expensive upfront.

The price difference between the different types is also because of the installation costs. Most electric water heaters don’t need any additional in-home fixtures, so installation is both quicker and simpler.

Safety

Both gas and electric water heaters safely heat up your water. That said, like, with any gasoline appliance, gas heaters are also susceptible to gas leaks. You can reduce these risks by conducting regular inspections and properly maintaining your gas water heater.

While an electric water heater comes with its own safety issues, the chances of a gas leak are higher than any type of electrical safety problem with a water heater.

Availability

Almost every home is connected to an electrical grid, and they all have readily available electricity. This means that you can effectively and easily install an electric water heater in your home.

Cons

Recovery rates and heating times

Do you have to wait for hot water before jumping into the shower? 

With electric water heaters, the waiting time is going to be even longer than gas units. This is because the gas combustion process produces heat more rapidly than electric heating.

Power outages

If the electric grid goes down because of a storm or any other event, you won’t have hot water in your home.

Operating costs

Although electric water heaters are more energy-efficient than gas units, it’s more likely that you’ll spend less money overall with a gas water heater. This is because of the cost of the power source. Natural gas is extremely cheap, while electricity usually costs much higher.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters last a long time, with some models having a serving life of around 15 years. However, this durability only applies to properly-installed units that receive regular cleaning and maintenance.

If you’re unsure about how to clean your electric water heater, you can follow these steps:

  1. Clean the exterior of the tank

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the thick layers of grime and dust on the exterior of the tank. Also, remember to clean the area around the pipes and behind the electric heater.

After vacuuming, use a dry, clean cloth to wipe down the unit. This will clean the dry filth on the heater.

  1. Drain the tank

One of the most important steps of proper heater maintenance is flushing out the sediment buildup in the water tank. Remember to drain your unit at least twice every year, as this will help prevent the buildup of limescale in your tank.

  1. Refill the tank

This step is especially important for individuals who get hard water in their homes. Remember to refill the tank a few times with cold water during the draining process until it’s free of loose sediments.

  1. Brush the interior of the tank

You can thoroughly remove sediment buildup from the tank by brushing its interior lining. However, you’ll need a special type of brush for this task, similar to the one used for cleaning refrigerator coils.

  1. Flush it one last time

Once you’re satisfied with the cleaning, flush the tank again. Make sure you place an empty bucket under the hole so you don’t have to mop up any of the flushed water later.

  1. Set your heater’s thermostat to 120 Degrees

If you turned off the thermostat before cleaning your water heater, turn it back on and set it to 120 degrees. If you didn’t change the thermostat setting before cleaning, make sure to check if it’s at 140 degrees, as this is the default setting of most models.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average life of a water heater?

Electric water heaters have different service life expectations, but most models have an average of around 8 to 12 years. The life of a water heater largely depends on the quality of the water supply, as sediment and heavy minerals in the water can result in corrosion over time.

How many times should I flush my electric water heater?

You should flush your electric water heater at least twice every year. This will help clean up sediment buildup and prevent future problems.

What are the monthly operating costs of an electric water heater?

Most electric water heaters usually run for around three to five hours a day. The average wattage of a unit is approximately 4000 watts, so if you run your heater for three hours per day at $0.13 per kWh, you’ll have to pay a total of $1.56 per day, around $46.8 per month, and about $560 per year.


Final Verdict: What is the Best Electric Water Heater Sold Today?  

With so many models available in the market, choosing the best electric water heater is no easy task.

If you want something that you can install under your bathroom sink, you should go for the Stiebel Eltron DHC 10-2 Commercial Heater, but if you live in a 1-bedroom home, then the Atmor 18kW Electric Water Heater may be the more suitable option.

The EcoSmart ECO 18 Water Heater is the best choice for apartments, while the Bosch Tronic 3000 T is perfect if you want a small heater with a tank. 

However, make sure you go through all the aforementioned reviews to find the unit that best suits your needs!