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Best Electric Water Heaters

Second-Best
52 Gal. 5500-Watt Lifetime Residential Electric Water Heater with Durable 316 l Stainless Steel Tank
Westinghouse 52 Gal Lifetime Electric Water Heater
Third-Best
Marathon 50 Gal. Tall 4500-Watt Elements Non Metallic Lifetime Electric Tank Water Heater
Rheem Marathon Lifetime 50 Gal. Electric Water Heater
Best Overall
Gladiator 50 Gal. Medium 12 Year 5500 Watt Smart Electric Water Heater with Leak Detection and Auto Shutoff
Rheem Gladiator 50 Gal. Smart Electric Water Heater
Fourth-Best
Performance 40 Gal. Tall 6 Year 4500-Watt Elements Electric Tank Water Heater
Rheem Performance 40 Gal. Tall Electric Water Heater​
Fifth-Best
American Standard Residential 50 Gal. Electric Water Heater
To find the best electric water heater, we reviewed:
  • 1. Performance
  • 2. Capacity
  • 3. Cost
  • 4. Uniform Energy Factor (UEF)
  • 5. Lifespan
  • 6. Warranty
A guy in a REthority shirt showing a reader the lineup of our best electric water heater models ranked from best to worst

Disclaimer: REthority is supported by ads and participation in affiliate programs. We may earn a commission when you click our links. The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal or financial advice.

If you’re searching for the best electric water heater, you’re in the right place. After all, there are some differences between gas and electric water heaters. Fortunately for you, we’ve made a buying guide to help you find the best appliance for your home. Read on to learn all you need to know, and see our top picks.

Best Overall

Gladiator 50 Gal. Medium 12 Year 5500 Watt Smart Electric Water Heater with Leak Detection and Auto Shutoff

Rheem Gladiator 50 Gal. Smart Electric Water Heater

A solid performer just got even better with leak-detection technology.

This 50-gallon smart electric water heater has special features like built-in leak detection, an auto-shutoff valve when it detects a leak, and built-in WiFi that allows you to control and monitor it from a smartphone.

It features 5500 Watts for plenty of power, a 12-year warranty, and auto-cleaning features to keep it well maintained. It’s also available in 40 gallon and 55-gallon capacities. 

Overall Score: 28/30

Performance: 4/5 

This model is considered medium-level performance according to its energy guide. It has a 63-gallon FHD rate and a recovery rate of 21-25 gallons per hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Capacity: 5/5

The tank capacity of this Rheem Gladiator model is 50 gallons. This is enough capacity for a household with 3 to 5 people, depending on hot water usage. There are 40 gallon (2-4 people) and 55 gallon (up to 5 people) capacities available, too.  

Cost: 4/5

This model costs around $620 at Home Depot. This is well within the average range for electric water heaters, considered a medium-low price (average range is $300 to $1,600). 

UEF Rating: 5/5

The Uniform Energy Factor rating for this model is 0.92, which is very high. It is not ENERGY STAR certified, but meets all ANSI, NAECA, and ASHRAE requirements for safety and energy efficiency. 

Lifespan: 5/5

The Rheem Gladiator’s lifespan is expected to be about 12-15 years. This is the upper end of average for electric water heaters. 

Warranty: 5/5

This Rheem Gladiator model comes with a 12-year limited warranty on the tank and components and a 3-year limited warranty on in-home labor. This means tank issues and part replacements may be covered during the first 12 years, while the cost of required labor may be covered for the first three years. 

Second-Best

52 Gal. 5500-Watt Lifetime Residential Electric Water Heater with Durable 316 l Stainless Steel Tank

Westinghouse 52 Gal Lifetime Electric Water Heater

A smart choice for homeowners seeking above-average performance.

Overall Score: 27/30

Performance: 4/5

The FHD rate is 71 gallons for this model. The recovery rate is 25 gph at a 90-degree rise. This is considered slightly above average performance level for an electric water heater of this size. 

Capacity: 5/5

This electric water heater has a 52-gallon tank capacity, which is a bit larger than the more common 40 or 50-gallon tank capacity. Because it is larger, it can support a household with five or more people. 

Cost: 3/5

This particular model costs about $840 at Home Depot. This is well within the average range of electric water heater costs, from about $300 to $1,600. 

UEF Rating: 5/5

The Uniform Energy Factor rating is 0.93 for this model, which is very good and indicates energy efficiency. 

Lifespan: 5/5

With a limited lifetime warranty on the tank and a 6-year warranty on parts, this electric water heater seems to have a longer lifespan than the average 12-15 years. With the warranty, replacement tanks and parts can be ordered to prolong the water heater’s life. 

Warranty: 5/5

This model comes with a lifetime warranty, which stands out from other electric water heaters. The tank itself is covered by the lifetime warranty, while there is a limited 6-year warranty on parts.

Third-Best

Marathon 50 Gal. Tall 4500-Watt Elements Non Metallic Lifetime Electric Tank Water Heater

Rheem Marathon Lifetime 50 Gal. Electric Water Heater

Solid performance, well-known brand name, with a lifetime warranty.

Overall Score: 26/30

Performance: 3/5 

This model has a 57-gallon FHD rate and a 20 gph recovery rate at a 90-degree rise. This is an average performance level that can support multiple showers, the hot-water appliance uses, and average sink use each day. 

Capacity: 5/5

This water heater has a 50-gallon tank capacity, so it is appropriate for anywhere between 3 to 5 people in the household. With as many as five people, it would require low to regular water use. 

Cost: 3/5

The Marathon model has a higher cost than many other models because of its warranty policy. This unit costs around $1,170 at Home Depot. The average electric water heater cost range is $300 to $1,600. 

UEF Rating: 5/5

This model is very energy efficient. It has a Uniform Energy Factor rating of 0.91. It is not ENERGY STAR certified. 

Lifespan: 5/5

The Marathon model is made to last for a long time, 12-15 years, and it is also backed by a premium lifetime warranty policy. While one unit will not last a lifetime, Rheem backs the product and will replace the unit when required. 

Warranty: 5/5

This model comes with one of the best warranties we’ve found for electric water heaters. Rheem backs it with a special lifetime warranty covering the tank, parts, and replacements for the homeowner’s lifetime. Make sure to register the product to start the warranty coverage.

Fourth-Best

Performance 40 Gal. Tall 6 Year 4500-Watt Elements Electric Tank Water Heater

Rheem Performance 40 Gal. Tall Electric Water Heater

Good for homeowners on a budget and best suited for small homes.

The Rheem Performance 40 gallon electric water heater is a budget-friendly option with a good level of performance. This model is appropriate for small to medium households and comes with a good warranty. The warranty covers the tank, parts, and in-home labor. 

Overall Score: 25/30

Performance: 4/5

This model has a 54-gallon FHD rate. This is a medium level of performance, which is standard for a 40-gallon water heater. There is a 21 gph recovery rate at a 90-degree rise.

Capacity: 4/5

This Rheem Performance model has a 40-gallon tank capacity. It is intended for a 3-4 person household. With more people, a 50-gallon tank capacity will be needed. 

Cost: 5/5

This model costs about $360 at Home Depot. This is an excellent price, and it’s the most affordable top-rated water heater on our list. Remember that the average electric water heater cost ranges from $300 to $1,600.

UEF Rating: 5/5

This model has a 0.93 UEF rating. This means it is very energy efficient, but it is not ENERGY STAR certified. 

Lifespan: 3/5

Other Rheem electric water heaters have a longer lifespan, but this unit’s affordability means it may not last as long. The shorter warranty indicates you can expect this model to last for anywhere from 8-12 years. 

Warranty: 4/5

When you purchase this model, you get a 6-year limited warranty on the tank and parts. You also get a 1-year limited warranty on in-home labor, which seems to be unique to Rheem. 

Fifth-Best

American Standard Residential 50 Gal. Electric Water Heater

Affordable electric water heater with a big tank and solid warranty.

The American Standard 50 gallon electric water heater is another option if you’re looking for a generous tank capacity that is still affordable. The FHD rate leaves a little to be desired (just 59 gallons).

But there’s a nice UEF rating to make up for it, and the unit is very fairly priced. Opt for this model if you don’t need any frills but want a reliable water heater with a six- or 12-year warranty. 

Overall Score: 25/30

Performance: 3/5

This model has an FHD rate of 59 gallons and has a 21 gph recovery rate. This is an average performance level and would be suitable for multiple showers, sink use, hot-water appliance usage, and more throughout the day. 

Capacity: 5/5

This model features a 50-gallon tank capacity. This is enough to support a household with 3-5 people in it. For more people, a larger tank capacity will be needed. 

Cost: 4/5

This model costs about $460, so it is on the very low end of average electric water heater costs. This is a low price for a unit with a 50-gallon capacity. 

UEF Rating: 5/5

This model boasts a 0.94 Uniform Energy Factor rating. This indicates that it is extremely energy efficient and may reduce energy bills. 

Lifespan: 4/5 

This model can be purchased with two different warranty lengths, but this seems to indicate the manufacturer expects it to last at least 12 years. This is an average lifespan for an electric water heater. 

Warranty: 4/5

American Standard offers your choice of a 6-year limited warranty or a 12-year limited warranty with this 50-gallon tank model. The warranty covers parts only, not the tank.

Electric Water Heater Buyer’s Guide

Wondering where to start your search for a new electric water heater? Most of us aren’t appliance or plumbing experts, but we still want to know how to choose the best possible water heater.

You want one that works well, lasts for many years, and supplies plenty of hot water for your household without jacking up your electric bill. You want it to be affordable and come with a warranty. We’ve got you covered.

When you shop for electric water heaters, you should keep the following criteria in mind to choose the best appliance for your household, budget, and hot water needs. If you choose an electric water heater that meets these criteria, you’ll end up with a cost-effective appliance that lasts for years. 

Performance

The first thing to consider as you’re shopping and comparing electric water heaters is their level of performance. All water heaters are not made equal. The level of performance is what determines whether you have a water heater that dishes out all the hot water you want or one that leaves you taking half-cold showers.

High-performance electric water heaters are typically found by looking at a standardized rating given to every water heater on the market. This rating is known as the First-Hour Delivery rating, or FHD. It’s given in gallons per hour. The FHD varies by water heater model, and in general, a higher FHD rating is better.

If you don’t see the FHD rate displayed with the model you’re considering but you know the recovery rate (the max amount of water the appliance can heat with a specific temperature increase in 1 hour), you can do a quick calculation to find it.

Multiply the tank’s capacity in gallons by 70%, then add the recovery rate to get the FHD rate.

Total tank capacity (gal) x 0.70 + recovery rate = First-Hour Delivery rate (gal per hour)

For example: You’re looking at a 50 gallon electric water heater with a recovery rate of 40 gallons per hour (gph).

– Multiply capacity by 70%: 50 gallons x 0.70 = 35 gallons
– Add result and recovery rate: 35 gallons + 40 gph = 75 gph (First-Hour Delivery rate)

To keep things simple, we’ve included the FHD rate for each one of the 5 best electric water heaters we’ve ranked below. You’ll be able to compare to see which water heaters deliver the most hot water in an hour (meaning multiple people can shower at once, loads of laundry can be run while the dishwasher is on, etc.). 

Capacity

An electric water heater’s capacity is also important to consider while you’re shopping around. Buying one that is too small for your household size is a mistake you’ll quickly regret.

Having a water heater of the right capacity ensures there’s plenty of hot water to go around, even during peak usage. Electric water heaters that have tanks vary in capacity. There are some “point of use” electric water heaters as small as 2.5 gallons!

Most household water heaters range in size from about 20 to 80 gallons. There are larger tanks, but they are mostly used for large households or commercial applications.

The electric water heater capacity you should look for is based on two things: The number of people in your household and your hot water usage pattern. Here’s a look at average capacity needs by household size and water usage level.

Chart showing the best electric water heaters and the ideal sizes for your home

For the average household, a 50 gallon tank capacity will be sufficient to supply hot water even during peak usage. If 4 or more people are living in your home and you consider your hot water usage to be high, opt for a 60 or 75 gallon tank capacity. 

Cost

Shopping for a new electric water heater can be expensive. Comparing the cost of different models is important. Some have special features or specifications that may not make a big difference to you, but add to the cost.

Electric water heaters range in price from about $300 to about $1,600. On average, they are about $100 to $200 cheaper than gas water heaters.

The least expensive electric water heaters typically have smaller tank capacities and a lower level of performance. They may have shorter lifespans, needing to be replaced more often. Mid-to-high price levels typically come with more extensive warranties and a longer lifespan.

In addition to the cost of the water heater itself, don’t forget about the cost of installation. Expect to pay somewhere between $150 and $800 for installation, depending on the professional and their hourly rate.

Installing a water heater is not a project for a DIY beginner. It should be left to a professional. Read more about this here: Can a Homeowner Install a Water Heater?

Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) Rating

Every water heater on the market is assigned a Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) rating. These ratings make energy efficiency easy to compare among similar models. The Department of Energy standardized this rating so you can look at energy efficiency of different models side-by-side with a single comparison.

The UEF rating combines the FHD rate, estimated yearly energy costs, and the usage bin of the water heater (more on that next) into a single number expressed in decimal form. A UEF rating might be 0.74, for example. 

A water heater usage bin is the size category it fits into. Think of compact, mid-size, and full-size cars. The 4 water heater usage bins are:

1. Very Small (10 gal/day)
2. Low (38 gal/day)
3. Medium (55 gal/day)
4. High (84 gal/day)

When you’re shopping and comparing electric water heaters, the UEF rating allows you to compare two or more water heaters within the same usage bin (for example, 2 High water heaters). 

If a water heater’s UEF rating is high enough (at least 0.64 for water heaters less than 55 gallons), it may get the ENERGY STAR certification. It would also need to have a FHD rate of 67 gph at 135 degrees Fahrenheit and a 6-year minimum warranty.

Best electric water heater buying guide featuring an energy star label
Image Source: Energyinfo.oregon.gov

So as you shop for an electric water heater, be sure to look at the UEF rating and also check to see if it’s ENERGY STAR certified. A higher UEF is always better, but even UEF ratings that aren’t high enough to meet ENERGY STAR certification requirements are still quite energy efficient. 

Lifespan

The expected lifespan of an electric water heater is an important factor to consider as you shop around. You don’t want to drop several hundred bucks on an appliance you’ll need to replace within 5 years! 

The good news is that electric water heaters have a pretty long lifespan compared to gas water heaters. The average lifespan for an electric water heater is anywhere from 8-15 years. Gas water heaters usually last about 8-12 years. 

Keep the expected lifespan in mind as you shop (hint: look at the length of the warranty to see how long the manufacturer actually guarantees it), but commit to maintaining and caring for your water heater as well. 

Regular maintenance is a major factor in the lifespan of your water heater. Draining the tank once or twice per year, keeping the area around the water heater free from debris and dust, and avoiding overuse and too-high temperatures can all help your water heater last even longer. 

Warranty 

Finally, as you look for your next electric water heater, don’t forget to pay attention to the included warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty not only gives you peace of mind about potential repairs or replacements, but also clues you in to how much the manufacturer stands behind their product.

Some water heater manufacturers are known for offering generous warranties. Rheem and AO Smith are good examples. You will find that some warranties include only the inner tank and components while some also cover in-home labor when you have someone come in to do a repair. 

Some warranties are relatively short, covering 6 years or so, and some cover the appliance for 12+ years. You may even come across a lifetime warranty that covers parts and replacements of the water heater for the rest of your lifetime. 

Choose a water heater that has a good warranty to ensure you won’t have to cover any repairs or replacements out of pocket for the next 6-12 years.

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