Best Gas Water Heater Reviews 2018

Gas water heaters provide an effective method of supplying a home with hot water whenever it is required. Options within this category include traditional tank-based water heaters and tankless water heaters.

Almost every home can use a gas water heater. If a utility provides a natural gas connection, then you have an affordable and efficient model that will provide you with hot water. Some manufacturers provide systems that operate off of propane for rural homes that may not have access to a natural gas connection.

Because of the fuel source, gas-powered designs may require installation by a professional. Many utilities require a technician to come out to your home to connect the water heater to the gas line. There are venting requirements for gas models as well, which may limit installation options.

You do have various sizes available, however, with models ranging from 20-55 gallons from most brands.

If you choose a gas-powered tankless water heater, then you have unlimited hot water, assuming you stay within the usage guidelines of the unit.

Highest Quality

Best Seller

Best Value

A.O. Smith GCR-50 ProMax PlusTakagi T-KJr2-IN-NGCamplux 5L

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Our Rating: 4.0Our Rating: 4.3Our Rating: 4.2
Market Popularity: LowMarket Popularity: HighMarket Popularity: Medium

Review of the Highest Quality Gas Water Heater

A.O. Smith has created an outstanding tank-based design for generalized home use.

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This 50-gallon unit offers homeowners a number of fantastic features that improve the overall performance of the unit. The most impressive feature is the internal microprocessor that comes with this unit. It operates within specific parameters and strict differentials that improve the efficiency of the unit.

When installed properly, the GCR-50 ProMax High Efficiency model offers a faster heating response when compared to similar water heaters by other manufacturers. Its precise sensing technology ensures that homes receive maximum hot water access with minimal effort.

Additional heat retention technologies improve the performance of this unit as well.

We really appreciated the design of the interior, which is manufactured with a Blue Diamond glass coating. Not only does this improve the heat retention in the tank, reducing standby energy losses, it also reduces the risks of corrosion occurring within the tank.

It also uses a self-powered electronic gas valve to generate the power it needs. That means homeowners are not required to provide external power to the unit. It utilizes thermopile to generate the power it needs.

Then add in the diffuser dip tube that helps to keep scale, including lime, at a minimum within the tank. That means you don’t see the same reductions in hot water access or temperature over prolonged use. The element is even made from a cross-linked polymer to further improve the consistency of the unit.

The GCR-50 is backed by a 6-year limited warranty.

We also appreciated the flexibility found within the venting options for this particular model. With the blower placed on the top of the unit, homeowners are given the option of venting vertically or horizontally. The specialty vent that is included with this model also means you can install this water heater almost anywhere in your home. It can vent up to 40 feet.

The design of the vent, which is a direct-vent model, features a two-pipe combustion system. You have clean air drawn from outside the home to help with the unit, which means your indoor ventilation worries are completely eliminated.

Hot water isn’t instant with this gas water heater, though it does get pretty close.

The faucets closest to the GCR-50 receive hot water at your preferred temperature in 10 seconds or less. When we checked a home with this water heater installed, even the furthest faucets received hot water in 20 seconds under regular operating conditions.

On a colder day, there is still a decent delay in the furthest faucets receiving hot water. Unless you have a tankless system with recirculation technologies, however, this problem is always going to exist. Overall, we found the performance of this unit exceeded our expectations.

There is a weight consideration with this unit, as the water heater weighs 180 pounds.

Although the weight limit works with most homes, including older homes, it does mean there may be shipping limitations for some consumers. If you live outside the contiguous 48 states in the U.S., especially in Alaska or Hawaii, you’ll want to ask about what shipping options may be available to you.

If you’re looking for a gas water heater with a proven track record of success, then this A.O. Smith model is certainly one to consider. It meets all current regulations by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act and will provide your home with wonderful hot water whenever you need it. 

Review of the Best-Selling Model

With 6.6 GPM, this tankless model by Takagi offers whole-family hot water support.

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Takagi has created a fantastic tankless gas water heater that will work in almost any home. With 140,000 BTU per hour at peak capacity, it creates 6.6 gallons per minute of hot water at 105F. That means you can take a warm shower, run water at the sink, and take care of other needs without maxing out this system.

It is designed with inlet and outlet thermistors, allowing the unit to constantly monitor the temperature of the water. That design contributes to an overall energy factor of up to 83 with this unit.

You can use this as a direct-vent unit if preferred.

It does require a 4-inch Category 3 stainless-steel vent to meet with current regulations. You may need to check with your local jurisdiction to determine if other rules apply with this Takagi model as well. This product, for example, must provide Proposition 65 warnings for California residents. 

Make sure that you’re not sharing the vent stack with this unit with anything else, such as the furnace. You’ll encounter usage problems if you do. The installation instructions with this unit specifically instruct that this should not be done.

Switches within the unit make it possible for homes at different elevations to use this model.

Takagi has supplied this tankless water heater with DIP switches. That allows homeowners at several different elevation levels to be able to take advantage of what this gas water heater provides for the home. There are 3 different settings available on the standard model, each providing up to 2,000 feet of elevation support.

For homeowners above 6,000 feet, there may still be options available to you, but Takagi requires you to contact their customer support line for customized options.

Hard water can be an issue with this gas water heater.

We found that homes with even moderately hard water will need to take proactive steps to care for this water heater. If you have tested your water and the results are 7 grains or higher, then you’ll want to install a scale inhibitor with the unit. You could probably get away without it if you purge the system about twice per year, though that is not recommended by the manufacturer.

If you install this water heater on your own, then you lose the manufacturer’s warranty.

We took a look at an installed system and found that the water heater is remarkably compact. It may be light in weight, but it is strong with its performance. The installation we examined used flexible water lines, with a solid gas line, and that served the home quite well.

They installed the water heater on the upper level of their home. This was done because forcing the water to run upwards slows the time it takes to receive hot water. “Downhill” vs “uphill” saves about 25 seconds of wait time for hot water.

With that said, there are some GPM variations that must be considered for homeowners in some geographic locations. If you like your hot water around 120F instead of 105F, then your gallons per minute rating could be cut by as much as 50%. If you have colder weather throughout the year, then your GPM rating is cut even further.

Homes in colder climates, using hotter water temperatures, may see real-time performance of this unit as low as 2.5 GPM.

If you already have a tankless system that needs an upgrade or replacement, then this Takagi model has much to offer. For those thinking about replacing a tank-based system with a tankless system, keep in mind the installation costs. Many homeowners find that to go from a tank to a tankless system costs them as much to install the unit as it does to purchase it in the first place.

Review of the Model with the Best Value

Portable hot water that you can use with a simple propane connection.

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Rural homeowners, folks who love to travel in RVs, and those who live off-the-grid can find it difficult to have a reliable hot water source. Camplux offers a simple, affordable way to shore up your hot water needs with this unique tankless gas-powered water heater.

This system is completely portable and is designed to be an outdoor system. It offers users one of the lowest startup pressure rates on the market today, with just 2.5 PSI needed to activate the unit.

There are temperature limitations built into the design of this gas water heater.

Users can set a maximum temperature of 114.8F with this unit. It can raise the temperature of the water by about 46 degrees Fahrenheit when used within is peak capacity standard of 1.32 gallons per minute.

We really love the portability and design of this gas water heater. It offers a folding handle within the frame, making it easy to carry with you outside or when you travel. A showering device can be connected directly to the unit, allowing you to use it directly with a water source for a hot shower anywhere.

It also offers an automatic safety shutoff after 20 minutes of use. There is a flame-failure device included as well, along with oxygen depletion and anti-freezing protection features with the unit.

There are in-home limitations for use with this portable hot water heater.

You are not required to use the included shower head with this portable unit. You can hook it directly to some faucets in your home. We found that this water heater is not compatible with faucets that restrict water flow to save on water use.

The unit operates off two D-size batteries. There is not a hardwire option. Homes with low water pressure will find this unit to be useful, however, because of the minimum 2.5 PSI option. Even homes with 15 PSI water pressure can have hot water when other systems would not be able to work properly.

One knob on the unit controls the flow of water that goes into the unit. The other knob controls the flow rate of your hot water. That allows you to tune the hot water temperature to fit your needs at any given time.

It can be difficult to get used to the low water pressure from this unit.

If you’re used to a high-pressure water system or have a standard plumbing system in your home, then this Camplux unit is not going to meet your needs. This is intended for portable, off-the-grid situations where a portable propane supply is available.

You’ll also want to make sure that you drain the unit after you’ve finished using it. There are also reported incidents where the unit has caught on fire, so be careful during long periods of use. We’d recommend keeping it at the lowest flame and temperature settings to reduce the risks of this issue.

We found this water heater to be an outstanding product. The installation, if you want something that is semi-permanent, is simple and easy to do. If you can connect a propane tank to a fireplace or gas grill, then you can install this water heater. Just remember to keep it outdoors, in a well-ventilated area, for the best results.

Buyer’s Guide for Gas Water Heaters

If you know that a gas water heater is the right option for your home, then your next choice is to determine the fuel type you’ll need. There is a natural gas option and a propane option. Some manufacturers offer a kit that will transition a water heater from one fuel type to the other, though this option is usually reserved for consumers who have an involuntary change to their fuel source.

Then you need to decide on the size of the water heater that is right for your household needs. An easy way to do this is multiply the number of people in your home by the amount of hot water capacity they require.

In general terms, each person requires about 18 gallons of hot water per day. Based on that average statistic, you’ll find these options are available in today’s market.

  • 36 gallons of capacity or less: Suitable for 1-2 people.
  • 50 gallons of capacity or less: Suitable for 3-4 people.
  • 55 gallons of capacity: Suitable for 4-5 people.
  • 55+ gallons of capacity: Suitable for households of 5+ people.

If you decide to go with a gas-powered tankless water heater, then you’ll need to calculate your overall hot water usage rate in gallons. A shower might require 2 gallons of water per minute. Each faucet averages 1 gallon of water per minute. A washing machine might take 3 gallons per minute, whereas an older kitchen faucet might be as high as 7 gallons per minute.

Add up your simultaneous requirements to determine the capacity your home will require from a tankless model.

Many of the benefits that an electric water heater provides are also provided by a gas water heater.

Gas water heaters provide many of the same features that the best electric water heaters provide as well. The only difference between the two is the fuel source. With gas water heaters, you’re using a combustible fuel source that is pumped into your home.

Because of the nature of the fuel, gas units have one big advantage over their electric counterparts: they have a much faster recovery time when being used.

That means certain household structures benefit from the installation of a gas water heater.

  • Homes that require hot water for multiple people simultaneously.
  • Large homes that operate off one hot water heater with 40+ feet of plumbing to navigate from the unit to the furthest faucet, tap, or appliance.
  • Homes that operate a small business on the premises.
  • Homes that use multiple appliances simultaneously which require hot water, such as a dishwasher and a washing machine.

The most efficient electric water heaters can produce 15-20 gallons of hot water while in recovery mode. That means you may receive 75 gallons of hot water in an hour from a 55-gallon electric hot water heater.

The most efficient gas tank-based water heaters have a recovery rate of 50+ gallons per hour.

It is important to remember that all water heaters are manufactured with a usable capacity of 70%. That means a 50-gallon tank-based water heater will supply around 35 gallons of hot water when used. The recovery rate then extends the amount of hot water that is available to the home.

That means you can receive an almost endless supply of hot water with a tank-based model without the costs of a tankless model. In an hour of use, a 55-gallon gas-powered water heater would almost completely recover each hour.

Although modern gas water heaters use an electric ignition, some still operate on a pilot light. That means you can still have hot water during a power outage. This advantage is becoming more difficult to find in our industry, however, so you’ll want to search for this feature specifically if you’re interested in a gas water heater.

Even the installation costs of a gas power heater are similar to electric water heaters. The cost of running a new gas line is comparable to the costs of running new electrical lines. That means most families will find a great water heater which meets their needs for $300-$1,500, depending upon the size of the tank and the overall power rate.

Have You Found the Best Gas Water Heater?

Gas water heaters are manufactured in a variety of designs to allow homeowners an opportunity to find a unit which meets their specific needs. From 20-gallon capacities to 55-gallon capacities or higher, a variety of shapes and designs allow for multiple placement options.

It is important to remember that the installation must include venting. If this is your first gas water heater and no venting is available for the unit, then it cannot be safely operated until the venting is present. In some jurisdictions, a venting structure is classified as a building modification, which would mean a building permit could be required to complete the installation process.

New regulations have helped gas powered units to be more effective than ever before. They are thicker because more insulation is included within the exterior shell of the unit. That reduces standby energy losses and increases the already good recovery rates for this type of water heater.

New features include remote access and control, electric ignitors, and digital temperature controls.

There are some days when a long, hot shower makes the day better. Being able to get your chores finished quickly, without water waste, allows you to focus on the more important things in life.

If you purchase one of the best gas water heaters for 2018, you’ll find that your hot water access will be better than it has ever been before.