When I needed to purchase a new vacuum cleaner I talked for an hour with a local repairman. I learned SO much about all the different types, the pros and cons, most frequent repairs, etc. I truly appreciate that kind of information and help. It's invaluable.

So I'm asking because at some point in the near future I'll want to replace my water heater.
My previous water heater (can't recall what kind) lasted reliably for 20+ years without any repairs, whereas it seems the newer ones (or at least my Reliance model which does not live up to its name) not only have all kinds of problems that require repairs/replacement, but just don't seem made to last. Shouldn't all w/heaters last 20 years or more? Are we dealing with built-in obsolescence?

So I'm asking repairmen and homeowners for their experience and opinion. What is your choice? What makes it better than another? What do you look for?

And if you are a sales rep for a water heater company you are disqualified
from this little survey.