"I have seen MANY "big box" products with defects that would never have passed a good "final inspection" so the implication is that they never had a "final inspection".
My current 10-11 year old heater is a GE 9yr (Rheem)-no problems.
Twas curious as to your statement about big box defective GE's-what final inspection are you referring to and what are the common defects do you see that QC missed?
For example...the Rheem 2250VF1 seems to rebadged as the 6/9/12 year GEvariant at HD ranging in price from 429 to 598.
The FHR/Recovery, Dimensions and weight are the same...so is it the same heater?
Only diff is the 6/9 year have a plastic drain valve and the 6 is not self cleaning. Is it worth the 170 dollars between the 6 and the 12 based on build quality differences?