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Thread: 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater Selection Advice

  1. #1
    sea-bee chuck b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    levering, michigan

    Default 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater Selection Advice

    Will purchase the above size water heater for my cottage. Going with the 50-gallon as I have a large whirlpool tub. The models are offered with a 6, 9 or 12 year warranty. Is longer better re: longetvity, corrosion resistance, etc?

    Need to decide on tall versus medium profile, as I have limited space but the diameters range from 19" - 24". Could use either but would prefer smaller diameter.
    The heating element choices are 4500 or 5500. Is that more important or is the "Energy Factor" rating more important, e.g. .91 vs. .95 to estimate electricity savings?
    I am looking at GE made by Rheem, as I have a large credit in my wallet from Home Depot. Understand that there are only a few manufacturers branding several names anyways.

    The tank heights range from 46-57 for medium or tall models. Any insights on that aspect?

    Please advise. And are blankets worth it for a cottage used only in summer months?

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    Often, the warranty varies only in the cost. Sometimes, they'll throw in a better drain valve on the longer ones (the plastic ones should just be thrown away). In fact, sometimes it's cheaper to buy the 6-year one and buy the store's extra warranty than the factory one with the larger warranty. Think of the warranty as insurance, in most cases, it does not reflect differences in quality. It might buy you a longer or extra anode rod, but you can replace yours far cheaper than the warranty upcharge. Just remember to do it!

    A shorter, squatter one may be harder to get through the door. The exterior surface area is the difference in which one is more efficient - smaller exterior area, less radiation, more efficiency. Most of the heat loss tends to be on the top since heat rises, and a larger area there is likely to mean more loss, less efficient. Most modern WH have decent insulation, but adding more should still help some.

    The thing that may affect the overall life is if you drain it in the winter - that will add a lot of free oxygen into the tank. Course, running it all winter with no use would cost a bunch, too. Typical potable water already has a fair amount of oxygen, so the difference may not be much.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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