There's a lot of different reasons to add a supplemental water heater to your home. Maybe you've added a new room and your existing water heater simply doesn't serve it well, or maybe you want hot water in a garage or other building that your main heater can't reach at all. Or, possibly you're looking for a small water heater for an RV. But whatever the reason, a 6-gallon water heater is a popular size and works well for most homeowners.
Six-gallon water heaters are small enough that they're relatively inexpensive, yet large enough that they're able to deliver plenty of hot water to meet the majority of needs. This article will cover what you should know if you are considering buying a 6-gallon heater and we'll even show you a couple of our favorite models to help you begin your shopping.
If you're in a rush, you can check out our top three favorite 6-gallon water heaters in the following table, or jump down to read our recaps.
Before you make a buying decision, we highly recommend checking out the Bosch Tronic 3000T ES8. It didn't make our list because it's a 7-gallon water heater, but in good faith, we didn't think that detail should keep us from at least mentioning it.
The price and size is comparable, plus you'll get an additional gallon of hot water! It's one of the most popular point-of-use water heaters Amazon sells and has many satisfied owners. It's definitely worth a look!
Bosch Tronic 3000T ES8
Six-gallon water heaters are almost never the primary household water heater. But they are designed to supplement a home's existing hot water heating capabilities. Whether they provide hot water to a place in your home, such as an outdoor space, garage, basement, etc., that doesn't have access to hot water, or they are installed to give your main heater a boost in a room that is under served, these small heaters are extremely useful.
Another common use for a 6-gallon water heater is in a mobile home or RV. These smaller heaters are ideal since they're smaller than traditional heaters and can be tucked under cabinets and squeeze into other small spaces. Plus, they provide a good amount of hot water, especially for the amount of space they require.
Electric tank-style water heaters all operate the same, regardless of the size of their tank. A 6-gallon water heater is simply an electric water heater with a 6-gallon tank.
The tank will fill with cold water and an electric element heats the water until it's hot, and then holds the water until there's a demand. Because of the smaller tank, there's less water to heat, and therefore, the water will reach it's designated temperature much faster.
Instead of needing to wait an hour or longer for hot water, a 6-gallon water heater should be able to have hot water readily available in under half an hour. The exact amount of time your heater takes to heat the water will depend on a variety of factors.
If recovery time (the amount of time it takes your water heater to heat cold water) is important to you, you'll want to pay attention to the heater's wattage. The higher the wattage, the faster the water heater will be able to heat water.
Maintaining a 6-gallon water heater is virtually identical to maintaining a full sized electric water heater. You'll need to drain the tank periodically to flush out any sediment that's collected. This helps reduce rust and corrosion which will damage the tank and ultimately shorten the service life of the unit.
You'll also want to test the temperature and pressure release valve, inspect the anode rod, and check for leakage periodically. Since smaller water heaters are easy to forget because they are often tucked in a cupboard or placed on a shelf, it's a good idea to inspect them the same time you work on your larger water heater.
As you might expect, a six-gallon water heater is much less expensive than their larger counterparts, and the price you pay will largely depend on the quality of the unit. In general, you can typically find a small water heater in the price range of $150 to $400.
Although, we always recommend purchasing a high quality water heater from a reputable manufacturer, the choice ultimately depends on your needs and budget. If you simply need a small heater for a few months out of the year in an RV, you might want to spend less and drain it when it's not in use.
Is a 6-Gallon Water Heater Worth Purchasing?
Sometimes a small water heater is a great investment, especially if you need hot water in a room that can't be served by your existing water heater. Or, if you have an RV and you don't want to boil water every time you want hot water.
However, it's important to remember that six-gallon water heaters aren't meant to satisfy the hot water needs of an entire home. If you buy a small water heater and ask it to do more than it's designed to do, then you're probably going to be unhappy.
But since a six-gallon water heater is so much less expensive than a full house heater, purchasing one isn't a huge risk. If you find you're unhappy with your decision, for any reason, you'll only be down a few hundred dollars. Or, if you find that six gallons isn't enough hot water for your needs, you can always replace it with a larger point-of-use water heater since you'll already have the plumbing and electrical in place.
A common question homeowners have is if they can install a 6-gallon water heater by themselves. That really depends on your skill level and the installation location. Even though there are fewer challenges in installing these smaller heaters, that doesn't mean that doing so is necessarily easy.
Even these smaller water heaters require a careful installation process that involves working with electricity and plumbing. Although, you can always hire a professional plumber to do the job for you, and doing so will give you the peace-of-mind that it'll meet the code requirements.
However, if you enjoy DIY tasks, and working with electricity and plumbing doesn't intimidate you, then it is certainly a job that you can tackle yourself. Keep in mind that each install configuration will be slightly different, based on where and how you'll be using your new small water heater.
This video shows the installation of a 6-gallon water heater in an attic.
Watch the Video
If you're shopping for a 6-gallon water heater, the good news is there are plenty to choose between. Here are a few of our favorite on the market to help you get started with your buying decision:
Camplux ME60 Mini Tank Electric Water
The Camplux ME60 Mini Tank Water Heater is a versatile 6-gallon water heater. This 120-volt heater is easy to install and can plug into any standard 120-volt household outlet. The tank is glass lined to help prevent rust and corrosion, and even has a built-in freeze protection setting.
Adjusting the temperature is easy since the thermostat is located on the front panel, and with a quick glance at the indicator light, you'll be able to check if the water heater is actively heating. Since you can mount the Camplux ME60 on a wall, floor or shelf, you'll have plenty of installation options. The Camplux ME60 is an excellent choice for your home or RV.
Camplux ME60 Mini Tank Water Heater
American Standard CE-6-AS Electric Water Heater
The American Standard CE-6-AS is a solid 6-gallon water heater made from a well-respected manufacturer. With a strong reputation for consistently manufacturing high-quality water heaters, it's no secret that high quality parts and processes are used.
The tank is made from heavy-gauge steel and protected with Dura Glas Lining which is fired at 1,600°F to protect it from rust and corrosion. Both the drain valve and pressure relief valve are factory-installed and made from brass.
This 6-gallon water heater is made to last, and comes with a 6-year limited tank and parts warranty. It's a great choice if you're looking for a well-made, great-performing water heater, and since the hot and cold water hook-ups are located on the side, you'll be able to install it into tight spaces.
American Standard CE-6-AS
Stiebel Eltron SHC6 Water Heater
The Stiebel Eltron SHC6 Water Heater is designed and manufactured in Germany. It is one of the sleekest, sharp-looking 6-gallon water heater available. Installation is easy since it can be mounted on the wall, with the included bracket, or positioned on the floor.
The SHC6 runs off of 120v and because the power cord and plug is factory installed, you'll be able to plug it into any standard household outlet without additional wiring. The temperature dial is located on the top of the heater and can be adjusted up to 140°F or set to the frost protection setting to prevent freezing.
Stiebel Eltron is known for their quality products and outstanding customer service/tech support. If you're looking for a small water heater capable of getting the job done in a stylish fashion, this is a great choice. It's excellent for bathrooms, RV, wet bars, or any other place you need hot water.
Stiebel Eltron SHC6 Water Heater
Last update on 2023-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API