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Finding the Best 50 Gallon Water Heater in 2020

 
 

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If your water heater isn't working as it should, then it may be time to purchase a new one. However, with so many different options to choose between, it can sometimes be challenging to identify which heater is best. If your household has 2 to 3 people, a 50-gallon tank is the ideal size, and they are available in both electric and gas models.

You'll find that some 50-gallon water heaters prioritize lifespan, others focus on operating at maximum efficiency, and a third group places an emphasis on cutting-edge technology. Choosing between these options will require an understanding of your needs to help you find the right heater for your home.


This article will help you start your search as we'll cover the top 50-gallon water heaters on the market. We've also included a quick overview of the most important factors to consider when deciding which model to purchase. 

Checklist on Clipboard

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Buying a water heater is an investment, and they aren't inexpensive, so doing some research is time well spent. After all, the 50-gallon water heater you purchase will likely be a part of your household for about a decade.

Tank-Style or Tankless

You'll want to consider whether a tank-style or tankless water heater is the best fit for your household. Tank-style heaters are generally easier to maintain and repair, cheaper to replace, and less expensive that their tankless counterparts. However, tankless models take up less space and are typically more energy efficient. Plus, they are designed to have a service life of 20+ years when maintained properly.

Read our full article on how to buy a water heater.

First Hour Rating

Another consideration is the First Hour Rating (FHR) of each heater you're considering. This number tells you how much hot water the system will be able to provide in the first hour with a fully heated tank. 

Even though you have a 50-gallon tank, the heater won't deliver 50-gallons of hot water during the first hour. Typically, it'll deliver 70%, or 35-gallons of fully heated hot water. This is because as hot water is drawn from the tank, it is replaced with cold water.

As water heater technology improves, you'll also see improvements in the First Hour Rating. This is an important consideration and should be very close to the amount of hot water your household requires during your peak hour, which for most families is in the morning.

Energy Efficiency

Since your water heater will account for up to 18% of your home's energy usage, it's important to consider the heater's energy efficiency. Each new water heater has a bright yellow sticker affixed to its side that digs into this important topic.

The Energy Guide sticker provides some useful and important information, and will provide you with an estimated annual operating cost for that specific water heater model. It will also show you how the unit stacks up in comparison to other models.

You can also find energy efficiency numbers for a specific model on the manufacturer's website. It's typically referred to as EF (Energy Factor) or UEF (Universal Energy Factor) which is a newer metric that's a bit more comprehensive. When comparing these numbers, look for the highest number possible. A water heater with a UEF rating of .63 is less energy efficient than one with a rating of .75.

Warranty

Many homeowners overlook comparing warranties because they assume that since they are buying a new water heater they won't need to worry about problems for many years. But this is actually an important consideration.

A warranty is where the manufacturer shows how they will stand behind their product. If they offer a short warranty or a warranty with lot's of stipulations, it's fair to make the assumption that the manufacturer may not expect the heater to have a very long service life.

Each manufacturer provides a warranty different for their water heaters, and in addition, they may have different warranties among their various models. Check to see how long the warranty coverage runs, as well as what's covered. Does installing the water heater yourself void the warranty? It's not uncommon, especially for tankless systems, for manufacturers to require professional installation for the warranty to be valid. But it's important to know this upfront.

What about labor? Will the warranty cover the labor required for repairs or only the parts? Is your warranty void if you fail to perform regular maintenance? Dig into the warranty, it's time well spent, and it'll help prevent unpleasant surprises down the road.

Man hold crystal ball with excellence

Best 50 Gallon Water Heaters

With so many 50-gallon water heaters to choose between, we've helped narrow down the list and compiled our top favorites.

Rheem MR50245 Marathon Electric Water Heater

This electric water heater from Rheem has consistently rated as one of the most durable on the market. It features polyurethane insulation and a thermally-fused upper element for added efficiency. This heater also includes a high-quality brass drain valve and a limited lifetime warranty.

The Rheem MR50245 is blow-molded into a seamless polybutene finish. This looks good and also serves a purpose. The unit doesn't require the same separate corrosion resistance component that most other water heaters its size, which makes maintenance much easier and may even significantly extend the life of your heater.

Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater, 50-Gallon

Rheem MR50245 Marathon Electric Water Heater


A.O. Smith ProMax Plus XCR-50

The A.O. Smith ProMax Plus XCR-50 is another smart choice for your home. It's incredibly easy to install and will run for years. What really makes this heater special is the blue diamond glass coating, which provides corrosion resistance that actually surpasses all industry standards.

The XCR-50 also includes an internal microprocessor, which enables more precise sensing and faster response times. In other words, this water heater will react faster when you ask it to produce hot water.

With a self-powered electronic gas valve and a powerful two-pipe combustion system, the XCR-50 is a water heater that every 2-3 person household should consider.

A.O. Smith XCR-50 ProMax Plus High Efficiency Gas Water Heater, 50 gal

A.O. Smith ProMax Plus XCR-50


Bradford White RE350T6 Electric Water Heater

If energy efficiency is your goal, then the RE350T6 from Bradford White could be your perfect water heater. It features a solid 0.95 EF rating at a price point that's lower than many of its peers.

The RE350T6 is full of built-in elements that allow for a smoother direct transfer of heat. This system includes several thermostats with automatic controls that prevent overheating.

Finally, the unit is also built with a protective magnesium anode rod, which is its method of corrosion resistance. Collectively, these features enables this electric water heater from Bradford White to operate at a thermal efficiency of 95%.

Bradford White BWC RE350T6-1NCWW 50GAL 240V

Bradford White RE350T6 Electric Water Heater


Westinghouse Ultra-High Efficiency/High Output Water Heater

The Westinghouse Ultra-High Efficiency/High Output Water Heater might be the best 50-gallon water heater on the market. It's been carefully designed to provide homeowners with unparalleled water heating performance. The unit operates at 97% thermal efficiency and can deliver a whopping 140-gallons in the first hour of operation!

This is made possible thanks to the tank's heavy-duty stainless steel construction. It's also laser-welded, which means it resists corrosion naturally. The water heater comes with a built-in LCD display that's easy to program to meet your family's unique water heating needs.

Westinghouse offers this heater in 50-gallon, 60-gallon, and 80-gallon tank capacities. We particularly like the 60-gallon heater since the extra 10-gallons can go a long way for households with a high hot water demand.

Westinghouse WGR060NG076 97-Percent High-Efficiency Gas Water Heater with Natural Gas, 60 gallon

Westinghouse Ultra-High Efficiency/High Output Water Heater


A.O. Smith GCG-50 ProMax

The A.O. Smith GCG-50 ProMax is another strong option from a respected water heater manufacturer. This gas heater features the same blue diamond glass coating you'll find in most other units from the brand.

What makes the GCG-50 ProMax unique is its self-powered electronic gas valve. It uses thermopile technology to generate power for its gas control without having to rely on external sources of power. This feature makes the heater much more energy efficient.

Additionally, this gas water heater includes an internal microprocessor for speedier response times and a Dynaclean diffuser dip tube to reduce sediment build-up.

A.O. Smith GCG-50 ProMax Tall Gas Water Heater, 50 gal

A.O. Smith GCG-50 ProMax Gas Water Heater


A.O. Smith GPVT 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater

The A.O. Smith GPVT 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater is one of the easiest to install water heaters on the market. It's innovative design includes a Power Vent, and 2 dip tubes. These features work together to optimize the GPVT's control over water pressure.

This system's tank is made out of durable stainless steel and includes a CoreGard aluminum rod to protect against corrosion. Even more impressive, the GPVT features a tamper-resistant design and durable brass drain valve that increases both the safety and reliability of the heater.

AO Smith GPVT-50 Residential Natural Gas Water Heater

A.O. Smith GPVT 50-Gallon Gas Water Heater


Reliance 6-50-EORT 50-Gallon Water Heater

The Reliance 6-50-EORT 50-Gallon Water Heater could be an good option if you're looking for an alternative to the major brands that dominate the market. This electric heater includes 3-inches of insulation, which enables it to operate at an impressive energy factor of 0.95.

The tank of this system is lined with glass and also features an anode rod. With this design, the Reliance 6-50-EORT is able to provide impressive energy efficiency without sacrificing corrosion resistance, overall durability, or lifespan.

Reliance Water Heater 6-50-EORT Tall Electric Water Heater, 50 gallon

Reliance 6-50-EORT Electric Water Heater


A.O. Smith ProMax GCR-50 Gas Water Heater

Another solid 50-gallon water heater is the A.O. Smith GCR-50 ProMax Gas Water Heater. Like other heaters from A.O. Smith, this model is coated with blue diamond glass and equipped with a self-powered electronic gas valve. Which enables you to control your gas input without having to rely on any external power sources.

With the Dynaclean diffuser dip tube, the GCR-50 will also minimize lime and sediment build-up. This can keep the heater operating at its full potential for years.

A.O. Smith GCR-50 ProMax Gas Water Heater


Rheem Performance Platinum

The Rheem Performance Platinum is a solid choice for homeowners who are looking for a natural gas water heater. It operates at 40,000 BTU/H and consistently maintains efficiency levels of around 0.67 EF.

The system's natural gas input mechanism and design choices make it one of the most environmentally-friendly options on the market. That doesn't mean you'd be sacrificing something else to purchase this heater. The unit features embedded electronic gas controls and a powerful magnesium anode rod to fight back against corrosion.

Rheem Performance Platinum 50 gal. Tall 12 Year 36,000 BTU Energy Star Liquid Propane Water Heater

Rheem Performance Platinum Gas Water Heater


Plumber with wrench in front of water heater

Keep Your Water Heater in Working Condition

Every homeowner will need to purchase a new water heater at some point. If yours needs to be replaced now, then any of the options above would be a great match. Simply figure out what's important to you in a water heater and select the unit that meets those requirements.

However, don't make the mistake of overreacting to a water heater issue that has a simple fix. Often, repairs can be made that will save you from having to purchase a new system.

Consider reaching out to a professional technician before you buy. They might be able to offer a simpler solution to your water heating problems that saves you both time and money.

 

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