Rogelio Alvarez

By: Rogelio Alvarez on November 30th, 2023

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A.O. Smith vs. Bradford White Conventional Water Heaters

Standard Water Heaters

Water heaters are responsible for providing homes with over one hundred thousand gallons of hot water yearly. So when it’s time to replace an old water heater, it’s best to choose a manufacturer with reliable conventional water heater replacements. Two of those brands, A.O. Smith and Bradford White, have some of the most highly-rated conventional water heaters available, but how do these two manufacturers compare? 

Whether it’s a brand-new installation or a service call, we have worked on thousands of conventional water heaters from Bradford White and A.O. Smith. For the past 15 years, we at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air have seen how these two brands compare with each other based on our experience on the field and feedback from homeowners. 

To help simplify this comparison, we will look at how A.O. Smith and Bradford White conventional water heaters compare under the following criteria. 

  • Costs
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Warranty
  • Variety 
  • Additional Features 

By the end of this article, you can decide whether an A.O. Smith or Bradford White conventional water heater is right for you or if it’s best to consider an alternative. 


What Are the Differences Between A.O. Smith and Bradford White Conventional Water Heaters?

Bradford White was founded in 1881, and A.O. Smith was founded in 1874. For over 100 years, both of these companies have established themselves as the go-to manufacturers for conventional water heaters by homeowners and technicians. 

These two leading manufacturers, A.O. Smith and Bradford White, may offer similar products, such as tankless water heaters and heat pump water heaters. Still, after taking a closer look, you’ll learn that they have differences under certain categories, starting with pricing. 

The image shows an A.O. Smith conventional water heater to left of a Bradford White conventional water heater.

An A.O. Smith and a Bradford White conventional water heaters side by side. 


Cost Comparison 

In terms of pricing, A.O. Smith and Bradford White have overlapping pricing ranges. Bradford White conventional water heaters can cost between $1,700 to $4,500 with installation. In comparison, A.O. Smith conventional water heaters can cost $900 to $3,500 without installation and $2,800 to $6,250 with installation. 

A.O. Smith is priced slightly higher overall than Bradford White, but their conventional water heaters can be purchased directly from them online or at hardware stores. Furthermore, Bradford White only sells their conventional water heaters directly to licensed plumbing contractors. 

This helps ensure homeowners buy from certified companies that Bradford White trusts to install their water heaters while adhering to local plumbing codes. Although you may save money buying an A.O. Smith, investing in a professional technician to install a conventional water heater is generally recommended. 

Still, installation fees are just one factor that can impact the overall cost of a conventional water heater. Besides costs, homeowners should compare both brands by energy efficiency.


Energy Efficiency 

A.O. Smith and Bradford White are evenly matched regarding their energy efficiency ratings and offer weather heaters that are Energy Star Certified. Bradford White’s conventional water heaters have a Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) rating of .54 to .93. A.O. Smith, on the other hand, has UEF ratings between .55 to .93.

Electric conventional water heaters are more energy efficient than gas-powered water heaters. Both brands carry electric-only conventional water heaters that can give homeowners hundreds of dollars in energy savings annually. With California looking to implement a ban on gas-powered water heaters in 2030, electric-only conventional water heaters may be more appealing for some homeowners. 

Bradford White and A.O. Smith have specific energy-efficient water heaters that qualify for the SoCal Gas $75 rebate, like the Ultra Low NOx water heaters from Bradford White. A.O. Smith, in particular, has the Vertex Series of conventional water heaters that can qualify for federal tax credits.

The image shows a snapshot of an energy guide label located on the side of A.O. Smith conventional water heater.

Energy guide labels are placed on a conventional water heater's tank.

Even if the conventional water heater you choose from these two brands doesn’t qualify for rebates, it will still be backed by a manufacturer’s warranty. In the next section, we’ll examine how the warranties between A.O. Smith and Bradford White compare.



Bradford White and A.O. Smith share many similarities regarding warranty terms and conditions. Both have a 6 to 10-year limited warranty on the tank and the same warranty time frame for some of the parts and components that make up conventional water heaters. 

They also share similar language in terms of what can void their warranties, such as improper installations, misuse, and violation of applicable plumbing codes regarding water heaters. A.O. Smith and Bradford White provide a physical copy of their conventional water heater warranties with each unit.

Both manufacturers also encourage homeowners to register their conventional water heaters online to make any possible warranty claims easier to review. As an added layer of protection, Bradford White and A.O. Smith also offer a warranty extension on their conventional water heaters.

Although they offer reliable warranties, A.O. Smith and Bradford White have different ranges of conventional water heaters. 


Variety of Products

Both manufacturers offer conventional water heaters with tank capacities ranging from 30 to 100-gallon tanks to help meet the hot water usage of most family-sized homes in Los Angeles and the surrounding counties. Bradford White and A.O. Smith also have conventional water heaters for remanufactured mobile homes. 

Nonetheless, A.O. Smith has more product lines of conventional water heaters, including.

  • Polaris High Efficiency
  • ProLine
  • ProLine Master
  • ProLine XE
  • Vertex

Each line has multiple tank capacity sizes, venting options, and short or tall-sized tanks. In contrast, Bradford White has the following product line of gas and electric conventional water heaters.

  • The Defender
  • Eco-Defender
  • EF Series High Efficiency
  • Upright Electric Water Heaters
  • Lowboy Electric Water Heater (single water heater)

Although they offer fewer options, Bradford White conventional water heaters are still capable of providing homes with hot water. However, A.O. Smith provides homeowners with more options catering to their unique hot water demands. 

What Bradford White may lack in variety, they make up in additional features available on their conventional water heaters.


Additional Features

Although conventional water heaters have been around for decades, A.O. Smith and Bradford White have sought ways to modernize their products by developing conventional water heaters with excellent features. Here’s a look at the features available that both manufacturers share.

  • Sediment clean up: Conventional water heaters can accumulate sediment buildup over time. Bradford White has the Hydrojet Total Performance System, and A.O. Smith has the Dynaclean Automatic Sediment Cleaning System. Both help reduce any sediment buildup. 
  • Advanced controls: Both systems have control boards that allow homeowners to set hot water temperatures and see diagnostics and operational controls. 

Both have specialized linings inside their tanks that help protect their products from corrosion. Along with the special lining, Bradford White is the only conventional water heater brand with a microban lining inside their tanks. This proprietary design protects their tanks from mildew, mold, and bacteria growth. 

A.O Smith boasts a superior anode rod thanks to their Coreguard Anode Rod. Their anode rod has a unique steel center code that allows it to stay in place and capture more sediment and scale, extending the lifespan of their conventional water heaters. 


Is A.O. Smith or Bradford White Conventional Water Heaters Right for You?

If you’re looking for a slightly less expensive option, A.O. Smith may be right. But if you want a conventional water heater with somewhat more unique features, Bradford White may be more suitable. Now that you know the difference between these two manufacturers, you can confidently see if either option is ideal for your home or if you want to seek other alternative water heaters.

Since 2007, we at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air have worked with the top brands in conventional water heaters, such as Bradford White and A.O. Smith. We’ve accumulated years of experience working with conventional water heaters from these two manufacturers. Now, we’re ready to share this insider knowledge with homeowners looking for a new conventional water heater for their homes. 

If you’re looking to have an A.O. Smith or Bradford White conventional water heater installed in your home, contact us today using one of the buttons below. You can directly book an appointment through our online scheduler

We understand that every home and family has unique hot water needs. If you don’t feel like an A.O. Smith or Bradford White conventional water heater is ideal, check out this article that compares two alternative water heating systems, tankless and heat pump water heaters.