Pros and Cons of Hybrid Water Heaters
Hybrid water heaters are rising in popularity but just what are the pros and cons of these increasingly popular units? Is a hybrid water heater right for you?
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of a hybrid water heater is key to getting an idea if a hybrid is right for you. It also is important to learn the pros and cons of a hybrid water heater so that you are fully aware of what to expect with your water heater.
We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air have worked with thousands of water heaters and have helped hundreds of homeowners across Southern California with their water heater decisions. Through our time in the industry, we learned all the major benefits and drawbacks of having all types of water heaters and now we want to share that information with you so that you can make the best decision for you and your home.
In this article, we will briefly discuss:
- What is a hybrid water heater
- Pros and Cons of a hybrid water heater
By the end, you will have a better understanding of hybrid water heaters and can decide for yourself if hybrid water heaters are right for you.
What is a Hybrid Water Heater?
Hybrid water heaters, also known as hybrid heat pump water heaters or heat pump water heaters, are tank-style water heaters that combine a traditional water heater and a tankless heater. A hybrid heater uses heat from the outside air to heat the water that comes into your home with the help of a heat pump. But how does the water heater do that?
A common misconception about hybrid water heaters is that they run on both gas and electricity, similar to how hybrid cars run. But the truth is, a hybrid water heater solely runs on electricity to give you the hot water you want in your home.
Similar to a tank-style water heater, hybrid water heaters have a large cylinder and can hold between 40 to 80 gallons of water, meaning they can be suitable for households of all sizes.
Pros of Hybrid Water Heaters
Hybrid water heaters are unique by pulling from the air around the unit rather than creating the heat itself. Not generating its heat has benefits including:
- Saving Money on Energy Bills
Heat pump water heaters are highly energy efficient and use several times less energy than their tankless electric counterparts. This is especially impressive since electric tankless water heaters are regarded as highly efficient themselves.
It's worth noting that ybrid water heaters rely solely on electricity. There are no gas models available. Considering the higher price of gas, switching from a gas-powered water heater will lead to bigger energy savings in the future.
- Customizable Usage
The majority of hybrid water heaters feature control panels that let homeowners select different heating modes, including:
- Auto mode: You'll likely use this setting the most. Auto mode scales to the hot water demand of your home at any given point. It uses both the heat pump and electric element, so it isn't the most efficient.
- Efficiency mode: If efficiency is your goal, this mode is for you. Efficiency mode only uses the heat pump, meaning the electric element is out of play. This translates to more energy savings.
- Electric mode: If you've got multiple family members or guests who need to shower at the same time or use multiple appliances, this mode is up your alley. Electric mode solely uses the electric element to meet higher hot water demand.
- Sleep mode: Going away for the weekend or even longer? Sleep mode ensures that you're saving as much energy as possible while you're away, meaning no heating the tank when there's nobody around to use it.
- Environmentally Friendly
Aside from when it's in fully electric mode, a hybrid water heater uses less energy than gas or electric-powered alternatives. Thanks to their hybrid design, hybrid water heaters offer fewer fossil fuel emissions than their counterparts.
Additionally, if you're really focused on going green, solar panels pair well with hybrid water heaters to further reduce the impact on the environment.
Gas is inherently less safe due to the risk of combustion. Hybrid water heaters are therefore inherently safer since they run on electricity.
Despite being the standard, there's no denying the risks gas-powered appliances pose to homeowners.
Cons of Hybrid Water Heaters
Not every aspect of the hybrid water heater is outstanding. Some of the drawbacks of having a hybrid water heater include:
- Higher Upfront Costs
Hybrid water heaters aren't as budget-friendly as more traditional models, making the upfront investment a bit more daunting. The average hybrid water heater can start at $1,200 and they can go as high as $2,500 or more.
Many companies offer financing to help offset the brunt of the investment. We recommend that you call a certified technician to find this information.
- Inefficient in Colder Temperatures
Hybrid water heaters operate by pulling in warm air from their surroundings. This design means that they aren't ideal in colder climates.
It is advised that you install your hybrid water heater in an area where the temperature is at minimum 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower than 40 degrees and the water heater's heat pump will fail to function. A hybrid water heater just can't pull in enough heat to carry out its function when the temperature is too cold. Instead, your hybrid water heater will have to rely on electric mode, which is less efficient overall and will result in higher bills.
- Lots of Space
You'll need about 1,000 cubic feet for your hybrid water heater to work properly. Anything less than this amount of space and the water heater won’t have enough air to pull heat from.
- More Maintenance
If you adopt a hybrid water heater, be prepared for more maintenance. On top of the draining service that tank-style water heaters require, you'll have to clean the filter around every two to three months. Additionally, the heat pump will need servicing as well.
While you can drain a hybrid water heater yourself, we recommend that you call a certified technician to perform maintenance on your unit.
Is a Hybrid Water Heater Right For You?
Hybrid water heaters are on the rise but before you go jumping to call your certified technician about it, you should consider the pros and cons of a hybrid water heater. Understanding its pros and cons can help you better understand what you’re in for when it comes to the hybrid biz.
While hybrid water heaters are energy efficient and can help you save money on energy bills, it also presents a higher upfront cost and will require more maintenance than your average tank-style water heater. Knowing these factors can help you better decide if a hybrid water heater is right for you.
Want to continue your hybrid water heater knowledge? Check out the articles below as we dive into what a hybrid water heater is and how it works as well as how to properly drain your hybrid water heater as the process is similar to tank-style water heaters.
We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air want to help you make the best decision for you and your home. If you live in the Los Angeles area and have any other questions regarding hybrid water heaters, feel free to call us at 310-853-8690, and one of our call center representatives would be happy to help you.