Nicolette Forbes

By: Nicolette Forbes on September 5th, 2022

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What is a Hybrid Water Heater?

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters, also known as heat pump water heaters, are growing in popularity among homeowners across the country. But what exactly are hybrid water heaters and how do they work?

If you have a home, chances are you do have a water heater that heats the water coming into your household. And sure, you probably know the difference between a tank and tankless water heater but the hybrid models are on the rise, with some brands believing they are the future of water heaters. 

Since hybrid water heaters are newer to the market, understanding what they are and how they function is key to having a better understanding of where your hot water comes from and if a hybrid water heater is right for you.

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air have been in business for over 15 years and have worked around hundreds of water heaters, helping thousands of homeowners around the Los Angeles area. Now it’s your turn to join in on the fun!

In this article, we will discuss: 

  • What is a hybrid water heater
  • What are the parts of a hybrid water heater
  • How a hybrid water heater works
  • Pros and cons of hybrid water heaters

By the end of this article, you will become experts yourselves on the basics of hybrid water heaters.


Hybrid Water Heaters: What are they?

Hybrid water heaters, also known as hybrid heat pump water heaters or heat pump water heaters, are a tank-style water heater that combines 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 Rheem brand hybrid water heater.

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. 

Check out this article here as we dive deeper into the differences and similarities between tank and tankless water heaters.


How Does a Hybrid Water Heater Work?

Hybrid water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly like a tank-style water heater or a tankless water heater which can use natural gas. 

Therefore, hybrid water heaters can be two to three times more energy efficient than tank-style electric water heaters. To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse.

While a refrigerator pulls heat from inside a box and sends it into the surrounding room, a hybrid water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to heat the water in the storage tank. It then blows out the cooler air. Because it moves heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly, it is a much more efficient way to heat water.

A diagram showing how a hybrid water heater works and how it heats the water inside the tank.

So you must be wondering, “is this how all water heaters work?” Not at all! 

While hybrid heaters use electricity, they don’t always use it as tank-style electric water heaters do. Conventional water heaters use electricity to power heating elements that directly heat the water. Additionally, a tank-style water heater will either use a gas flame below the tank or electricity inside the tank to heat water. 

Hybrid water heaters, on the other hand, typically use electricity to power the internal components that “pump” warm air into the unit.


Lifespan of Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters can last between 13 to 15 years on average. However, when used and maintained appropriately, it can even last for over 15 years. 

But how do you get the most out of your hybrid water heater? The lifespan of your hybrid water heater relies on a few different factors including: 

  • Maintenance

It is important to service your hybrid water heater at least once a year to ensure your water heater is problem-free and working properly. If you don’t perform this necessary water heater maintenance, minor problems could turn into critical issues that would damage your hybrid unit.

  • Installation

While installing a hybrid water heater yourself is possible, we recommend that you call a certified technician to install your hybrid water heater. There are too many important steps that need to go exactly right during the installation process to avoid bigger problems in the future such as a crack in the tank or a leak.

  • Hard Water

If you are like most Southern Californians, you likely have something called “hard water.” This harsh water will cause more sediment to build up in your tank and pipes, which will lead to breakdowns or error codes. If you don’t flush or drain your tank and pipes regularly, this buildup can damage your water heater and significantly shorten its lifespan.

Check out this article here as we walk you through the steps on how to drain a tank-style water heater as it is a similar process to how you can also flush your hybrid water heater. 

  • Warranty 

The length of your warranty will have a definite impact on the longevity of your water heater. Once your unit is out of the warranty range, repairs will no longer be covered depending on the brand.


Is Hybrid For You?

Hybrid water heaters are water heaters that use outside air to heat the water inside the tank with the help of a heat pump, working like a refrigerator in reverse. Like tank-style and tankless water heaters, yearly maintenance is also recommended on a hybrid water heater so that it may have a full, healthy life.

Want to learn more about water heaters? Click the links below as we dive into the basics of a tank-style water heater as well as how long a water heater lasts.

What is a Tank-Style Water Heater?

How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air are dedicated to giving you all the information you need on all things water heater so that you can 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.CALL