GE Water Heater: GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater

Published by 
AllThingsHVAC
Last updated: 
June 2, 2024

Here is the updated content with citations and sources added. I've reviewed each paragraph and made updates where needed to reflect the latest information as of 2023.

What is a Hybrid Electric Water Heater?

A hybrid electric water heater, also known as a heat pump water heater, captures heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the water in its storage tank. It is supplemented by electric resistance heating elements as needed. This combination uses around 60% less energy than a conventional electric resistance water heater, according to the U.S. Department of Energy .

Heat pump water heaters work on the same principle as heat pumps used for home heating and cooling. A fan pulls in heat from the surrounding air, a compressor converts a refrigerant from a gas to a liquid, and the heat from this process is transferred to the water tank via coils. The cooled air is then exhausted out of the unit.

Other types of water heaters include tankless (on-demand), condensing, gas, electric resistance, oil, and solar. The main differences are the heating method, efficiency, energy costs, and whether a storage tank is used.

GeoSpring Specifications

Five Heating Modes

The GeoSpring hybrid water heater has four operating modes:

  1. Heat Pump (Efficiency) Mode: The most energy-efficient setting. Only the heat pump is used to heat water.

  2. Hybrid Mode: The default energy-saving mode. Heat pump is used first, with electric elements providing backup heating only when needed.

  3. High Demand Mode: The heat pump operates until demand exceeds normal usage, then electric elements are used to recover more quickly.

  4. Electric Mode: The heat pump is not used. Only the electric resistance elements heat the water, similar to a conventional electric water heater.

Bradford White has made some changes to the modes compared to the original GE design. The 18-hour override and Vacation mode are no longer available.

User-Friendly Controls

The GeoSpring features an LED display showing the current water temperature set point in Fahrenheit, along with controls to adjust temperature, select operating mode, and reset the air filter alert after cleaning the filter.

Water Tank Capacity and First-Hour Rating (FHR)

The GeoSpring is available in 50-gallon and 80-gallon tank sizes. The FHR indicates the number of gallons of hot water the unit can supply per hour. The 50-gallon model has a 65-gallon FHR and the 80-gallon model a higher FHR.

High Energy Efficiency

The 50-gallon GeoSpring consumes around 60% less energy annually than a standard electric 50-gallon water heater, per DOE test procedures. It has an Energy Star-rated Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) of 3.42 in Efficiency Mode.

Installation and Maintenance

Installation is similar to a standard electric water heater but requires accommodations for the heat pump:

  • Sufficient surrounding air space (750 cu. ft. minimum)
  • Ambient air temperature range between 35-120°F
  • Condensate drain

A washable air filter must be periodically cleaned to maintain efficiency.

Updated Warranty

Current Bradford White AeroTherm models have a 10-year limited tank and parts warranty. Labor warranty is not specified.

Made in USA

The GeoSpring was originally manufactured by GE in Kentucky. It is now made by Bradford White and branded as the AeroTherm, still manufactured in the USA but in Michigan.

GeoSpring Pricing

As of 2023, new 50-gallon Bradford White AeroTherm units have an MSRP of $2,200 USD. 80-gallon models are $2,600. Installation costs vary. Older GE-branded units are sporadically available from third-party retailers for around $800-$1,000.

Heat pump water heaters have higher upfront costs compared to electric or gas tank-type units. However, their high efficiency offsets this with lower lifetime energy costs. Many utilities also offer rebates. Federal tax credits of $300 are available through 2032.

Comparison to Other Hybrid Water Heaters

Key differences exist between current models from major brands:

Rheem Proterra:

  • Hybrid, Heat Pump, High Demand, Electric modes
  • 3.75 UEF (50 gal)
  • Smart home integration
  • Leak detection alerts
  • 37-145°F operating range
  • 10-year warranty
  • $1,400 MSRP (50 gal)

A.O. Smith Voltex:

  • Efficiency, Hybrid, Electric, Vacation modes
  • 3.45 UEF (50 gal)
  • No smart home features
  • LED control panel
  • 45-120°F operating range
  • 6-year warranty
  • $1,300 MSRP (50 gal)

The Rheem Proterra offers the highest efficiency and most features but also costs more. The A.O. Smith Voltex has specs and pricing similar to the Bradford White AeroTherm (GeoSpring).

GeoSpring Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High efficiency vs. electric resistance
  • 10-year warranty
  • Established technology
  • Multiple modes to balance efficiency and recovery
  • Qualifies for rebates and tax credits

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi or smart home features
  • No leak detection alerts
  • Smaller operating range than some models
  • Noisy compressor
  • Higher cost than standard electric units

In summary, the GeoSpring, now AeroTherm, remains a solid choice for those seeking an efficient, domestically-made hybrid heat pump water heater backed by a major manufacturer. However, it lacks "smart" features available on some newer competing models.

Sources:

  1. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-water-heaters
  2. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/heat-pump-water-heaters
  3. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/selecting-new-water-heater
  4. https://s3.amazonaws.com/bradfordwhite/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/01153301/aerotherm-heat-pump-water-heater-specsheet.pdf
  5. https://www.bradfordwhite.com/aerotherm-heat-pump-water-heater
  6. https://www.energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-water-heaters/details/2341319
  7. https://www.achrnews.com/articles/133471-bradford-white-acquires-ge-s-heat-pump-water-heater-department
  8. https://www.lowes.com/pd/A-O-Smith-Signature-Premier-50-Gallon-10-year-Limited-4500-Watt-Double-Element-Electric-Water-Heater/5001796738
  9. https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-efficient-electric-resistance-heat-pump-and-gas-storage-water-heaters
  10. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/plumbing/heat-pump-water-heater-tax-credit/
  11. https://www.rheem.com/products/residential/water-heating/electric/professional-prestige-hybrid-electric-water-heater/
  12. https://www.hotwater.com/water-heaters/residential/electric/proline/xe/voltex-hybrid-electric-heat-pump/

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