Best In Flow: A Review Of The Polaris Water Heater

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Last updated: 
September 2, 2019

large sized grey water heater tank

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How much have you been spending on your water bill lately? It might be something you don’t even consider, or it could be one of those monthly notices you dread receiving.

If you need to get a grip on your water heat usage, you might want to look into a new water heater by Polaris. You should be warned up front that is isn’t a cheap investment – it’s going to cost a bit up front. Once you understand this, you’ll be happy with the performance and how much you can save over time.





​Power range

​100,000 to 199,000 BTU

​Number of models



​150-180 lbs.


​10 years

Why Choose A Polaris Water Heater?

Investing in a Polaris water heater is the same as making any other choice for your family’s home. You’re looking for something that will last for a while, not a disposable appliance designed for immediate replacement. As you comb through your choices of tank-equipped water heaters, you’re going to be impressed with everything Polaris has to offer.

American Water Heater, manufacturer of the Polaris brand, takes great pride in their domestic manufacturing. All of the research and corporate handling comes from Johnson City, Tennessee. They deal in residential and commercial water heaters. No matter what time of building you are working with, you can find a Polaris model to fit your needs.

The heaters in this review are gas-powered, and the condensing units contained inside each heater are capable of handling propane or natural gas. If you live in an area of the United States where your electric bill is high, you can take comfort knowing that your water heater will help reduce your utility bill. It won’t matter how large or small your building is, as Polaris is designed for all sizes.

Polaris particularly appeals to bigger families where the use of water is an everyday activity for multiple people. If you plan to have multiple sources of hot water running at once on any given day, this can be a lifesaver. How many times have you waited for a shower, only to find out that the hot water was out and you would have to wait?

Thanks to the recovery rate in hot water, Polaris remains one of the most sought-after names in heaters. With as much as 253 gallons per hour, a Polaris water heater will be one of the best gifts you can give your home. Hot water recovery in this range rivals that of a tankless heater.

Which Model Is The Correct Polaris Water Heater?

All Polaris water heaters can be found in two distinct sizes: 34 gallons and 50 gallons. Of the residential gas models used for this review, a total of 7 models were analyzed. The power in these models went from 100,000 to 199,000 BTU.

The 34-gallon models are lightweight and not as tall as their 50-gallon relatives. 24-gallon Polariswater heaters stand at 48.5 inches and typically weigh 150 pounds. Meanwhile, the 50-gallon variety is 64 inches tall and tips the scales at 180 pounds.

If your family has 4 or less people in the home, you can stick with the 34-gallon variety. Any families with 5 or more members will be better off with a 50-gallon version. One of the 34-gallon models, the PG10-34-100, can recover hot water for 179 gallons with Polaris’ First Hour Recovery feature.

Each model comes with a warranty that lasts for 10 years. You’ll find the Energy Star seal of approval on all of them, ensuring they are compliant with the necessary standards for American appliances.

What Features Make The Polaris Water Heater Stand Out?

​Thanks to the design innovation out of Johnson City, the Polaris line of water heaters outranks the competition in several key areas. You’ll notice how different they seem from other brands in the sections highlighted below.

Heat Transfer

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This might shock you, but one of the most important parts of a water heater is how well it heats water. Thankfully, you’ll have no performance issues out of a Polariswith its submerged combustion chamber. Along with the helical flue, the chamber creates a 96% efficient flow of water through the pipes and to your faucet.

The spiral design of the flue makes each tube longer and gives it a bigger contact surface. This way, the heat transfers to a greater amount of water in a shorter amount of time. The heat from the natural gas will directly transfer to the water in close proximity instead of being wasted on anything else.

You will get some condensation out of a Polarisunit, so you’ll need to be sure that a properly-installed drain line is available. Only 1% heat loss was noted during the evaluation of the heaters used for this review, and an extremely low exhaust temperature allowed for smaller vents.

Using A Tank

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Even with the appeal of tankles water heaters in 2019, you won’t want to give up the Polaris brand. The tanks in each of the natural gas units are built with stainless-steel, all but eliminating the possibility of rusting or corroding in your basement. You also won’t need to put in any anode rods thanks to the material used.

Without the possibility of rust or corrosion, you can look forward to a water heater that lasts for at least a decade. No more routine maintenance calls because it just won’t keep up with the stress of everyday use. Furthermore, if you’ve become familiar with the smell of a rusty appliance seeping up from the bowels of your home, you can say goodbye to that scent.

Efficiency In Clean Combustion

close up look of water heater arrangement

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​The Polaris line comes equipped with a metal fiber burner. Not only is this as resistant to corrosion and rust as the rest of the tank, but it won’t wear down due to temperature or mechanical wear and tear. The burner contained inside the combustion chamber uses a high-intensity blue flame that produces clean, extremely high temperatures that will keep your home safe and minimizes emissions.

The gas burner comes paired with a brushless DC blower, which combines air and gas to produce quiet operation. You’ll never even know your water heater is running until you approach it to check for any necessary maintenance.  

Unlike most water heater models on the market, Polaris uses a hot surface igniter for its natural gas. This is much better than pilot lights that come standards on many other tanked water heaters. It also makes the ignitor more reliable and durable. It’s one less thing you have to worry about as the heater ages.

You’ll notice much less pollution thanks to the clean combustion of the entire heater. This will comply with even the strictest emission standards, including those that can be found in California.

Venting The Pipes

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With a direct venting system, no Polaris model will have to emit gas inside your home. Anything that comes out of the combustion process will be sent through its spiral pipes, away from the rest of your interior.

Thanks to this design choice, you can choose to hook up the Polaris heater to PVC, ABS, or CPVC pipes as long as 120 feet. You can feed these through an outside wall or run them along the roof. Using the inlets, all of the air needed for combustion is taken in through the house exterior.

One thing to note is the process of water heating used in Polaris. Because of its engineering, you won’t be able to use any Polaris water heater in a mobile home.

Modern Touch

huge grey water heater tank

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If you ever have a problem with your Polaris heater, chances are you can diagnose it yourself. The digital interface collects everything you need to know about the performance of the heater and tells you what’s happening on an LCD panel. In the event of a total failure, the processor will shut off the heater completely.

You or the technician you work with will have an easy understanding of what to fix should a problem arise. If you ever need to replace the control board inside, don’t worry. Each Polaris water heater comes with a unique control key that imports data to a new board.

Installation Rookie

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A Polaris heater is put into your home in largely the same manner as any other unit. Provided you have the correct connections for your electricity, water hookup, gas, inlet, and exhaust all in place, you won’t need to make any other adjustments.

In case you need to make any repairs, all that’s needed is the access panel located in the front of the tank. This allows you to easily dig into the elements of the heater.

Safety First

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Rest assured that American water Heaters has your family’s safety in mind when they designed the Polaris line. All Polaris models are compliant with “flammable vapor ignition resistance” standards, ensuring that open flames are only created inside the combustion chamber. You can easily check the temperature on the digital readout, and adjust it with the controls provided.

You will find two switches for the safe operation of the Polaris heater. They are blocked on the outlet and the intake switch. If the heater detects an obstruction in either an exhaust or intake pipe, or the blower stops operations, one of the switches will send a signal to kill any potential ignition. 

There is also the Energy Cut-Off switch, which automatically ceases any operation from the heater when the temperature gets too high. The value for the temperature is set by Polaris.

How Does The Polaris Water Heater Work?

Using the blower located at the bottom of the water heater’s tank, the Polaris will ignite to create a mixture of air and gas, which will be delivered through the blower system. Afterward, the hot surface ignitor fires the gas in the main burner.

If no problems are found in the combustion chamber, the blue flame is created. This flame evenly heats the burner, resulting in clean combustion and a minimal amount of emissions.

Where Should You Put A Polaris Water Heater?

The great part of a Polaris heater is its versatility in heating. Not only will it work as a water heater, but it multitasks as a space heater. This is due to its air and hydronic heating systems contained inside. Using the circulation pump and a recirculation system, you can bring hot water into a house or business even faster.

If you combine the Polaris heater with a solar setup, you’re looking at a massive return on investment after purchasing the unit. All you need is the initial heating process done through a Polaris gas heater and your solar backup system can take care of the rest.

Taking The Plunge And Buying A Polaris Water Heater

There are very few alternatives to a Polaris water heater that can stand head and shoulders with this brand. Yes, you’re going to pay extra at the onset, and the price tag might be intimidating depending on the size of the heater. What this doesn’t show you is the amount you will not be paying for repairs, heating utilities, and another heater within a few years.

Other companies should take their design standards and compare them to American Water Heater. After owning one of the Polaris models, you may wonder how you and your family ever put up with another unit. With incredibly low emissions, unparalleled energy efficiency, and a simple computer readout for diagnostics, you won’t be able to part with the Polaris in the future.

There are few better investments you can make as a homeowner than a hot water heater that stays reliable throughout the years. Nothing has the ability to make living a miserable experience than a lack of hot water, especially if you have a large family.

With Polaris, you won’t have to concern yourself with emergency phone calls to technicians during holidays. Look past the price tag and think of your family’s future when buying a Polaris water heater.


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