Rheem makes more water heaters than any brand in North America. This Rheem water heater review provides information you can use to consider this brand and compare it with others you’re considering. Pros and cons are found below along with the best Rheem water heaters in each category.
Rheem Brand Overview
The brand dates to 1930 when Richard and Donald Rheem launched the Rheem Manufacturing Company using financing from their brother William. Rheem has been an innovator in water heating, air conditioning and heat pump technology. Today, Rheem is part of Paloma Industries of Nagoya, Japan along with a dozen other brands including Ruud. The lineup of Rheem water heaters ranges from affordable but inefficient electric units to expensive but very efficient hybrid models with heat pump technology.
Rheem Water Heaters Technical Specifications
Let’s look more closely at the five types of Rheem water heaters and what they offer. Both residential and commercial models are available in all classes but solar.
- Rheem tank-style gas water heaters are considered an excellent value because they offer efficiency up to 84% while remaining affordable. They also have a quick recovery time, so running out of hot water is rare. More than 20 models are produced in good/better/best series in sizes from 29 gallons to 98 gallons. The Professional Classic Plus Series heavy duty power direct-vent model is the top-rated Rheem gas water heater.
- Rheem tank-style electric water heaters use one to three 1500-watt coils depending on capacity, and while the least costly models, they are the least efficient and produce the highest operating costs. Recovery time is slow. Sizes range from single-location 19-gallon models to whole-house 55-gallon Rheem water heaters. The Rheem Classic Series standard electric water heater is the top pick in this group.
- Rheem hybrid heat pump water heaters employ a condensing unit with a compressor, coil and refrigerant to gather heat from the air around the unit and using it to assist the electric coils to heat water very efficiently. They recover very quickly and can provide near-continual hot water. The Professional Prestige Series Hybrid Electric water heater is the best in this class and is available in capacities of 50, 65 and 80 gallons. Concerns about the performance of these units are discussed below.
- Rheem tankless water heaters are available in electric and gas models. Smaller units serve one location while large gas tankless Rheem water heaters serve an entire home. They provide continual and instant hot water. Electric tankless models deliver instant, continuous hot water but with a lower gallons-per-minute rate. The Energy Star-rated Pro Prestige Series 95 direct-vent indoor model with 94% efficiency is the top model in this group. It is low-flow compatible and delivers up to 9.5 gallons per minute.
- Rheem solar water heaters include a tank or heating element to fit an existing tank, collection panel, electric or gas backup depending on the model and capacities from 75 to 120 gallons. The Rheem Solaraide HE is offered with a complete tank models or just an element that can be used with an existing tank. It is the best of the solar Rheem water heaters.
Pros and Cons of Rheem Water Heaters
There are many reasons to consider a Rheem water heater along with a few cautions to think about when making your choice.
Rheem Water Heaters Pros
- Rheem has the largest selection in the industry to choose from with models to fit your budget, preferred energy source and installation requirements.
- Because Rheem is the largest brand in North America, finding a service technician is easy and parts are readily available.
- Most Rheem water heaters are produced in several sizes to meet your capacity needs.
- All tankless water heaters are very compact for installation under a countertop.
- Efficient gas and hybrid Rheem models offer direct-vent exhaust through the wall, so no venting through the roof is needed, and that reduces installation costs.
- Rheem gas water heaters are outfitted for natural gas but can be easily converted for use with propane gas.
- Point of use water heaters feature a small tank for compact spaces, though they only have capacity to about 20 gallons.
- Rheem has an adequate selection of water heaters for the mobile home market.
Rheem Water Heater Cons
- Tank-type Rheem water heaters are prone to standby heat loss – the water is heated and might have to be reheated if it is not used – so these models are less efficient than tankless water heaters
- While electric water heaters are inexpensive, they use 3-5 times as much power to run as gas, hybrid and tankless, so electric costs are high
- Hybrid and solar Rheem water heaters are efficient, but they are also very expensive and repair costs are potentially quite high, so might not be as good a long-term value as a gas water heater
- Hybrid models get mediocre ratings, mainly for poor mechanical performance
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Rheem Water Heater
When deciding on the right Rheem water heater for your home, consider these issues.
Gas water heaters are much more efficient and recover more quickly than electric coil heaters, and they cost just 10-15 percent more. If you must run a gas line to the installation location, the cost of the line will be recouped in 3-7 years of lower energy costs depending on how much hot water you use.
Hybrid water heaters are pricey, and frankly, it seems that Rheem needs to improve hybrid technology and mechanical performance before these units are worth considering. Solar units are a good choice if environmental concerns are your top priority. The time it will take to recoup the extra cost will be 10-20 years depending on how sunny your climate is.
If you want a tankless water heater, then gas is better for an entire home while electric can be a cost-effective choice for single locations where there is no gas line.
A gas water heater will deliver much more hot water than an electric water heater of the same size because gas heats much faster. Gauge the size of the water heater you choose on the size of your household and which energy source you prefer.
Rheem water heaters are made in Classic (good), Classic Plus (better) and Prestige (best) series. The better the quality of the unit, the better the warranty will be, but the higher the cost will be too. The longer you plan to be in your current home, the more it makes sense to choose from Classic Plus or Prestige Series Rheem water heaters.