Imagine living a life without one of the greatest luxuries: the miracle of modern invention, which runs throughout the home, hot running water. Does the hot water that you use to bathe, wash the dishes and clothing, the dog, sterilize the jars for pickling, the baby bottles, and relieve nasal congestion, and so much more, come directly from natural hot springs in the backyard? If so, then for one thing, you’re lucky, but chances are, your home relies on a water heater.
Over the last 60 years, trusty water heater tanks have been constructed in about the same fashion: a stainless steel or zinc plated copper sheath, a layer of glass insulation, the anode rod, a dozen or anti-corrosive parts and a temperature, pressure release, and electric heating element.
50-gallon water heaters are great for a family of 4-5 people, and the dog! It’s well equipped to deliver hot water to a 1-2 bathroom home, too small and meets the Goldilocks standard of being “just right.” 50-gallon electric water heaters heat enough water so the last person to take a shower isn’t standing in ice-cold water. And a 50-gallon electric water heater isn’t too big. Larger tanks tend to heat water, which is never utilized. This causes the water heater to function at a higher rate and produce a more expensive energy bill.
What is the best 50-gallon electric water heater to buy in 2020? The AO Smith ENS-50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater. A.O. Smith knows how to build strong, durable, long-lasting water heaters. Their indoor residential electric water heaters are constructed using their commercial water heater standards. Using only the finest materials, the ENS-50 is constructed with rigorously tested stainless steel, proprietary superior glass insulation and A.O. Smith can brag about an impressive list of accolades and certifications that come along with this electric water heater. Built to last, with flow rates and consistently reliable gallon per minute GPH and pounds per square inch (psi) rates. The ENS-50 is the water heater to consider for your home and your family.
We’ve researched and discovered the four top-rated, energy-efficient, 50-gallon water heaters, as well as one water heater to avoid.
Reviews of the 4 Best 50-Gallon Electric Water Heaters, Plus 1 to Avoid
1. AO Smith ENS-50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater Review
A global leader in hot water tank production, A.O. Smith has been manufacturing quality water heater tanks for 80 years for millions of happy customers. The ProMax series is a part of the family of an innovative commercial-grade residential product line. A host of quality, tested parts make up the ENS-50 Promax. Boasting a 6 year limited tank and parts warranty, the tank alone features A.O. Smith’s unique CoreGuard technology. An outer layer of aluminium, extending the life of the water heater, protects the stainless steel core tank. Inside the aluminium shell, a Blue Diamond glass coating ensures superior performance and an extra layer of corrosion protection.
The most important part to consider when purchasing a water heater is the anode rod. The anode rod, sometimes referred to as the “sacrificial rod”, chooses how long the life of the water heater will function, and keeps the internal parts of the tank from corroding. Like the outer tank, the ENS-50 anode rod has a core of rust-fighting stainless steel. An easy-to-operate enhanced-flow brass drain valve makes for easy draining and maintenance of the tank.
The A.O. Smith ENS-50 comes with an impressive list of accolades. It meets all code compliances, is approved for manufactured housing, is CSA- and ASME- rated, and is certified and design-listed by the Underwriter’s Laboratory for 300 psi test pressure and 150 psi work pressure. Weighing in at 176 pounds, standing up at a little under 5’, with an estimated yearly energy cost of $555, and capable of recovering 25.6 gallons of water at 90 degrees, every hour (GPH), the ENS-50 is a solid, strong, trusted and durable hot water heater.
To watch the AO Smith ENS 50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater Review on YouTube, click here.
- Commercial grade construction
- First-hour rating: 62 gallons
- Best GPH at 90 degrees
- Design-listed by Underwriter’s Laboratory
- Built with reputation in mind
- Potential leakage issues
- Professional install
- Some customer support issues
2. Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater 50-Gallon Review
This 100 pound water heater comes with a limited lifetime warranty and a 6 year warranty on parts. Running on 250 volts and standing a cool 6 feet, the Rheen MR50245 water heater are made from non-metallic materials, and guaranteed by the company not to leak for as long as it warms the water in your RV or home. Durable and reliable, the recessed copper drain valve is high enough on the tank to avoid being knocked and bent when sweeping. The outer polyethylene molding is seamless and won’t dent, scrape, or scratch.
This water heater is great for high altitudes and homes near or prone to salty air due to ocean water drift off. Layers of tough fiberglass wound tightly form the inner protective layer, not only keep energy costs down, it keeps the water heaters insulated even in the coldest conditions. When water levels are too low, electrical parts can become compromised, but the Rheem heater provides an insulated core to offer protection against the unit from dry firing. Similar to the ENS-50, this water heater can recover around 21 gallons of water at 90 degrees GPH. Meets Energy Star highest efficiency and performance standards.
To watch the Rheem MR50245 Marathon Tall Electric Water Heater 50 Gallon Review on YouTube, click here.
- Dent, scrape and scratch proof
- Highest efficiency ratings
- Works efficiently at high altitudes and near sea water
- Non-metallic construction
- High price tag
- Regular replacement part issues
- Warranty issues
3. Bradford White BWC RE350S6-1NCWW 50 Gallon 240V Review
A standard 240-volt, 150 pounds, and standing at only 4’ tall, this squat water heater uses a magnesium coated anode rod ensuring the longest life of the unit and virtually 100% protection from rust and corrosion. Bradford White touts this “lowboy” workhorse as a water heater that guarantees “hot water in small spaces.” The Bradford White BWC RE350S6-1NCWW water heater can recover 21 gallons of water at 90 degrees GPH. With a fully automated safety control system and its tamperproof copper drain valve, this water heater also has a unique Hydrojet feature to reduce sediment in first-hour delivery or recovery of water to the tank. Hydrojet helps maintain the water heater temperature, and keeps the unit from overheating.
A Vitra Glass ceramic insulation is specifically engineered and fused to the inside of the tank, allowing for up to 1600 degrees of thermal heat and protecting the tank itself from even the most corrosive effects of heating the water. Brandford White even installs heat traps on many of their water heaters, and the BWC RE350S6 comes complete with this feature to minimize noise and not allow heat to escape at the point of connection from home to the pipes to the unit. This water heater has a touch of intuition. Dual heating elements heat water faster, and the BWC RE350S6 has a unique simultaneous/non-simultaneous operation feature, indicating when one or both of the heating elements are firing up to heat the water.
To watch the Bradford White BWC RE350S6 1NCWW 50 Gallon 240V Review on YouTube, click here.
- Great for smaller homes, apartments
- Works like a full-sized water heater
- Hydrojet sediment reduction
- Very heavy unit
- Non-certified / No efficiency ratings
- Cost of unit equal to a full-sized water heater
4. AO Smith PNS-50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater Review
Not to be confused with the A.O. Smith ENS-50, this 176 pound model features a Permaglass coating to keep the unit from corroding, and on the inside the strong cross-linked polymer Dynaclean Diffuser Dip Tube ensures maximum hot water output, while eliminating lime scale build up and sediment removal. Aluminum CoreGuard anode rod with a solid stainless steel core works harder, and longer than most anode rods to keep the inner workings of the tank free of corrosion and rust. Complete with standard, durable copper release valves, the AO Smith PNS-50 water heater meets all energy efficiency requirements and certifications by the National Appliance Conservation and Energy Act. A.O. Smith offers a 10-year limited tank warranty, and a 6-year limited parts warranty for the PNS-50.
To watch the AO Smith PNS 50 ProMax Short Electric Water Heater Review on YouTube, click here.
- Diffuser tip for lime scale and sediment removal
- High quality anode rod
- Best warranty
- Customer support issues
Avoid – Westinghouse WER052C2X045N06 Electric Water Heater with Durable 316L Stainless Steel Tank Review
For starters, consumers claim this model has a life-span of around two years, and occasionally were delivered damaged; dented, with parts missing or the unit itself took an unheard of amount of time to be delivered, causing the customer weeks of frustration trying to track the hot water heater down. Other customers claim they required a licensed plumber to install the unit. Customer support commented that the dents and damages most likely occurred during shipping, and were only outer cosmetic defects. Regardless of the consumer’s complaints and issues, Westinghouse claims their water heaters will “last a lifetime,” and that the inside of the tank, they guaranteed, “would probably work just fine.”
Constructed of “laser-welded,” durable stainless steel, Westinghouse WER052C2X045N06 water heater weighs in at only 118 pounds, stands 5’ tall, and works with a 52 gallon capacity tank. 2” of thick, heavy-duty, non-descriptive insulation lines the tank, and overall this hot water heater delivers 66 gallons of water in the first hour. Standard brass inlet, outlet and heat traps plus an adjustable surface mounted control panel come standard. Safety features at the top of the unit. After registering the unit, Westinghouse guarantees a lifetime limited warranty only on inner tank leakage issues.
To watch the Westinghouse WER052C2X045N06 Electric Water Heater with Durable 316L Stainless Steel Tank Review on YouTube, click here.
- Lightweight tank
- 52 gallon capacity
- Delivers 66 gallons of hot water in the first hour
- Many consumer complaints
- Units delivered damaged
- Very limited warranty
- Questionable construction and materials
2020 Buyers Guide to the Best 50 Gallon Electric Water Heater
It’s natural to assume that the hot water flowing from the tap and through the pipes is always available, because that’s what the handle on the faucet with the red dot indicates. A little touch of science, some cutting edge technology, plus hundreds of years, and many experiments have occurred to deliver hot water to the tap. In other words, don’t take hot water for granted!
The journey of heating water for the home and its many uses spans centuries. The discovery of hot water delivery to pipes, sinks, showers and appliances has seen many incarnations; from wood fires, to Bunsen burners, storage-type gas powered heaters to today’s modern day tank systems. Most homes secretly conceal a hot water tank, bolted tight to a wall in an out-of-the-way closet, or tucked away in a basement.
The three most important things to remember when shopping around for an electric water heater include the safety features, the overall durability, including what is and isn’t included in a limited lifetime warranty, and the anode rod, and other anti-corrosive features to keep the electric water heater running efficiently for the lifetime of the home.
3 Main Points to Consider:
- Safety first: Plain and simple. An electric hot water heater needs as much TLC as the espresso machine. Regular low-cost maintenance should always include a regular clear passage for cold and hot flowing water, drain valves and temperature release valves, to clean the water heater and check for corrosion or blockage, and earthquake straps to prevent the heater from tipping or releasing from the wall if too much pressure builds in the tank. Read about ALL of the safety features and the materials used to build them. When in doubt, ask, and never attempt to clean or mount an electric water heater without education or hiring a professional.
- Durable construction: There is no need to feel the frustrations of electric water heater replacement and repair costs if the construction and durability of the water heater is solid and dependable. Look for glass-lined and fused insulation features, and solid brass release valves. These features significantly lengthen the life of the water heater. Well-insulated electric water heaters drive energy costs down, and parts made with quality metals won’t bend or break at the juncture points.
- Corrosion is the enemy: Most electric water heaters look the same on the outside, and solid construction is very important. But it’s the anode rod that should be one of the, if not the most important factor when choosing an electric water heater. Anode rods work to keep the inside of the tank and the parts that heat the water from corroding. Look for aluminium, magnesium and zinc anode rods. Expect the best anode rod, ask questions to the retailer or contact the manufacturer, so you can expect the very best lifetime performance from the electric water heaters.
How many gallons of water heater do I need?
For a family of 4-5, a 50-gallon electric water heater should do the trick. It’s important the first-hour flow and refill rates are consistent with the heating element, and that the scheduling of bathing and showers and running water-powered electronics are timed so that the hot-water flowing into the tank is sustained throughout the day.
Electric tankless water heater vs tank?
Upfront, the tankless water heaters can run hot water through the home indefinitely and on-demand. Tank water heaters need time to reheat the unused water and refill time to produce a full tank of hot water. The drawback is that tankless water heaters cost significantly more than electric tank water heaters. And so does the installation. In comparison, a tankless hot water heater with installation can cost between $1,500 and $2,000, whereas a tank system can run up to $600 installed and tank systems are much more DIY friendly. But make sure to read all the instructions and call an expert or the manufacturer when in doubt about any of the installation processes.
Gas vs propane vs electric water heater?
Propane water heaters cost about one-third less to run than electric water heaters, however, having a propane water heater comes with some risks. If the propane ruptures or leaks, it can cause the propane system to sink and leak gas into the ground. Any enclosed area proximal to a propane leak can be triggered by combustible explosion. A well-equipped propane water heater can save on average of $80 per year versus an electric water heater. Propane powered hot water heaters must pass inspections and come with higher maintenance and repair costs.
Best 50-Gallon Electric Water Heater Reviews (2020 Buyers Guide)
Final Thoughts on Buying a 50 Gallon Electric Water Heater
Understanding your family’s monthly water consumption, how often water-powered electronics are used, and having a general sense of the current monthly energy budget, or what you’d like to pay for your energy costs, can help when shopping for the best 50-gallon electric water heater. Remember, the hot water running into the home is actually a luxury, so, having the most energy-efficient, best constructed and safest electric water heater can let you sneak a few extra minutes in the shower!