Real Reviews by a Real Plumber
If you are not familiar with Hybrid Electric water heaters, well get ready to be introduced to a really exciting class of water heater that could save you some serious money down the road! These units combine the familiar tanks style electric water heaters we all are familiar with, and the efficiency of a heat pump system, similar to those in the heating and air industry, which are known for being energy efficient!
AO Smith has really made a great system with this one. I have personally installed 3 of these units for various customers and all of them are quite happy with the energy savings and the fact that they are easy to use! But how do they work you might ask. Basically you have a standard electric water heater with a heat pump stuck on top of it! The heat pump basically takes the heat out of the air around it and heats up a liquid inside a tube, then a compressor heats that liquid up even more. The liquid is then pumped down around the water heater tank in coils of tubing, transferring that built up heat in to the water in the tank! It is literally the reverse of what a refrigerator does, when it removes the heat from inside the refrigerator! If a large demand for water calls for a lot of hot water there are still the normal electrodes inside the heater that can heat the water quickly, but that is only necessary if alot of hot water gets used for a long time.
The PHPT-80 is one of my recommended hybrid electric water heaters due to it’s size and ability to store lots of hot water. When sizing a hybrid water heater, just remember……size matters! Lol! Ok, seriously, when you are using a heat pump water heater it takes longer to heat the water since you are really applying the heat by running hot liquid through tubing that is wound around the tank and the tubing is transferring that heat to the water in the tank. So, keep in mind that if you are using just the heat pump and use up all 80 gallons, it can take quite a few hours to heat another 80 gallons. That is why 80 gallons is the preferred size, because you want as much thermal mass and as much hot water available so the heat pump can keep up with demand. There are smaller 50 and 60 gallon electric hybrids but they have to use the standard water heater electrodes far more often since you simply are not storing enough water. You cannot simply set these smaller units to only use the heat pump function and expect it to keep up. That reduces the efficiency and increases your electric bill. That is not why you get a hybrid! Ok, lets talk about the settings and features that make these hybrids so efficient.
The PHPT-80 comes with several settings that allow this water heater to adapt to most environments and family situations. Here is a list and explanation of each setting:
Hybrid Mode: This mode is the default setting of the heater. I recommend this setting for families of 4 and up. It uses the low electrical draw of the heat pump to heat the water most of the time. When a large amount of water is used quickly, it activates the normal high power draw electrodes to keep the water heating quickly while the system is in use. This is very valuable when you have guests over or when the whole family is showering and doing dishes or laundry all at the same time. Basically you get good benefits of the heat pump, backed up by the quick heat of the normal electric water heater functions.
Efficiency Mode: This is my preferred mode for most families of 3/4 people or less. 4 people that do not use huge amounts of water can get away with this, but if you have 2 teenagers in the family forget it! Go back to hybrid mode. In this mode basically only the heat pump is used to heat the water. This does take more time, and once you have used the water it can take a bit for the water to come back to good temps, but it saves huge money! If the water is lower than 45 or higher than 109 degrees it does activate the electrodes to regulate temp quickly but that almost never happens. I know families of 3 and 4 people that have never gone out of this mode and they spend pennies per day heating their water!
Electric Mode: Simple as it sounds. This mode just uses the normal electrodes like a standard heater. I would only suggest this to be switched on if you are having the family reunion at your house and you need all the hot water that can be produced by this unit!
Vacation Mode: This is really nice. When going on vacation or leaving for extended periods, just push the vacation button. This keeps the water at 60 degrees, not allowing it to freeze but using almost no energy! Really nice to save money when not using the heater!
So this covers most of the important features of this hybrid, but I wanted to leave you with one of the best features you can find on any water heater. This feature is the reason you have a 10 year warranty on this unit:
Powered Anode Rod: The anode rod is found in water heaters as a means of extending the life of the tank. It is normally a magnesium or zinc rod that counteracts the electrolysis going on in the water heater at all times. The rod basically dissolves over time as it sacrifices itself instead of the metal tank. This bad boy however, has a powered anode rod that lasts the lifetime of the heater and protects the tank from leaks way better than a standard anode rod! Very nice feature. If you blow out the heater once per year, you should get way more life out of it than the 10 years that the warranty lasts for.
In closing, as I always say, you can go to the link below by pasting it into your browser and check this water heater out at Amazon!
Amazon Star Rating:4 Stars
I encourage you to also go to your local plumbing supplier that sells AO Smith products and have a look at this unit or check it out here on Amazon I hope you have enjoyed my review. Good luck on getting the right water heater for you!