Time to replace your home's water heater? Finding the best model on the market is enough to give anyone a headache. There are just so many brands to choose from! What about American Water Heater Co.? Are their units worth the cost? Here's what you need to know before buying!
Whether you need to wash the dishes or take a shower, a water heater is an essential part of almost any home. With costly prices and dozens of models to choose from, it isn’t easy to tell which one the right choice for you or your family might be.
American Water Heater Co. is a name that pops up when searching for these appliances, but are they worth the cost? This article takes a closer look at the models, pros, and cons of the company’s water heaters to help you make that decision. Here’s everything you need to know about this U.S. based company.
What Is the American Water Heater and How Does It Work?
What Is the American Water Heater and How Does It Work? The American Water Heater is, well, a water heater from a company by the same name. It is manufactured in Tennessee, coming in a variety of models for both commercial and residential use.
There are natural gas, electrical, and propane varieties. Several models are Energy Star rated for their high level of efficiency, while others are LEED recognized for their ability to be installed in an Earth-friendly manner. Both of these certifications allow American Water Heaters to install their products in green building designs.
The company also designs several tankless models capable of heating smaller amounts of water on demand. As the company suggests, all of their models are manufactured here in America. So, you never have to wonder if your water heater came from China or elsewhere.
What Makes the American Water Heater Unique?
Every water heater is unique in its design and functionality. No two companies are the same, giving this market an incredible level of diversity. That doesn’t make it any easier to choose a water heater for your home, but it does give you plenty of options to choose from.
To identify what makes American Water Heaters unique, it helps to look at their model types. The company creates electric, gas or propane, and tankless models. The natural gas-powered models can run on propane if this resource is not available in a homeowner’s area.
You can find dozens of electric models from American Water Heater in all shapes and sizes via the company’s ProLine group. This category holds their most extensive selection of heaters, containing both the XE and ProLine Master models.
While many of these units offer high efficiency, most do not meet the requirement to be Energy Star rated. There are, however, hybrid and heat pumps that meet the mark. These models mostly differ in size, which makes them applicable in different situations.
The Compact Series, featuring the Tiny Titan, are excellent for single-fixture installations. Apartments and small homes utilize up to 50-gallon models, while some homes can benefit from up to 119 gallons.
American Water Heater also designs larger tanks that connect to solar panel grids.
High-efficiency models come in the ProLine Master and XE lines, which are capable of heating water for larger homes while helping homeowners save on their utility bill. Some in the XE line even feature selfcleaning capabilities that remove sediment buildup and anodes that protect against corrosion.
Natural Gas and Propane
The natural gas models come in 30 to 75-plus gallon sizes, also associated with the Pro-line collection of units. These water heaters are separated by their venting abilities.
You can choose between atmospheric, direct, and power vent models.
Direct vent options allow the heater to draw in air through the side of the house, venting steam up and out through the roof. Power vents utilize a blower to remove exhaust gasses quickly in the same manner. The atmospheric variety combines your chimney with natural convection to vent exhaust out of your home.
Regardless of which works best for your home, you have several options for Energy Star rated models.
These units incorporate a control logic system with advanced electronics to help cut back on energy waste, saving you money every month in utilities.
Tank-less models are best for producing hot water on demand when only one or two people need it.
These units are small and reliable, often featured in high-performance categories. They are also the top rated in energy efficiency.
You can choose from condensing and non-condensing models, as well as your choice of indoor or outdoor installation. The maximum water flow in any model from American Water Heater is ten gallon per-minute, which far exceeds the standard for most appliances. For reference, a running bathtub uses about four gallons each minute.
The price of a water heater from this company varies wildly depending on the size and model. Some cost as little as $257, while larger units can cost up to $1,000 or more. Factors like the how many gallons the tank can hold, what electronics are used, and energy efficiency all play a part in determining the cost of any given model.
To help give you an idea of what you might pay, we’ve gathered a few prices from around the web. Here are some of the models we found:
- Tiny Titan electrical - $257.35
- 40-Gallon Natural Gas, Atmospheric - $690.93
- Tankless, 199,000 BTU - $1,350.49
As you can see, the price you pay changes drastically based on the model. Keep in mind that most of these products weigh enough to classify for freight shipping, which can cost an extra $200 or more for delivery.
Public Perception (Other American Water Heater Reviews)
After scouring the internet for actual customer reviews, we were disappointed to find that the American Water Heater is not a favorite product or company. We are dedicated to telling the truth, so here’s the downside to these water heaters.
The company currently holds a D- rating with Better Business Bureau, receiving just above one star out of all customer reviews on the site. The majority of complaints come from continual issues with the heaters’ components. When calling customer service, parts are shipped out at the expense of the customer who then has to pay for labor as well.
Even if a new heater is covered under the company’s Limited Warranty, the customer must pay for a second installation and whatever the cost is to remove their old unit. Many find it unfair that they have pay twice for installation after being sold a defective unit, and we agree.
Combined with reviews on Consumer Affairs, nearly everyone stated that the customer service is terrible. When calling about defective parts or warranties, customers often receive a runaround and are rarely treated as a priority. Several went days without hot water before a representative even returned their call.
The company’s Yelp page is filled with one-star reviews, earning only four reviews out of 39 above three stars. The page contains numerous stories about faulty parts to the point of dangerous, terrible customer service, and similar complaints to the ones found on the Better Business Bureau.
How It Compares ?
The American Water Heater company’s main competitors are Polaris, Rheem, and Bradford White. We initially thought that A.O. Smith was a competitor as well, but they purchased American Water Heater Co. back in 2006. Here’s how these manufacturers compare to one another.
American vs. Rheem is often found at Home Depot stores, while American Water Heater is usually featured in Lowe’s along with A.O. Smith. Both of these companies produce incredibly similar units in all categories from tankless to hybrids. You can expect similar energy efficiency from either brand.
Rheem remains the more popular choice by consumers, though its customer reviews are no better. It seems that customers of Rheem experience the same issues that those who purchase an American Water Heater do.
However, Rheem’s product reviews on the Home Depot website are overwhelmingly positive. Most of Rheem’s heaters are recommended by over 90% of buyers on the site. That’s an odd contrast to the reviews on the BBB and Consumer Affairs websites, though.
American vs. Bradford White
Both companies produce 100% American-made water heaters for commercial and residential use. Their product lines are similar in model type but differ in both aesthetic and performance.
Units are higher rated by far. While the same complaints exist for this company, their customer reviews are far more positive than either Rheem or American Water Heater. They still only hold a 1.5-star rating on Consumer Affairs, but customers on sites like Amazon and Home Depot give them much better ratings.
American vs. Polaris
Polaris separates itself from other companies with a focus on energy efficient models. Their products feature thermal efficiencies above 90%, with 31 different units Energy Star certified.
On Amazon and home improvement websites rate them above four stars, while the Better Business Bureau gives Polaris a B+ rating.
The company produces similar models to American Water Heater Co., including the various heating method types and ventilation systems. Gallon sizes, tank-less varieties, and electronic components are also similar in function. All around, however, Polaris creates a higher quality product.
What We Think
After intense review, we encourage you to avoid the American Water Heater Company. Combining all of the information we unearthed, we give this brand a one-star rating. Here’s how we came to our conclusion.
First, the sheer number of customer complaints against the company are shocking. This is an enormous red flag for any product, especially a water heater. We also noticed that Lowes stopped selling these heaters, which is a good indication that consumers are better off buying another brand.
While the company does produce the varieties and models of water heaters that allow them to compete with other brands on the market, their quality is severely lacking, and most are not Energy Star rated.
With these models in the same price range as ones from Polaris, it makes the most sense to spend your hard-earned cash on a water heater that will last for years to come.
Finally, the customer service reviews were equally as disturbing as the product reviews. It seems as though the Limited Warranty only covers the cost of individual parts, forcing customers to pay for additional installation even when the defect occurs within a few months of the initial purchase date.
Stories of customer waiting days to hear from a representative or being transferred to dead-end phone lines aren’t a great sign either. Shabby customer service and other reviews mentioning
Heater not honoring their warranty severely decreased their rating with us. That’s something no customer should have to worry about, ever.
The decline of American Heater Co. might have something to do with A.O. Smith purchasing them in 2006. However, there seems to be no correlation between the two regarding customer satisfaction.
Smith remains a 4.5-star rated product at Lowes, holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has several top-rated products on Amazon.
While it might be unfortunate, we recommend shopping around for a different brand water heater instead of buying any unit from this company. Given the dangers of corrosion and leaks from defective parts in these products (explosions being one of them), stay safe and steer clear of American Water Heater Co.
Coupons and Deals
Since Lowes stopped carrying this line of water heaters, the only deals to speak of are found in purchasing replacement parts. You can often find discounts via coupon codes online or regular deals on sites like Amazon. That might help if you’ve already purchased one of these units and want to ensure that every part is in working order.
We were unable to find any type of deal on the water heaters themselves. Brick and mortar stores may have their own discounts around specific holidays or on special store events, but nothing is mentioned online at the time of this writing.