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Tankless Water Heaters:  Best of Both Worlds

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Best of Both Worlds

Key Features:
  • First hour delivery: 189 gallons, recovery rise 90 degrees
  • Uses standard 1/2" natural gas line
  • Vents through the wall or roof
  • Measures 47-1/3 x 23-3/4 x 32; 198 lbs.
  • $2,000 from various retailers.
  • Pricing as of 2012.
Ask For:
  • NEXT Hybrid Gas Water Heater
Learn more about A.O. Smith:
by Dana Holmes, contributing editor
Tankless hot water heaters significantly reduce energy bills, but they can't always keep up with high demand. And they're prone to brief hiccups in hot water delivery -- a somewhat jarring experience in the middle of a shower. The NEXT Hybrid Gas water heater addresses these issues by functioning as a tankless heater, but with the addition of a small holding tank to provide more consistent hot water delivery.

The best part? A heat exchanger captures heated flue gas from the tankless system so little additional energy is used to heat the holding tank.

The specs on this little hybrid heater are impressive. It's smaller than a 50 gallon tank heater, but delivers about twice as much hot water. It has a first hour delivery of 189 gallons of hot water, and a recovery rise of 90F on 121 gallons. (In water heaters, rise is the difference between the temperature of water entering and exiting the system). At 90% thermal efficiency, this water heater is more efficient than both traditional tank water heaters and most tankless water heaters.

An electric control panel displays error codes for easy trouble-shooting. It also allows selection of different modes for energy conservation or high demand.

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