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What Is a Hybrid Water Heater?

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Are you looking for a water heater upgrade? There are a couple of heater options in the market. However, hybrid water heaters have become a popular choice for many house owners.

So, what is a hybrid water heater, and how does it work? We are going to look at why this water heating unit might be an ideal fix for your problem and some of the advantages that come with it.


Hybrid water heaters absorb heat from the outside air and use it to warm water stored in the heater’s reservoir tank.

Unlike standard water heaters, hybrid units do not generate heat, making them more energy efficient.

However, hybrid water heaters must operate optimally in a warm or hot climate.

If your home has a lot of electronic devices, a hybrid water heater can be the perfect addition to save up on energy bills.

What Is a Hybrid Water Heater

Hybrid water heaters are also referred to as heat pump water heaters. They do everything your standard water heaters do with the added benefit of better energy efficiency.

Instead of the unit generating heat, hybrid water heaters absorb heat from the outside air and transfer it into the water for heating. It ensures that not much energy is wasted during the heating process.

Hybrid water heating appliances combine the features of both conventional tank and tankless heating units.

How Hybrid Water Heaters Work

Hybrid water heaters use electricity to absorb heat from the air and move it into the water tank without generating it directly. The heater works like a refrigerator in reverse.

  • The unit’s pump draws outside air and sends it into its evaporator coil.
  • The coils are filled with refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air and sends it to the heat exchanger.
  • The exchanger releases this heat into the enclosed tank, where the water warms up until the desired temperature is achieved.

Newer heat pump water heaters also have a backup electric resistance element.

During a hot water demand, heating units switch automatically to standard electrical resistance that heats the water. Ironically, this is why people started referring to the units as hybrid water heaters.

Like standard water heaters, hybrid heating units also have a reservoir tank that stores the hot water for your shower, laundry machine, or sink.

In addition, heat pump water heaters also have something in common with tankless heaters. They do not need to run all the time, making them more energy efficient than standard water heaters.

Benefits of Hybrid Water Heaters

You might wonder if a hybrid water heater is right for your home. Let us look at some of the advantages of the water heating unit:

1. Energy Efficiency

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Hybrid water heaters are considered the most energy-efficient heating systems, except for solar water heaters.

Unlike standard units, heat pump water heaters do not need to generate heat. They maximize energy efficiency by absorbing heat from the air and feeding it to the tank.

Furthermore, the unit turns off automatically when water reaches your desired temperature.

2. Environmentally Friendly

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In addition, hybrid water heaters also boast of reducing pollution.

Standard water heaters that use natural gas or propane produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds, and other byproducts when they burn.

In addition, though electric heaters are healthier for the environment, if they are not energy efficient, they can wreak havoc on the surroundings.

However, heater pump water heaters do not produce any pollution when used. They also use less electricity to run, putting less strain on the power grid.

3. Standard Electrical Installation

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You do not have to worry about changing electrical panels when upgrading from a standard water heater.

The hybrid water heating unit is integrated to run on the same electrical system standard water heaters use.

4. Save Money in the Long Run

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Another reason why the hybrid heater is a good investment is that its energy efficiency can reduce your high-power bills.

With regular maintenance, the unit can last up to 10 years without major hiccups, saving up on expensive repairs.

If hybrid water heaters continue running smoothly, you will see a return on investment in as little as two years.

Cons of Hybrid Water Heaters

There are a few disadvantages to installing heat pump water heaters:

1. More Expensive When Purchasing

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Purchasing the heating unit can go above budget if you are not careful. Though the return on investment can be seen quickly, new hybrid water heaters are more expensive than standard water heating appliances.

In addition, the installation can also be a budget stretch. To prevent damage, it is always better to call a contractor to handle installation, which might also be expensive.

2. Large Space for Installation

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Heat pump water heaters also require considerable space during installation. Most heater models require at least 1000 cubic feet of space.

The heater unit is not ideal for small rooms or houses unless you are willing to do a little renovation.

3. It Might Be a Bit Noisy

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Likewise, some homeowners have also raised concerns that they can hear a small humming sound from the unit when it is running.

However, if the appliance is installed in the right area, this should not be a problem.

4. Require a Warm Climate

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Another thing to consider before purchasing a hybrid water heater is the climate in your region. As previously stated, the unit uses heat from the surrounding air to heat water.

You should install the heating system in an area of about 40°F all year round. The warmer the climate, the more efficient the heat pump water heater will be.

5. Limited Hot Water Capacity

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Lastly, hybrid water heaters cannot produce as much hot water as tankless units. The heater is unsuitable for high hot water demand settings like commercial buildings or larger households.

The Cost of a Hybrid Water Heater

The cost of a heat pump water heater depends on the following factors.

Unit cost: The cost of a hybrid heater can vary depending on the model and the reservoir capacity. On average, the price is between $1,300 for a 50-gallon tank to $2,500 for an 80-gallon tank. Likewise, the tank’s quality also influences the unit’s cost.

Installation cost: The installation cost, including labor, can be between $700 and $1000.


The hybrid water heater is perfect for the house if you have enough room and do not have a budget constraint. Unlike standard water heaters, the hybrid unit absorbs heat from the air and transfers it to the water tank.

Heat pump water heaters do not need to generate heat, making them more energy efficient than other standard heating units.

In addition, the appliance also easily integrates with the standard electrical panel used by previous standard water heaters, reducing the upgrade cost. Lastly, hybrid heaters are also economical in the end run.

On the other hand, the cost of buying and installing these water heating units is higher than other water heating appliances.

They also require large spacing for installation and a warm climate to operate efficiently. Furthermore, the heaters can be noisy if they are not installed in the right place.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

The average lifespan of a water heater is about ten years. However, durability also depends on the type of heating unit, maintenance, and water quality that flows into it.

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless heating units heat water instantaneously without using a reservoir tank for storage. The heaters deliver constant hot water, which is heated either by natural gas or an electric element.

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