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Heat Pump Water Heaters - GE vs. Rheem  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 04:15 am
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bryankwalton
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Hi guys, I'm a new member of this forum, glad to find it.

I know there has been some discussion in this forum recently about the GE Hybrid Water Heater (a heat pump water heater).  I'm looking to purchase either this unit or the Rheem unit here in a few weeks.  With the 30% federal tax credit, combined with state and utility rebates, it looks like my final cost for either of these units would be around $400-$500.

I've been researching them both lately and trying to figure out which one I prefer.  I'm kind of leaning toward the Rheem unit.  But I'm curious if others have been doing serious comparisons and can offer any input.  Below are what I see as the major differences between the two units (in no particular order).

1. One plus for the GE unit is that, according to the DOE, it is more efficient.  The Energy Factor for the GE is 2.35, while the Rheem's is 2.0.  Perhaps related to this, the GE unit keeps water at 50 degrees in vacation mode.  The Rheem unit keeps water at 90 degrees in vacation mode. (Score: Rheem 0, GE 1)

2. For the GE unit, the unit becomes a standard electric water heater when the ambient air around it drops below 45 degrees F.  With the Rheem unit, this transition doesn't occur until the ambient air drops below 40 degrees F.  In my scenario, this is a positive for the Rheem.  I live in Iowa and my basement can drop below 50 degrees in the winter.  These units spit out cold weather so I'm a little concerned that the GE unit might end up working in traditional mode (which is obviously the least efficient mode). (Score: Rheem 1, GE 1)

3. The first hour rating for the Rheem is 67 gallons.  For the GE unit, it is 63. (Score: Rheem 2, GE 1)

4. One interesting difference regards the anode rod.  The GE manual hardly mentions it.  I called them and asked about the anode rod. They told me that the anode rod WAS replaceable.  In contrast, the Rheem manual reads:

This water heater is equipped with a non-removable anode rod designed to prolong the life of the glass lined tank. The anode rod is slowly consumed, thereby eliminating or minimizing corrosion of the glass lined tank.
However, elsewhere on the Rheem website (on the spec sheet), it states that the anode rod in this unit is a:

Premium resistored anode rod
I'm not quite sure what a resistored anode rod is.  Is this similar to a "powered anode", such as is mentioned elsewhere on the waterheaterrescue.com webpage?  At first, I was a little turned off by the non-removable anode rod, but if this means it is "powered", then perhaps I shouldn't be concerned, right? (I have very hard water and it is softened. A powered anode seems would seem to be a real selling point for me.) (Score: Rheem 3?, GE 1)

5. Warranties seem to be the same.  However, from what I can tell, for the longest time Rheem made GE's water heaters.  Rheem has been making water heaters for years.  The GE hybrid unit is one of the first that is designed and made by GE.  Should I be concerned that GE is "new to the game"?  Part of me wants to trust that Rheem simply knows more about how to do this.  But is there anything to back up the idea that GE's unit should be considered less dependable? (Score: Rheem 4?, GE 1)

So, in conclusion, if the resistored anode rod in the Rheem unit is a powered anode rod, I think I've about made up my mind to go with that unit.  If so, then the only real positive I see for the GE unit is its supposed increased efficiency.  However, if I'm mistaken about the Rheem's "resistored anode rod", then maybe the fact that it is non-removable should be a major reason to go with the GE unit.  I'd love to hear peoples thoughts on all this, especially on the anode rod.

Thanks,
Bryan


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 Posted: Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 06:16 am
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elenano
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In the end, your own research will be better than ours because there are way too many models out there, changing constantly, for us to keep on top of all of them.

That said, though, I can help a little bit. GE is a Rheem sub-brand. I'm not sure how much difference there is between Rheem-branded heaters and GE-branded heaters, but at least you don't have to worry about GE being new to the game.

They probably all have resistored rods. Those are NOT powered anodes, but merely magnesium anodes to which an electrical resistor has been added, to slow down the electrolytic reaction to about the same as an aluminum anode.

This is a mixed blessing. It means that in "aggressive" water, that is, highly conductive water, the resistor anode will last as long as an aluminum one, which has a lower driving current.

But sometimes, in not-so-aggressive water, resistored anodes passivate, a sort of "going to sleep," and don't function properly. We've seen this a number of times.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 06:16 am
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eleent
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Hello:  This may be a silly question, but as GE is made by Rheem, what is the difference between units?

As for resistored anodes, they are magnesium with a resistor in line to slow the action of the rod down.  It's a very different sort of beast than a powered anode.

I would NOT EVER buy a unit that has a "non-replaceable" anode.  That's paying someone good money to abuse you :X

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 05:03 pm
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bryankwalton
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Hi guys.  Thanks for the replies!

I just got finished up phone calls with GE and Rheem.  Rheem confirmed that the anode rod in their unit is not replaceable.

GE confirmed that the rod in their unit is replaceable.  So, I've pretty much made up my mind to go with the GE unit over the Rheem one.  GE also confirmed that their anode rod is magnesium.

As for the question about the differences between the two units, the GE heat pump water heater is not made by Rheem.  Apparently, GE is starting to go their own way on water heaters.  These two units are very different from each other.  The heat pump on the top of the GE unit opens up for access to the traditional water heater below it.  The Rheem heat pump does not.  In fact, unlike the GE unit which has your cold and hot water connections on top, the Rheem units connections are on the side (even though the anode rod is still attached from the top -- and the heat pump doesn't separate from it unfortunately).  Also, incidentally, the GE unit is currently being built overseas.  But there are plans to start building it in Louisville, KY at their Appliance Park facility.

Here are some pictures of the two units:

The GE unit:



Here is the Rheem unit:


Thanks!
Bryan

Last edited on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 05:06 pm by bryankwalton

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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2010 09:45 pm
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angiea
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bryan, We just purchased a GE Hybrid, and are having it installed tommorrow. What I liked better about the GE than the Rheam was that the GE sends its heat down into the tank via a coil wrapped around the tank. Rheam, on the other hand, pumps the water up into the condenser, heats it there, and then sends the water back down into the tank. The GE system just seemed to be simpler and more efficient. I'll let you know how ours works for us. My intuition tells me that the units may be in short supply at times if their popularity picks up.
OUrs is going into the utility room, in the basement, which is relatively close to the wood stove which we heat our home with. There's usually plenty of heat to spare there in the winter. In the spring and fall, I figure, will be the more challenging months for the unit to be efficient and not cool the house. We're in Michigan.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2010 10:06 pm
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bryankwalton
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Hi Angiea, you are right. I hadn't really focused on that before. But I agree, that the GE design does seem simpler, with hopefully less to go wrong. I'm planning on purchasing my unit next week.

Take care,
Bryan

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 Posted: Sat Feb 27th, 2010 05:29 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  Thankyou both for sharing what you've learned!  I like being brought up to speed :cool:

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Mon Mar 1st, 2010 07:43 pm
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angiea
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Bryan...back again with a 2 day report on our new hybrid GE we put in. Installation was no problem. (It looks like a robot with antenae). We installed 7 inch loops in the water pipes to form heat traps, as GE suggested. The noise it makes in E-heat (heat pump only) is a bit more than I had anticipated. I could see noise might be a problem if it was installed in the kitchen or bath/bedroom area. Ours is in the basement, so not a problem. It sounds like a large floor fan on high. Of course, you could always turn the fan off and switch to electric in those instances it was a problem.
Ours seems to run twice a day in E heat, keeping in mind we have low use. When its just keeping up to heat, it runs for half to one hour. When we do dishes (hand) and take two showers at night, it kicks on by the second shower and runs for two hours. GE had told me that when you use 10 gals of hot water, it runs about an hour on E heat, and that seems about right. WE also set ours up on a thick hard foam base, with plywood on top of the foam, to insulate it from the cool basement floor. I picked that energy tip up from the Canadian govt site. I hope you maybe picked up something new with this message... Angie

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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 03:44 am
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elenano
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Thank you again for posting all this. We like hearing this kind of stuff and it helps other people, too.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 04:35 am
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bryankwalton
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Hi Angiea,

Thanks for the review and, especially, the suggestion of the rigid foam pad underneath the water heater.  Hadn't thought of that before.  I'll have to look for some stuff that can handle a lot of pressure.  I ordered my unit this evening.  It will be delivered on March 12.

Cheers,
Bryan

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 Posted: Fri Apr 16th, 2010 01:16 am
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angiea
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Two months in to owning the GE Hybrid, here's my report. The GE Hybrid is a little noisy, but its been working great. Between just the two of us, the hwh has only run on heat pump mode, and none in electric to our knowledge, except at installation time. There has been no increase in our electric bill at all, since we changed from our old propane hwh. Maybe other factors are at play as well, but it looks like the heat pump mode is a very efficient way of heating water in a low demand household.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 2nd, 2010 03:23 pm
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Hamfisted
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Just some feedback from a GE Hybrid owner. 3 months old and it blew the compressor seal and had to be used in straight electric mode. New compressor installed and it's already making noise. The thing is a bit loud anyway, not something you would want inside your house. Mine is in the garage. When this one blows I'll go with the Rheem unit or just back to straight electric. The GE Hybrid is a Chinese piece of junk. So the 30% Federal tax credit is going to help employ more Chinese, not Americans. At the factory settings of 120 degrees the unit will keep the water warm for a long time, but it's already 100 degrees in my garage, so it's not much effort. Since the dishwasher requires 140 degree water to sanitize dishes that's what I set the water heater on. It hasn't saved much on my electric bill, maybe $5-$10 a month, if that. But my old electric AO Smith water heater was pretty efficient anyway, and it was on a timer. The Rheem Hybrid is made in Mexico at Rheem's Nuevo Laredo, Mexico plant. At least the parts will be easier to get.

Overall I don't recommend rushing into buying the GE Hybrid unit. I think I should've waited for a few more manufacturers to start putting them on the market. Hopefully AO Smith will come out with one soon.

 

 

- Ham

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 Posted: Mon Aug 2nd, 2010 05:41 pm
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bryankwalton
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Wow, sorry to hear you are having such bad problems with your GE unit.  Hopefully things will get sorted out for you.  I installed mine 4 1/2 months ago and love it.  So far, so good.  I agree the unit is louder than I expected, though -- although we don't notice it anymore.  Ours is installed in our basement.  Currently the basement temperature is around 70 degrees F.   For us, the savings are real -- about $30 a month, compared to our old electric water heater.  Hopefully, we will continue to have no problems for a long time.  Ours is set to 115 degrees F, and is more than sufficient for our family of three.  Of course, we don't have an electric dishwasher.  Again, hope your luck improves.

Best,
Bryan

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 Posted: Mon Aug 2nd, 2010 05:56 pm
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elenano
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Think about raising the temperature to 130 or you may have legionella risk.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Mon Aug 2nd, 2010 07:23 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  Just to muddy the waters, a new heat pump unit is on the market and claims higher efficiency.  It is the Accelera 300 by Steibel Eltron  at http://www.steibel-eltron-usa.com  I don't know anything about it other than what the ad in a trade journal says, which is confusing.  It says one KWH of electricity can be used to generate the equivalent of 3-5 KWH.  Then it says it has an energy factor of 2.5.  More to learn ;)

Yours,  Larry

ps.  AO Smith has the Voltex heat pump unit also!

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 Posted: Tue Aug 3rd, 2010 03:38 pm
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Hamfisted
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Nice ! The AO Smith Voltex is actually made in the USA too ! I'm going to see if I can get my plumber to exchange this GE thing for the Voltex. If not, I think I'm going back to a regular electric style.

 

- Ham

 

 

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 Posted: Wed Aug 4th, 2010 04:53 pm
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eResponse@GE
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Hi Ham, This is Vikki with GE. I am sorry to hear about the difficulty you have had with your GeoSpring water heater. Please send the details to us at eResponse@ge.com and let us see how we can help.

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 Posted: Wed Aug 4th, 2010 07:06 pm
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professorltd
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Looking to purchase a hybrid heater before the end of the year and from this forum/internet I have gathered these options/prices:

Stiebel Eltron, Accelera 300-         2.5 EF    $2600

A.O. Smith, VOLTEX-                      2.3 EF    $2200

Rheem, Ecosense-                         2.0. EF    $1500

GE, Geospring-                              2.35 EF    $1450

There have been several people commenting on the GE heater and a few comments on the Rheem, does anyone have any experience with the A.O. Smith or Stiebel Eltron hybrid models? Thanks

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 Posted: Thu Aug 5th, 2010 09:42 am
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Geno_3245
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Vikki with GE !!
There's a plus for GE.
eResponse@ge.com

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 Posted: Sun Aug 8th, 2010 08:17 pm
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Hman127
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The Steibel seems to have the greatest efficency of all. Its a little steep for me. I like both the Ge and the Rheem. I am waiting for the Rheem Hp-40 to come out, which is the same as the Hp-50, just 10 gallons lest, which Is what I'm replacing It with. It seems as though they're dragging heels on the release date. It was to be released in June, but know they say in the 4th quarter. Has anyone heard otherwise.

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