Rheem and AO Smith are two of the top water heater companies on the market today. It is no wonder that many people struggle when deciding which brand they should choose for their homes. If you are can’t determine if you should go with Rheem or AO Smith, we are here to help! This straightforward buyer’s guide will compare Rheem vs. AO Smith by looking at either brand’s product line, prices, standout features, overall quality, and more.
We will also explain when you might be better off going with a Rheem water heater rather than an AO Smith water heater, and vice-versa. While both brands have earned their impressive reputations, certain people will certainly benefit from choosing one type of water heater over the other.
Rheem vs AO Smith – Brand Analysis
To make things easier for you, we are going to take a closer look at either brand and highlight some of the best products that they offer. The following brand comparison will help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a water heater from Rheem or AO Smith:
The Rheem Manufacturing Company offers a variety of water heaters, and they have been doing so for nearly 100 years. In addition to water heaters, they also have a wide range of ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
Rheem products, including its water heaters, are built to a high standard and known for being incredibly user-friendly. Their water heaters tend to sit at the mid-range point, both in terms of quality and pricing. They are affordable enough to be a practical option for most homeowners, but those willing to spend a little extra might find they are a little limited in terms of functionality.
With that said, Rheem water heaters are also known to be both durable and reliable, which are two traits most homeowners will appreciate. Best of all, Rheem is known to back most of their water heater models with a 12-year warranty, so you know they stand by their products.
The AO Smith brand has been manufacturing water heaters and hot water tanks for over 70 years. Unlike Rheem, AO Smith focuses exclusively on water heaters. Their energy-efficient water heaters tend to be the preferred choice for professional plumbers, which is almost always a good sign if you have concerns about quality.
In general, AO Smith products are known for durability. Its American-made water heaters usually last for over 30 years before they need replacing. They offer gas, electric, and tankless water heaters, as well as much larger commercial heaters and boilers. While its energy-efficient and reliable water heaters are an excellent choice for any homeowner, they come with a slightly higher price tag than the Rheem water heaters. This cost can be a deciding factor for those that are working with a tight budget.
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AO Smith vs. Rheem – Popular Products
Now that you know a little bit more about Rheem and AO Smith from an overall brand perspective, we can take a closer look at some of their best-selling water heaters.
The Best-Selling AO Smith Water Heaters:
The durability and efficiency of the ENS-50 ProMax 50-gallon Electric Water Heater explain why this gas water heater is such a popular choice amongst plumbers and professional installers.
- Perma-glass coating, which protects the steel tank from corrosion damage and extends its overall lifespan
- Unique DynaClean diffuser tube helps reduce lime and sediment buildup while improving energy efficiency
- CoreGard anode with stainless steel core protects against corrosion longer
- Tamper-resistant, durable brass drain valve
- A bit pricey
- Slightly less energy efficient than comparable models
This tankless electric water heater is durable, tamper-resistant, and perfect for homes with limited space.
- Compact design
- Side-mounted plumbing and electrical connections
- Straightforward installation with long-lasting design
- Tamper-resistant brass drain valves and corrosion-resistant interior to extend the lifespan
- No on-off switch
- Single heating element
The Best-Selling Rheem Water Heaters:
This energy-efficient gas-powered water heater from Rheem is incredibly user-friendly and the heat exchanger comes with a remarkable 12-year warranty.
- Patented water-saving technology conserves over 1,000 gallons per year and uses far less gas than similarly powerful tankless water heaters
- Rheem’s Hot Start programming system ensures the water is hot and ready to use when you need it
- Rheem’s exclusive Guardian Overheat Wrap keeps the exterior temperature down, which helps prevent accidental burns
- User-friendly Rheem tankless water heater that even features an easy-to-use remote control
- Somewhat expensive
- Some maintenance may be required
Not only is this Rheem tankless hot water heater energy-efficient and user-friendly, but it’s also extremely affordable and fits into nearly any budget.
- Lightweight and compact electric water heater features a tankless design that installs easily, even in small spaces
- Highly adjustable digital thermostat controlled with a simple dial and an LED display, allowing users to fine-tune the water temperature to within 1 degree F
- Durable copper immersion heating elements ensure the unit will not suffer from premature corrosion damage
- 99.8% energy efficient controls ensure you are not wasting unnecessary power during the heating process
- Limited lifetime of only a few years
- Cannot provide hot water to multiple faucets or water outlets at the same time
AO Smith vs Rheem Water Heaters – Features Face to Face
We will now look at some of the defining features of the water heaters available from the two brands. By determining a clear winner in each category, we will help you decide if you would be better off choosing an AO Smith water heater or one from Rheem.
Warranty and Customer Service
Part of the reason why both AO Smith and Rheem water heaters are so popular is a simple fact that both brands design each residential water heater to last. With that said, even the most durable water heaters are susceptible to wear and tear from various factors, including the quality of your water, moisture in the air, and manufacturing defects. It is so important to consider the warranty and customer service reputation whenever you are shopping for a new water heater.
AO Smith typically backs its water heaters with an average warranty of 6 to 10 years, which is relatively good compared to the industry standard. However, Rheem offers extended warranties that last up to 12 years for their water heaters.
In addition to a lengthy warranty on the tank and heating hardware, Rheem will also offer additional limited warranties in various categories, such as parts and labor. With that said, Rheem is known to void the warranty on its water heaters if they were not installed by a qualified professional.
It is also worth noting that AO Smith has an outstanding reputation when it comes to customer service. If you have questions about your AO Smith water heater’s performance or need help during the installation process, you can easily reach out to an AO Smith customer service agent. Rheem’s customer service is not nearly as responsive or reliable.
Rheem offers better warranties on their water heaters, but AO Smith is known for customer service. If you prefer a lengthier warranty, Rheem is a clear choice. But the customer service might be less responsive than with AO Smith.
Both AO Smith and Rheem are known for offering energy-efficient water heaters. Rheem’s gas-powered water heaters use very little gas compared to water heaters of similar size, but you really cannot beat AO Smith’s electric water heaters if you want to save money and do your part to protect the environment.
AO Smith pays extra attention to heat retention when designing their tanked water heaters. Very little energy is lost, as the glass lining they equip their water tanks with really helps hold heat in while simultaneously preventing corrosion issues.
That said, Rheem water heaters have the brand’s unique water-saving technology, so you will need to heat less water than you would with a similarly sized tank.
If you are looking for a gas-powered water heater, you might want to choose one made by Rheem. The same can be said if water conservation is something you value. Not only are Rheem water heaters less expensive than those offered by AO Smith, but they also tend to use far less gas, which will help keep your monthly gas bills down.
That said, if you want an electric water heater and do not mind paying a little bit extra on the upfront cost, an AO Smith water heater is incredibly efficient and likely to save you money in utility fees over its lifespan.
Design and Ease of Use
Both brands are known for offering water heaters with user-friendly designs and helpful features. With that said, Rheem water heaters tend to have a more modern appearance, which can be important to some homeowners. We also like that some of their electric models also feature convenient LCD screens, making it easy to know how your water heater is performing, even if you know very little about how water heaters work.
AO Smith water heaters follow a more traditional design, so they are relatively easy to install. However, those looking for more modern stylings and useful features, such as an exterior control panel and a display screen, might prefer the Rheem electric water heaters.
In terms of design and ease of use, we prefer the Rheem water heaters. They are also more affordable is a big plus for those looking to buy a new water heater. With that said, AO Smith water heaters tend to be the preferred choice of plumbers and other professionals, so they are still incredibly well-designed products.
AO Smith or Rheem Water Heaters – The Final Decision
While the decision is not exactly straightforward, we tend to lean more towards the Rheem water heaters. Their lower prices, outstanding warranties, modern designs, and user-friendly features make these water heaters tough to beat. It was a tight comparison, and AO Smith certainly offers some impressive gas and electric-powered water heaters.
If you value reliable customer service, it might be worth paying that little bit extra for an AO Smith water heater; after all, they are usually the preferred choice of many professionals.
We also scoured hundreds of customer reviews and found consistently positive reviews for water heaters from both brands, so there is no question that both brands offer high-quality products.
When Should You Choose a Rheem Water Heater?
If you are on a budget and looking for reliability and a considerable warranty, you will want to choose a Rheem water heater. This is especially true if you are looking to install a gas-powered water heater, as those offered by Rheem tend to be incredibly efficient.
When Should You Choose an AO Smith Water Heater?
If you have a larger budget and want a product that is trusted by professionals, you cannot go wrong with an AO Smith water heater.
When choosing between AO Smith or Rheem, there is certainly a personal preference component to the decision, as both brands are known to build reliable and efficient water heaters. Do your homework and find the heater that fits your exact needs and preferences.