Plumbing – Where did all the 80 gallon water heaters go


My 20 year old State brand 80 gallon electric water heater is going bad finally.
I went to the big box store and found they no longer carry a 80 gallon standard type water heater. The plumbing supply house said they are no longer making old style heater over 55 gallon, something about government pushing for more energy efficient ways to heat water.

What happened to them?

Best Answer

That is correct. A new Federal law, called NAECA, requires water heaters be efficient. Heaters under 55 gallons must be 95% efficient (minus a tiny margin per-gallon). Heaters over 55 gallons must be - are you sitting down? 200% efficient (minus the same margin per size). This is only possible with heat pump technology.

Imagine: taking a window air conditioner and immersing the condenser (the hot outside part) inside the water heater. The output is chilled air. This is bad news in winter since your furnace must now work harder; but in warm weather it helps cool your house.

So you can still use a large tanked heater, but you will have to go with the more exotic technology.

More on the law here.

Really, in this day and age, if you're worried about having 80 gallons of hot water, just go tankless on-demand and have infinity gallons. Assuming you have the gas vent or electrical service, of course. There are some teething pains to this technology, particularly, you need to manage demand so you don't overwhelm the heater. But once you have it dialed in, showers are awesome, let me tell you!