Rheem Heat Pumps - Hybrids
Review and Buying Tips

A review of Rheem heat pumps - hybrids designed for ultra-efficient and eco-friendly home water heating. Find out what to look for, including essential features and benefits - for easy purchase and hassle-free experience. See what makes these hybrid water heaters super-efficient and how they bring savings and significant benefits to your home.

Rheem water heater heat pumps are also known as hybrid because they combine the heat pump technology and electric heating elements for outstanding performance, fast recovery, and efficient work.

Moreover, Rheem heat pumps got the AHR Innovation Award in 2014, in the plumbing category, for the most inventive and original product.

This year 2021, homeowners can buy a ProTerra model, which is, according to the company, over 400% more efficient than traditional electric water heaters, resulting in savings of $480 every year.

Rheem heat pump

Rheem heat pumps - Model review

Rheem heat pumps ProTerra are coming from the Professional Prestige series, (available on homedepot.com) a series with several models available, utilizing tank capacities of 40, 50, 65, and 80 gallons, premium features, and professional-grade quality.

Homeowners can buy hybrids with and without a LeakGuard detection system that can operate with 15 or 30 AMPS breaker size.

What makes these hybrid models unique is the ultra-high energy efficiency and recovery rate, resulting in Energy Star compliance and eligibility for government grants. They are promoted as "Easy to Install" and "Easy to Service," making them a favorite type among plumbers.

The Rheem manufacturer describes ProTerra as the smartest and most efficient hybrid heat pump on the market, with approximately $100 in yearly operating costs. Those water heaters generate approximately $4800 in savings over ten years, excluding government grants so that homeowners can pay it off in less than 2-3 years. ProTerra models have reduced carbon footprint because they use approximately 75% less energy than the standard type.

The smallest model, PROPH40, is the 40-gallon water heater that comes with the first-hour rating (FHR) of 60 gallons, a recovery rate of 26 GPH, and Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) of 3.75 – recommended for small and average size homes.

The largest model, PROPH80, is the 80-gallon model, and it comes with an FHR of 87 gallons, 27-gal recovery rate, and UEF of 4.0, making them ideal for high demanding homes/families.

The electric breaker size requirement for the above models using 4,500 kW heating elements is 30 Amps. Some models come with the same tank size and 2,250 kW heating elements, and instead of 30 Amps, they require 15, so some panels do not require upgrades. Consequently, the first-hour rating and recovery rate are lower.

The warranty on Rheem heat pumps is decent - 10 years, mainly because of the quality elements such as the premium resistored anode rod, used against corrosion, and stainless steel resistor heating elements with the dry-fire protection.

Features review

What is excellent about Rheem hybrid (see the prices and reviews on homedepot.com) is the heat pump technology that utilizes the surrounding warm air for water heating, which increases the efficiency several times, when compared to the conventional electric water heaters.

The heater's solid body, state-of-the-art design, and superb functions are what make them a favorable water heating appliance. According to the Rheem manufacturer, with a low noise level of only 49 dBA, hybrids are considered one of the quietest in its class.

With the addition of the compressor, evaporator, and fan, the heat pumps are more complex and advanced than the conventional electric units but still have easy access to side connections, standard 3/4" water connections, allowing easy installation in the same manner as the electric type.

What makes this hybrid unit great is the availability of advanced electronics, including the large LCD, programming, and troubleshooting with the error code display.

The EcoNet feature allows users to take advantage of the Wi-Fi capability, control and monitor the unit remotely, set and adjust the temperature, and set and change the operating mode. They can also track energy usage, get a notification if there is a leak, access service, notify a technician, and others.

Using the Wi-Fi connectivity, the EcoNet communication system allows Rheem heat pumps integration into the home automation, energy management, and demand response system.

You can program a water heater known as the energy-saving scheduling, so it heats water during the off-peak time to lower the energy cost and supply enough hot water when needed the most.

Brand new 2021 hybrid models are equipped with the LeakGuard system with a built-in 360 degrees leak detection cable and auto water shutoff valve. If water leaks either internally or externally, no matter how big, the electronic controls shut down the heater to prevent water damage. Every 30 days, a self-check feature gets activated, checking the automatic water shutoff valve's operation.

As hybrids have the same dimensions as the standard electric type and zero-clearance requirement, all models can be easily installed without any special requirements or location.

Operating modes

There are several heating modes that you can choose on Rheem heat pumps and based on your hot water demand and your needs:

  • Energy Saver mode is a factory set mode, and since the compressor is fully utilized, it provides excellent energy efficiency, low power consumption, and high recovery.
  • Heat pump mode does not use heating elements, only the heat pump, resulting in very slow recovery, high efficiency, and low energy consumption.
  • High Demand mode - the water heater utilizes both heat pump and backup electric heating elements for fast water heating, and it is used for high demand periods. With the maximized performance in this mode, the heat pump gets the highest recovery rate as both heat pump and electric heating elements operate simultaneously. The efficiency is low.
  • Electric Heat Only mode - a mode when the water heater uses the heating element only, while the heat pump is OFF. This is a temporary mode, utilized on a short-term basis due to the maximum power consumption. The efficiency is low and the recovery is fast.
  • Vacation mode allows the heat pump to maintain water temperature around 90 F. It can be programmed to operate between 2-28 days or placed on hold indefinitely. The mode has very high efficiency.

Specs

Models/Data PROPH40 PROPH50 PROPH65 PROPH80
Capacity (gal) 40 50 65 80
Energy Factor 3.75 3.75 3.85 4.0
First Hour Rating (gph) 60 67 75 87
Recovery (gph)
90 F rise
26 27 27 27
Sound Level (dBA) 49 49 49 49
Dimensions (inch) 62 62 64 74

How does the Rheem heat pump work

Rheem heat pumps work basically the same as the AC but in reverse. Since they are air-source heat pumps, they extract the heat from the surrounding warm air (thanks to the eco-friendly refrigerant), increase the heat by using the compressor, transfer the heat to the water while the cooler (dehumidified) air is exhausted by the fan, located at the top of the unit.

This is why heat pumps should be installed in the rooms such as attics, basements, or technical rooms with the furnace; for example, it can use surrounding warmer air for more efficient work. Hybrids with electric heat pumps are not recommended in colder areas where the average temperature is below 40 F.

Benefits

As water heating is one of the primary energy users in the house, it is a good idea to look for an alternative.

The maximum efficiency you can get from gas and electric water heaters is up to 99%. In contrast, with the new and advanced hybrid technology, which combines heat pumps and electric heating, this efficiency becomes much higher. This means it will cost you less to operate the unit and produce hot water. The bigger the family and the longer you use the heat pump, the more savings you get.

Hybrids do not directly release greenhouse gases as the gas-type, and due to an absence of burning gas, gas pipe, and gas control valves, these units are much safer and easier to operate and control.

As explained, the heat is not generated but is moved from one place to another. The heat is removed from the air and transferred to water, increasing its temperature.

Three important processes happen when the heat pump is working; heating (water), air cooling, and humidity control (dehumidification).

Highlights

  • Four sizes; 40, 50, 65, and 80 gallons
  • Five operating modes
  • Energy factor up to 4.0
  • Savings up to $5000 over 10 years
  • Up to 73% energy use reduction
  • Energy Star compliant
  • Smart – leak detection, diagnosis, protective alerts and service notifications available to the user (sent to the phone)
  • Very quiet – around 49 dBA
  • Operating range 37-145 F
  • Easy side connection
  • Similar size as conventional type (approximately 74” x 24” x 53”)
  • Government and utility provider rebates
  • Increases the value of your property

Summary

The greatest benefits of using Rheem heat pumps (sold at homedepot.com) are the ultra-high efficiency, lower electric bills, fast hot water delivery, and easy replacement due to the almost the same footprint as the standard 50-gallon electric water heater. According to the Rheem website, the payback period for the hybrids is less than three years.

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