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Rheem vs. AO Smith Comparison – What is the Best Water Heater?

Rheem and AO Smith are two of the most popular water heater companies in the US. Both offer a wide range of different water heaters for smaller and bigger households and models that are powered both by electricity and gas. But, which one is the best for you?

Rheem vs. AO Smith – Which One is Better?

One thing they have in common is that both companies produce quality water heaters for residential and commercial use. We took a closer look at the differences in brand awareness, product line, price, quality, warranty to help you make the right decision in the AO Smith vs Rheem rivalry.

Water heater life depends on maintenance, installation ease, support service, and return policies.

First off, AO Smith is solely focused on the water heaters while Rheem has a broader range of products including air conditioning, heating, and cooling systems.

AO Smith Water HeatersGenerally, AO Smith water heaters are the preferred choice of many plumbers and it speaks thousands of words. AO Smith’s solid reputation comes from owners and plumbers of the US-made tools seeing them replaced only after 30+ years of service.

That said, they are of a very high-quality and should last you a while. AO Smith offers an up-to-12-year warranty on most models, which is unmatched by some rivals. AO Smith also has a very extensive portfolio of heaters and it should be easy to find one that fits your needs best.

rheem water heatersRheem water heaters have been available to the general public for almost 100 years. They also offer a comprehensive variety of different water heaters and are known to be of very high quality and very practical as well. However, while AO Smith is known for its customer service, Rheem is not.

This is very important for water heaters, as you wouldn’t want to be left without warm water for longer than one day. Rheem is a good, mid-level water heater brand that’s not too expensive. Its reputation for manufacturing durable, reliable water heaters makes it a good choice for most homes.

 

Our Opinion
Overall, AO Smith is probably the better choice for gas water heaters, but only by a fraction. You should still be well served by Rheem if you take care of it regularly. Rheem is the major player in the US amongst Electric Tankless Water Heaters with a market share of 22%.

Rheem vs. AO Smith – Product Line

Read on to learn about the different types of water heaters, and have a look at what these companies have to offer in their portfolios.

Gas Tanked & Tankless Water Heaters

🏆 Winner: AO Smith

According to consumer reports, 37% of households prefer AO Smith gas tanked water heaters against 22% going with Rheem.

The complete A. O. Smith line of natural gas and liquid propane tank water heaters comprise around 60 different models while the Rheem brand has developed a line of 43 models.

Gas Tanked Best Sellers

In 2010, A. O. Smith introduced its full line of natural gas and propane tankless water heaters – 38 models against 10 models from Rheem.

Gas Tankless Best Sellers

Electric Storage & Tankless Water Heaters

🏆 Winner: Rheem

You definitely cannot go wrong with the Rheem electric water heater. It is a professional choice for homeowners who do not want to tend to leaky water heaters year-round even though AO Smith has a wider range of models in this category.

Electric Tankless Best Sellers

In the category of Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heaters AO Smith and Rheem are both a great deal capable of saving money on bills for electricity and boasting of good recovery time.

Design

🏆 Winner: Rheem

Browsing online reviews on the specialized plumber’s forums, we have seen a few people complaining about AO Smith’s faulty design. Though, to be honest, both brands look similar in terms of gas heaters design through Rheem’s styling looks a bit more varied and modern in the category of electric water tanked heaters.


Warranty & Support

🏆 Winner: AO Smith

AO Smith and Rheem products were built to last. But even the best products can be affected by outside factors like wear, air or water conditions, environmental concerns, and yes, even issues in the manufacturing process.

AO Smith water heaters on average have a warranty of six to 10 years while Rheem often promises an extended 12-year warranty for tanks.

Rheem water heater models are also offered with Limited Warranties varying from six (6) years to as long as the original purchaser owns the home in which the unit is installed.

From what we have seen after analyzing tons of consumer reviews, Rheem has weaker support regarding the ease of reaching them and fixing the issues should they arise.

Verdict

Overall, AO Smith is probably the better choice for gas water heaters, but only by a fraction. You should still be well served by Rheem if you take care of it regularly. Rheem is the major player in the US amongst Electric Tankless Water Heaters with a market share of 22%.

What’s the Best Type of Water Heater for Your Household?

Warm water was once a luxurious thing not available to the masses, but today it’s almost a human right to have it. With that said, there are several ways to add warm water to your apartment or house, with a central water heater being the most popular one.

water heater types

These water heaters are the most efficient because they provide warm water for the whole apartment or house. With a high-quality water heater, you can take a shower and clean the dishes at the same time, and there will still be some warm water left.

There are a lot of different water heater types and models available on the market right now. While that’s great for innovation and price, it can be hard to make a choice just by looking at the specifications.

The first thing you should do is to decide between electricity and natural gas. Water heaters that work on electricity are less expensive to buy, but they can be more expensive in the long run. Also, every household has electricity but doesn’t have gas. On the contrary, natural gas water heaters are more expensive to buy, but they will cost less in the future due to the lower price of gas when compared to electricity.

Then, you should decide on what type of water heater you need. Here are all the classifications:

  • Storage water tank heater – this type consists of an insulated tank and a water heating element. When the storage tank water heater achieves a certain temperature, it stops working. This one is recommended for bigger households;
  • Tankless Water Heater – heats the water when you need it. Given the fact that they don’t store the hot water and only use power when you need it, they are more efficient. However, they can’t heat a lot of water at a time and thus are not suitable for bigger households;

    Best Tankless Gas Water Heater

  • Heat Pump or Hybrid Water Heater – captures the heat from the air and uses it to heat the water. Also very efficient, but more expensive as well. Besides, they don’t work in cold spaces;

    Best Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

  • Condensing Water Heater – uses the exhaust gasses from the burning of the natural gas, which makes them more efficient. They are great for very big households.

    Best Condensing Water Heater

Rheem in spotlight

Rheem LogoFounded in 1925, Rheem is among the largest manufacturers in the North American water heating market. Rheem is headquartered in Atlanta and spread its presence into 14 countries. The company’s most famous water heater brands embrace Rheem, Ruud, Richmond, EcoSmart and many others.

The company sells water heater models in gas, electric, tankless, solar and hybrid styles. You can control or monitor it as part of your smart home using the included EcoNet Wi-Fi Kit and smartphone app. This EcoNet system can even send you alerts if there is a leak or other complication. To protect you, the device automatically turns off if potentially flammable vapor builds up. You won’t have to worry about cleaning a filter either, as this unit is made to operate without one.

A.O. Smith brief information

AO Smith LogoAO Smith used to be the preferred choice of plumbers before they moved their production to Mexico in 1996 to reduce the manufacturing costs. Present-day Mexico-made AO Smith water heaters are still good but cannot compete against their ancestors in terms of longevity.

Additionally, the original AO Smith water heaters’ quality was further questioned after they acquired the Whirlpool brand and started selling their models under the AO Smith label.

Producing residential water heaters since 1939, AO Smith company now serves the water heating needs of people in 60 countries through a bunch of brands like American Water Heaters, Aquasana, GSW, Hague, John Wood, Lochinvar, Reliance, State Water Heaters, Takagi, U.S. Craftmaster.

AO Smith patented a glass-lined brewery tank back in 1933 to become the industry standard.

The popularity of A.O. Smith vs Rheem in the U.S.

Assessing the popularity of AO Smith vs Rheem brands we have reverted to a couple of methodologies backed by the statistics from the open sources.

We are inclined to think that sales numbers are the eloquent indicator of popularity.

A survey, conducted by the Energy Star in 2018, concluded AO Smith and Rheem dominate the residential water heaters market in the U.S.

A.O. Smith accounted for 40 percent of residential water heater shipments while Rheem had a share of 33%.

AO Smith vs Rheem residential water heaters market share

Easy to install and Value for money

Statista survey has put A.O. Smith to be the most used water heater brand by construction firms in the United States in 2018. In the same report, 10.6 percent of the respondents used Rheem brand water heaters.

Brand of water heater used the most by construction firms in the United States in 2018

Brand of water heater used the most by construction firms

Alternatively, we have checked out the popularity of both brands from the perspective of water heaters in Google Trends.

It seems that ordinary people google for Rheem more frequently rather than A.O. Smith. Over the last year, customers searched extensively for A.O. Smith recalls and water heater reviews and Rheem top searches were related to tech support.