Smart Water Heaters Buying Guide

smart water heater

This digital age of smartphones and apps has created a trend towards the “smart home,” in which different appliances and systems are digitally connected for better control and efficiency. Among refrigerators, thermostats, lighting systems, and more, even the humble water heater has not been immune to this trend. Plumbing innovations have led to energy smart water heaters that can be controlled easily and intuitively, without the need to traipse to the basement or garage. In such a new and emerging market, it can be hard to know what type of water heater to purchase. That’s why our team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Bay Area has compiled a list of some of the top names in smart hot water heater technology.

Aquanta: The Nest of Water Heaters?

A thermostat used to just be a thermostat, until Nest came along and revolutionized the way we think about air conditioning and heating. Like Nest, Aquanta works in conjunction with your existing water heating system to optimize performance, save energy, and give you access via an app on your phone. It includes a sensor to measure the energy being used as well as the water levels within the tank, and connects to your home wifi network, with needed information accessible from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Traditional water heaters are designed to keep a tank full of hot water heated constantly, even though most households only use hot water a few hours each day, causing a huge waste in energy through standby heat loss. Aquanta monitors your water heater’s energy use against your household’s hot water use and adjusts to save energy. The Aquanta costs $150, making it a little pricier than other options, but this wifi water heater is a strong consumer favorite. Installation can be complex, and you are encouraged to contact a professional plumber to get the job done right.

Rheem EcoNet Wink System

At just $89.99, the Rheem EcoNet wifi module is a more affordable option for those seeking a simpler energy-smart hot water heater option. Among its features is built-in leak detection, which will send an alert to your phone when a leak is detected, no matter where you are. It also enables you to activate “vacation mode” remotely, so that you don’t have to waste energy heating water you won’t use while out of town.

The EcoNet Wink smart water heater is just one element of a line of Wink products design to connect HVAC and other household systems. The separate Wink Hub is not needed for the water heater system to function properly, and the device is only compatible with certain latest generation water heaters manufactured by Rheem.

Control-R Wifi Module

Control-R is a smart tankless water heater system produced by Rinnai that combines the ease and convenience of a wifi-connected water heater with the energy-saving power of going tankless. Once you’re connected via the free app, Control-R allows you to monitor and adjust the water temperature remotely, and start heating water at the push of a button. It also includes diagnostic and monitoring features that ensure you are the first to know if anything goes wrong with your water heating system.

More advanced options include the ability to activate circulation remotely. While the simplest version of the model is around $100, those with advanced features can quickly add up to $300 or even $500. Like the Rheem module, the Control-R is only compatible with newer models of tankless water heaters produced by the same manufacturer, Rinnai.

Connecting Your Water Heater to the Internet of Things

If you are considering connecting your water heater as part of a smart home, it’s important to consider what features are most important to you – are you worried about leaks? Want to save on energy costs? Control your water temperature remotely? Aquanta is a market favorite for wifi-connected water heating control that is compatible with most existing water heaters, but if you want to replace the water heater itself, an on-brand module might be the way to go. If your water heater is still relatively new, find out if the manufacturer offers its own compatible system, or ask our professional team at Ben Franklin Plumbing to help.

If you’re ready to bring your home connectivity to a new level with a smart water heater, make sure to reach out to a qualified and experienced plumber to avoid costly mistakes.