What is a Hybrid Water Heater? Your Homeowners Guide

What is a hybrid water heater

What is a Hybrid Water Heater, you ask?

A hybrid water heater is just another name for a heat pump water heater.

It’s called a hybrid as it takes everything we love about a water heater (apart from the tank) and combines it with the energy efficiency benefits of a heat pump.

If you live in the warmer parts of the US and some parts of Canada, and most of your appliances are electric and not powered by gas, a hybrid water heater might be the perfect solution for your hot water needs.

Here’s what you need to know about hybrid water heaters to make an informed decision for yourself and your family.

⭐ How Does a Hybrid Water Heater Work?

Hybrid Water Heater Schematic
Hybrid Water Heater Schematic

A hybrid water heater works by using a combination of traditional heating methods (such as electric or gas) and heat pump technology to heat water.

The heat pump technology uses a refrigerant to absorb heat from the surrounding air or ground and transfer it to a heat exchanger, providing an additional source of heat.

The heat exchanger heats water to your desired temperature before moving it into a heater tank ready for use.

Though when the demand for hot water is high, it uses traditional heating methods such as electric resistance heating to ensure the flow of hot water.

The hybrid water heater also has a control system that monitors the temperature of the water and adjusts the heating methods accordingly, using the most efficient and cost-effective method to heat the water.

Some hybrid water heaters also have the ability to use solar energy as a supplementary source of heat.

Overall, a hybrid heat pump water heater provides more efficient and cost-effective water heating than traditional water heaters.

According to the US Department of Energy, water heating (1) is the second-largest expense in an average US residential home.

This equates to 14 – 18% of their utility bill on heating water.

To understand how a heat pump works in more detail, you should check out this article: How Does a Heat Pump Work?

⭐ Advantages of a Heat Pump Water Heater

Hybrid water heater being tested
CC Image by oakridgelabnews via Flickr.

✔️ Heat Pump Water Heaters are Highly Energy Efficient

In heat pump mode, they don’t produce heat energy; they only transfer it.

Under the right conditions, a heat pump can transfer more than 300% more energy (2) than it consumes.

The additional heating also uses electricity which is 100% efficient.

Making the hybrid package very attractive for those in warmer climates who want to be more environmentally conscious by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money, of course!

✔️ Reliability

Hybrid water heaters are built to last and, in some cases, can last more than twice as long as a traditional water heater with proper maintenance.

This helps with the disadvantage of high upfront costs by saving you money over the long run.

Most manufacturers also give generous warranty packages.

✔️ Easy Installation

If you are upgrading your current standard water heater to a hybrid heater and you already have electricity in your home, it’s an easy installation.

You don’t need anything extra to handle the demands of this type of water heater.

✔️ Versatility

Heat pump water heaters can be used in various settings and installed indoors or outdoors.

✔️ Quiet Operation

Heat pump water heaters are known for their quiet operation compared to traditional water heaters.

✔️ Cost Savings

Because heat pump water heaters are more energy efficient, they can save money on utility bills over time.

⭐ Disadvantages of Heat Pump Water Heaters

commercial heat pump water heaters
Commercial Hybrid Water Heaters

❌ Upfront Cost

The cost of a new heat pump water heater can be more expensive than traditional water heaters.

Generally, a hybrid water heater will cost you approximately $2500 USD (3) with installation.

However, since it’s more efficient than its counterparts, you save that money and more over the water heater’s lifetime.

❌ Increased Size

The size of a hybrid water heater takes up more space than a traditional water heater or tankless water heaters.

If space is a problem for you, tankless water heaters would be a better option.

You also need at least 1000 cubic feet (28.3 cubic meters) of open-air space around your heat pump water heater.

Before installation, double-check the dimensions of the hybrid water heater you want and the final installation area.

Related Reading: Tank vs Tankless Water Heater: The Great Water Heater Debate

❌ Performance Based on Location

Hybrid hot water heaters work best in a warm climate where the temperature range is typically 40°F – 90°F year-round. That’s 4.4°C to 32.2°C for our Canadian friends. 

An ideal spot for a location is a basement near a furnace where it’s nice and warm in winter.

❌ Not Running in Hybrid Mode

The heat pump function is part of what makes a hybrid water heater an attractive money-saving option.

Though if it’s not set correctly during installation, it will consume more electricity to heat the water since it’s acting more like a traditional gas heater or electric water heater.

❌ Limited Hot Water Capacity

Heat pump water heaters may not be able to produce as much hot water as tankless water heaters, so they may not be suitable for large households or commercial settings with high hot water demand.

⭐ How Much Does it Cost to Install a Hybrid Water Heater?

The cost to install a hybrid water heater will vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the water heater, the location and accessibility of the installation area, and the type of fuel used (electric or gas).

In general, the cost to install a hybrid water heater ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, with an average cost of around $2,250.

This cost includes the price of the water heater and the labor costs for installation.

It is always recommended to get quotes from multiple contractors to compare prices and find the best deal.

⭐ Conclusion

heat pump water heater

Overall, while heat pump water heaters have many benefits, their initial cost, dependence on ambient temperature, lack of backup heating source, and limited hot water capacity may be disadvantages for some users.

Hopefully, we helped you decide what type of hot water heater is best for your home if you are in the market for a new hybrid water heater.

Talk to your local plumber and see what deals they can give you on a new water heater.

Your average water heater lasts 10 – 15 years and can leave a big mess if it fails.

So do your research and find the one best suited to your home and your family’s needs.

If you live in the North or Central Okanagan region, give Phyxter Home Services a call.

Phyxter provides a range of residential plumbing services.

We specialize in helping homeowners get the best efficiency out of their homes, and we do it while providing the best customer service experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions


1. US Department of Energy, Reduce Hot Water Use for Energy Savings, retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings

2.  Trane, Which Heating System Is Right For You?, retrieved from https://www.trane.com/residential/en/resources/blog/heat-pump-vs-furnace-what-heating-system-is-right-for-you

3. Homeadvisor, How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Heater?, retrieved from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/plumbing/install-a-water-heater/

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

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Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

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