Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: AO Smith PHPT-80 Residential Electric Water Heater
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Customer Reviews

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on April 29, 2012
I purchased this from Amazon 2 weeks ago because they had the best price and no stores stock this as a grab and go anyway. We intend to use this in heat pump mode only that is the reason we chose the 82 gallon model, the government electric version (Geospring) is only 50 gallons so you can easily find the need to run the expensive inductive heat elements. This water heater is branded "American Water Heater" but is imported from China by A.O. Smith and is also the same as the reliance heat pump model. I did know it was an A.O. smith product but I was unaware that it was made in China. After a quick disappointment I reminded myself that all of my American made water heaters have prematurely failed (6 or 7 years, like a clock), so maybe its time to try something different. Things to keep in mind would include the cold air that it produces; I am in Ca. so it's a good thing but might not be for everyone also the height is over 80 inches so it might not fit in some applications. I would not use this in a residential closet; a garage or large utility room would work much better. The noise is not that bad but I did notice that the filter is too restrictive and has plastic molding flaws that keep the air from moving freely. The noise is greatly reduced when the filter is off so I might call in for a new filter or make a better one on my own. It looks like it draws about 1100 watts when running and after a 15 gallon draw it runs for about 1:20 minutes to get back to 115f, but with 80+ gallons this should work fine for most applications in economy mode only. My stats are approximate but I will update when I have more time with it. Update...(3 months ownership) So far I have only seen a $30 increase in my electric bill vs $75 LP. I am also happy with the heater so far and with the $1000 premium paid over a conventional heater it should be close to a 2 year pay off.
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on February 26, 2013
I don't have gas at my house, so a tankless water heater was not an option. I didn't want to try to go solar nor did I want to install another inefficient water heater in my Phoenix, AZ baking hot (in the summer) garage. I needed 80 gallons for my family of 7. A construction foreman friend of mine suggested I look into hybrid (heat pump) water heaters, and I did. After tons of research, there are really only two 80 gallon hybrids that have both the quality and the right price points on Amazon and other places. One is the AO Smith Voltex and the other is the Stiebel Eltron ACC300 Accelera 300. The Accelera is rated higher and is little more pricey. It's German-manufactured and looks solid, but the extra $$ couldn't swing it for me. AO Smith is a product that is more readily serviced and has a great reputation in recent years for solid water heaters. Pexsupply.com had the AO Smith for $2132 with free shipping and great support, so I made my order through them. I employed a licensed plumber whom I trust for the install for $400. After installation two-weeks ago, I have been very impressed with the unit. I've been running the unit on Efficiency Mode (Heat Pump-only) since initial start up and we have had no issues with heat at any shower for all 7 of us. With a $201 annual electric rating, I am certainly looking forward to seeing this thing pay for itself in about 5 years here in Phoenix. My old 80 gallon had a $587 annual rating. The bonus is that it blows cold air over my garage work bench, and in the summer, that will be a God-send when my garage temps often reach 125 degrees.
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on July 29, 2014
I bought the Whirlpool version of this heat pump water heater chiefly because my power utility gave me a $1500 rebate, that and the $300 tax credit from Uncle Sam brought the price to a reasonable level from the $1900 I paid Lowe's. I spent another $150 on installation supplies and $125 for the vent kit from Pexsupply. I figure with what I have in it the price is the same as if I had bought a basic electric or LP unit. Except this one will run for $200 per year, not $450. A label clearly says Made in Mexico.

I looked at other models such as Stiebel Eltron (too expensive) and the GE Geospring. The GE confused me as I had read every review I could find and wasn't sure if all the problems people had was related to the older gray unit or the new red units (supposively made in the USA). I figured AO Smith has their act together on other types of water heaters so why not this one.

I picked the 80 gallon model so our usage would not drop the water level to the point where the 220v elements would kick in. So the heat pump only re-heats the water. The most efficient way.

This thing is a beast, supposively 410 pounds and is over 7 feet tall! I put it on my flatbed utility trailer and had to use several 2x4's building braces for it. I was not sure it would make it home from Lowes in one piece. Slow and easy driving. At home three of us used an appliance dolley to unload it from the trailer and move it into the room. It doesn't fit under doors too well, you must lay it on its side. Make sure you have a couple helpers. Or better yet, get it delivered.

I put this in a 10'x20' concrete bunker type unfinished, unheated room in my basement. By using this room I had to use a condensate pump, Amazon has lots to choose from. I hooked everything up to the water heater (electricity, condensate lines, water lines) then I cut the water to my old water heater and connected the new lines. Just don't turn the power on before you have water in it and ran the water for several minutes.

These units are suppose to emit air that is about 7 degrees cooler than the ambient air in the room. I was hoping to vent the cool air to the room right above this unfinished space in the summer. During the winter I was going to disconnect the vent and just let it blow in the basement room. The only thing is, this heater doesn't run as often as I thought. I thought by using the heat pump in efficiency mode this thing would be running all the time, all while saving money by using the 110v heat pump rather than the 220v elements. Not so.

By reading other reviews, I had concerns about the noise, I thought OK so it's noisy, it runs all the time, I can handle that in my bunker. I was looking forward to the cool air coming off it and never mind the noise. It's not that big of a deal, I reload ammo in that room and it's not that annoying. The only way I could see where the noise is an issue is if you were watching TV or or visiting with someone while the heater was running. I do not hear the noise upstairs above the unit, and I have wood subfloor and laminate floor.

With 3 adults showering each morning and a load of laundry and dishwater in the evening. (On weekends we have college kids and girlfriends home who take long showers). This thing runs in the morning for 20 or 30 minutes and then for a couple minutes each hour maintaining the heat. I have it set for 120 degrees. I placed a humidity and temp gauge in the room. The temp lowers a couple degrees in the morning and humidity drops a couple %. By afternoon it is back up to the normal 72 degrees in there. Maybe the 60 gallon unit would have worked but this is a large house and the next owners just might have 4 or 5 people living here. We are selling in a year or two.

I am disappointed because I was looking forward to the cool air coming out to cool my first floor, I wanted the lower humidity in the bunker room because my gun safe is kept in there. But I guess that's a good problem to have. The unit does blow cold air but it doesn't run often enough to make it worth cutting a vent hole in my floor to harness the cold air.

I did call tech support to find out why the fan kept making a noise and jumping. I uploaded a video to youtube and tech support watched it, and just said the defrost mode causes the fans to jump like that. So I wondered why defrost was kicking in daily. At first I suspected it was due to the condensate sitting in the pan, I didn't have the unit level. I do now and but defrost mode continued each morning. Even with the unit level condensate sits in the pan, I am wondering if I should tilt it slightly toward the condensate drain lines to keep the pan empty.

I remember reading a review where somebody said the airflow in or out of the unit can not be restricted, otherwise it will freeze the coil. He had bought the outlet vent kit to capture the cool air. He concluded the inlet filter is too restrictive and after removing it the freezing of the coil stopped. When the coil freezes, it shuts off and kicks in the defrost mode. I tried that, I removed the inlet filter and this morning the coil did not freeze, so no defrosting occured. It was not related to the water in the condensate pan. I will attempt to wrap a thin furnace filter around the inlet to see what happens, it needs a filter of some sort.

Even with these little hiccups this thing is a dream on energy efficiency, I highly recommend it for anyone who can cost justify it. As i said, without the rebate from my power company i would not have purchased it.

Will update review as necessary.
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on June 9, 2015
We installed this in our 5 bedroom lakefront vacation home in the Sierra foothills in 2010, replacing an electric heater that was long out of warranty and soon to fail. Local utility tiered rates mean any electric efficiency you can muster will result in savings of electricity that is costing you 37.5 cents per kwh so the savings impact is multiplied by a factor of 3 to 4, There is no gas, LP was not an appealing option, and house is on the north slope of a hill surrounded by trees so solar is not an option. We've had up to 16 people at a time at the house and have never run out of hot water, never had a problem. Unit was professionally installed, costs were higher due to the need to reconfigure some plumbing lines and install a drain line for condensate. We set at energy efficient mode at all times to keep the electric resistance backup from kicking in. Installation required helpers due to size & weight, unit was shipped directly to the house. Unit is noisy as described but that is OK if installed in a garage. We set temp at 140 to inhibit growths and use a step down / scald prevention valve to deliver water to the house at about 120. House is also used as a vacation rental and has provided reliable use and endless hot water at the lowest possible cost for the site. Be sure to clean the intake filter regularly, it will gather dust and make the heat pump work harder than it should.
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on February 11, 2015
This thing is a gold mine! I always operate on efficiency mode and I have had no problems or complaints of running out of hot water. I never run out with a 120 degree setting in the winter and 110 in the summer. I just started with a low temperature setting and kept raising it until no member of the family complained anymore. The water heater only turns on when there is a large water draw (shower only, even dishwasher or high-efficiency washing machine is not typically enough). After everybody takes their evening showers it cranks away from about 7pm to about 1am and will not turn on again until the next day unless there is a morning shower (it only runs about half as long in the summer time since my water supply from the tower is warmer in the summer and the heat pump is more efficient in a hot garage compared to a cool garage). It is VERY LOUD. Louder than any appliance except maybe the heat pump outside. It sounds like a really loud window air conditioner or slightly quieter than a vacuum cleaner. I have the water heater in my garage so it doesn't really matter that my garage is loud. I can't really see a location that works for this thing other than a garage or an isolated utility room. It is just too loud; you would not want this thing near a bedroom. You also need an open space that has at least 750 cubic feet of air (10ft x 10ft x 7.5ft, for example) or else you need ductwork to an open space to remove heat and vent cold air. Per the manual, ambient air temperature must be above 45 degrees and less than 109 degrees or it will not operate in efficiency mode (it will make hot water, it just uses the heating element instead of the heat pump). I heard the heat pump turn on every day this winter but I had to keep my garage door closed. Consider the noise and temperature constraints when you are locating this machine. An attic would frequently be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter for maximum efficiency, for example. It is HEAVY and ENORMOUS. Plan on over 7 ft tall and over 300 pounds. Don't plan on taking advantage of all the cool air because you probably won't have as much as you think and it will probably not be producing cool air when you want cool air; I get lots of cool air on winter nights but not much during a summer afternoon. If you want cool air for some reason (working in the garage, for example), you just momentarily adjust the temperature to 130 degrees and it will make hot water and cool air for a while, you just have to remember to set the temperature back when you are done (push of a button). It will make as much cold air as a typical window unit until it reaches the temperature setting. The touch screen has little functionality; you can change the operating modes and the temperature, that's it. The machine is very well insulated. I have never heard this thing turn on to make up for ambient losses; it only turns on during a large hot water draw. Do not install a timer like some people do with the old electric units; the powered anode (corrosion inhibitor) requires a tiny amount of electricity at all times. You will need a place for the condensate to drain; my unit drains to the outside through my wall. The condensate drains from the coils onto a flat plan with a poorly designed drain hole which is about an eighth of an inch above the pan. My solution was to use some composite shims ($2 at local home improvement store) to tilt the whole machine slightly (do this before it is full of water). This allows the water to drain out better. I found this machine locally for $1725 but make sure they deliver; it is worth it for this beast.

Bottom line: You must have a suitable location. That said, it makes a huge amount of cheap hot water. This thing is a gold mine!
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on September 18, 2013
we were shocked to see how loud it was on economy mode. Loud enough to have us be sorry we purchased it.
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on December 29, 2014
$2,700 sure is a whole lot of money. Is this unit a money saver, truly? For $2,700 (!) you could upraise your home's electrical panel substantially, then install an electric tankless ($400) to get endless hot water, and those last the life of your home. They never break. For $2,700 you could even do a solar or a gas tankless system. Wouldn't almost anything be a better deal financially (and efficiency-wise) than this? Call me naive, but... This is a whole lot of money for a unit that probably won't last past 12 or 15 years.
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