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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

Meet the Two Types of Hybrid Water Heaters


Today people often associate the word hybrid with hybrid electric cars that combine a combustion engine with electrical power. Hybrid is also a description for a type of water heater. Two types, actually, both of which offer specific benefits for homes. Not every home is suited for one of these hybrid water heaters, but we strongly recommend customers who are looking into water heaters in Winnetka, IL for a new installation consider the possibility of installing one.

Ah, but which one? Let’s look closer at the two water heaters that fall under the “hybrid” name.

The Tank-and-Tankless Water Heater

The first type of hybrid water heater is a hybrid of the conventional storage-tank water heater and the tankless water heater. 

Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular in homes. They work “on-demand,” only heating water when a tap turns on in the house requesting hot water, and not storing water supply in a tank. This helps tankless water heaters save energy since they don’t need to constantly replace the heat lost from the tank. However, a tankless water heater can be overwhelmed with too much demand placed on it, leading to a drop in its energy efficiency.

This is where the hybrid water heater excels: it’s essentially a tankless water heater with a small backup tank of pre-heated water. If the water heater starts to lose efficiency from excess demand, the backup tank activates to help. A hybrid will cost more to run than a tankless water heater because it must expend energy on the backup tank, but it still uses significantly less energy than conventional tank water heaters. 

The Heat Pump Water Heater

The second hybrid water heater is more common. It merges a standard storage-tank water heater with a heat pump. 

You probably think of heat pumps as devices used to provide either heated or cooled air to a house. But heat pump technology can also be applied to a tank of water. Rather than using natural gas burners or in-tank electrical heating elements to raise the temperature of the water, a heat pump water heater extracts heat energy from the air around the water heater and releases it into the tank through a heat exchanger. This is a great option for an all-electric household since a heat pump uses much less electrical energy than a conventional electric water heater.

The drawback to a heat pump water heater is that the unit needs to have access to air that’s warm enough for it to easily remove heat from it so it can move it into the tank. This makes this type of water heater less than ideal if it’s located in an unheated part of a house, such as a garage or a basement. 

Choosing the Right Water Heater

You may already have an idea which type of hybrid water heater would be better for your house. The best way to know for certain is to work with our water heater experts. We can help you choose the model that will meet your household’s hot water demands while also reducing your energy bills. 

Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. serves the Northshore and Northwest Chicagoland. Schedule water heater service with us today.

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