Natural gas and propane (LP gas) water heaters are very similar in their operation and efficiency. However, the two fuels have different characteristics and they cannot be used interchangeably in the same unit. Consequently, all of the major manufacturers of gas water heaters make both natural gas and propane versions of each of their models.
Conventional storage tank propane water heaters are the cheapest propane models on the market, but they are very inefficient. During this time of higher energy prices and global warming, higher efficiency models are becoming more and more popular. These models are more expensive than the traditional tank-style units, and to encourage the purchase of these Best propane tankless models the US government has provided money-saving incentives. These incentives take the form of a 30% tax credit that applies to both the purchase price and the installation costs of Energy Star qualified models, up to a maximum of $1,500.
Excellent high efficiency tank models are made by Rheem, AO Smith and Bradford White. These units have more efficient burners than conventional tank models, and have much thicker insulation around the tank. Some models also have heat traps, and have eliminated the energy wastage of a pilot light, by including an electronic direct spark ignition system. Many high efficiency models also incorporate features that increase their lifespan, and several have 12 year warranties.
Propane tankless (on demand) units are about 20% more efficient than high efficiency tank models, and are more eco friendly. Their high efficiency and low level of harmful emissions is partly due to their very precise, microprocessor controlled combustion systems. However, the major improvement in efficiency is due to the complete elimination of the standby heat losses that tank waters are subject to. Tankless models have the added advantage of being able to provide an endless supply of hot water, and they also have a much longer life expectancy than tank units.
If you are looking for a propane tankless water heater, you should consider models by Noritz, Rheem, Bosch, Rinnai and Takagi. These manufacturers make several models that qualify for Energy Star tankless water heater tax credits.
Until recently gas water heaters have not been able to achieve efficiency levels of over 85%. This has been due to the wastage of heat in the flue gases that are vented into the atmosphere. In the past couple of years, however, gas condensing water heater models with efficiencies between 90% and 98% have appeared on the market. Both tank and tankless propane condensing models are now available. They are able to harness the heat in the exhaust gases and utilize it in the water heating process. These models also produce very low environmentally harmful NOx and carbon emissions, and they have a life expectancy of over 20 years.
Recommended tank-style condensing models are the Vertex, Phoenix and Polaris units. The best tankless condensing models are made by Navien, Takagi, Noritz and Bosch. These water heaters can cut your water heating bill by up to 40%. The 30% Energy Star water heater tax credit is not capped at $1,500 for these models.