Are AO Smith Water Heaters Any Good? (Explained For Beginners)

Modern Electric Water Heater

It is a tough ask keeping AO Smith from any conversation on water heaters. It has been 82 years since AO Smith introduced itself to the world with its maiden 1939 residential water heater. Is such longevity a hoax? Are AO Smith water heaters still basking on past glory? Are AO smith water heaters any good in the face of the alternatives in the market today?

AO Smith water heaters are arguably the beacons of innovation in the hot water solutions industry. From inventing the first glass-lined tank water heater of its kind in 1953 to creating the famed Blue Diamond™ glass coating, AO Smith water heaters have been raising industry standards back to back. More than their inventiveness, AO Smith water heaters have carved a fantastic reputation for efficiency, durability, and versatility for themselves

Where Are AO Smith Water Heaters Made?

AO Smith Corporation is the parent company behind AO Smith heaters. Founded by Charles Jeremiah Smith in 1874, AO Smith Corporation is essentially an American manufacturer with its water products division’s headquarters situated in Ashland City, Tennessee.

While an American producer, AO smith operates five large manufacturing plants spread across North America. As typical of the global manufacturer it is, AO Smith also operates production facilities in Veldhoven, situated in Southern Netherlands, and a NanJing facility in China’s Jiangsu province.

Do AO Smith Water Heaters Last?

Durability is a strong suit of AO Smith water heaters. Presenting high-quality craftsmanship and superior-grade design, these water heaters last an average of 14 years. When properly maintained and used in adherence to manufacturer prescription, AO Smith water heaters can last up to 20 years of usage. 

Are AO Smith Water Heaters Efficient?

It is no flattery that AO Smith water heaters are some of the most efficient in the market today. The bulk of AO Smith water heaters have bagged Energy Star certifications. 

This certification is a highly reputed energy efficiency hallmark (precisely regarding energy conversion) run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

AO Smith water heaters are streamlined to homeowners keen to minimize energy bills on their hot water solution. The manufacturer offers models suited to high hot water demands from larger households, presenting as high as 150 hot water gallons within the first 60 minutes.

The remarkable energy efficiency from AO Smith heaters also extends to their electric models. Larger models in this category can supply as much as 84 gallons within the first 60 minutes. 

The Cirrex solar range from AO Smith is one of the market leaders in energy efficiency, saving families a gigantic 70% on their energy bills. 

Are AO smith Water Heaters Eco-friendly?

In today’s green-centric world, eco-friendliness is an essential requirement of engineering. AO Smith water heaters are produced in the most environmentally protective way possible (within the ambits of prevailing green technologies).

AO Smith has demonstrated its commitment to minimizing the ecologically disruptive impact of its water heater production processes by optimizing them for minimal carbon emission. This is executed with simultaneous investments in innovative recycling technologies.

Take for example, the recently inaugurated production facility AO Smith operates in China. This facility is furnished with a cutting-edge water purification infrastructure that recycles up to 80% of the facility’s water. 

AO Smith’s zero phosphorus and nitrogen emissions in electrostatic powder coating applications were unprecedented in pressure tank manufacturing.

In all, AO Smith has been relentless in its adherence to ecodesign legislation like the EU’s NOx emission regulations and other top standards from American Research and Development (R&D) Centers.

What Are Some of the Best Features of AO Smith Water Heaters?

For a manufacturer as gluttonous for innovation as AO Smith, it is admittedly hard to determine the best features about their water heater models. Nonetheless, let us talk about the “best-of-the-best” features we have seen from AO Smith water heaters so far.

Anyone conversant with AO Smith water heaters would have no problem picking this feature as a favorite. Characteristic of this producer, AO Smith disrupted the hot water solutions space with its Blue Diamond Glass innovation back in 2004. 

Thanks to this glass lining technology, AO Smith water heaters doubled (compared to rivals) their corrosion and rust protection capacity. Still on corrosion protection, AO Smith models are furnished with CoreGard anode rod. The latter excels at preventing corrosion in the metallic interiors of the water tank.

We also have to reserve applause for AO Smith’s DynaClean technology. This automatic sediment cleaning technology deploys long-lasting dip tubes, reducing the aggregation of sediments from hard water.

Now moving to safety, it is relieving to note that AO Smith water heaters fulfill the Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant requirement. This offers significant protection against flashback fires typical of flammable vapor accidentally spilling close to the water heater.  

Are AO Smith Water Heaters Expensive?

For a manufacturer with AO Smith’s legacy in the water heater space, it wouldn’t be outrageous to milk its celebrity status by making its models expensive. Instead, AO Smith retains the historic modestness of its prices. 

Depending on the model and pack of features, you can have AO Smith electric water heaters going for as low as $300, while their gas heaters can go as high as $7,700. Hybrid AO models can be found in the $1400 region.

What Type of Warranty Do AO Smith Water Heaters Have?

A huge measure of a manufacturer’s confidence in its engineering prowess is the duration of its warranty covers. Very few manufacturers – if any – in the water heater industry has warranty packages as lengthy and comprehensive as that AO Smith offers for its hot water products.

While not existing anymore, AO Smith once bellowed its confidence in its products by giving them a lifetime warranty. At present, AO Smith tankless water heaters enjoy the longest warranty packages, lasting up to 15 years.

AO Smith’s glass-lined tanks are covered with warranty packages, ranging from six to ten years. There is also a 6-year warranty cover for malfunctioning parts. Should your water heater suffer a leak, you stand to get a total replacement from AO Smith.

Of course, you should know certain clauses mitigate the cover. For example, the bulk of AO Smith warranty packages are also valid for single-family residential usage. These warranties are exclusive to first-owners only; therefore, subsequent owners (say from resale) don’t have warranty covers.

In events where AO water heater installations are transferred from their original installation site, AO Smith degrades warranty coverage of 10 years to 3 years and warranty covers of 6 years to 12 months. The same slash applies to heater components.

How Can You Know the Year and Serial Number of Your A.O. Smith Water Heater?

To accurately ascertain the time for replacement, you should be able to tell the age of your water heater. The age is determined mainly from the serial number of that unit. 

The serial number is readily presented on the identification (product information) sticker for AO Smith water heaters. These heaters commonly have such stickers plastered on the warning labels.

Specifically for AO Smith heaters, the serial number is interpreted from an alphanumeric code. The beginning two digits in this code tell you the precise year that AO Smith water heater unit was manufactured.   

Best AO Smith Water Heaters

In this section, we will rigorously examine some of the best AO Smith waters we have used so far, specifically touching on what we love about them and what we feel can yet be improved on. Ready?

1. A.O. Smith ProLine ENL-30 is a Universal Darling

If you want to marry cost-efficiency with functionality, the Proline ENL-30 is almost an inevitable choice. Strutting a 0.90 energy factor, this a ready go-to water heater for families aiming to slash down on electricity bills without sacrificing output.

The ENL-30 has a holding capacity of 28 gallons. Not the biggest you can get, but such capacity can satisfy the hot water demands of a modest family of four (at most).

Installing the ENL-30 is as easy as it gets, with its compactness an added selling point for households seeking to conserve installation space. 

What do we like about the ENL-30?

++ This heater is made of premium-grade stainless steel

++ Significantly lessens buildup thanks to its cross-linked polymer facility

++ It makes a statement of eco-friendliness with its insulated foam

What can be improved on in the ENL 30?

Better resilience needed against heightened temperatures

Improved robustness from pressure release valves

2. A.O. Smith ATI-540H-N Tankless NG Water Heater was a Monster

For bigger families with consequently higher hot water demands, the ATI-540H-N tankless water heater is a ready pick. Distinctive to the AO 540 commercial series, this model’s heat exchanger is girded with a copper alloy of commercial grade.

When we said this model is a monster, we meant every letter. This heater can simultaneously supply hot water (regardless of quantity) to four bathrooms at once! 

It doesn’t disappoint with energy too. This model has a maximum hourly gas usage of 199,000 BTU. Earning its 0.93 energy factor, this model abides by the said EU’s NOx legislation.  

Versatility is another worthy strength of the ATI-540H-N tankless heater. Thanks to its Easy-Link technology, this heater can link up to four secondary units.

AO Smith sufficiently had safety in mind when manufacturing this model. It is supplied with protection facilities against freeze and overheats.

What do we like about the ATI-540H-N tankless?

++ Readily installable both inside and outside your home

++ It is uniquely strong and durable

++ This heater design places a strong emphasis on eco-friendliness

What should be improved on in ATI-540H-N tankless?

This model is relatively noising when in operation

When temperatures drop, the flow sensors have increased flow requirement for activation

3. A.O. Smith Voltex® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater is a Beauty 

The 50-gallon Voltex® hybrid electric heat pump water heater deserves its place on this list. For homeowner fanatic about energy savings, this Voltex model beckons. 

How would we exclude a water heater that can save you as much as 73% of your energy bills? You barely come across hybrid water heaters boasting this Voltex’s 3.45 Uniform Energy Factor.

But there is more. This Voltex is one of the most user-friendly water heaters we have come across. Provided with a digital display, this water heater has far lesser buttons to exert you with. The latter implication of this is substantially downsized hazard risk from wrong usage.

The 50-gallon Voltex® hybrid electric heat pump water heater still impresses when the discussion goes to durability. Equipped with a heavy-duty anode rod, this model is strong and safe enough for the job for up to a decade (at least).

This Voltex has an impressive recovery interval of 66 gallons/hr. This number can be attributed to this heater being fitted with double heating elements. 

What do we like about this Voltex heater?

++ This heater has uncommon energy efficiency. 

++ This Voltext has a superior user-friendly interface

++ It has four energy-saving settings for your relish

What can be improved?

It is a bit noisier than hybrid alternatives in its cost category

Its efficacy appears to drop in colder climes