Heat pump water heater installation

We're looking to replace our nearly 20-year old (!) gas water heater and are considering either electric or electric heat pump ("hybrid") water heater since we also have solar. Our water heater is in the garage so space is not an issue, and we shouldn't need an electrical upgrade. Does anyone have any experiences or recommendations with making the switch to electric water heater, particularly to heat pump water heater? Did you purchase it directly (e.g., from Lowe's or Home Depot) and used their installation contractor, or went through a water heater contractor? Any specific recommendations would be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks so much!

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We installed a heat pump water heater about two years ago and used a local HVAC company since at the time our go-to plumber was not installing them given the electrical work required (though now that they are more popular, he is doing some). It was pricey and probably would have been wiser to buy it directly and use a third party installer, but at the time our 25-year-old heater had failed, it was mid-pandemic, and we needed someone to do the work as soon as possible. Some lessons learned: our water heater technically has an app but it doesn't do much, and specifically it doesn't allow us to control when the heater heats the water. I would LOVE to be able to set it to wait until the rates drop to bring the water back to temperature after evening showers. (We are moving to solar soon so maybe that's less important then?) Some models offer this, though--wish we had known to ask for it. (Ours does allow us to manually put it on vacation mode, switch between hybrid and electric mode, etc.) It is also incredibly loud--we put it in our basement where the old one was, but should have put it in the garage because you can hear it throughout the house when it is on. (Sound is similar to an a/c unit, which makes sense but which we weren't prepared for.) We have a 66-gallon tank for a household of four and do run out of water when we have three back-to-back showers. I have heard that gas on-demand heaters can handle that better. One solution is apparently to have a temperature mixer in line with the heater so that you can keep the tank at a higher temperature and then bring it down to 120 degrees before feeding it into the house (thereby using less of the tank water for each gallon of hot water needed). Something to ask your installer about. I will say that energy-wise it has been terrific--barely affected our electric bill at all. It is nice to be less reliant on gas--we did look at on-demand electric heaters but at the time, they were not well reviewed.

I had a fantastic experience with A-1 Heating and Cooling

I just realized my gas water heater is also 20 years old when the plumber came over to unclog a drain. He quoted me approx $7k to replace it with a 40 gal heat pump. I looked up pg&e's website for rebates, and they were linking to heat pumps that were more like $2500 with a $500 rebate. I haven't decided to do it yet, nor compared exact specs, but it sure seems like the home depot option will be much cheaper!

A few considerations:

Remember that there is a $2,000 federal tax credit you can take for a heat pump water heater starting this year.

You can also get a $1k rebate through BayREN, but ONLY if you use one of their authorized/trained contractors (there are a lot of them).  I believe the contractor takes care of submitting for the rebate9and might charge a very small amount for that service), but the check is made out to you. https://www.bayren.org/hp-water-heaters

Depending on who supplies you electricity, you may be entitled to additional rebates as well.  For example, EBCE is offering another $1k last time I checked (this one goes to the contractor, but they should pass along the savings to you). https://www.bayren.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/2023%20BAYREN%20List%...

It is considerably more expensive, but if you have the means, I suggest you also look at the SanCO2 heat pump water heater.  Is it SUPER quiet (the part that makes any noise at all is outside, and is maximum 36dB - practically inaudible), SUPER efficient (I believe you can even set it to do more of its heating when your solar panels are generating and electricity rates are low), uses only one 15-amp circuit, and uses CO2 instead of the more environmentally damaging refrigerants that are still used in the vast majority of heat pumps (including WH) in the United States (other countries have banned these already, and moved on to somewhat less damaging kinds, but, well, that's years away here). The SanCO2 is also made of stainless steel (no anode rod!), and has a really long warranty.  But it is definitely considerably more costly than other HPWH options.

Just wanted to mention BayREN as a resource: https://www.bayren.org/hp-water-heaters

There are rebates available if you use one of the contractors listed there.  We haven't replaced our water heater yet, but we had a heat pump for HVAC installed with a contractor we found through BayREN and we were happy with the work.