The Voltex AO Smith hybrid water heater uses hybrid technology to deliver massive savings and excellent benefits to homeowners.
These benefits include water heating, as well as dehumidifying and cooling the surrounding air.
In this article, we’ll review both the positives and the (minimal) negatives of the Voltex heat pumps manufactured by AO Smith.
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Why Is The AO Smith Hybrid Water Heater Better?
The Voltex series of hybrid water heaters use both a heat pump that is integrated into the top of the tank and electric heating elements. The primary method used for heating water efficiently is via the heat pump, while two electric heating elements are used for faster hot water recovery and as a backup.
The models in the HPTU series are capable of using dual voltages, enabling them to operate using either 240 volts or 208 volts.
The combination hybrid water heating system makes the AO Smith heat pump water heaters ultra-efficient, while the added storage allows for plenty of hot water to be supplied in high demand scenarios. This type of design reduces operating costs dramatically and the Voltex range can achieve energy savings of up to 70%.
The main difference between Voltex water heaters from AO Smith and water heaters from other manufacturers is that they are available in three sizes, while most others are only available in one size. The Voltex range also utilizes higher capacity storage tanks than what the main competitors such as Rheem and the GeoSpring from GE do.
AO Smith electric heat pumps are available with tank sizes of 80, 66, and 50 gallons, making it possible to serve up to 5 showers used at the same time. With a maximum energy factor of 3.42, these units are extremely efficient and are Energy Star approved.
According to AO Smith, Voltex water heaters can provides energy cost savings of around $350 per annum, or $3,500 during the warranty period of 10 years.
Money Saving Heat Pump Flexibility
The Voltex series of water heaters have four operating modes that help maximize savings and efficiency. These modes are used for different climates and hot water demand scenarios:
Hybrid mode – The water heater will use the heat pump for efficiency, while the heating elements will be utilized to cater for high hot water demand to provide faster recovery.
High-Efficiency mode – The water heater will only use the heat pump for water heating, thereby providing maximum efficiency.
Vacation mode – This operating mode is used during periods with little or no demand for hot water, like being on vacation. During this time, the unit will be more inactive than active, and it will reduce the operating costs to a minimum, while still protecting the heater against freezing on cold days and nights.
Electric mode – In this mode, only the heating elements are used. During periods of extreme cold, it is recommended that only the electric powered heating elements are used, as the heat pump is not very efficient during such times.
The AO Smith hybrid water heater contains two electric elements – an upper 4.5 kW element and a lower 2 kW element. Both of these elements are protected against dry firing.
Voltex water heaters by AO Smith are classified as “green” products. Not only do they use environmentally friendly refrigerant, but they also provide high efficient heating, resulting in less waste.
Heat pumps typically provide the same amount of hot water than what traditional tank-type models do and they are suitable for use by families of four or more. Their operating costs are however substantially lower than that of traditional tank-type models.
The AO Smith heat pump water heater makes use of computerized systems that makes usage safer, very reliable, and more convenient.
Users have access to diagnostics tools complete with error codes, mode selection, temperature control, and several other features via the control panel’s push-buttons and its big LCD display.
The LCD display shows an icon that indicates whether the heat-pump or heating elements are functioning, displays the efficiency status, the mode indicator, the temperature set point in C or F, and the panel lock icon.
In general, the customer reviews for these hybrid water heaters are positive and customers are happy with their quality, longevity, performance and cost savings.
Two of the complaints found in customer reviews of the AO Smith Voltex are high upfront costs and the noise.
While it is true that the units are relatively expensive compared to other models, the unit will pay for itself in about two to four years, based on information supplied by the manufacturer and energy saving claims.
The noise complaint was mostly made by users who had the heat pump installed either in a garage, or in a closet close to the bedroom.
Another customer was surprised that the energy savings in winter was much less than they has expected. Closer investigation revealed that they lived on the border between colder and warmer climates, resulting in the unit switching over to electric mode more often than they had expected. The heat pump mode is more efficient, but only when the outside temperature is not too cold. His advice was to install the unit in a garage rather that outdoors to maximize the efficiency.
Interestingly enough, one customer complained about how long it took for the hot water to reach the shower. This is a function of the length of water pipes between the heater and the appliance, and it would be the same for traditional tank-type models.
Summary Of The AO Smith Hybrid Water Heater
AN AO Smith hybrid water heater is an ideal choice for bigger families, where electricity can be used as a power source. Although these models tend to be more expensive than electric-only models, they are more efficient, resulting in substantial energy cost savings.
Depending on your location, you may also be eligible for federal tax breaks and/or utility company rebates. AO Smith hybrid water heaters are the only models that have Energy Star approval and have increased thermal efficiency.
Its footprint is similar to standard models from various manufacturers, and installation is fairly straightforward. It can provide an added benefit when installed in a space with a higher temperature, such as attics, or technical rooms with furnaces or boilers, as it cools and dehumidifies the surrounding air.
Choose The Best Model For Your Home
The AO Smith electric heat pump water heater is available in six models known as the Proline XE series. FPTU models come with a 6-year warranty, while HPTU models come with a 10-year warranty.
AO Smith Hybrid Water Heater 50-Gallon Voltex® Electric Heat Pump FPTU-50
Voltex® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump 50-Gallon Water Heater (shown right) is also available in these sizes:
FPTU-66 – 66 gallons (currently not available)
All three models have a 6 year warranty.
AO Smith 50 Gallon Model FPTU-50 Heat Pump – Click Here
AO Smith Voltex® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump 50-Gallon Water Heater HPTU-50
The AO Smith 50 Gallon Model HPTU-50N (shown right) and the other two models listed below have a 10 year warranty.
These other sizes are available:
Model HPTU-66N – 66 gallons
Model HPTU-80N – 80 gallons
AO Smith 50 Gallon Model HPTU-50N Heat Pump – Click Here
Here is my article on the 75 gallon A.O. Smith gas water heater for 5+ people.
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