Bradford White Vs. Rheem: Which Water Heater Is Better?

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

There will come a time for all of us when our water heater bites the dust. It may be a subtle decline over the years or it may come on suddenly. Regardless of how it happens, it will happen someday and you will have no choice but to replace the unit.

Two of the most reputable brands for water heaters are Bradford White and Rheem. But how do the two stack up against one another? For a powerful, efficient, durable water heater, Bradford White is the choice. If you want a water heater that has modern functionality and competitive pricing, Rheem would be the way to go.

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Bradford White vs. Rheem

While there are more than a few manufacturers to choose from, Rheem and Bradford White have established themselves as two of the top brands in the marketplace. If you are looking for a new water heater, there is a good chance you have considered one of these two brands.

But how do they stack up against one another? What are the differences between the two? Here is your guide to Bradford White vs Rheem. Check out Hybrid vs. Tankless Water Heater: What Are The Major Differences?

Bradford White vs. Rheem: Company Overviews

Bradford White and Rheem have been around a long, long time. The former dates back to 1881 with the latter having been founded in 1925. Given their years of experience in the field, it should come as no surprise that they are among the leading brands in the marketplace.

Rheem became most notable in 1931, however. They gave their brand a major boost by introducing the first automatic gas storage heater, which would become a staple for decades to come. In a market where competitors can all seem similar, Rheem had managed to distance itself for at least the time being.

What are the Major Differences?

Both brands produce water heaters, so they have an inherent similarity right from the jump. But what are the major differences between the two brands? These differences can be key, especially considering that both have a wide, diverse list of products.

Both brands offer gas and electric models. They even have tankless water heaters, meaning they appeal to just about every aspect of the water heater market. On the surface, it seems like there really aren’t many differences.

Bradford White, however, is only produced for retail distribution. Their products are pretty easy to assemble and install. Rheem, on the other hand, also makes commercial products. Their water heaters may require the intervention of a professional to successfully install.

What Products Do They Offer?

Both lines have managed to create a diverse set of products in their time. They both have a plethora of offerings for commercial and residential heating. As mentioned above, they both have gas and electric models available as well as tank and tankless options.

That said, the two are not completely similar. Rheem, for instance, offers products for cooling whereas Bradford White makes units that are exclusively meant for heating. Rheem also has spas, pool heating, and even home generators as well as products meant to improve indoor air quality.

Bradford White offers indirectly powered, solar, and oil models of water heater as well. Rheem, meanwhile, makes just about any kind of water heater that you can image. Propane, gas, electric, hybrid, solar, and indirect are all offered by Rheem.

How Does Their Durability Compare?

Since the water heater is one of the most expensive parts of your home, it is important to choose one that will stand the test of time. We want value out of our water heaters more than anything else. That is where Bradford White excels.

Bradford White is considered to be perhaps the most durable out on the market today. They have a variety of features that have been well-thought out, allowing them to stand up to the wear and tear that comes with regular use.

That’s not to say that Rheem water heaters are not durable in their own right. The tanks are of a thicker construction, protecting against potential external damage. That said there are fewer special features compared to Bradford White that specifically limit wear and tear. Still, Rheem has their Marathon heater that won’t corrode or rust, though it comes with a major price tag.

Comparing Efficiency

More and more, water heaters (and other appliances) need to be efficient. That is to keep energy use down, which in turn lowers utility bills. The good news is that both produce highly energy-efficient water heaters.

When handing out an edge, though, Bradford White stands tallest. Bradford White has a Total Performance System that not only keeps water hotter for longer, but actually improves the overall energy efficiency of the unit. It also reduces sentiment buildup, helping the unit last longer while improving efficiency.

Rheem also has its own offerings for energy-efficient units, including solar-powered and hybrid models. The hybrid model in particular has a number of features that help to reduce energy use. Energy use tracking, vacation or away mode, EcoNet Wi-Fi connectivity, and more give Rheem the technological advantage.

Both options are efficient, with Rheem gaining the edge for technical innovation. But when push comes to shove, Bradford White is the more efficient of the two. The gap is small, however, as both have very efficient models available in several different options.

Comparing Pricing

Perhaps the most important aspect to consumers is the price. Most of us operate on a budget and can’t afford to purchase a top-of-the-line water heater. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for a more budget-friendly option.

Rheem tends to have the most affordable price offerings out there. That is because they are primarily made in Mexico and tend to get distrusted through wholesalers (Walmart, Costco, etc.). That not only gives them a greater reach in terms of exposure, but makes them a more effective option for

Bradford White, meanwhile, are generally quite a bit more expensive. That is at least in part because they are manufactured in the United States and because they are not offered at wholesalers. That said, you definitely get what you pay for when you go with Bradford White.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater?

Water heaters are generally pretty durable and can last for quite a long time. That said, when they are beginning to fail, there will be certain symptoms that arise. Depending on the frequency and severity, you may be able to wait a bit before replacing your water heater.

There are a few signs in particular that you should look out for that may indicate it is time to swap out the old unit with a new one.

The Water Heater is Old

Even the highest quality items won’t last forever. A water heater is built to last but there is still a shelf life, especially given the frequent use that it undertakes. The clearest sign that you may need to replace the water heater is simply that it is getting up there in years.

Water heaters have a predicted life expectancy of ten years, but that is generally the outlier. Really, you can expect to get anywhere between six and eight years out of your water heater. With higher-end models like Bradford White, you may reasonably exceed that ten-year mark by quite a bit.

Water Looks Rusty

Perhaps your water is no longer as crystal clear as it once was. You may notice a brownish hue to your water as well. Most water heaters are constructed of steel, which is one of the most durable materials out there. But it does have a weakness and that weakness’ name is rust.

Corrosion can take hold of steel surfaces over time, spreading throughout and slowly eating away at the steel. When it comes to tanks and pipes made of steel, rusting is a major warning sign of leaks. And when you start seeing leaks, it is time to replace your water heater immediately.

Water Heater is Making Noises

For the most part, your water heater should be relatively quiet. But as the water heater ages, you may start to hear more and more noises. Those noises will get louder as the tank heats up. In homes that consume more water, the problem will become even further pronounced.

The noise can be due to sediment buildup as well. Over time, that sediment will grow both thicker and harder, bogging down the water heater. That leads to not only accelerated damage, but actually reduces the efficiency of the unit as well.

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Bradford White vs. Rheem: What’s the Pick?

You really cannot go wrong with either option. Both produce highly durable, efficient water heaters in a wide array of choices. They have established themselves as leaders in the industry for a reason and the differences are small.

If you are looking for a more cost-effective option, Rheem is the choice. Their water heaters are both durable and offer a plethora of tech-friendly features that appeal to the modern user. Being able to set energy-efficient options is another major perk for Rheem water heaters.

Bradford White, on the other hand, is one of the most durable and efficient water heaters that money can buy. Yes, the cost is higher, but you know that you are getting a water heater that is going to stand the test of time. Their anti-wear and tear features help them hold up against regular use far longer than most others.

It will likely come down to budget at the end of the day. If you have a little more to spend, Bradford White would be the pick. For those looking at quality on a friendlier budget, Rheem is the clear choice.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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