How much does it cost to install a 50-gallon water heater?
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50-Gallon Water Heater Cost Guide
Updated: November 21, 2022
Water heaters are integral parts of every home. They supply the hot water you need to bathe, cook, clean, and wash your clothes. Water heaters come in many types and styles, with the tank-style heater being one of the most common and least expensive to install. With a tank-style heater, you store water to be used as you need it. 50-gallon water heaters hold 50 gallons of hot water, dispensing it as needed. This heater size is ideal for 3-to-5 person households with moderate hot water needs. These heaters can be fueled by electricity, gas, liquid propane, or solar energy and installed in many areas. Over the last two years, water heater costs have risen 50% to 60% and are expected to continue rising a minimum of 12% in January of 2023, with the potential for higher costs. This is due to several issues, including supply chain breakdown, rising part costs, and new HVAC regulations in 2023, causing suppliers and plumbers to raise rates.
The national average cost to replace a 50-gallon water heater is $1,400 to $3,100, with most people paying $2,250 for a direct replacement of a 50-gallon gas water heater with a standard energy-efficiency factor. This project’s low cost is $970 for a 50-gallon electric water heater replacement in an open-and-easily accessible area. The high cost is $6,500 for replacing a basic water heater with a 50-gallon solar water heater with gas backup, fully installed with roof panels and an indoor tank.
50-Gallon Water Heater Cost Calculator
50-gallon water heaters are designed for households of 3 to 5 people with moderate hot water needs. These tank-style heaters can be powered by electricity, gas, propane, or solar energy. Water heaters powered by gas or propane are available in many efficiencies, making them less expensive to run but increasing their initial cost. Solar water heaters and units that can use a dual exchange system to run on gas or electricity as a backup can have the highest efficiencies and costs. Efficiency, fuel type, and replacement location impact your final costs. Below are the costs for 50-gallon water heaters with different qualities.
Electric water heaters are the least expensive to purchase and install, but they can be more costly to run long-term. Gas and propane heaters cost less to run but more to install. Gas and propane heaters also come in varying efficiencies, increasing their initial setup costs but decreasing long-term costs. This can mean the cost to replace a 50 gallon electric water heater is lower than the average cost to replace a 50 gallon water heater, but monthly costs for that electric system are higher. Solar systems cost the most to purchase and install, requiring additional equipment and installation parameters. Installation can be impacted by how difficult it is to install and how easy the area is to access, with hard-to-reach areas raising labor costs.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Energy-Efficient 50-Gallon Water Heater
Water heaters are typically given an Energy Factor (EF) or Uniform Energy Factor (UEF). To be considered high efficiency or receive an Energy Star rating, an electric water heater needs a UEF of more than 2.2, while a gas-fired unit needs a minimum UEF of 0.64 until April 2023, at which time this increases to a minimum of 0.86. Solar water heaters with electric backup have a minimum high-efficiency rating of 3, while solar water heaters with gas backup have a minimum high-efficiency rating of 1.8. These units have the highest costs. Expect high-efficiency units to range from $1,000 to $4,000.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Top manufacturers. 50-gallon water heaters are common and produced by many manufacturers. These include Rheem, Bosch, Reliant, and Bradford White.
- Maintenance. Water heater maintenance is generally easy and requires periodically draining the tank to flush out particulates.
- Mounting. 50-gallon water heaters are large enough to require floor mounting. This means you need floor space for installation.
- Piping. If you need additional piping to get the water from your heater to your home, you may have additional costs of between $12 and $15 a linear foot.
- Permit. Permits are not needed in most areas to install water heaters. This can change by municipality, so check with your plumber or local government for more information.
- Expansion tank. You may want to add a water heater expansion tank. This allows the water to expand as it heats. Some newer units come with a flexible bladder inside to allow this expansion, while others may need a separate tank for $100 to $350 installed.
- DIY. Water tanks should not be installed DIY. They need to be hardwired to your home’s electrical system or connected to your gas line. Both jobs should be handled by a professional.
- Venting. Electric water heaters do not need to vent, but gas and propane models may need vents if there is insufficient airflow. You can purchase units with direct venting, increasing the project cost by $600 to $1,200.
- Warranty. Most water heaters have a warranty of 5 to 10 years, depending on the model, and even those with shorter warranties usually have an option to expand. Speak to your plumber about which options may be available.
- Inspection. If you are concerned about your water heater, schedule an inspection from your plumber or HVAC company. These may be free or cost $100 to $200, depending on the company and inspection type.
- How long does a 50-gallon water heater last?
The average 50-gallon water heater lasts 10 to 15 years, but some last longer.
- How many showers can you take with a 50-gallon water heater?
This depends on several factors. Assuming you mix hot water with cold water and most showerheads produce about 2 gallons of water a minute, it is reasonable to expect that a 50-gallon water heater can provide one 50-minute shower, two 25-minute showers, or ten 5-minute showers.
- Is a 50-gallon water heater enough for a family of 4?
Yes, as long as you have moderate hot water needs. You may need a larger water heater if you have a performance shower or jetted tub.
- Is a 50-gallon water heater better than a 40-gallon?
A 50-gallon water heater is not necessarily better, but it provides more hot water. If you frequently run out of hot water, upgrading to a 50-gallon tank can help.
- How long does it take to replace a 50-gallon water heater?
It typically takes between 3 and 4 hours to replace a 50-gallon water heater, assuming a direct replacement. It may take longer if modifications need to be made.
- How much does it cost to run a 50-gallon electric water heater?
This depends on several factors, including the cost of electricity, the number of watts the unit draws, how many hours a day you use hot water, and forcing the unit to heat more. Assuming a heater with 5,500 watts and a national average cost per kWh of $0.1546, using your heater 2 to 3 hours a day costs $51 to $77 per month.
- How long does it take for a 50-gallon water heater to heat up?
It takes a 50-gallon water heater between 1 hour and 45 minutes and 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach temperature after it is completely depleted.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.