So you’re considering installing a new oil hot water heater in your residential or commercial property. After all, aren’t most water heaters electric or gas?
What is an oil water heater anyway? Which oil fired water heater is best for your needs?
In this Plumbing Navigator review, you will learn:
- What are oil hot water heaters?
- How do oil-fired hot water heaters work?
- How much does an oil hot water heater cost to buy and operate?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of an oil water heater?
- Our top 5 oil water heater picks reviewed
Now let’s get into it.
Note: These are currently available on Amazon, but we’ve linked you to the best places you can find the specific units we like the best.
Bradford White SW-2-120-L
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John Wood 30 Gal
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Crown 3 Pass Boiler
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Our Overall #1 Rated Oil Water Heater
The Bradford White SW-2-120L offers everything you could want in an oil water heater.
It is an indirect-fired hot water heater, so you get the opportunity to connect it to just about any boiler.
It has an impressive 116-gallon water tank that should satisfy most household and small business needs.
While quality does cost extra, it’s also reasonably priced compared to other oil water heaters on the market.
Our Top 5 Oil Hot Water Heaters for 2021
- Bradford White SW-2-120-L (Our Top Pick)
- Turbomax – Water Heater, T-45 (Best Budget)
- John Wood Oil-Fired Heater (Best High End)
- 50ES LESS Bock Water Heater
- Crown Boiler Co. Freeport 2 FWZ
|What's In This Guide?|
What Are Oil Hot Water Heaters?
Like all water heaters, they provide heat to your home’s water when you want to wash clothes in hot water or take a warm bath or shower. An oil hot water heater, also known as an oil fired water heater or oil boiler, uses oil to generate heat instead of electricity or gas.
Oil water heaters are the least common water heater for residential homes but one of the most common options for commercial buildings. However, larger households also consider these rare models as well. Like most water heaters, oil water heaters usually utilize a tank system that stores standing water as it is heated.
What Are The Different Types of Oil Hot Water Heaters?
The two main types of oil water heaters are direct fired units and indirect fired units. Direct fired units use an integral burner to heat the water directly. An indirect fired unit connects to the building’s boiler. It then heats the coils in the boiler which proceed to heat the water in the tank.
All direct fired units require a tank. Direct fired units tend to be more efficient but require ventilation and are more dangerous. Indirect fired units are safer but tend not to be as efficient. Some indirect fired units come in tankless options, and they provide more universality so that the water heater can work with oil, gas, and electric burners.
How Do Oil Hot Water Heaters Work?
Oil water heaters work differently than other options because of their distinctive burner assembly. The oil is combined with air in the burner assembly and converted into a mist made up of fine, atomic particles.
The mist is injected into the power burner. This then sparks an electric ignition, which creates a flame. The flame enters a combustion chamber that safely transfers the heat into the storage tank, warming the standing water.
How Much Does An Oil Hot Water Heater Cost?
The cost of an oil hot water heater varies greatly depending on several factors, including size, features, size, and technology. Oil-fired water heaters tend to be one of the more expensive options due to the numerous advantages. A common estimated price range for those featured in this article is $1,000 to $3,000.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of An Oil Fired Water Heater?
Why would someone choose an oil water heater as opposed to an electric or gas water heater? Well, it turns out there are plenty of reasons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of oil water heaters to help you reassure your decision..
- Heats water 4x more quickly
- Extra insulation
- Long life expectancy
- Allows self-sufficiency
- Initially more expensive
- Requires more maintenance
- Uses combustible fuels
- Ventilation required
What Should You Look For in The Best Oil Hot Water Heater?
When shopping for an oil hot water heater, consider the following:
- Customer Reviews
Once you clarify these details, it’s time for you to go shopping for an oil water heater. While shopping, buy from a company with a reputation for high-quality products and exceptional customer service.
How Long Do Oil Hot Water Heaters Last?
Water heaters with a tank system in general last at least ten years, and oil hot water heaters last a couple of years longer. Of course, the life expectancy depends on several variables, including:
- Professional installation
- Quality of water heater
Picking the right product will have a large impact on the life expectancy of the oil water heater. We highly suggest you hire a professional plumber to install the water heater to avoid problems that may occur from incorrect installation. While oil water heaters don’t require extensive maintenance, you must perform a little maintenance required to keep the unit working effectively.
5 Best Oil Hot Water Heaters Reviewed
- BTU – unit of measurement that measures heat (the higher the number, the more heat generated)
- First hour rating – gallons of water a water heater can provide in its first hour of power
UEF rating – efficiency rating between .65 and 95 given to EnergyStar products (the higher the rating, the more efficient)
Our #1 Rated Pick: Bradford White
Best Overall Pick
The Bradford White SW-2-120-L is an indirect fired hot water heater that works by attaching to your home or building’s boiler.
The heat in the boiler is what heats the water as opposed to the water heater itself. It works with gas, oil, and electric boilers.
The Hydrojet® Total Performance System and Vitraglas® keep the tank clean without any additional effort on your part. First-hour delivery is 325 gallons, and the tank holds 116 gallons.
- Low to no maintenance
- Large tank
- Self-cleaning properties
- Long delivery time (6 – 8 weeks)
- Not certified for residential use in Utah or commercial use in Texas
Our #2 Rated Pick: Turbomax
The Turbomax T-45 is an indirect-fired hot water heater that can work with oil, gas, or electricity, depending on your boiler. This gives you tremendous flexibility.
The tank can be used for commercial, industrial, and residential use.
The 45-gallon tank has self-cleaning properties that eliminate the need for extensive maintenance. It typically lasts 30 years and comes with a 15-year warranty for residential use and 10-year warranty for commercial use.
- 99% heat transfer efficiency
- Keeps water pure
- Quick shipping
- Large and bulky
- Low capacity
Our #3 Rated Pick: John Wood
Best High End
The John Wood Oil-Fired Heater is an indirect fired water heater with a 30-gallon tank and the ability to connect to oil, gas, and electric boilers.
The tank comes insulated already with heavy-duty fiberglass insulation, making it a particularly environmentally-friendly choice.
Choose between either the center flue or the direct vent model.
- Attractive unit
- Heavy-duty fiberglass insulation
- Blocked flue safety switch
- Burner sold separately
- Large tank may pose installation restrictions
Our #4 Rated Pick: Bock
Made by one of the most trusted names in the industry, the 50ES Bock direct-fired oil water heater has a 50-gallon tank and can reach up to 623,000 BTU.
It has a .64 UEF rating, and its first-hour delivery is 125 Gallons.
The manufacturer provides a five-year limited tank/heat exchanger warranty for residential use and three-year limited tank/heat exchanger warranty for commercial use.
- Made in the USA
- Patented helical-fin multi-stage design
- Dual magnesium anode rods prevent damage to the tank
- Uses glass in construction
- .64 UEF rating is on the low end
- Only uses oil
Our #5 Rated Pick: Crown
The Crown Boiler Freeport 2 FWZ is a flame retention three pass oil hot water boiler that reaches 84,000 BTU.
It is primarily designed for residential use. The small size makes it more convenient to store than many other options on this list.
This product includes a one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
- Energy-Star Rated
- 86.3% fuel efficiency
- Convenient size
- Requires ventilation
- Small tank
Concluding Thoughts On Oil Hot Water Heaters
Oil hot water heaters are not the conventional method. However, they are more efficient and work more quickly than alternative options. If you are in the market for an oil hot water heater, these options should keep the water hot and your utility bills low.
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BrantI'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!
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