Best Water Heater Element For Hard Water (2021 Review)

Last Updated On October 19, 2021
best water heater element for hard water

No, we aren’t talking about the periodic table of elements, don’t worry! In plumbing, water heater elements are the components in your water heater that heat the water. 

When you have hard water, the hard water can slowly deteriorate the heater elements. This can lead to scalding temperatures and a water heater that dies prematurely. Luckily, the right water heater elements can help.

In this PlumbingNav review, we will cover:

  • Best water heater elements 
  • Different types of water heater elements 
  • How do water heater elements work
  • What to look for in water heater elements
  • Review of top 5 water heater elements

ImageProduct
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Dernord 240V – 6500W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element
  • Compatible with most water heaters
  • Ripple shape 
  • Threaded attachment 
  • Compatible with most water heaters
  • Ripple shape 
  • Threaded attachment 
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IKKY HEAT 240V – 9000W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element
  • UL, CSA Certified
  • High 9000W rating
  • Included anode rod
  • UL, CSA Certified
  • High 9000W rating
  • Included anode rod
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Dernord 208V – 5500W Low Watt Density Water Heater Element
  • Stainless steel
  • Long, folded back design
  • Easy to install
  • Stainless steel
  • Long, folded back design
  • Easy to install
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EcoSmart HE 240V – 8000W Eco 24 Low Density Water Heating Element
  • 14.25” long
  • Folded design
  • 8000W
  • 14.25” long
  • Folded design
  • 8000W
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Camco 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Watt Water Heater Element
  • Inexpensive
  • 5-year warranty
  • Prevents dry firing
  • Inexpensive
  • 5-year warranty
  • Prevents dry firing
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

Updated On May 21, 2021

Dernord 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element

This stainless steel water heater element comes in a ripple shape that maximizes the amount of water the device can heat at one time. It is 340 mm long (13”) and 8mm in diameter with a threaded attachment. 

It is made in China and designed to fit most water heater models.

Our Top Water Heater Elements For Hard Water

  1. Dernord 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element (Our Top Pick)
  2. IKKY HEAT 240V – 9000W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element (Best High End)
  3. Dernord 208V – 5500W Low Watt Density Water Heater Element (Best Budget)
  4. EcoSmart HE 240V – 8000W Eco 24 Low Density Water Heating Element 
  5. Camco 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Watt Water Heater Element

What's In This Guide?

      What Are The Best Water Heater Elements For Hard Water?

      Water heater elements use electricity to heat up the water you get from your water heater. They are used in both conventional electric water heaters as well as electric tankless water heaters. 

      Water heater elements are usually made up of a metal rod that becomes submerged into the water heater. 

      How Does Hard Water Affect the Water Heater Elements?

      The best water heater elements for hard water can withstand the sediment buildup that results from hard water conditions. 

      Hard water contains high levels of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. When hard water comes through your hot water heater, it leaves behind calcium deposits. The more sediment build-up left behind, the more damage is done to the heating elements. 

      (Note: Having the right anode rod for your water type can help protect both the tank and the element from corrosion.)

      When heating elements experience sediment buildup, the element will struggle to communicate with the thermostat. If this happens, the heating element may heat the water to an unsafe temperature, increasing the likelihood of scalding water temperatures. In extreme cases, this can eventually lead to pressure buildup and the possibility of water heater explosion if the pressure valve is not functioning properly.

      What Are The Different Water Heater Elements For Hard Water?

      Not all electric water heater elements are the same. Water heater elements come in three different types: 

      High density water heater elements 

      These water heater elements are made from copper with a zinc coating, and they are the least expensive elements. Most water heaters come with these types of heating elements, but you can upgrade them when they go out. 

      Low density water heater elements 

      These water heater elements are made from copper with a magnesium and nickel coating, and they are in the middle range. 

      Ultra-low density water heater elements 

      These water heater elements are made from stainless steel, and these are the most expensive elements. These elements withstand sediment buildup from hard water the best.

      did you know best water heater element for hard water (1)

      How Does A Water Heater Element For Hard Water Work?

      When a water heater’s thermostat comes into contact with cold water, it sends an electrical current to the element to engage it. The thermostat stops sending the electrical current to the water heater element once the water reaches the desired temperature. 

      Most water heaters contain two water heater elements, and they work separately to ensure top efficiency. The top element activates first. Once the top element heats half of the water, the lower element will heat the remaining water. 

      What Do You Look For In A Water Heater Element For Hard Water?

      When shopping for a water heater element for your plumbing, you need to determine if you need an element for a tankless water heater or a tank-type water heater. You also want to look for a device with the correct wattage and the correct attachment type. 

      Correct Wattage

      Water heater elements must match the wattage of your water heater. If the unit’s wattage is higher than the wattage of the element, the element will not heat the water as quickly as it should. If the unit’s wattage is lower than the element, the element will burn out more quickly than anticipated.   

      Attachment Type

      The two most common attachment types for heater elements are flange type and threaded. Flange-type water heater elements have four smaller bolts. Threaded water heater elements screw into the side of the tank with two bolts, and they require the use of a large wrench. 

      Threaded water heaters are the more common option, especially when it comes to new water heaters. 

      Need help installing your new heating element? Watch this video:

      Best Water Heater Elements For Hard Water Reviewed

      If you have hard water, you need an ultra low-density water heater element made out of stainless steel. We will cover the top 5 water heater elements for hard water.

      Our #1 Rated Pick: Dernord 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element

      Dernord 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element

      Our Top Pick

      This stainless steel water heater element comes in a ripple shape that maximizes the amount of water the device can heat at one time. It is 340 mm long (13”) and 8mm in diameter with a threaded attachment. 

      It is made in China and designed to fit most water heater models.

      Pros

      • Compatible with most water heaters
      • Ripple shape 
      • Threaded attachment 

      Cons

      • SS nut not included
      • Not grounded
      • Made in China

      Our #2 Rated Pick: IKKY HEAT 240V – 9000W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element

      IKKY HEAT 240V – 9000W Ultra Low Density Water Heater Element

      Best High End

      This stainless steel heating element comes with an anode rod included with it, increasing how well it can stand up to corrosion (to be used in conjunction with your current anode rod- not as a replacement). It is 13” inches long and 1.5” in diameter, and it has a U-shape and threaded connection. 

      This device is compatible with EcoSmart, Rheem, and a number of other water heater brands. 

      Pros

      • UL, CSA Certified
      • High 9000W rating
      • Included anode rod

      Cons

      • Limited compatibility
      • Non-flexible design
      • Thinner than expected

      Our #3 Rated Pick:
      Dernord 208V – 5500W Low Watt Density Water Heater Element

      Dernord 208V – 5500W Low Watt Density Water Heater Element

      Best Budget

      Heat up your water with this stainless steel water heater element that folds back to increase the amount of water it can heat at once. The stainless steel material holds up against sediment build up, protecting your water heater. The device is 16.5” long and made in China. 

      Pros

      • Stainless steel
      • Long, folded back design
      • Easy to install

      Cons

      • 208 voltage lower than most devices
      • Made in China
      • Experiences extreme heat

      Our #4 Rated Pick: EcoSmart HE 240V – 8000W Eco 24 Low Density Water Heating Element

      EcoSmart HE 240V – 8000W Eco 24 Low Density Water Heating Element

      Made specifically for EcoSmart products, this copper water heater element can work in other water heaters as well. This device is 14.25” long and comes in a folded design that heats as much water at one time as possible.

      Pros

      • 14.25” long
      • Folded design
      • 8000W

      Cons

      • Specifically made for EcoSmart products
      • Copper rather than stainless steel
      • Expensive 

      Our #5 Rated Pick: Camco 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Watt Water Heater Element

      Camco 240V – 4500W Ultra Low Watt Water Heater Element

      Enjoy the peace of mind of a five-year warranty with this Camco stainless steel ultra low watt water heater element. 

      It screws into the water heater and folds into a convenient 12” design. Along with resisting sediment buildup, it prevents dry firing. This device fits in most water heater models.

      Pros

      • Inexpensive
      • 5-year warranty
      • Prevents dry firing

      Cons

      • Low 4500 wattage
      • Treads difficult to screw in
      • Requires 15” deep tank 

      Final Thoughts On The Best Water Heater Element For Hard Water

      When looking for a replacement water heater element, stainless steel models hold up the best in hard water conditions. You should replace the water heater element when necessary, and you should flush the water heater regularly. 

      FAQs for Water Heater Elements for Hard Water

      What type of water heater is best for hard water?

      For hard water, you should get an electric tankless water heater with stainless steel water heater elements. 

      How do I protect my water heater from hard water?

      First, ensure you are using the right anode rod and check it and replace it regularly. You can also buy a water softener. If that doesn’t work, you can also flush your water heater regularly to remove the sediment buildup. 

      Which water heater element is best?

      When looking for the best water heater element for your plumbing, you want an ultra low density water heater element. 

      Is there a difference in water heater elements?

      Yes! There are three types of water heater elements: 

      • High density
      • Low density
      • Ultra low density

      Ultra low density water heater elements, made of stainless steel, cost the most, but they provide the best results.

      Low density water heater elements fall into the middle of the range. They are usually made of copper and provide adequate but not the greatest results. 

      High density water heater elements made of copper don’t cost as much, but they won’t provide the same quality results. 

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      I'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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      I'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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