Brand Comparison

Bradford White Water Heater Reviews

We’ve reviewed Bradford White water heaters to help you determine if this hot water system is best suited to your home.

by Josh Mitchell

One thing that every home needs is a water heater. For showers, dishes, cooking, and even cleaning, hot water is required. When it comes time to install, replace or add a new water heater to your home, you have many choices. 

This Bradford White water heater brand review will help you decide if they are the brand for you. Finding the best water heater for your home and the right size for your needs doesn’t have to be a challenge. Read on to find out if Bradford White has the answer you need. 

Bradford White started over 140 years ago with a mission to use American production, American workers and create the best products to serve the hard working American HVAC industry. Today, the only difference is they have incorporated Canada into the North American culture. 

A leader in water heater design, their research and development continues to advance the industry and set new heights in efficiency, heating speed, and cost savings. 

Now, the company is headquartered in Philadelphia, with production done in Michigan. The research and development comes from the acquired Laars Heating Systems in Canada, and the company continues to grow. They have built new training centers, parts and service centers, and even an electric product conversion center. 

Bradford White Company History

Types Of Bradford White Water Heaters 

Most brands, including Bradford White, don't just make one type of water heater. With this brand, you will find several types, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Let's take a closer look at the varieties to help you know which ones to focus on. 

Gas (Whole House) 

Gas heaters come in different styles and need to be broken down further. The most common is natural gas which is piped directly to homes all across the country. Natural gas heats faster, burns cleaner, and stays hotter longer. In most areas of the country, natural gas is cheaper than electricity as well. 

You also have alternative gas source heaters. These include kerosene and propane. While these are more expensive, they are options. You also have more venting needed for gas heaters compared to electric models. 

The one notable difference is that gas water heaters are generally more expensive and cost more to install compared to electric models. 

All bradford water heater products

Electric (Whole House) 

Electric water heaters are the most common residential install in the country. Electric water heaters are inexpensive, easy to install, and come in the most different capacities. Electric heaters are designed for small single room apartments and large hotels. 

The temperature output is also more regulated, so you can set the temperature you need and know that is what will reach the tap. The cost will vary as your electric prices fluctuate, and you need to pay more attention to the energy efficiency of the model you choose. 

Tankless 

Tankless heaters come in both gas and electric. As the name implies, they are on-demand heat instead of the constant heating of a tank full of water. Tankless models can heat water for a whole home or a single bathroom. 

The major benefits are that you save costs on both electric or gas usage as well as water. Because the heating is on-demand and only heated water is sent through the pipes, you get near-instant heat without waste. 

The tankless heaters cost more to install and generally cost more than a standard electric tank heater, but the cost savings over time more than make up for the initial costs. 

Other Types of Water Heaters 

While not as popular, there are other options to consider. For example, solar power is becoming more popular but isn't readily available in all areas yet. Another common option is a hybrid or dual-fuel water heater, which uses both electric and natural gas. These allow you to choose the best method or give yourself hot water during a power outage. 

Oil heaters are running out of fashion because of the fuel source but are still in use and available for new purchase. Finally, indirect heaters are a great green option by using heating sources from other locales to heat the water when it is needed. 

Why Choose Bradford White? 

Bradford White has a lot of benefits and unique features that make it a top choice for many homes across the country. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most prominent aspects that make the brand so great. 

Manufactured in the USA 

From the very beginning, the primary mission of the company was to keep production, jobs, and products in America. For 140 years, they have done so. With two plants in Michigan and headquarters in Pennsylvania, the company holds true to its core values. 

The recent expansion with research and development in Canada has allowed manufacturing to continue to grow in the US. 

Wide Variety of Sizes 

When you need a specific sized water heater, you will find it with Bradford White. From ultra-large commercial-grade heaters to small closet-installed water tanks, there is a size to fit your needs. 

Sizes of the tanks (and tankless) units span the gap, but the capacities, water flow rates, and efficiency are also on all sides of the spectrum. 

Energy Star Certified 

Energy Star certification is given to electrical appliances that meet or exceed efficiency guidelines set by the government. The Energy Star label lets you know that the product is durable, quality, and, most of all, efficient. 

Bradford White has a majority of its lineup Energy Star certified. Almost 100% of the residential water heaters are certified, and up to 60% of commercial or industrial models are. Both of these are high marks for the brand. 

Safety Features 

Gas and electric sensors are only the start of the list when it comes to safety. Overheating and leak detection are also included on that list. You will find every possible safety feature, sensor, or shut-off installed on all Bradford White heater models. 

Lengthy Warranty 

The Bradford White warranty is a split warranty that lasts 8 years. The first year only has a full replacement warranty on all parts that protect against installation, labor, and manufacturing defects. The heat exchanger and manufacturing defects are also covered through year 5. 

From years 6 to 8, the heat exchanger is warrantied on a prorated basis (customer pays ore for each subsequent year) where the consumer cost is 30% on year 6, 60% in year 7, and 90% in year 8. 

Note that the above is an example of the most common warranty from the brand. To find a specific warranty for your particular model, you will need to look it up by serial number on the Bradford White website. We also detail the warranties in more detail further below. 


Unique Features of Bradford White Hot Water Heaters 

Bradford White doesn’t only produce high quality water heaters. They also innovate the entire industry. Below is a look at some of the most impressive features of these water heaters. 

Defender Safety System With Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistance (FVIR) 

Part of the Defender Safety System, the FVIR prevents flames from working back out of the tubing to the outside of the water tank. The internal arrestor plates keep all vapors and ignitable fumes inside where they can safely burn off.  

Hydrojet Total Performance System 

One of the biggest problems with water heaters is that older water and sediment are allowed to settle at the bottom of the tank.

This reduces the capacity and causes flow issues down the road. 

With the Hydrojet Total Performance System, Bradford White models use cold water jets to mix fresh incoming water with the colder water. 

bradford white hydrojet

Preventing sediment settling and stagnant water, you will have better water flow, more even heating, and larger capacity for more years than other brands. 

Vitraglas 

Vitraglas is a patented enamel tank lining that prevents metal corrosion from hot water. As water heaters age, they become susceptible to cracking, splitting, and leaking because the metal has cracked from years of heat cycles. 

With Bradford White water heaters with Vitraglas, this no longer happens, and your water tank will stay solid and corrosion-free for years to come. 

Icon System 

The Icon system is an all-in-one gas control technology. It provides you with easier ignition, improved heat control with better heat delivery, and constant water temperatures. On top of that, the new 1-2-3 ignition instructions make lighting the pilot even easier. 

You will also find an easy-to-read LED error code system that is now viewable from a standing position. All in all, this updated improvement on an already industry must-have is only the beginning. 

Steadiset Technology 

The tankless heaters haven’t been overlooked, either. With the new Steadiset system, hot water is delivered even faster in the on-demand systems without using high mass or volumes of water. 

Instead, this technology allows for 10 to 20 gallons of overheated water to expertly mix with incoming cold water to bring the perfect temperature to your tap almost as soon as you turn it on. 

Scale Reduction Technology 

SRT or Scale Reduction Technology uses several different methods to prevent hot spots, which attract sediment and cause corrosion and premature component failure. Vertical burners, internal turbulators, and secondary heat exchangers all work together to keep sediment build-up to a minimum. 


Bradford White Hot Water Heater Reviews

Bradford White has one of the largest lines ups of water heaters in the industry. If it heats water, Bradford White makes it. And they make it well. As a wholesale company only, you won’t find these in any stores. However, trusted professionals and local contractors will have access to the units, all parts, warranties, and installation details. 

Bradford White sells multiple series, lines, and types of water heaters that we look at closely here. So whether you need gas, electric, or indirect heated water, Bradford White has you covered. 

Residential Gas Water Heaters 

Hot water is essential for cleaning, deodorizing, and even cooking. Reliable water heaters that run on gas are some of the most efficient models available.

Bradford White focuses on the natural heating power of gas while maintaining high efficiency levels. 

They produce four main series of water heaters, including the Defender Series and Eco-Defender Series, two of the best-selling models ever made. 

These gas powered units produce consistent hot water and the ideal temperature for the entire family. 

With the Defenders, the barrier for flammable vapors is kept inside the unit. If external vapors are ever sensed, the system is set to prevent flames from flowing back up the piping to the outside. 

home bradford water heater

You will also find the Infinity tankless systems. With high efficiency and on-demand water heating, you can save money on your water and heating bills with a design that needs virtually zero maintenance. 

Finally, for those looking for the best of the best, the EF Series are high-efficiency models that produce thousands of gallons of hot water any time you need it. With Vitraglas tanks, corrosion is a thing of the past, and you have a water heater that outlasts the competition. 

Gas powered water heaters are best suited for homes that have natural gas piping already installed.  

Features of Gas Models

Capacity 

50 to 120 gallons 

Heating Efficiency 

50,000 to 140,000 BTU Input 

Flow Rate 

93 Gallons Per Minute 

Durability 

Gas lined, stainless steel, and Vitraglas models 

Safety Features 

Auto shut-off, vapor sensor, anti-corrosion 

First Hour Rating 

120 gallons 

Residential Electric Water Heaters 

Electric water heaters may be more popular as they tend to be slightly cheaper, and most homes have electrical service while not all have gas. Because of this, many of Bradford Whites' 60+ energy-efficient models are found in the electric water heater series. 

With the primary lineups here, you will find everything from under cabinet compact (also known as instant) water heaters to large family sized models. 

The best thing about the electric heaters is they come in a wide variety of tank capacities. From 5 gallon instant heat units to large 175 gallon multi-family units, you will find exactly what you need here. 

If you want energy efficiency and reliable hot water, look to the Aerotherm series. These have the highest efficiency ratings and even offer mode selection (heat pump, hybrid electric, and vacation modes). 

These models also come with some of the highest rebates and credits available. Once installed, you can save money and get rebates on top, which is always a great deal. 

If you are looking to save some money, the upright model line is also popular. More affordable since they are a more general and standard type of water heater, they still offer the advanced safety features you expect. You will also find the anti-corrosion and Hydrojet performance on many of these models. 

Lowboy water heaters are ideal for small spaces or installation locations with little clearance.

Not low on power, they do have a slightly lower capacity, but you won't notice. The hot water delivery is still top-notch, and energy efficiency is high. These models also qualify for many rebates and tax credits. 

Utility, Compact, and wall-hung tanks are made for those that need smaller amounts of hot water or hot water delivered to a specific source. Under cabinet, in closet or utility room, space-saving designs allow you to install virtually anywhere you need them. 

Electric water heaters are best for those that need high-efficiency water heaters with an electric power source. Hybrid power users and those in smaller spaces will also benefit from the specific lines in these series. 

bradford white heater installed in wall

Features of Electric Models

Capacity 

5 - 175 Gal 

Heating Efficiency 

Up to 150,000 BTU Input 

Flow Rate 

Average 110 Gallons Per Minute 

Durability 

Vitraglas, gaslined, and stainless steel construction 

Safety Features 

Auto shut-off, anti-corrosion 

First Hour Rating 

220 gallons 

Bradford White Indirect Water Heaters 

Some homes, condos, and apartments run on boilers to heat their water, and the indirect heating water heaters from Bradford White are ideal for these situations. 

You can get instant hot water, reserve hot water, and save on your monthly energy bills by upgrading to these units. There is only one series, the PowerStor line, which offers three different models. Each model has various sizes and capacities, though, so your options aren’t as limited as it seems. 

From 30 to 120 gallons, your capacity needs are met, and each model features the anti-corrosion methods of the other styles. You will find temperature overload sensors and venting and vapor sensors as well. 

With a simple install, these units are also generally cheaper to install than the gas models and cost about the same. You can also get a single wall or double wall for added protection against leaks, corrosion, and damage. 

Indirect water heaters are ideal for smaller spaces that use boilers for heating. The simple installation also saves you money in labor fees. 

Features of Indirect Models

Capacity 

30 - 120Gal 

Heating Efficiency 

Up to 120,000 BTU Input 

Flow Rate 

Gallons Per Minute 

Durability 

Stainless, glass-encased, and carbon steel construction 

Safety Features 

Auto shut-off, vapor sensor, anti-corrosion 

First Hour Rating 

300 gallons 

Tax Credits and Rebates 

Your water heater may be eligible for tax credits and rebates. This will depend on many factors, and the biggest is the type of water heater you purchase. Bradford White offers over 60 models that qualify for the Federal Tax Credit (a $300 credit), and almost all models will be eligible for local rebates. 

To find out which rebated and credits your particular model qualifies for, you will need to check the serial number on the Bradford White rebate look-up page. Most rebates will fall between $100 and $300, easily covering the first year of energy costs. 


Comparisons With Other Hot Water Heater Brands 

Bradford White has a lot of good things going for it as a brand. But how do their water heaters stand up against some of the other big names in the industry? We compare the brand to Rheem, AO Smith, and State water heaters to find out. 

Bradford White Vs Rheem 

Rheem is a mainstream water heater company. This means that you can go into a shop and buy a Rheem to install yourself. They are durable, have a lot of safety features, and are relatively easy to install. 

You will also find that Rheem water heater models come in sizes from 10 to 150 gallons and in every configuration imaginable. Like Bradford White, you will find gas, electric, solar, indirect, and tankless options. 

Because Bradford White products are US-made and require professional installation, they are going to be more expensive. However, compared to Rheem, they are also more durable, longer-lasting, and powerful. The choice here comes down to initial costs.  

Bradford White Vs AO Smith 

This comparison is a bit tougher. Both AO Smith and Bradford White are similar in almost all aspects. When comparing side by side, AO Smith will win one section, and Bradford will win the next. 

For example, AO Smith water heaters have better warranty coverage, but Bradford White has a better durability rating. You will also find the Bradford White models are Energy Star Rated, but that AO Smith has a cheaper installation cost. 

The back and forth can go on for as many features as there are. The tiny details are where it counts and that comes down to what you need or want. Bradford is the clear winner with gas and indirect heating water heaters, and AO Smith is great for those that need to save money on electric models. 

Bradford White Vs State 

State water heaters offer a budget friendly AO Smith model. Essentially that is what State has become since AO Smith bought the company. However, while the main components are now manufactured by AO Smith, the tanks, ignitors, and arrestor plates are still made by State and are of lower quality than AO Smith or Bradford White. 

When it comes to State water heaters, the gas and electric models for residential install are decent enough. They will easily last 5 to 8 years without many issues. The cost also makes them quite alluring. 

However, if you want the most durable model, regardless of the cost, Bradford White is your choice here. Bradford White wins hands down in almost every category except for the price. 


Where To Buy Bradford Water Heaters? 

Bradford White water heaters can be purchased in a lot of various places. However, you won’t find them in many home improvement stores or local retailers. This is because Bradford White generally only sells to contractors and not through wholesale. 

While you can find them on 3rd party retailer sites like Amazon, self-installation is not recommended. Without professional installation, you can void the warranty of the water heater. Using Networx to find a professional contractor in your local area will help you get a professional you can trust. 

The best option for purchase is through your contractor, but if you feel the need to handle the purchase yourself, you can use the Bradford White website to find dealers in your area. 


Installation Of Bradford White Hot Water System 

installed bradford white water heater

Installation fees and costs will generally include the cost of the water heater itself on your estimate list.

The costs, though, will depend significantly on the current setup (replacement, new construction, etc.) and the company you hire to perform the work. 

Labor and equipment costs also vary from state to state and even city to city.

It is important to know what you are being charged for, how much, and the cost of labor per hour.

Most water heater installations should take less than 2 hours, but many companies will have a minimum labor charge. 

Some homeowners find that water heater replacement installs aren’t overly difficult. If you are handy with electrical wires, plumbing, and basic tools, you can perform an install as a DIY project. However, this may void your warranty, and you won't have any labor cost protection either. 

Your best option is to find reliable, local, and vetted contractors to perform the install. We have partnered with Networx to assist in this task. Try it for free right now. 

Bradford White Water Heater Maintenance 

Maintenance of our water heaters isn't generally at the top of our to-do lists until something goes wrong. However, there are a few things you can do to keep everything working well and some preventative maintenance tips to prolong the life of your water heater. 

  1. 1
    Check for damage, rust, or leaks in the tank monthly. Corrosion and rusting happen from the inside out. If you see any spots showing signs of damage or rust, a deeper inspection is required. 
  2. 2
    Test valves every 90 days. The water inlet and overflow valves don’t turn very often. However, with mineral deposits, age and weather, they can get difficult to turn. In an emergency, you need to be able to turn the water supply off. 
  3. 3
    Test safety features annually. Automatic shut-off, overflow valves, and other useful safety features need to be tested every year. 
  4. 4
    Winterize the water tank for long winter vacations. If you leave for more than a couple of weeks, you should winterize your water tank to help prevent pipe freezing. 

Sometimes problems happen or issues arise. In most cases, they are temporary but can be a big nuisance. Below you will find a chart with the most common water heater problems and possible solutions. 

Problem 

Cause 

Solution 

No hot water 

Pilot light is out, fuel supply is shut off 

Check breakers and gas valves to ensure power is supplied to the unit. Ensure pilot light is on (gas models). 

Water takes long time to heat up 

Cold weather 

If your water is hot but takes a while to reach temp it is generally due to poorly insulated piping during winter.  

Pilot will not stay lit when button released 

Defective thermocouple 

Replace thermocouple 

Pilot light will not light 

Gas is off, gas tube clogged 

Ensure gas is turned on and making its way to the pilot light. If gas is on but no flame ever develops, the tubes may be clogged and should be cleared or replaced. 

Bradford White Warranty Information 

The Bradford White Warranty is on a per-unit basis. So instead of having one blanket warranty like some smaller brands, the company realizes different units with different components require different coverage. 

The warranty covers the gas-lined tanks and components parts against leakage, malfunction, or manufacturer's defects. The great thing about the warranty here, though, is that it transfers from one owner to the next, provided the water heater isn't moved after the initial install. 

How long the coverage is for will depend on the model of your chosen unit. You can find the Bradford White model and serial number on the rating plate located on the front panel of your unit. Gas water heaters have the rating plate at the top, between the two warning plates. Electric units have a rating plate below the energy guide rating plate.

It is important to note that the only way to get warranty coverage is to have the unit purchased and installed through a professional contractor. If you install the unit yourself, all warranties are void. 

If you need to know the exact coverage of your specific model, head to the Bradford White website and enter the serial number in the warranty check box to get all the information. You can also enter your serial number in the BuiltBest extended warranty box to determine if an extension of the residential warranty is available. 


Bradford White Replacement Parts 

Because Bradford White is wholesale-based, you won't find many of their parts for sale in hardware or home improvement stores. You may get lucky with a Universal fit part, but it is not recommended. 

However, wholesalers and contractors do sell Bradford White parts through their storefront on Amazon, which is where you should head if you have problems with your water heater. 

For example, the most common replacement part on a gas water heater is the thermocouple. This device measured the gas flow, pilot light, and temperature. It burns out quite easily compared to all other parts and is fairly simple to replace. 

The water heater thermostat or a Bradford White water heater anode rod are both also popular replacement items. These devices read the water temperature and heat the water in the tank, respectively.

As you can probably tell, they are a bit harder to replace as they require you to drain the heater. 

When dealing with gas heaters, you also need proper exhaust, and if the gas vapors are not expelled correctly, they can build up and cause issues. 

The vapor sensor is your protection against this and will force the system to shut down if gas vapor build-up is noticed. It is critical to keep this part in good working order. 

Bradford White Replacement Parts

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long do Bradford White water heaters last? 

The average lifespan of a water heater is about 8 years. The most common cause of replacement is sediment build-up, lowering tank capacity, disrupting flow rate, and causing uneven heating.

Bradford White models have features to prolong life and reduce sediment build-up, which allow them to last at least 10 years or more. 

How do I tell what year my Bradford White water heater is? 

To determine the age of your water heater, you need to look at the serial number. The first two letters will tell you the year and month of manufacture. The first digit represents the year, starting in 1984 (A).

The letters I, O, Q, R, U, and V are not used. The rest rotate as the years go by. So, for example, a serial number starting with H will represent either 1991 or 2011. The second digit (A – M, except for "I") are used to represent the months. A = January and so on. 

How do you flush a Bradford White water heater? 

Flushing a water heater is relatively straightforward. You need to turn the electric and/or gas inlet line valves off and then shut off the cold water inlet valve.

Connect a standard water hose to the drain outlet and ensure it is secure. Run the other end of the hose to a drain or outside and open the drain valve.

The flush of water will take some time, but once it is done, you want to close the drain valve and turn the water inlet valve on to begin refilling the water tank. After about 3 to 5 seconds, you can turn the electric or gas line valves back to on/open and reignite the pilot. 

Are Bradford water heaters self-cleaning? 

Technically, no. Water heaters are not self cleaning. However, with Bradford White’s Hydrojet system, sediment and stagnant water are not allowed to settle and will constantly be mixed with the freshwater intake. This process helps the tank to remain clean on its own. 

How to winterize Bradford White water heater? 

Winterizing your water heater is an involved process that requires you to shut off power to the water heater, drain and flush and then connect an air compressor to the sillcocks of the home. You will push 40 PSI of air through the sillcocks/hose bibs until all the water is removed from the tank.

Once the water is out, you need to clear the lines by opening taps one at a time until only air comes out. Once all the taps and sillcocks are full of air, close them off, and your system will be pressurized with air, preventing freezing or burst pipes while you are away. 


Conclusion

Bradford water heaters are great, but they are not perfect. It is an easy choice if you have the budget for a high-end model and need a unit that will last at least a decade. The higher initial cost and requirement of professional installation is a turn-off for some. 

However, Bradford White water heaters are hard to beat when it comes to quality, reliability, and ease of use. You do have choices and options, Bradford White being among them. While they aren't your only option, Bradford White is a solid choice. 

Josh enjoys researching, testing and diving into home improvement & DIY products. He has a passion for tools, learning new skills and fixing the everyday problems that arise around the house.

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