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Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

I saw an episode of the This Old House Hour this morning. The segment where one of the guys makes a house call to help a homeowner dealt with a hot water problem. The solution was to rip out the old tank style water heater, up-size the gas line, and install an Eternal Hybrid Water heater. Looked like a great solution for hot water in a total gut, re-wire, and re-plumb project I've been working on slowly but surely (or maybe slowly but slowly). I felt pretty good seeing Richard use this brand and pretty much decided if it was good enough for him then... So, I begin to run down information on the units and as I usually do, I hit Amazon to see if there are any reviews. To my dismay, every Eternal Water heater on amazon that has been reviewed has received a terrible score. Most of the bad reviews are failures withing the first two years of operation, many within a few months of installation. One the most reviewed units, 33 or 47 reviews were one star. The next most reviewed was 20 or 31 reviews of one star. The final unit with any reviews only had one review, a one star.

The three units were
Eternal GU145S Condensing Hybrid Water Heater, 14.5 GPM
Eternal GU195S Condensing Hybrid Water Heater, 19.5 GPM
Eternal BU195M Condensing Hybrid Water Heater, 19.5 GPM

I went back through the show but couldn't see enough details to pick out a model number. Are all Eternal units this bad? Are these three actually this bad or is there some installation problem causing all these issues?

Any information would be appreciated!

P.S. Found the show notes and the unit Richard installed was one of those three i mentioned, the Eternal GU195S Condensing Hybrid Water Heater, 19.5 GPM .

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

You saw what consumers say about hybrid water heaters - and you still don't know what to do?

Get a conventional water heater, the kind that has been around for over 100 years, and leave the hybrids to those who have money to burn experimenting.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

I'm sure a "conventional" water heater was a good choice a decade or more in the past, but unless I'm so broke that I'll signup for spending the same lesser amount of money every 7 to 10 years and more money in installments every month on utilities, then a "conventional" water heater is pretty far down the list.

My question concerned the normally expensive but very wise options that typically appear on TOH and this particular water heater. The customer reviews just don't reflect the normal TOH ethic. I wondered if maybe this thing was brand new and had no track record when TOH used it or if possibly there were known install mistakes that were causing the customer problems.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

What makes you think the expensive water heater won't need replacing every 7 to 10 years too. Will you save any money that way?
Customer reviews have nothing to do with a TOH ethic whatever that is. TOH isn't a testing service. If so many users give it a negative review, what makes you think your experience will be any better? I doubt if installation errors would effect so many people unless the design is deficient.
Conventional water heaters have a pretty good record record of doing what's required at a minimal install cost. If you want to be a beta tester, go for it.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

"I'm sure a "conventional" water heater was a good choice a decade or more in the past"

Are you kidding me, the conventional water heater tank is one of the most all time successful invention in the building industry, with all its flaws.

But please don't let me stop you, go ahead install what you want.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

Not disparaging Richard or the TV show, but most trades (including plumbing) get most of their professional info from the shop where they buy their trade goods. The plumbing supply house in this case. I don't think Richard would install something he knew was bad, but if these go two years without problems then for many tradespeople that is enough time for them to recommend or try a product. Very few of us are as stoic as I am about a newer product.

Unless I see where something lasts at least it's expected lifetime I take a lot of convincing before I recommend or use it. Conventional W/H's have a great track record for what they are. Other technologies, products, and companies may not. Do your research well before making a decision or you may become the guniea pig that didn't make it to the end of the test. I like the concept and there may be a good brand and style but I lack enough knowledge to recommend one. I do believe that we're going to soon see the end of conventional W/H's when the newer systems become proven.


Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

Thanks for the great response Phil. That was the kind of information I wanted to see.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters
rjhanby wrote:

I wondered if maybe this thing was brand new and had no track record when TOH used it or if possibly there were known install mistakes that were causing the customer problems.

It's possible that at the time the show was filmed the product was new on the market. The show often does feature new products that have either just hit the market or are about to. In this sense, there is a lot of "early adoption" on the show; manufacturers often donate or discount new products for the show just to get publicity. If that's the case, the hosts don't have the ability to look back at the long-term reliability and have only the manufacturer's say-so to judge the suitability of the products.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

I just replaced my HWH with a conventional tank - WHY ? You ask -

My HWH is in the attic of my south Texas home. Most days its well over 120ºF up there so I get free hot water most of the year.

I did install and on demand in a campground bathroom facility. Why ? Because they need little attention, the HWH may go unused for the winter months, and when needed, it will crank out hot water without having to be turned back on. Granted it was a lot more expensive than a tank, but in this case an on demand serves the purpose well.

The cost savings with on demands are not always a sure thing.

Re: Eternal Hybrid Water Heaters

I own a large hair salon with 8 shampoo bowels. We have two of the Eternal units mounted on the roof. When they are working they perform great. The problem is that go down about twice a year. This is a massive problem for us because it takes about 2 weeks to have it fixed. Thats the time it takes to get a plumber out and have the replacement part shipped. I wish I had put in a simple boiler. Gas, fire and water no electronics! Think about it, water and electronics don't work well together, there is always a problem!:(

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