small electric water heater

small electric water heater

A small water heater can help provide hot water to even the most difficult places. Whether you need hot water in a bathroom that’s not well served by your main water heater or you need a stand alone unit to service a shop, garage or other outbuilding, a tank-style small water heater can do the job.

Frequently called a point-of-use or utility water heater, these units typically range in size from 2.5 to 19 gallons. In this article, we’ll provide you with a buyers guide and individual reviews to help you determine the right unit for your needs.

Small Water Heater Tank Reviews

Reliance Compact Water Heater

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Reliance Compact Water Heater

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Rheem Professional Classic

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Rheem Professional Classic

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Plugs into Standard Outlet

Stiebel Eltron has been building high quality water heaters for over 90 years. These small water heaters can easily deliver enough hot water for hand washing and kitchen applications.

With a temperature range between 86 and 140-drgrees, and the adjustment knob located on the front panel, making temperature changes are simple. Once you set the Stiebel Eltron Mini-Tank to your desired temperature, an advanced microprocessor will keep it from drifting, regardless of water flow variations.

No special wiring is necessary. Simply fill the tank with water and plug it into a standard 120-volt outlet. There are several options available for installation:

  • Stand alone water heater
  • In-line with your main hot water heating system
  • Domestic Hot Water recirculation loop to buffer temperatures

Reliance Compact Water Heater

Reliance Water Heater Company knows a thing or two about manufacturing water heaters. The company backs up their products with a solid 6-year warranty and delivers a unit that deserves to be on your short list.

With a single heating element and the ability to deliver 4,500 watts of energy, this unit should be able to meet your hot water demand. In addition, the side mounted hot and cold connections, with the option of switching to the top if necessary, will help it fit into the tightest of spots.

Whether you want to hide this unit in a crawl space, under a cupboard or mount it on a shelf, it should fit nearly everywhere.

Reliance 6 6 SOMS K 6 Gallon Compact Electric Water Heater

  • Ideal for under counter or crawl space installation
  • 6 gallon short, 6 year warranty, electric.
  • Single 120 volt 1650 watt copper heating element.
  • Side mounted cold water inlet and hot water outlet for easy installation.
  • Factory installed Temperature and Pressure, T&P relief valve

The Bosch ES4 Tronic 3000 should fit nicely under your sink and it can function as a standalone unit or it can be installed in-line with your home’s main water heating system.

The unit comes with a 36″ power cord and plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet. The external dial, located on the front of the unit, will make temperature adjustments easy. This point-of-use small water heater is not only a strong performer, but it also has a sharp sleek look.


Bosch Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater Tronic 3000 T 4-Gallon (ES4) – Eliminate Time for Hot Water – Shelf, Wall or Floor Mounted

  • CONVENIENT HOT WATER HEATER: 4 gallon point-of-use mini-tank fits under your sink to provide hot water right where you need it. Thermal efficiency is 98%. Dimensions : 13.75 W x 13.75 H x 13.5 D Inches
  • LONG LASTING QUALITY: This electric water heater is easy to maintain and has premium glass-lined material for a long service life. (Amps 12A, Volts (VAC) 120)
  • INDEPENDENT INSTALLATION: 36-37″ cord plugs into a 120 volt outlet for independent installation or in-line with a large hot water source
  • FAST RECOVERY RATE: Eliminates long waits for hot water at your sink, get on demand hot water at your every need (supplies up to 2 sinks at a time)
  • EASILY MOUNTED: Can be shelf, wall or floor mounted (bracket included); simply tap into the cold water line and install the water heater directly at the sink to provide hot water

Rheem Professional Classic

Rheem is a big player in the hot water heating industry. They build high-quality, no-nonsense units that are backed with a solid 6-year warranty. The Rheem Professional Classic series offers a wide range of tank sizes. The 20-gallon unit is a great fit for spaces where your demand for hot water is high, such as a full bathroom.

However, keep in mind, this is still a small hot water heater, and if you don’t properly size your hot water demand, you may be left with cold water. If you’re looking for a work horse of a water heater, you should definitely take a close look at Rheem.

EcoSmart water heaters are rapidly gaining in popularity. As a relatively new company, they focus on building quality products for a fair price. Their Mini-tank series is a great fit for people looking for a reasonably priced point-of-use water heater, whether it be for a home, RV, or even a boat.

With 4 units to choose between, ranging in size from 1-gallon to the larger 6-gallon tank, you should be able to find a water heater that meets your needs. All plug into a standard 120-volt outlet, with the exemption of the 6-gallon unit, which will need to be hardwired. 

The Eccotemp Mini Tank series offers a selection between 3 different tank sizes The glass-lined welded steel tank is designed to help prevent corrosion.

Mount the unit on the wall or position it on the floor, whichever works for you. The LED lights on the front will keep you informed when the tank is heating, and the temperature dial will make adjustments a snap.

Consult with a Local Plumber

How to Buy a Small Water Heater

Since small storage tank heaters come in a variety of sizes and it’s important to know how to properly select a unit that will be able to deliver the proper amount of hot water necessary. 

For the most part, the same rules apply in sizing a small water heater as you would use to select a water heater that’ll service your entire home. Simply focus on the specific area you want to deliver hot water – such as a bathroom.

There are 2 important factors to consider when sizing a tank-style water heater:

Tank Capacity – The tank capacity is simply how much water the tank is designed to hold. Obviously, a water heater that has a large tank will be capable of delivering more hot water than a unit with a small tank.

Recovery Rate – The recovery rate is the amount of time required to reheat the water within the tank. The efficiency and wattage of the water heater’s heating elements is the main factor that determines the rate of recovery. A heating element with a high wattage should be able to heat hot water faster, and therefore the unit should have a shorter recovery rate.

Consider Your Hot Water Needs

One of the most important steps in determining the correct size water heater is to have a good understanding about the amount of hot water you’ll be needing at the point-of-use (faucet, etc.).

If you’ll only be using the unit to heat water for a hand sink, a 2.5-gallon tank will most likely meet your needs. However, if your new small water heater will be servicing a dishwasher, shower or other higher demand output items, you’ll need a larger sized tank.

Keep in mind that a tank-style water heater can only deliver the amount of hot water that’s stored within the tank. Because of this, we highly recommend overestimating your needs. Once the tank has depleted it’s hot water supply you’ll be left with cold water until the unit recovers (heats more hot water).

However, if you’re worried about depleting the water heater’s hot water capacity, there is a work around. Most point-of-use water heaters can be used to boost your home’s main water heater, in fact, this is the preferred installation method in many situations. 

By installing the  small water heater in-line with your main system, the smaller unit will deliver hot water until your main tank can take over. Thus eliminating the wait time as the hot water flows thru your home’s plumbing.

Consult with a Local Plumber

How a Tank-Style Small Water Heater Works

Advantages of a Small Water Heater

There are many advantages to installing a small water heater in your home. Although they are often used as standalone units, it’s also very common to use them to boost your home’s main water heating system at the point-of-use. Here are a few of the most popular advantages:

Water Temperature – When a water heater is installed close to the faucet, the hot water can arrive nearly instantly. This will save you time (waiting for hot water) and money (lower utility bills).

Water Pressure – The water pressure will increase immediately since the point-of-use unit is installed near the faucet. If you own an older home, this can be especially helpful.

Less Waste – If reducing your carbon footprint is important to you, a point-of-use water heater can make a big impact on reducing the amount of wasted water while you’re waiting for hot water to run through your home’s water lines.

Photo of author

BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.