I'm getting ready to replace my ancient water heater and wondering whether it makes sense to get to a model with a (edit: 316L) stainless steel inner tank instead of one with the standard glass-lined tank. I like the fact that these units require no anode rods and theoretically will never leak if plumbed with an expansion tank. Is the upcharge to go with one of these worth it, or would I be wasting my money because electric water heaters typically fail catastrophically in ways other than the inner tank leaking?

  • It really depends on the "stuff in your water" if your old ancient tank is more than 12 years old I would say don't pay the high cost of the upgrade as that is a normal life from what I have replaced if it is 20-30 years old they just don't make them like they used to! And a less expensive unit may last quite a long time
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:12
  • Our water is extremely hard and mineral-laden. The existing tank is a 19 year-old gas-fired atmospherically-vented unit. Want to switch to electric to take advantage of solar.
    – iLikeDirt
    Feb 13, 2016 at 2:27
  • Given prices of solar vs. gas, if you have net metering it may be cheaper to stay on gas and sell the electricity. Especially if you can get carbon-reduction credits to supplement yhat.
    – keshlam
    Feb 13, 2016 at 19:42
  • The gas line's high base charge makes this unattractive. My goal is to shut off gas service entirely.
    – iLikeDirt
    Feb 13, 2016 at 22:45
  • iLikeDirt -- which state? sounds like the same situation I am in; I'm in AZ and have solar and have a surplus of power in winter months.
    – Jason S
    Dec 19, 2016 at 5:03

1 Answer 1


The key word you used is "theoretically".

Stainless steel is not all the same. Is it 304 or 316 stainless?

It should last much longer than glass lined but still not forever.

If you can afford it, for longevity, I would eliminate as much steel or galvanized steel as possible.

Good luck on your project!

  • 316L stainless steel
    – iLikeDirt
    Feb 13, 2016 at 17:26
  • So would you recommend a Rheem Marathon instead of a 316L stainless steel unit? The Marathon has no steel… but it's plastic.
    – iLikeDirt
    Feb 13, 2016 at 17:27
  • Well the nice part about plastic is it doesn't need the anode either and it will never corrode (not in our lifetime anyway). But 316 will probably outlast us too. The other thing is stainless is less reactive than regular steel and will not produce galvanic action with copper and brass. So, it looks like a fielder's choice from here. The 316 is certainly the better stainless. I was looking at the Rheem Marathon myself but I wanted a larger tank. No matter which way you go it will certainly be better than the 6 year whirlpool I had to replace after 6 years.
    – ArchonOSX
    Feb 13, 2016 at 19:31
  • Eliminate steel I did; I wound up with a Rheem Marathon.
    – iLikeDirt
    May 2, 2016 at 2:04

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