How To Install A Hybrid Water Heater (Heat Pump) In 15 Easy Steps: DIY Instructions

In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we will explore how to install a hybrid water heater.

If you’re considering upgrading to a more efficient and advanced water heating solution, a hybrid water heater is a great option.

We will provide you with essential tips, expert guidance, and detailed instructions to ensure a successful installation. From understanding space requirements to plumbing and electrical connections, we’ve got you covered.

Rheem hybrid water heater

Get ready to unlock the benefits of a hybrid water heater and enjoy improved energy efficiency and comfort in your home.

Let’s explore the process of installing a hybrid water heater together.

Overview Of Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters, also known as heat pump water heaters, are an excellent choice for households situated in warmer regions where electricity is the primary energy option. These innovative systems operate by extracting heat from the surrounding air and transferring it to the water within the tank. As a result, they not only provide hot water but also cool and dehumidify the room simultaneously.

Ideal for installation in warm areas, hybrid water heaters take advantage of the warm ambient air to enhance their performance. By doing so, they offer homeowners a cost-effective solution that can significantly reduce their electricity consumption for hot water by half or even more. This impressive energy efficiency stems from the fact that hybrid water heaters are designed to heat water with more than three times the efficiency of traditional gas or electric models.

With a heat pump positioned on top of the unit, the majority of the workload is handled by this component. In cases of high demand, the unit will activate heating elements to provide additional power and deliver hot water at the desired temperature. This dynamic functionality ensures a reliable and consistent supply of hot water while maximizing energy efficiency.

Benefits Of Installing A Hybrid Water Heater

Installing a hybrid water heater offers a multitude of benefits for homeowners.

Firstly, these systems are highly energy-efficient, utilizing heat pump technology to extract heat from the surrounding air and transfer it to the water. This results in significant energy savings compared to traditional gas or electric water heaters, leading to lower monthly utility bills and long-term cost savings.

Moreover, hybrid water heaters contribute to a greener environment by reducing energy consumption and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to their energy efficiency, hybrid water heaters offer versatile installation options.

They can be installed in various locations, such as basements, garages, or utility rooms, taking advantage of the warm ambient air to enhance their performance.

This flexibility allows homeowners to optimize space utilization and find the most suitable placement for the unit.

Furthermore, hybrid water heaters provide a reliable supply of hot water.

With the ability to activate heating elements when there is high demand, these systems ensure consistent hot water availability, even during peak usage periods.

By considering the energy efficiency, cost savings, environmental friendliness, versatility in installation, and reliable performance, homeowners can make an informed choice to install a hybrid water heater. It not only brings immediate benefits in terms of reduced energy bills but also contributes to a sustainable future by minimizing environmental impact.

You might also want to read this: Hybrids vs. gas water heaters

Now that we know how powerful, effective and useful hybrids are, let’s walk you through 15 easy-to-use installation steps. This can also be a DIY project, but only if you are familiar with working with plumbing and electrical lines.

Be aware that according to the manufacturer, a licensed technician should install your hybrid water heater.

How To Install A Hybrid Water Heater: Things To Consider

Reminder: Safety first. Never work on an electrical device with the power on. Keep in mind that improper installation can result in risks such as electrocution, fire, or water damage.

While hybrid water heaters are similar to electric water heaters, in terms of installation simplicity, it’s important to be aware of their larger dimensions. They are typically taller and wider, and the plumbing and electrical connections may be located differently. Take these factors into consideration to ensure a successful installation.


Hybrids are designed for indoor installation only in a dry room that is not subject to freezing. The recommended ambient air temperature for the efficient operation must be above 45 F (or as required by the manufacturer).

According to the manufacturers, installers must observe required clearances around a water heater (as per some requirements, 6-7 inches is sufficient). Refer to your model installation manual for the specific data.

Additionally, it is essential to ensure that the floor beneath the water heater is structurally robust enough to support its weight. This ensures stability and prevents any potential damage or hazards.

To safeguard against water and condensate leaks, it is recommended to install a suitable metal pan underneath the water heater. This protective measure helps prevent damage to the surrounding area and provides an added layer of security.

Air Intake

The room must provide a sufficient amount of air, or if combined with the adjacent room and connected with the louvered doors. Check the manual that came with your water heater.

Ductwork And Ventilation

Your hybrid water heater may be ducted to the outdoors or some other suitable place (recommendations can be found in the manual). When installing a ductwork, make sure it is installed as straight as possible, and the maximum length is not exceeded.

Hybrid water heaters produce cool air as a byproduct of the heat pump operation. Proper ventilation is essential to ensure the unit operates efficiently and to prevent the accumulation of cool air in the surrounding area. Verify the manufacturer’s recommendations for ventilation requirements and ensure that they can be met in the installation location.


Install piping that is suitable for potable water only.

Assess the existing plumbing connections in your home. Hybrid water heaters usually require both cold water and hot water connections, as well as a drain line for condensation. Ensure that the necessary connections are available and accessible in the desired installation location.

Condensate Drain

As an addition, the condensate line with the required slope must end in the appropriate drain and away from the water heater or other suitable spot using the condensate pump.

Electrical Requirements

Hybrid water heaters often require electrical connections for powering the heat pump component. Verify the electrical specifications of the unit and ensure the appropriate wiring and outlets are in place.

It is recommended to have a professional technician perform the installation.

Note: You might also need a permit for installation.

15 Easy Steps To Install A Hybrid Water Heater

Gathering Materials And Tools

Gathering the necessary materials and tools for the installation of a hybrid water heater is a crucial step to ensure a smooth and successful process.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need:

Required materials for installation:

  • Hybrid water heater unit
  • Water heater pan
  • Plumbing fittings (such as connectors, valves, and pipes)
  • Electrical wiring and connectors
  • Insulation materials (if needed)
  • Teflon tape or pipe sealant
  • Mounting brackets or straps (if required)
  • Pipe insulation (for hot water pipes)

Necessary tools for the job:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips)
  • Pipe cutter or hacksaw
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Voltage tester
  • Drill and appropriate drill bits
  • Pipe threader (if necessary)
  • Safety gloves and goggles
  • Sealant gun (if using pipe sealant)


  1. Shut the power off. Shut the power off to your existing water heater and leave it off until the new water heater is installed. Turn off the power on the main electrical panel by switching the breaker to the off position.
  2. Turn off the water supply. Use the main shut-off cold water valve to turn it off.
  3. Drain the old water heater. Empty the tank. Use one end of the garden hose and connect it to the drain valve located at the bottom of the water heater. The other end should run outside or terminate in the nearby drain. Be aware that it takes some time (a few hours) before all the water is drained.
  4. Disconnect the pipes. Disconnect the water pipes connected to the water heater. Depending on the pipe type used (copper, steel, or flexible metal braid pipe), you might have to cut it down or simply unscrew the fittings.
  5. Disconnect electrical connections. Disconnect the wires and label them to reconnect them back in the correct order easily.
  6. Put the new hybrid water heater into desired space. Place the new unit on a hard Styrofoam insulator or wooden blocks. Also, use a drain pan to collect potential dripping. Make sure a water heater is level before you proceed.
  7. Connect the fittings. The best way to connect your new hybrid to the home plumbing is by using copper pipes fittings and soldering them together. It is recommended to use unions on both the hot and cold sides so you can easily disconnect them when needed. The other option, which is much easier, is to use metal braided flexible hoses. If not sure, use the type of pipes to match the existing water line. Also, you might want to install a mixing valve to have better control of the hot water temperature and a new shut-off valve.
  8. Install a condensation drain line. Make sure that the drain line has a downward slope to allow proper drainage and away from the heater.
  9. Install a vacuum valve. If needed, install a vacuum valve near the top of the water heater to prevent potential damages to the heater.
  10. Check a TPR valve. Make sure that the temperature and pressure relief valve is installed correctly, including the discharge pipe, and both are functioning correctly with no obstruction.
  11. Expansion tank. In the case of the closed system, install an expansion tank to prevent extreme temperature and pressure increase.
  12. Fill the tank. Ensure that the drain valve is closed and open the main shut-off valve to fill the tank. Open a nearby hot water faucet for several minutes to allow the air to escape the tank.
  13. Reconnect the power. Follow the manufacturer’s manual for the proper electrical connection.
  14. Turn the power on. Ensure that the water heater is full of water before turning the power on. This helps avoid dry firing and damage to the unit.
  15. Run the unit and check for leaks. After your hybrid water heater is installed correctly, air filter set, tank filled with water and connected to electrical power, press the power button to turn the unit on. Let it run a system diagnostics. Once complete, select the heating mode and temperature. The recommended temperature range is between 120 and 125 F.

Watch this video to understand better how to install a hybrid water heater yourself.

What’s Next?

Setting the temperature and operation modes of your hybrid water heater is essential to customize its performance and meet your specific hot water needs.

The User Interface Module provides a convenient way to adjust the operating modes, offering you the flexibility to choose between hybrid, electric, efficiency, and vacation modes.

The hybrid mode optimizes energy efficiency by utilizing the heat pump as the primary heat source, with the option to activate the heating elements when additional heating support is necessary. In contrast, the electric mode relies solely on the heating elements and is considered the least efficient mode. The efficiency mode exclusively utilizes the heat pump, making it the most energy-efficient option.

To maintain the optimal performance and efficiency of your hybrid water heater, regular inspection, cleaning, maintenance, and servicing are essential. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance will help ensure reliable operation and extend the lifespan of your unit.

While this article includes basic instructions on how to install a hybrid water heater as a DIY project, it is important to note that if you lack the appropriate tools, knowledge, or have any uncertainties, it is best to seek professional assistance.

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