Top Water Heater Thermostats [Reviewed]

(Last Updated On: September 15, 2017)

Water heaters have been household items for as long as you can remember. Since their invention, the heaters have become energy efficient because of new features. In particular, the addition of thermostats in the wiring of heaters has helped in controlling temperature and managing energy used.

Given their significant role in water heating, focusing on thermostats brings about different aspects that range from energy saving methods to maintenance tips.

To cut the slack and go to the point, this piece discusses reliable thermostats that I can recommend for your water heating needs.

Best Water Heater Thermostats Reviewed

Filtering out the best thermostats from the tons of available options should be easy by considering the brand and performance. Besides making hot water heaters, notable companies like Rheem and Bradford White also design thermostats that accompany their high-end products. The price of a thermostat may be factor later when minimizing replacement costs by considering thermostats under $100 and other affordable options.

The following reviews will help you in choosing a thermostat or identify the problem in your heating system. Choosing the right thermostat will guarantee less issues and longevity.

Apcom WH10-A Bradford White

Apcom WH10-A Bradford WhiteThe Apcom WH10-A would be the best pick for users who are into brands and popularity of a product. Rightfully so, this well-engineered thermostat stands out because of its accuracy and sensitivity. Here is another catch. Installing this Bradford White thermostat model is remarkably easy. It has a variety of wiring terminals to cover the common wire connections hence speeding up the assembly process. For both an installation or replacement, the WH10-A is designed for the upper heating element in your heating system.

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Suburban 232306 130 Degree Thermostat

Suburban 232306Upon mentioning Suburban thermostat, most people will think about the heating systems on their recreational vehicles. It is fine to have such an inference given how Suburban has developed their line of products around heaters for RVs.

As a worthy note, the Suburban 232306 model is designed for the electric element. Installing it on the gas-supplied element section can fry the element hence lead to unheated water or frequent switching on and off of the heater.

Despite being a reliable choice for your vehicle heating system, the 232306 model lacks the all-important adjustability features. As a result, you will have to buy one with your preferred pre-set temperature.

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Reliance 9000507-045 Lower Electric Thermostat

Reliance 9000507-045 thermostatCompatibility is always a major consideration when buying any part of a system. In that regard, the Reliance 9000507-045 thermostat will give you a peace of mind because of its universal design. Ranging from Whirlpool and Bradford White, to Kenmore and any Reliance heaters, the 9000507-045 meets all the original specification dimensions for compatibility purposes.

Besides working as designed, this lower heating element thermostat presents longevity. In that period, the less frequent replacements and low heating costs will save you money. This Reliance thermostat would be my pick at any time when in need to replace a malfunctioned lower electric thermostat.

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Atwood 93105 Adjustable Electronic Thermostat

Atwood 93105 ThermostatCompared to its Reliance 9000507-045 counterpart on this list of the best thermostats for your water heater, the Artwood 93105 is a bit conservative. It fits all T Stat gas and Atwood front mount water heaters but may be incompatible with other heater brands and models.

Further, unlike the Suburban model on our list, this Atwood thermostat is adjustable to fit your preferred temperature levels. It is also a popular option for RV heating systems. As such, it could easily be your choice if you consider its ease of installation.

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Rheem SP11695 Electric Thermostat

Rheem SP11695 thermostatThe Rheem SP11695 is another lower thermostat in our list. During installation or replacement, make sure that the water heater is rated 120v for this thermostat to work properly. Be it in a home or RV heating system, this thermostat can sort out your intermittent water heating problem provided that it fits into the tank. After the installation, this thermostat will give you a good adjustability range thanks to its 100 – 150 degree Fahrenheit range. You can follow the easy installation or repair steps below when handling with this thermostat.


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Installing A Water Heater Thermostat

After choosing a thermostat from our reviewed list, you would want to proceed to install it. The process is easy especially if the location of the thermostat on the existing heater is accessible. Installing a thermostat is more less the same as replacing one. Further slight differences in the processes may arise because of the manufacturer like AO Smith, Honeywell, or Rheem.

As you prepare for the thermostat installation process, it would be important to understand the following aspects.

  • The wiring scheme of a thermostat
  • How to test a thermostat
  • How to test a water heater element
  • Know about the settings
  • Likely problems during installation
  • Electric water heater thermostat troubleshooting

On a first glance, the listed aspects may seem overwhelming to take in especially because most homeowners or RV users are no thermostat or water heater experts. However, that will not be the case after reading my quick overview of the mentioned aspects.

To start with, reading the thermostat’s manual or following the color coding of the water heater wires will be enough to inform you how to wire a thermostat during installation. For testing the element and thermostat, a multimeter will come in handy. No reading on the multimeter when carrying out both tests is an indication for a faulty part.

As you move down the above list, knowing about the thermostat settings is easy since the idea is all about the temperature ranges. In turn, it will be upon you to set your preferred temperature reading unless it is a non-adjustable thermostat like the Suburban.

Problems may arise when installing a thermostat. Although unlikely, the purchased thermostat may be faulty in the first place. The other common problem is unfitting thermostats due to a difference in dimensions between the thermostat and the heater’s allocated space. Wrong wiring or loose terminals can also cause heating problems.

Troubleshooting your electric water heater thermostat should be less challenging after reading this quick overview. The main steps would be to check if the thermostat is functional, heating elements are working, and whether all the connections are tight and complete.

Water Heater Thermostat Installation Steps

electric thermostat installation

As already noted above, the installation steps can vary from one thermostat to another. Since each thermostat has its instruction manual, you can opt to follow the complete installation instructions. However, the process will revolve around the following common steps.

  • Turn off the power supply.
  • Remove the cover plate and insulation on the front access to expose the thermostat space.
  • If it is a replacement, you will access the old thermostat after which it will be important to note the wiring configuration.
  • After properly removing the old thermostat, insert the new thermostat that you bought from Home Depot, Amazon, or Walmart into the mounting bracket and ensure that it fits.
  • Reconnect the wires based on the specified wiring configuration.
  • Tighten all the connections to ensure proper electric current flow.
  • Set the thermostat to your preferred temperature and press the RED reset button for a complete flow of current.
  • Replace the insulation and front access cover.
  • Switch on the power.

The videos below show the visual guide on how to go about the process. Notably, the steps should work for both gas and hot water thermostat replacement.

Water Heater Thermostat Maintenance

The main reason for observing maintenance requirements for a thermostat is to keep it from malfunctioning. A durable and reliable thermostat will minimize repair and replacement costs as well as your monthly energy bills.

Regarding the cost minimization aspect, it is important to get it right from the beginning. Ensure that you purchase a compatible thermostat for your water heater to avoid double purchases. A correct purchase will also ensure that the new thermostat’s rating matches the power rating of your RV water heater.

When it comes to the thermostat replacement cost, the total expenditure will always vary. The labor cost and a thermostat’s price are the two main factors for the variations. However, the average cost for the process is $200 if you opt to hire a professional. Performing the process on your own will save you a considerable amount of money.

Part of taking care of your thermostat and the entire heating system is to understand how it works. To start with, most hot water heaters have two thermostats. These thermostats are referred to as the upper and lower thermostats according to their locations on the heater. Heaters have the two to control the respective heating elements for even heating of the water. Noteworthy, the upper thermostat performs most tasks and controls the lower one.

After using your water heater for several months or years, the question of when is the right time to replace its parts like the thermostat will pop up. The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. It is probably the right time to carry out a thermostat repair if it keeps tripping or consistently have unheated water.

However, before undertaking the repair, a troubleshooting session can help pinpoint the problem. In some cases, the heater or its wiring could be the problem. Resetting the water heater can also solve the cold-water problem just in the case the heater had reached its high limit level.

Depending on the season and weather, you may want to turn up or down the temperature on your water heater. The question is how do you go about the process. Actually, the steps are easy. You just need to access the thermostat and use a screw driver to turn the dial to your desired temperature. However, turning up the temperature to a very high level may shorten the thermostat’s longevity. This video clearly demonstrates what you will need to do.

Hot Water Heater Thermostat Keeps Tripping

A tripping water heater thermostat is a common issue when carrying out your maintenance checks. In particular, it is the red button on the thermostat that keeps popping hence prompting frequent resetting. Right off the bat, the main cause for the frequent tripping is too hot water in the heater.

Given the reason for the tripping, it is important for the high-limit switch (red button) to do so as a safety measure to prevent getting burned by the hot water.

The following reasons explain a water heater that keeps tripping.

  • Bad thermostat
  • Shorted heating element
  • Bad high-limit switch
  • Loose wiring

Fixing these issues will ensure you have a properly working heating system.

Water Heater Leaking from Thermostat

Another issue that homeowners may face regarding their heating systems is a water heater that is leaking from the thermostat box. This problem is common on old thermostats whereby it is the valve that has developed a hole.

Fixing the problem requires taking apart the thermostat and replacing the valve. In other cases, you may have to replace the thermostat altogether.

Water heater thermostats will work as described provided you follow the installation or replacement instructions. The process also calls for the right thermostat that is compatible with your heating system. Our top choices give you a solid ground for buying a reliable thermostat. Making the right choice right from the get go will translate to a well-functioning thermostat and reliable heating system as a whole.

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