How Much Does It Cost to Install a 50-Gallon Water Heater?

Last Updated on March 21, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

The national average cost to install a 50-gallon water heater is anywhere between $1,500 and $3,200. This cost depends on several important factors and this article should give you all the information you need about the different price points, different factors, and other interesting issues about water heaters in general and especially the 50-gallon.

50-Gallon Water Heater Overview

Water heaters have slowly become a very important part of most homes around the world. They will heat the water that you can then use to wash your clothes, clean, cook, and bathe, of course.

You can find water heaters of different styles and types, among the most common ones that are also the least expensive to install being tank-style heaters. The tank-style heater will store water that you will need and use later. The 50-gallon water heater is designed to hold up to 50 gallons of hot water and dispense it in different parts depending on your needs.

A heater of this size will usually work best for households that have 3 to 5 individuals that have just moderate hot water needs. These types of heaters can use anything from solar energy, liquid propane, and gas to normal electricity as fuel and can be installed in all kinds of areas.

The costs of water heaters have seen a constant rise, with the average cost increasing by more than 50% to 60% over the last two years. And the trend goes in the same direction, with an increase of at least 15% in January of 2023 alone. Of course, the issues causing this are many, some of the most important being the new HVAC regulations of 2023, rising part costs, and supply chain breakdown, which caused both suppliers and plumbers to increase their costs.

So, as stated above, replacing a 50-gallon water heater will have a national average cost between $1,500 and $3,200, but the average that most people are going to pay for a direct replacement of the 50-gallon gas water heater is $2,350, as long as it has a standard energy-efficiency factor. Installing a 50-gallon electric water heater in an area that is open and easily accessible has a low price point of $1,000.

On the higher end of the cost range, you are likely to spend $6,800 or more to replace a basic water heater that has a 50-gallon solar water heater and comes with a gas backup an indoor tank, and roof panels.

50-Gallon Water Heater Cost Details

Get a 50-gallon water heater if you have a household of 3 to 5 people including children, that has just moderate hot water needs. So no car wash with hot water in the garage, of course. You can get a tank-style heater that is powered by solar energy, gas, propane, or basic electricity. Water heaters that are powered by liquid propane or gas are the least expensive to run, but their initial cost will be higher than the average. They also come in many efficiency levels.

You might also like our articles on the cost of tankless water heaters, water heater installation from Home Depot, or water meters.

Solar water heaters are among the newest models and will usually have the highest costs and efficiency levels. They will most likely come in a dual exchange system, being able to run both on electricity and on gas. The final costs will be impacted the most by the replacement location, fuel type, and efficiency level.  Check out the costs of a 50-gallon water heater with different qualities in the table below:

Standard Basic Best Quality
50-Gallon Water Heater Installation Cost (Labor Only) $500 – $700 $300 – $400 $700 – $2,600
50-Gallon Water Heater Cost (Material Only) $1,100 – $2,600 $800 – $1,050 $2,600 – $4,100
50-Gallon Water Heater Cost per Gallon $29.00 – $63.00 $20.40 – $27.00 $63.00 – $140
Total Costs $1,500 – $3,200 $1,070 – $1,400 $3,200 – $6,600

Although they will be the most expensive to run over the years, electric water heaters will also be the least expensive ones when you purchase and install them. On the other side of the price range will be the gas and propane heaters, which are more costly to install but will cost less to run. But gas and propane heaters can also be found in different efficiency levels, with better efficiencies decreasing the long-term costs, but raising the initial setup costs.

What’s interesting is that the average cost to replace a 50 gallon water heater is higher than the average cost to replace a 50 gallon electric water heater, but the electric system will come with higher monthly costs. Of course, solar systems will be the least expensive to run, as most of their fuel they get from the Sun, but they are also the most expensive to both purchase and install.

This is because they will need additional equipment parts and will have different installation parameters. The installation will usually depend on how easy it is to install, with hard-to-reach installation areas rising the cost of labor.

Costs Related to Enhancement and Improvement

Energy-Efficient 50-Gallon Water Heaters

50-Gallon Water HeaterWater heaters receive a Uniform Energy Factors (UEF for short) or Energy Factors (EF for short). An electric water heater that has an UEF above 2.2 will be considered high efficiency and will receive an Energy Star. Currently, the requirement for a gas-fired unit to receive an Energy Star is an UEF of 0.64, which is bound to raise to 0.86.

Solar water heaters with gas backup need a minimum high-efficiency rating of 1.8, while solar water heaters that come with electric backup will have a high-efficiency rating of at least 3. These units have the highest costs. High-efficiency units are known to range somewhere between $1,100 and $4,200 in price.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Venting. Both gas and propane water heaters will need vents if the airflow isn’t sufficient. Electric units won’t have a vent requirement. Units that have direct venting will usually be more expensive by $600 to $1,300.
  • DIY installation. You shouldn’t take water tank installation as a DIY project regardless of the circumstances. These systems will have to be hardwired to the electrical system of your home, or, depending on their type, connected directly to your gas line. Both of these jobs are complex enough to require a professional to do them.
  • Expansion tank. The water heater can be equipped with an expansion tank. This will hold the water as ut expands through heating. This expansion is handled by newer models with a flexible bladder intended to allow this expansion. For the rest, you should get a separate tank which will cost somewhere between $100 and $400 to have installed.
  • Permits. Most areas around the US won’t make you get a permit to install a water heater. Of course, this will differ by the municipality in some areas, so make sure you talk with your local government and professional plumber just to make sure.
  • Piping. Some installations will require additional piping to ensure that the water from the heater reaches other places around your home. Piping usually comes with additional costs of anywhere between $13 and $16 per linear foot.
  • Mounting. When it comes to 50-gallon water heaters, they are so large that they will likely need floor mounting. This also means you will require additional floor space for the installation.
  • Maintenance. The usual maintenance of the water heater isn’t a complex one. The system will only need the periodical draining of the tank to get rid of particulates.
  • Top manufacturers. Many appliance manufacturers also make 50-gallon water heaters. Among the most important ones are Bradford White, Reliant, Bosch, and Rheem.
  • Inspection. If you have any concerns regarding the water heater, you can always get in touch with an HVAC company or a plumber and schedule an inspection. Although some of these inspections are free, others are likely to cost between $150 and $250, depending on the type of inspection and the company you’re getting in touch with.
  • Warranty. You will get a warranty between 5 and 10 years with most water heaters you buy, but this will depend on the model and the police you buy them from. When getting a shorter warranty, you will be able to expand it depending on your needs. Your plumber can give you great tips when it comes to the available options.


How long will it take to have a 50-gallon water heater replaced?

Replacing a 50-gallon water heater will likely take somewhere between 3 and 5 hours if the plumber will be faced with a direct replacement. Any needed modifications will prolong this time.

Which one is better? The 50-gallon or the 40-gallon water heater?

Just because it is bigger, the 50-gallon water heater isn’t always better, although it will be able to provide more hot water to your house. If you have a 40-gallon water heater and you notice that you always run out of hot water, then it might be time to upgrade to the 50-gallon tank.

Is a 50-gallon water heater enough for a household of 4 individuals?

As long as you only have moderate, usual hot water needs, the 50-gallon tank should be enough. You should consider a larger water heater if you also have a jetted tub or a performance shower.

How many showers will fit in a 50-gallon water heater?

This isn’t an easy answer. If we were to take the average showerhead that produces around 2 gallons of water per minute and assume you will mix cold water with hot water, you should expect the average 50-gallon water heater to provide around 50 minutes of shower. This means either ten 5-minute shoers or 25 two-minute showers.

What is the lifespan of a 50-gallon water heater?

Most 50-gallon water heaters will last somewhere between 10 and 15 years, although there are models that are known to last longer.

What is the heat-up time of a 50-gallon water heater?

It will take around 1 hour and 50 minutes for the average 50-gallon water heater to reach a decent temperature after it has been completely depleted.

What are the costs of running the 50-gallon electric water heater?

This is another hard answer as it will depend on a few important factors like how many hours per day you need hot water, which influences how many times will the unit have to heat it, the number of watts that the unit needs, as well as the cost of electricity in your area. So taking the national average cost per kWh of $0.1546 and assuming a heater with 5,500 watts, just 2 to 3 hours per day of heater usage will cost $50 to $80 per month.

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