6-year Whirlpool from Lowes, 6-year Kenmore from Sears
Both are same brand. Offer 10% less than price, get store coupons.
Warranties are same across all brands. First year parts-tank-labor are covered, and afterwards parts-tank are covered for original homeowner and non-commercial installation when installed by instructions shown in manual.
The math shows: shorter warranty has greater percentage of full coverage.
6 year 9 year 12 year?
Only difference is anode rod diameter, or longer-warranty tank may have 2 anode rods.
You can convert 6 year tank into 12 year or 15 year by inspecting anode each 1-3 years, and maintaining tank as shown in product manual.http://waterheatertimer.org/Replace-anode-rod.htmlhttp://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html
# 2 Don't buy tankless.
Don't buy gas or electric hybrid.
These do not save money overall, and do not last longer than ordinary tank heaters, and they are expensive to buy and maintain and repair.
# 3 Ordinary Whirlpool gas water heater from Lowes is inexpensive and can be maintained and repaired by homeowner.
Air intake is located on bottom and can be cleaned easily.
Set 3-legged water heater on bricks so air intake can be inspected and cleaned easily.
Whirlpool is made by AO Smith parent company. Other brands made by AOS are Reliance, State, American, Craftmaster, and Kenmore.
Service manuals are posted online, parts are designed for quick, ez replacement.
Installation manual shows how to perform maintenance.
# 4 Avoid Rheem.
Rheem makes Reliant, Richmond, Ruud, and GE
Air intake can only be cleaned by removing combustion parts. Combustion parts are held in place with tamper-proof screws.
Service manuals are not available online.
Installation manual does NOT show how to perform maintenance, and says that customer must call for service.
Rheem does not offer better product that somehow needs specialized treatment, they just want customers to buy service from brand-loyal plumbers.
# 5 Bradford White makes good heater.
Usually these are more expensive and not available except thu dealers who might require pro installation for warranty coverage ... maybe.
Are BW made better? Warranty is identical to other brands.
Must remove combustion parts to clean air intake.
Parts are ez to replace, but they might not sell parts direct to homeowner.
Service manuals are available.
# 6 Insulation thickness.
Does not make much difference with current price of gas.
If you pay $400 more for a tank with 2" insulation instead of typical 1-1/2", then payback can be 15 years or more.