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The A.O. Smith hybrid water heater has a small "buffer tank". A.O. Smith isn't saying what size the tank is, but rumors are that it is around 15 to 20 gallons. With a buffer tank the unit can deliver hot water faster since it doesn't have to heat the water first, there is sufficient hot water in the tank to begin sending water to the fixtures right away just as a storage water heater would do.
Before the buffer tank runs out of hot water the tankless heater gets up to temperature and begins supplying the hot water.
allows the burner to not have to fire with relatively small hot water uses, such
as washing hands in a bathroom sink. The NEXT is a condensing type water heater
with a 90% "thermal efficiency." It has a secondary heat exchanger used to
capture heat from the flue gas and put it into the buffer tank.
It should also work with hot water circulating systems unlike most tankless
water heaters. The buffer tank should also eliminate the "cold water
sandwich" that tankless water heaters are famous for.
The NEXT Hybrid achieves a very high efficiency--it is rated at 90% "thermal
efficiency." The high efficiency is achieved through a process in which a
secondary heat exchanger is used to capture the heated flue gas from the
tankless unit and route it back through the buffer tank to extract additional
heat. So, not only does the buffer tank have benefits in terms of hot water
delivery, but it also helps the NEXT Hybrid achieve its high-efficiency,
heater has a storage tank it will have standby losses like a standard storage
water heater, but they will be substantially smaller due to the smaller size of
the buffer tank. It will probably have less than half the losses of a standard
gas tank type water heater which puts it at around $2-$4 dollars per month in