Whirlpool and US Craftmaster Energy Smart Electric Water Heater Review

The Whirlpool and US Craftmaster Energy Smart Water Heaters are both product lines manufactured by American Water Heaters. The Energy Smart electric water heater is a new concept where there is a microprocessor mounted on top of the unit controlling the heating of the water in the tank instead of conventional thermostats. This Energy Smart Processor uses Thermistor Temperature Sensing to measure the temperature of water in the tank and the Energy Smart Processor depending on which of the four modes of operation is selected can make decisions based on the hot water usage pattern of your family that result in a savings of energy cost to provide hot water to your home. The Energy Smart Processor constantly monitors your hot water usage and makes adjustments to the program to ensure that you have enough hot water delivered at minimum cost and can reduce standby heating losses up to 30% when operating in the Energy Smart mode.US Craftmaster Energy Smart Water Electric Heater

The Energy Smart Processor has four modes of operation and a built in test that monitors the function of the processor and water heater components from an easy to use control panel on the top of the water heater. The Energy Smart Control Panel has a knob for water temperature adjustment, a four position knob for mode selection, and an LED indicator light that shows on/off or flashing if there is a problem with the unit. The Energy Smart Processor modes include Smart, Energy Smart, Low Temperature, and Vacation/Cabin. When you select Smart Mode the water heater functions as a conventional water heater turning the elements on and off based on the water temperature in the tank sensed by the Thermistors. When Energy Smart Mode is selected the heating cycles are monitored by the microprocessor and constantly adjusted to deliver hot water at the lowest temperature possible to satisfy your usage patterns. This ensures the lowest cost possible for your hot water needs. If you select a different mode then go back to smart mode your usage patterns are recalled for use. When Low Temperature Mode is selected the temperature of the water in the tank is limited to 115 Degrees F ensuring compliance with some codes that limit water temperature to 120 Degrees F to prevent scalding. The fourth mode you can select is the Vacation/Cabin Mode where the temperature in the tank is set to a minimum of 50 Degrees F to prevent freezing while you are away, when you return selection of one of the other three modes return your heater to normal operation. The Built in Test is shown by the LED on the Energy Smart Control Panel. The light is out when the unit is off and there is no power, on when the unit is on and running and flashing when there is a problem with the unit. The numbers of flashes on the LED indicate where the problem is sensed and the Energy Smart Processor automatically shuts the unit off if an unsafe condition exists. Among the conditions monitored by the Built in Test are, dry firing where the water heater is turned on without being full, overheating of the water in the tank, temperature sensor operation, upper and lower heating element operation switching heating to the good element when failure is detected, and the Energy Smart Processor itself.

energy smart control panel and processorThe Whirlpool and US Craftmaster Energy Smart water heaters come in 40, 50, 66, and 80 gallon sizes with 9 or 12 Year Tank and Parts Warrantee. All models operate on 240 volts and “EE2J” 12 Year Warrantee models have dual 4500 watt Incoloy heating elements, while the “EE2H” 9 Year Warrantee models have dual 4500 watt elements with the bottom element being Incoloy and the top element being copper. All models have a LimeFighter Diptube and thick Non-CFC foam insulation. The 4500 watt elements give these units a recovery of 20.7 at 90 degrees rate of rise. The water heater tanks have a ceramic lining to provide corrosion resistance and give you a long tank life. The 40 gallon size is adequate for most 3 – 4 person families and the larger sizes will work for families in the 5+ size. As always sufficient hot water depends on your usage and large demands such as whirlpool tubs, and multi-head shower systems should be considered when sizing a water heater. Warrantee and Replacement Parts are handled through the manufacturer and while the elements are a common size and are a stock replacement part sold at many locations the Energy Smart Processor and its Sensors are only available from American Water Heaters at their 1-800-999-9515 help line.

If you have any questions or coments please leave them below.

Posted in Energy Saving, Water Heater Reviews Tagged with: ,
23 comments on “Whirlpool and US Craftmaster Energy Smart Electric Water Heater Review
  1. Roger Brown says:

    I was attempting to check the amp draw on a 50gal whirlpool energy smart water heater and on the top element I tried to get my multimeter in to check the amps and accidentally broke a small wire and caused an arc. I replaced the control board cause it was burnt. I then got 3 flashes for a sensor problem. What do I need to do next? Where is the sensor?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Roger,
      There are 2 sensors mounted on a tab directly above each element. The upper sensor has 2 red wires, and the bottom has 2 black wires.

  2. lisa says:

    I have a 50/ gallon US CRAFTSMEN water heater located in the basement. We had a tremendous rain a week ago and my basement flooded rising 3 feet. I got all the water pumped out and have let the water heater dry out. The light on my energy box blinks 2x saying I have high water temp. I have tried to reset several times and would LOVE to have HOT shower…could it be the energy smart box as you have stated above or something else? Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Lisa,
      I’m sorry the bring you more bad news but on Page 9 of the US Craftmaster Electric Water Heater Installation Guide it states, “Water heaters subjected to flood conditions or any time the thermostat(s) have been submerged in water require replacement of the entire water heater.” Hopefully your loss is covered by insurance. I’m curious if you have a sump pump installed in your basement, I you had problems with your sump pump or, if you are going to be installing one there are some very good articles here on 411Plumb I could give you links to.

      Hope this helps,

  3. Bill says:

    I have to keep resetting the energy smart control panel. As the green light keeps flashing one single time. Each time I reset it, it stays on for about five minutes then goes back to flashing again. What is the problem please.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Bill,
      The green light signals normal operation. The green LED will blink when power is applied to the elements heating the water in the tank, (2 times per second to indicate that power is applied to the upper heating element) and (at a faster rate of 4 times per second to indicate that the lower heating element is powered.)

      The red light flashing indicates problems.

      I hope this helps,

  4. Esther says:

    I have a US Craftmaster 50 gal 12 yr warranty gas hot water heater installed in 2009. It has stopped making hot water and the light that flashes to is problem flashes 6 times re “upper sensor failure “. I called manufacturer and they said I needed a licensed plumber to more exactly diagnose problem and replacement part. And that they’re the only source of replacement parts. Does anyone know if all of that is true? Help. And I live in Colorado where most/all Erika kemp,miners are busy helping people, who have problems from the recent flooding here. Thanks for any help,

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Esther,
      Unfortunately what they are saying is true that the parts can only be obtained from them. It’s ironic that a few years ago in the FlameGuard Class Action Lawsuit Settlement they had no problems sending out burner enhancement kits which had a much higher degree of difficulty to install than the thermistor that has failed on your unit. Next water heater I’d consider getting one from a local plumbing supply house rather than a big box store. At least they offer parts for what they sell.

  5. Mike says:

    Should I buy a timer as well as the energy smart unit. And will the third setting be less expensive as the second number, energy smart and as effective

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Mike,
      The “Energy Smart” mode would allegedly be the least expensive mode of operation other than the vacation mode where it only maintains the temperature at 50° F to prevent freezing. A timer would only negate the microprocessor’s ability to adjust the water heating operation to your usage patterns to save energy.

  6. Hugo Berardi says:

    Woke up the other morning to no hot water. Examined the sensor board with no indication of anything being wrong. None the less I properly drained the heater and replaced the upper and lower elements. I properly refilled the tank and within 1 1/2 hours had hot water. After normal day’s use for a family of 4 I once again ran out of hot water. Examined the sensor board and found that the hot temperature sensor shut the heater off. I reset the heater and within 1 1/2 hours had hot water once again. I left it over night and re-examined the sensor board in the morning and found that the high temperature sensor had once again shut the heater off. What could my problem be? Is there an immediate concern of fire, etc.?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Hugo,
      It could be a few different problems involving either a sensor problem or a main board problem.
      My main concern is if the unit really is overheating the water you could be in danger of having someone get scalded.
      To fix the problem you need to call 1-800-999-9515 and talk to American Water Heaters Tech Support.
      The only way for you to get repair parts is through them. They are open Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Eastern time zone.

  7. Sharon Taylor says:

    Question- we have a 2006 Energy smart-no trouble til this Sunday. I had a youth gathering at our house-had 2 people take a shower in evening-and 5 in the morning-this was extra people. Our water temp ended up very hot later in the day with a light flashing warning hot water temp. We reset it-and then the water wouldn’t get hot. Have reset it again to see if it will correct itself-light is no longer flashing. Could it have overcompensated for the many people taking a shower yesterday morning?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Sharon,

      It’s hard to say exactly what happened. Basically there are 2 possibilities that could cause a water heater to overheat.

      1.) A malfunction of the water heater caused it to continue heating past where it should have shut off. This would then trigger the secondary safety controls to shut the unit off which on the Energy Smart water heaters makes the overheating light come on and the heating shuts down. If it was a malfunction the extra people probably had nothing to do with it and it will happen again.

      2.) The other thing that can cause this to happen is “Stacking.” This is a condition where the water usage fools the controls with a series small draws of a couple of gallons causing the heated water to rise to the top of the tank and become quite hot well past a safe temperature. While the bottom of the tank remains cool and the heating continues until the overheating is detected and the unit shuts down. This will not usually happen again unless the usage pattern happens again.


  8. Ron says:

    We purchased a new gas water heater in Feb 2009. Approx every 6 months( oor sooner) we get a “rotten egg odor” from our hot water. We flush out the tank,only having to do it each time we get this smell. What do we do?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Ron,

      Your problem is caused by Sulfur Reducing Bacteria growing in the tank. You can treat the tank with chlorine, flush the tank and install an aluminum/zinc/tin anode rod which may solve your problem. Sometimes additional water treatment is required such as sulfur remove usually by an aeration system or, having a chlorine feeder installed to kill the bacteria.


  9. Joseph Goodof says:

    I’d like to suggest that integral parts for emergency repair ior replacement be available at the same location where the water tank was purchased. This policy of having to take the several days required to obtain, for example, a replacement for the micro processor that comes with the Whirlpool electric tank, is gross oversight by the manufacturer.

    This is the same factory created problem that occurs with less important items purchased, for example, lawn mowers,. lawn edgers, weed whackers etc etc… days or weeks can pass without any problem using such less important items…. A hot water tank, on the other hand is a “must” have item.. daily.. Dependably and for a factory to find what they consider valid reason for having no availability of this type of item, except from their out of town source is unacceptable….. My letter to my congressman will follow shortly to correct
    this situation.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Joseph,

      I couldn’t agree with you more and their problems of this nature don’t just end with the Energy Smart water heaters.
      The easy availability of repair parts for their Flame Guard water heaters was also an issue that landed them having a class action lawsuit against them.



    Is it possible to buy a new energy smart microprossor for my 2003 craftmaster electric water heater model
    # EE2H40RD045Y. And if so where either online or at a retail store in the St. Louis area can I get one.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Dennis,

      You should be able to get one by calling the phone number in the last sentence of the article above.
      I Know that’s a heck of a thing to hear when you don’t have hot water.


  11. l dwnkens says:

    water turns cold after about 4 minutes. Control doesn’t show any warning light during test.

  12. Jack Ferenci says:

    I would like to check the warranty for a 59 gallon Model EE3ZN0RD55X , S/N0228116787 Also, I believe a new lower element is needed according to the smart control is this a standard 5500w element?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Jack,
      The element is a standard 4500 watt element which is good news.
      The element is available anywhere water heater elements are sold.

      As far as any warranty issue you have to contact the manufacturer at 1-800-999-9515

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