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not a high percentage of electric water heaters in my area.
but tons of instant hot ise heaters.
original heaters were copper. then they cheapened the product and made them with plastic
that seemed to last 2-3 years and now they're stainless steel.
remember all the toilet internals are plastic. chlorine / chloramines have an effect on plastic.
i would think that the lifetime warranty is an educated gamble by the manufacturer. typically an electric water heater last a lot longer than a gas heater. i've seen a good 20+ years with the electric heaters i run into here.
most homeowners don't live in their home for 20 years. so the lifetime warranty is no longer an issue. i doubt the warranty is transferable to the new owner.
According to the manufacturer, Rheem, if transferred to a new homeowner the warranty reverts to a 15-total year warranty. In other words, if you purchased the water heater and sold the home after 10 years, the new homeowner would then have 5 years warranty, or the remainder of the 15 years. Does that clarify?
I've only put one of those in so far... I did just replace my own water heater roughly a year ago, and I don't think what I removed was a Rheem, but it was pretty much the same logic as far as the plastic tank goes.
I have put 20 or so of these units in within the past couple of years and they seem to be good heaters. The electric utilities push them quite a bit in my area because of the fact that they are a 90+ % efficient water heater. The rebates are quite an incentive to a homeowner as I believe the utility company will give them a $350 rebate. The one negative about them is that they have a very large footprint in comparison to a standard A.O. Smith or BW heater. The majority of my installs have been in new residential construction, in fact in my area it is very common to see water heaters last a minimum of 30+ years.