Pros: Very high efficiency, doesn't directly use fossil fuel, smart grid interface, sophisticated and convenient user interface, supports multiple modes
Cons: Slower heating than natural gas,must be in large unheated indoor space (garage, etc.),needs drain line, no environmental benefit if coal electricity
If you are heating water with propane this water heater will substantially lower your cost of water heating.
According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy a heat pump water heater has the lowest lifecycle cost of any method of water heating (http://www.aceee.org/Consumerguide/waterheating.htm)
As compared with a solar water heater, which can typically only provide 1/2 to 2/3 of your water heating energy, a heat pump water heater when combined with solar electricity and provide 100% of your water heating energy from a renewable source.
For 2 adults our annual electricity use is approximately 700 kwh. We have time-of-use electric rates so if we had to pay for the electricity our annual cost would be $60 per year (at $085 per kwh). Our previous water heater used about 130 therms which at current natural gas prices would cost about $130 per year.
We have our water heater on a timer and mostly run the water heater during times when electric rates are low. The water heater takes at least twice as long to heat water as did the natural gas water heater. We have the water heater in our laundry room which we have thermally isolated from the rest of the house so that we don't cannibalize heat from the rest of the house would increase space heating energy use for the rest of the house. We keep the laundry room window open so that the water heater can take in heat from the outside air. Otherwise the laundry room would get too cool and the efficiency of the water heater would drop.
From the pictures and literature this water heater is attractive and has sophisticated and convenient controls. It also has a smart grid interface so as your local utility adds smart grid capability this water heater could support it. In smart grid mode the utility could send commands to the water heater to reduce its energy use during times of high load.
I had a long talk with Mike Racculia, a marketing manager with GE. He was able to answer many of my questions and give me confidence in GE's support for this project.
Based on my research this is a solid, high-quality product. The federal government offers a 30% tax credit for heat pump water heaters. I think that all electric resistance water heater should be replace with heat pumps and that in the long run heat pumps should be used for all water heating.