Innovative, Customer-Centric & Efficient Products

Our company’s commitment to innovative, customer-centric and efficient products throughout our history has enabled us to become a global leader in delivering water heating and treatment technologies. As a leader in water technologies, the energy efficiency and water conservation improvements of our products have a substantial positive impact on our planet.

“Innovation Has a Name” is our motto, and our commitment to innovation results in products that are highly efficient and meet the needs of our customers.


Our innovation process starts by listening to the voice of our customers to understand their needs and pain points so we can identify solutions. By starting with the local consumers’ input, we don’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

CRS SurveyWater Treatment

In 2020, we continued our ongoing efforts to better understand the market needs for water treatment products  in the United States, by commissioning research to build on the findings of an in-depth consumer insights study conducted in 2017. The 2017 study highlighted that, even if a consumer is aware of the risks of the presence of unhealthy contaminants in their water, such as lead, polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) and Chromium 6, they are confused about how to select a proper water treatment product. With these insights, we created selection tools to educate consumers and simplify the purchase process. The 2020 research gauged consumer knowledge and concerns about the quality of their drinking water, with the ultimate goal of uncovering insights that will help people find water treatment solutions they can trust.

We have conducted similar user forums and insight studies in China, India and Canada to ensure we are providing people with products that meet the needs of their markets. Furthermore, our China team visits more than 900 customers every year, including more than 400 water purifier customers, to better understand their needs and how to improve our products. 

Water Heating

The very high efficiencies of commercial heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for water and space heating loads lead not only to substantial utility cost savings for customers, but also to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to long-standing and ongoing customer engagement efforts in our water heating business, we understand there is a current lack of effective commercial heat pump water heater (HPWH) sizing tools in the multifamily and commercial sectors. Current industry sizing uses assumptions based on estimated peak water usage with large safety factors and can greatly oversize systems. 

For gas heaters, this is not a problem, as it encourages lower runtime and longer unit life. To control system cost, HPWH systems are designed to run longer and provide better matching of heating capacity with storage.

A. O. Smith is developing a new HPWH sizing tool that utilizes new methodologies to specifically optimize the best combination of HPWH capacity and storage volume to provide the customer with the best solution for their needs: never running out of hot water, while achieving the lowest cost and lowest emissions.

Research & Development

The foundation of our commitment to innovative, customer-centric and efficient products begins with our 750+ person global engineering team, operating in nine engineering centers around the world. Among other things, this team dedicates their time to new product development, testing and simulation activity in the fields of electronics, sensor technology, combustion systems, coatings, water purification, robotics, machine design, lean manufacturing and process automation.

As a continuing commitment to this team, our company, our customers and our shareholders, we have made two significant investments that will allow us to continue to be an innovation leader. 

Efficient Products

CRS 28As energy and water demand increases, our customers and communities look to us to provide products that help reduce energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and avoid single-use plastics. Our commitment to innovation and engineering excellence has enabled us to be a leader in meeting our customers’ demands, while at the same time working towards manufacturing products that reduce the impact on the environment throughout their lifecycle.

Water Heating

CRS 29Our water heaters and boilers are among the most innovative and energy-efficient in the world. Leading the way are our best-in-class, high-efficiency commercial condensing storage water heaters, boilers, tankless water heaters and heat pump water heaters. These products are among those that receive the highest efficiency ratings in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program in the United States, which only certifies products that are far above minimum standards set by the federal government.

CRS 222In our North America Water Heating business, 17 out of 18 product development projects either “in development” or “pending resources” are either zero carbon  or are high-efficiency (condensing) gas products, which typically support a  50% improvement in energy efficiency.

Outside of the United States, our water heaters are consistently recognized as industry leaders for innovative design and the highest level of efficiency, including Tier 1 status in China and BEE 5 status in India.

Water Treatment

CRS FWWe manufacture industry-leading water treatment solutions for households and light commercial installations that focus on efficiently delivering clean, potable water with low environmental impacts. Leading the way is our patented reverse osmosis (RO) membrane element technology, which decreases the amount of waste water from water treatment products by up to 200 percent. These best-in-class product offerings are affordable and effective solutions to address continuing concerns regarding water conservation, as well as emerging concerns about contaminants in drinking water.

Water filtration brings healthy, great-tasting water to the entire home or at a single point of use. It can drastically reduce the plastic waste compared to single-use plastic bottles. 

PFAS Contamination

In 2019, Aquasana introduced the first whole-house filter available direct to  consumers tested and certified for the reduction of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), lead and cysts. Named one of the Best New Home Products of 2019 by This Old House, the Aquasana OptimH2O® whole-house filter is certified to reduce more than 99% of lead and cysts and 98% of PFOA/PFOS, and also reduces 90% of chlorine/chloramines from every tap. 

Identifying, assessing and reducing per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) contamination is a critical environmental and public health issue in the United States. PFAS, and in particular PFOA and PFOS, are chemical compounds that have been  used in many products for their fire retardant, non-stick and waterproof characteristics. PFAS has been shown to have detrimental impacts on human health, and in some cases, has shown a correlation to an increase in cancer. In 2016, before there was an official testing protocol in place for PFAS, our Aquasana business worked with the NSF (a U.S. product testing, inspection and certification organization) to develop and become the first in the market to receive certification for NSF P473: a proven method for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS from drinking water.

Product Stewardship

We take a holistic approach to product stewardship. We identify and action opportunities to reduce the environmental and social impact of our products, throughout the product lifecycle, from concept to disposal.

CRS 3.7Reducing Plastic Waste: Water filtration products allow customers to “bottle their own” drinking water, which drastically reduces their plastic waste compared to single-use plastic water bottles. One Aquasana AQ-5200 under counter water filter lasts six months and can avoid the use of 3,700 16.9-ounce plastic water bottles.

Design for Reduced Impact: The “packed bed technology” we use in our Hague water treatment systems (representing over 25% of total North America Water Treatment FY 2019 net sales), eliminates dead space inside the softener tank and produces critical resource-saving advantages.

Raw Materials: We balance environmental stewardship in the areas of recyclability and end-of-life disposal in our material purchasing decisions without compromising product efficacy. Our water heaters and boilers, which are made of steel, are nearly 100 percent recyclable. We have worked with our suppliers on innovative ways to use and procure steel—our single largest material purchase—that meets our product standards while also reducing the associated environmental impacts from the production and transport of the material. The steel we procure in our North America water heater business is composed of 55% recycled materials. 

Product Quality & Safety Management

A. O. Smith is committed to achieving high standards of quality and safety in all aspects of our business. Our commitment to superior product quality and safety development is documented and implemented within our Guiding Principles, Quality Policy, Quality Policy Manual, Supplier Quality Requirements Manual and throughout all levels or our Quality Management System (QMS). All A.O. Smith sites have implemented our QMS based on ISO 9001:2015 standards. 

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