Rowing Crazy


“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing
We Actually Row!”

“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

Are Water Rowers Better Than Magnetic Rowers? [2024]

Are Water Rowers Better Than Magnetic Rowers?

If you are looking to purchase a rowing machine so that you can exercise at home or to add to your at-home gym collection, you might be wondering which type of rowing machine you should buy. Should you buy a magnetic rowing machine? Should you buy a water rowing machine? What are those, anyway? What are their advantages and disadvantages?

The simple fact of the matter is that water rowing machines and magnetic rowing machines each have their advantages and disadvantages.  Neither one is worse than the other. It all depends on your tastes, preferences, needs, and living situation. 

A water rowing machine simulates the natural feel and resistance of rowing on open water, by making the swishing sound of real water rowing.  A magnetic rowing machine however offers multiple resistance levels, plus is much quieter to use.  Both offer a great rowing experience, it just comes down to personal preference.

Master Table Image v1

Master Table Image v1

In the following article, we will answer all those questions for you and more. We will also include reviews of both a magnetic rowing machine and a water rowing machine to provide you with some options once you have decided which type of rowing machine is best suited to your needs and the needs of your living situation.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Indoor Rowing Instructor Laura Tanley using Concept 2 ERG rower

Magnetic rowing machines are an extremely popular type of rower, particularly for those who intend to use it in their homes. Magnetic rowers utilize a resistance mechanism which makes them quieter than the other types of rowing machines available, and they also happen to take up less space than the other types of rowers.

A rowing machine functions to offer a good workout for your cardiovascular system and your muscles by resisting your attempts to move the rower handle and the seat. The greater the resistance is, the more difficult your rowing workout will be.

Magnetic Rowing Mechanism

Magnetic rowers function through the changing of the distances between very strong magnets as well as a flywheel that spins and is attached to the rowing machine handle with a chain. You can adjust the resistance level on a magnetic rowing machine by using either a mechanical slider or by using the digital console controls, depending on which one applies to your magnetic rower. A magnetic rowing machine will offer you a rather smooth and fluid rowing action and will be exceptionally quiet.

One thing to note when buying a magnetic rowing machine is how much the flywheel weighs. As a rule of thumb, a heavier flywheel will offer a smoother ride. Thus, if you are choosing between two magnetic rower models and all other things seem equal to you, just go with whichever model has a heavier flywheel.

Magnetic Rowing Machine Advantages

Are Water Rowing Machines Better Than Magnetic Rower Machines

  • Magnetic rowing machines operate extremely quietly (sometimes almost silently) and are the quietest type of rowing machine.
  • Magnetic rowing machines are generally smaller and more compact than water rowing machines.
  • Magnetic rowing machines offer a broad spectrum of resistance levels.
  • Magnetic rowing machines do not require very much maintenance at all.
  • Magnetic rowing machines are oftentimes foldable, enabling easy storage of the machine when it is not being used.

Looking for an Easy Storage Machines – Read My Full Article

Magnetic Rowing Machine Disadvantages

  • Magnetic rowing machines fail to simulate the sensation of rowing on the water. But this should not be a problem for you if all you want is a workout.

Water Rowing Machines

Water Rowing Machines

Water rowing machines are the proverbial new kid on the block when it comes to rowing machines. This new, innovative technology uses a combination of paddles and water to generate resistance for your rowing workout. Water rowing machines also boast a smooth, quiet rowing action, which adds to their newfound popularity.

Water rowing machines are oftentimes constructed with elegant wooden frames as well as aesthetically pleasing designs. Those who exercise at home may find water rowing machines to be a superb choice due to their quiet operation, exceedingly low maintenance, and stylish appearance.


A rowing machine functions to offer a good workout for your cardiovascular system and your muscles by resisting your attempts to move the rower handle and the seat. The greater the resistance is, the more difficult your rowing workout will be.

Water Rowing Mechanism

A water rowing machine utilizes the paddles on a water flywheel positioned within a water tank to generate resistance. The flywheel is attached by a chain to the rowing handles, so pulling the rowing handle causes the paddles on the flywheel to revolve in the water tank. The moving water with its mass generates drag force against those paddles which in turn creates resistance for your workout. Higher resistance comes from rowing faster.

A water rowing machine tends to replicate more closely and accurately the sensation of rowing on actual water. It also tends to offer a smoother rowing action as well as offering constant, continuous resistance throughout the stroke cycle.

Water Rowing Machine Advantages

  • Water rowing machines operate fairly quietly.
  • Water rowing machines do not require very much maintenance at all. At most, the water in the tank will require an occasional change, but that is all.
  • Water rowing machines offer a smooth rowing action.
  • Water rowing machines offer consistent, continuous resistance throughout the stroke cycle.
  • Water rowing machines make a “whooshing” sound due to the motion of the water that can be very soothing to a user’s ears.

Water Rowing Machine Disadvantages

  • Water rowing machines are generally more expensive than other types of rowing machines.
  • Water rowing machines are generally larger than other types of rowing machines.

Magnetic or Air Rowers – See Who Won?

So Which Type of Rowing Machine Is Better: Magnetic or Water? And Which One Should You Choose?

Check oout our buyer's guide for rowing machines

Consider Your Noise Needs

For instance, both the magnetic rowing machine and the water rowing machine operate quietly, but if you live in an apartment and you have extremely noise-sensitive neighbors, you might want to go for the magnetic rowing machine, which is even quieter than the already decently quiet water rowing machine. But if you live in a single-family home, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference when it comes to noise level, since both types are indeed quiet. Operating a water rower will result in a “whooshing” sound that is not overly loud and which may be pleasing to your ears (or which may irritate your already irritable neighbors).

Consider Your Available Space

You can also consider the factor of space. A water rowing machine will generally take up much more space and be much less compact than a magnetic rower, so if you are short on space, go with the magnetic rower (it is oftentimes also foldable, so you can put it away when you’re not using it to save yourself some space).

If you have ample room and you want something beautiful, stylish, and permanent looking (if, for instance, you want it to look like an elegant piece of furniture), then a water rower may be much more suitable for you.

Water or an Air Rower? Which Is Better? Click Here!

Other Factors to Consider

If you want to more closely simulate the sensation of actually rowing on water, then a water rower will be greatly superior to a magnetic rower. But if all you need is a workout and you don’t need to feel like you’re actually on the water, then a magnetic rower will be more than adequate. And of course, there is always a matter of price. Water rowers are typically more expensive than magnetic rowers, so you ought to consider your available budget as well.

Click Here To See My Top Machines Under $500!

But if you’re not too picky or constrained on all the above considerations, just choose the one you like the best. Both water and magnetic rowers offer a good, consistent, challenging workout, are extremely low maintenance, and operate quietly.

Learn about the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Rowing Machine Reviews

Now that we have laid out all the advantages and disadvantages of magnetic and water rowing machines and the factors you should take into consideration when purchasing, let’s get into a couple of reviews of actual rowing machines, one magnetic and one water rower:

1. Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower


Teeter Power 10

Get the Best Deal at Teeter   Compare on Amazon

Teeter makes a great magnetic elliptical rower, the Power10. This machine powers in two directions, and dual directionality means you can work all of your muscle groups using just one machine. With traditional rowing, you will work out your back, biceps, quads, calves, and other muscles. Then when you change the direction you will work out your chest, triceps, hamstrings, glutes, and others. For a complete workout, this elliptical rower is the top choice.

Watch below experienced rower Rachael Taylor Using the Teeter Power 10 Rower:


This model comes with an app that offers you free training. So, if you are a little rusty with working out, and need some guidance on how to work out efficiently, this app can help you free of charge.

Zoe enjoying her workout using the TEETER POWER10

The Power10 is known for burning calories and increasing muscle definition. With seven adjustable levels of magnetic resistance, you can make the workout as smooth or difficult as you want. It can be adjusted mid-workout to meet your needs that dayOverall, this elliptical rower is a top choice for burning calories and building muscle.

Teeter Power10 Rower and Elliptical in 1 Features

2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower with LCD Monitor

View on Amazon

This magnetic rower from Sunny Health & Fitness gets kudos for being incredibly quiet. The rowing action makes no noise at all. The only thing that makes noise is the seat moving back and forth. This rower offers a great, challenging workout for a very reasonable price.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower Features

This model comes with a digital LCD display which shows you the time, scan, calories, count, and total count. Unfortunately, the display on the smaller side and is a bit hard to read, especially while one is actively working out.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower when stored

It also includes eight adjustable levels of magnetic resistance, which, as was mentioned earlier, can offer you a seriously effective and challenging workout. The machine itself is tiny and has an even smaller footprint when you fold up the seat. Overall, this tiny, ultra-quiet, compact, foldable rower that packs a surprisingly great wallop in the challenging workout category is a great choice, especially for those who live in a small apartment.

3. Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian SF-RW5713 Water Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine - SF-RW5713

View on Amazon

Another solid entry from Sunny Health & Fitness, this water rower offers you a steady and smooth rowing experience, applying consistent resistance for the entire stroke with its steel paddles and flywheel. This model is also designed to imitate the motions of competitive rowing using sixteen hydro blades.

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine Product Features

This rower comes with a digital LCD monitor that tracks your workout metrics such as total strokes, heart rate, total time, SPM, ambient temperature, 500 m time, and more. We found this display to be more readable than that of the magnetic rower above.

How to Store the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine

Although certainly larger and slightly noisier than the magnetic rower, this water rower doesn’t have too large of a footprint. However, if you are looking for a water rower with elegant wooden frames (learn more) and stylish design, this water rower, with its black steel construction, maybe too modernistic for you.


We hope this article has helped you with your decision of choosing between a magnetic rower and a water rower. For more info on each type of rower and a greater selection of reviews, check out this helpful resource.

Can’t see a machine you like? Click Here to see our Top Pick!


Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are air rowers better than magnetic?

There is no categorical answer as to which type is better between air and magnetic resistance rowers. It depends on your preference and living situation. Air rowers are like water rowers – the harder you row, the stronger resistance you will feel. An air rower simulates the natural resistance of rowing on water but can be quite noisy. Magnetic rowers, on the other hand, will have variable resistance levels that you can set. They are virtually noiseless. So the better rower type is the one that matches your preferences and needs best.

2. Are magnetic rowing machines quiet?

Yes, magnetic rowing machines are quiet. You can row while watching your favorite TV show or listening to music without the need to turn up the volume or wear earphones. If you have a baby or share the house with an elderly who is sensitive to noises or have sleeping issues, a magnetic rower is the ideal choice.

2 thoughts on “Are Water Rowers Better Than Magnetic Rowers? [2024]”

  1. Pingback: Ergatta Vs Peloton - Who Will Get You Ripped Faster?

  2. Pingback: What Rowing Machine Does CrossFit Use? | What Rowing Machine Does CrossFit Use?Rowing Crazy

Comments are closed.