I am planning to replace my water heater in the next couple of weeks and I'm facing a dilemma. I can save about $500 if I go with a water heater from Lowes/Home Depot/Sears vs. getting it installed by a local plumber. What is the added benefit from using the local plumber?

I have been looking at the higher-end water heaters from the big stores (12-year warranty with more insulation, ...). So, would I get a water heater that much better from a plumber?

Thanks for your opinion.