I think I’d toy with getting a Bradford White, solely on the issue of the air screens. If memory serves, BWs have them on the side instead of the bottom, but I suggest you verify that, as things do change in this business.
But why does the tank have to be there? Is there any other place you could put it, even it meant some replumbing? This sounds like it qualifies for the Closet of Horrors in my Fun Stuff section. Any kind of water accumulation that covers the essential controls will render any water heater unreliable, if not downright dangerous.