When you’re trying to purchase a water heater, you’ll find that a water heater would be hard to decide on without hesitation. And for that reason, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to write an article on two of the most popular types of water heaters nowadays, to help you find your ideal heater. Hopefully, you’ll end up finding your preferred choice from our article of direct vent vs power vent water heater!

Direct vent vs power vent

Before comparing both of them with each other, let’s first look into them individually and find out what they are and how they work!

Direct Vent Water Heater

For proper combustion in a direct vent water heater system, the mechanism is connected directly to the exterior of your home, and this ensures that you get your air supply directly from the outside. 

Once the air is brought in for combustion from the outside, the byproduct (exhaust gases) are then supplied back out through the mechanism. This process is done in two ways in two different models. One model includes two separate pipes, a large pipe which takes in the air supply from the outside, and a smaller one beside it. The smaller pipe then removes the hot or exhaust gases back outside your home.

The other model involves the same two pipes, but this time, the large pipe holds the smaller pipe inside it, while both of them still carry out the same function. It’s very important to maintain the sealed vent system for both direct vent water heaters and power vent water heaters, as backdrafting can cause major issues for these systems.

Overall, there is a reason why direct vent water heating systems are so popular, and you can find them easily, if you’re looking to find the best direct vent water heater for your house.

What is A Power Vent Water Heater?

Power Vent Water Heater

One of the most important things to note about a power vent water heater, is that the power vent needs to be placed in an area with good airflow for the water heater to work to its full potential. This would then involve installing your water heater in a similar area, so that the process can work out smoothly.

The good airflow is key in the workings of a power vent water heater because of the fact that there is a fan or blower that is used to expel the gases that are produced as a byproduct. The gases are expelled through a sealed vent from your home, but it can be done in two ways. The conventional way would be through a horizontally built sealed vent in the walls, and the other one would be to make a venting system through to the roof of your home. The second way works especially well for a home with chimneys as they have easy access to air.

The vent itself will be sealed when created in the walls, and this is mainly to prevent one of the biggest problems that arise with venting methods; backdraft. This deals mostly with the air and how air flows in and out of the vent, but we’ll get on to this issue after we’ve discussed the direct venting system.

Power vent water heater systems are a great way to ensure your house has a good hot water flow, so it is a good idea to look into the best power vent water heater for your home!

What is Backdrafting?

When you’re using a power vent or direct vent system for your tank or tankless water heaters, you’ll want it to be as efficient as possible. This includes avoiding any backdraft. When in use, your tank or tankless water heaters will use the vent system to pull in the natural gas for use. After the combustion takes place, the exhaust gases will need to be removed from the system via the flue.

The exhaust gases are hot air, and hot air is lighter than cool air, which makes them rise up through the flue, and then be expelled outside your home. These gases are very dangerous for your health, one of the main ones being carbon monoxide. However, sometimes due to various reasons, the exhaust gases may be sucked back in through the mechanism.

This issue occurs when the indoor air pressure becomes very low. This may occur because of a few different reasons, one being a very high amount of air being released at a certain time from other appliances or even fireplaces in your home.

Mainly, a poorly built flue would constitute the main reason for a backdraft occuring in the first place, thus, it is key to make sure that your house has proper installation for these systems. 

Differences Between Direct Vent and Power Vent Water Heaters

Now that you know how each of these venting mechanisms work for your hot water heater, let’s look into the differences between them!

Energy Efficiency

Overall, the power vent is a much better system, whether it be used for your hot water heater or for other applications. Compared to the direct vent, the power vent is a lot more versatile, flexible and offers a higher range of benefits. However, power vents do use electricity for combustion and the fan, and that will inevitably increase the bills for your house.

Water Heater Location

Power vents as we have already mentioned, include a lot more versatility. With that in mind, they can have their water heater installation at approximately a 40 feet radius, thanks to the help of the long flues. If you use a chimney to expel the hot air, then the water heater will need to be near the chimney. Also, the installation of a power vent will need to be in a relatively large area in your house, as it requires a good airflow to work properly. Otherwise the machine won’t be able to run properly and you’ll faulty combustion.

A direct vent on the other hand, needs to have its water heater at approximately a 4 feet radius around it. This is mostly because of the fact that it uses a natural air flow, and in this way, you can ensure a good flow of hot water for your house.

Vent Noise

Power vents do use electricity to run a fan and other components, meaning it does run with a bit of noise. It won’t really be something that can annoy you, but it should definitely be considered.

Direct vents run quietly and you will often never even realize that they are operational, making them a very elegant air intake system.

Cost of Operations

If you’re looking for the more budget friendly option among the two venting mechanisms, then we may suggest the direct vent water heater system. When compared to the power vent, a direct vent is much easier to build in, and they also don’t use electricity.

On that note, a power vent uses a fan, which requires electricity, meaning you’ll need an electrical outlet. On top of that, there’s also a higher cost in building all of the components into your house when it comes to a power vent. This is without including any repair or replacement cost that might be required after one year or so. However, the repair and replacement cost of any component is something that will come in time for both systems.

Video Credit Haley Mechanical

The Takeaway

So, which one will you choose? Will it depend on the energy efficiency of one type? Or the ease of installing and maintaining the other type? If you’re looking for a specific answer of which type is best, there isn’t. However, you can definitely use all this information to find the best one for your house, when thinking of a direct vent vs power vent water heater. You can definitely end up finding a type of water that would be complemented by either of these venting systems. However, it is best to focus on all the different factors we have mentioned, and which would go best with your home, so that you can have your water heating needs met, and have hot water for whenever you need it!

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