Investing in a high-performing water heater is a wise decision as it can help you save money on energy consumption and expensive services. Among the various types of water heating devices, power vent water heaters are becoming increasingly popular.
In this guide, we'll explore what power venting is and how it compares to other types of venting, the top features to look for, and tips for installation. We'll also provide a selection of the best models to help you make an informed decision.
Power vent water heaters (PV) are a type of water heater that use a fan or blower to expel exhaust gases through a dedicated venting system. They are also known as forced-draft or fan-assisted models.
Unlike traditional water heaters, which rely on natural draft to vent exhaust gases, power vent water heaters use a forced draft system to move the gases out of the home.
The power venting system typically includes a motorized blower, which draws in combustion air from the surrounding space and forces the exhaust gases out through a separate vent pipe. Due to the pressure created by a fan, the risk of negative pressure inside the home is significantly reduced, improving the air quality.
This allows the water heater to be installed in a wider variety of locations, as it doesn't require a chimney or other natural venting source.
Power vent water heaters can be powered by either gas or electricity, and are available in both tank and tankless models. They are generally more efficient than traditional water heaters, as they can extract more heat from the combustion process and have lower standby heat loss.
Additionally, they are often quieter and safer to operate, as there is less risk of backdraft or carbon monoxide buildup.
When choosing a power vent water heater, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you get the best model for your needs. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:
Here are some highlights of the advantages of power vent water heaters:
You should also be aware of several drawbacks:
One of the biggest differences between atmospheric and power vent water heaters is the way they vent exhaust gases.
Atmospheric water heaters rely on natural draft (buoyancy effect) to expel exhaust gases through a chimney or other venting system. This can limit the locations where they can be installed and also lead to negative pressure, which can suck the flue gases back into the home, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
However, because atmospheric water heaters don't have a blower motor, they are generally quieter and less expensive.
Power vent water heaters, on the other hand, use a motorized blower to expel exhaust gases through a dedicated venting system, providing homeowners with more installation flexibility. They are generally more energy-efficient and safer, reducing energy costs and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Direct vent water heaters (DV) have a sealed combustion chamber and do not require an electrically operated fan or blower, which makes them quieter. They usually feature a steel venting pipe, either solid or flexible, that carries combustion byproducts outside. Fresh air is drawn in from outside through an air intake pipe, in a single or dual-pipe setup. This type of setup can also be found in tankless models that use a sealed combustion chamber.
Compared to power vent (PV) water heaters, direct vent models usually move exhaust gases through a horizontal vent pipe without the need for a blower or electricity. Because they are often installed near an exterior wall, the vent pipe is typically short, but this limits the locations where they can be installed.
On the other hand, PV water heaters are more advanced and offer more benefits at a higher cost. They have higher energy efficiency, resulting in more savings, and they offer venting flexibility, making installation easier and eliminating problems related to back-drafting. PV models use a motorized blower to expel exhaust gases through a dedicated venting system.
If you're in the market for an energy efficient water heater that uses power vent technology and is made by a reputable US or Canadian manufacturer, there are several great options to consider.
Some of the top brands to look for include AO Smith, Bradford White, and Rheem. These companies are known for producing high-quality water heaters that are reliable, durable, and energy-efficient.
When shopping for the best power vent water heater, it's important to consider your specific hot water needs, budget, and installation requirements to find the right model for your home.
Over 20 different models from AO Smith use power venting and both natural and propane gas. Most of the models utilize low NOx burners, while only two have ultra-low NOx burners.
Power vent water heaters mainly come from the ProLine XE series, while only one is from the Vertex series, which is also the most efficient and ideal model to buy. The available sizes range from 40 to 75 gallons, with the 50-gal unit being one of the most popular.
The Vertex GPHE-50 is the power vent model with one of the highest energy efficiency ratings - over 90% - of all AO Smith gas water heaters.
The GPHE-50 is a 50-gal unit designed to produce a high water flow of 3 GPM for a continuous hot water supply.
Its high water flow, first-hour rating of 124 GPH, and recovery rate of 95 GPH are great advantages over other models, and are easily achieved using the unit's powerful burner with 76,000 BTU, advanced electronics, and fully submerged spiral heat exchanger.
The GPHE-50 water heater uses combined vertical and horizontal vents through the outside wall, providing more flexibility during installation. The vent pipes are made of PVC, PP, ABS, or CPVC material and have 4" diameter vents that can run up to a maximum of 128 feet. Other details can be found here.
The best-selling model from the AO Smith Proline XE series is the GPVT-50. This 50-gal model comes with great features and specs, including an energy factor of 0.72 and Energy Star compliance, a first-hour rating of 97 GPH, and a recovery rate of 56 GPH, making it great for 3-bath homes. According to the manufacturer, the GPVT-50 has an estimated energy cost of around $225, while the Vertex has an estimated energy cost of $186.
The RC2PV50H6N model is part of the High-Efficiency eF series, which is the most efficient PV model from Bradford White. This water heater has similar specs to the Vertex model from AO Smith. It utilizes a powerful and low-NOx gas burner that can provide up to 76,000 BTU, a high energy factor of 0.80, a first-hour rating of 120 GPH, and a recovery rate of 93 GPH.
This 50-gal PV water heater is equipped with a high-efficient dual-pass heat exchanger system and the ICON System for high performance, stable temperature, electronically controlled gas combustion, and smart troubleshooting. The Hydrojet System reduces sediment buildup so the unit can perform as designed.
The URG2PV50H6N model is a 50-gal model from the TTW Ultra-Low NOx series, which is a series of Energy Star models that utilize the Eco-Defender Safety System for safe and reduced NOx gas combustion. The model is equipped with the ICON system to ensure enhanced performance, accurate temperature control, and intelligent diagnostics for simpler troubleshooting. The Hydrojet Total Performance System guarantees efficiency and performance due to reduced sediment buildup. It comes with an EF of 0.68, a recovery rate of 60 GPH, and a first-hour rating of 107 GPH.
Rheem offers power vented water heaters in the Performance and Professional series.
The XG50T06PV42US model is part of the Performance series and is an Energy Star model with an energy factor of 0.67, a first-hour rating of 88 GPH, and a recovery rate of 42.4 GPH. The model offers several advantages over simpler models, such as a self-diagnostic system for easier troubleshooting, low gas emissions, and a durable silicon nitride ignitor.
The PRO50-38U model also has a 50-gallon capacity, but it has a lower recovery rate than the above model, at 38.4 GPH. It has a first-hour rating of 86 GPH and an EF of 0.66. It comes with the Guardian System and an ultra-low NOx radiant gas burner. The EverKleen system ensures consistent performance and efficient work by protecting the system and elements from sediment buildup.
Choosing the right location for your unit is crucial for its safe and efficient operation. When selecting a location, make sure to consider the following factors:
For the safe, professional and worry-free installation, contact the expert.
When installing a power vent water heater, it's crucial to choose the right venting system. There are two primary options available - the one-pipe and two-pipe systems.
A single vent pipe system can be installed as a concentric system (coaxial), where one pipe is used as a discharge and the other as an air intake. When internal air is used for combustion, a designated room must be provided with access to the air with sufficient supply. A coaxial system is typically the simplest and most affordable option, but it does have some potential drawbacks. For example, if the same pipe is used for both intake and exhaust, there is a risk of backdrafts that can push dangerous carbon monoxide fumes back into your home. To mitigate this risk, it's important to ensure that your one-pipe system is installed correctly and is regularly maintained.
Water heaters with two separate venting pipes (two-pipe system) use one pipe to supply air from outside and the other to discharge products of combustion, also to the outside. These can run either horizontally or vertically. This can help to reduce the risk of backdrafts and improve the overall safety of your system. However, since two pipes are required, this option can be more expensive and complicated to install.
Additionally, it's important to keep the following guidelines in mind for the proper installation of a power venting system:
Note: If a power vent water heater is installed as a replacement for an existing unit in pre-existing venting, proper inspection must still be performed to ensure requirements are met.
Purchasing a power vent water heater can be a significant investment in your home's comfort and safety. By considering the factors we have discussed and making an informed decision, you can enjoy reliable and efficient hot water for years to come.
One of the main benefits of choosing a power vent water heater is improved energy efficiency. These models are designed to be more efficient than atmospheric models, which can result in significant savings on your energy bills. Additionally, power vent models offer flexible installation options, making them an excellent choice for homeowners who need more installation flexibility.
So, if you are in the market for a new water heater, take the time to research your options and choose a reputable manufacturer and installer. Consider the benefits of power vent models, such as their improved energy efficiency and flexible installation options.
Maintenance for a power vent water heater includes flushing the tank annually, checking the anode rod, and ensuring proper venting and gas supply. It's recommended that you hire a professional plumber for maintenance and repairs.
Power direct venting is a method used in water heaters that uses an electric blower to pull in air from outside the home and direct exhaust gases back outside. They are more efficient and flexible than direct venting. Power direct vents can use PVC piping for venting, reducing installation costs. This method is an excellent solution for areas with insufficient air circulation, when using inside air is not an option, or when flexibility in installation is needed.
The size of your power vent water heater will depend on the number of people in your household and your hot water usage. A general rule of thumb is that a family of four will require a 50-gallon water heater, but you should consult with a professional to determine the appropriate size for your needs.