Power Vent Water Heater

Power Vent Water Heater Models

RheemPerformance 40 Gal. Tall 6 Year 40,000 BTU Natural Gas Power Vent Tank Water Heater

Performance 50 Gal. Short 6 Year 36,000 BTU Natural Gas Power Vent Tank Water Heater

, there are several key differences between power vent and direct vents water heaters, beyond the blower fan that assists with exhaust in a power vent, we need to look at where the combustion (incoming) air is drawn. A direct vent heater draws the combustion air from the atmosphere outside your house; and a power vent heater draws the air from inside.

Two of the most popular types of water heaters today include the direct vent and power vent. Basically, the difference between the two is that the power vent water heater removes combustion gases from the atmosphere via a powered venting fan, while a direct vent water heater vents these gases into the outdoor atmosphere using a chimney or exhaust pipe.

“Power vent” is simply a term used to describe the way your water heater pushes out harmful combustion gases out your home. For some residences, depending on where your water heater is located, a power vent may be your only option. For others, a power vent water heater may be an new consideration to improve exhaust capabilities.

Power vent water heaters tend to be more expensive than direct vent water heaters, so sitting down and learning the difference between the two can make all the difference in your budget.

What Is A Power Vent Water Heater ?

Natural gas or propane hot water heaters are generally less expensive to operate than electric heaters, but installing a standard vent in a house without an existing chimney is expensive.

It’s easier to run the vent if you install a “power-vented” type of natural gas (or propane) water heater. This type of venting system is different from what you see on most gas water heaters. Most have a “natural-draft” type of vent, where the hot waste gases rise through an open draft diverter and into metal pipes, which eventually lead to the outdoors. Running one of these vents is complicated and may be expensive. It’s best left to a professional.

In contrast, a power-vented type relies on a fan to blow the exhaust gases out. Since this method doesn’t rely on the natural buoyancy of hot air, the vent pipes don’t have to go upward. They can go out horizontally, which usually makes them much easier to install. Further, the fan dilutes the exhaust with cooler air so you can run the vents with easy-to-assemble PVC pipe. Power venting is an especially good solution for more energy efficient, tightly built homes, where a good natural draft is difficult to establish.

The Two Types of Water Heater Vents

There are several differences between a power vent and direct vent hot water heater, and it’s obvious a power vent will result in higher cost – but sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. When you don’t have access to a vertical vent or chimney, a power vent may be the right solution for you.

Direct Vent Water Heater

When using a direct vent water heater, water is heated by the heat of fuel combustion. A direct vent system typically results in lower water heating costs, because the exhaust gases are vented vertically, with no extra power required as is the case with the power vent water heater.

A direct vent water heater is typical in most older homes. With a direct vent water heater, exhaust gases are vented vertically, and are hooked up directly to the home’s chimney. Combustion gasses are pushed out your water heater, into your home’s chimney, and out your home.

Where many water heaters use the air for combustion that surrounds the unit, a direct vent water heater draws air from the atmosphere outside of your house. Then, the exhaust gases, as well as excess heat from the process of heating the water, is vented back outside.

Special coaxial venting is used to separate the incoming and outgoing air so that a single vent can be used, rather than two. The venting runs horizontally through the side of the house and pulls and pushes air outside to prevent backdrafting.

Power Vent Water Heater

A power vent water heater uses a blower or fan to exhaust gases by pushing them through vent pipes that are horizontal. In some situations, this may be the only type of water heater that makes sense, because a chimney or vertical vent is not necessary. Some locations don’t have access to a chimney or vertical vent, so your options are limited.

The primary advantage of a power vent is that the water heater can be located in any area and does not require a vertical vent or chimney. It could be that the location where you want to install your hot water heater is not near the chimney, or your home does not have a chimney. Either way, a power vent can be vented by simply running inexpensive pipe horizontally. However, the drawback to this type of water heater is the total cost considering the blower/fan portion of the vent requires electricity to operate, the cost of the actual blower or fan, and running a power line to the fan. Essentially, because the power vent requires a fan/blower to operate, the costs of heating water will be higher over the power vent’s life span.

Noise is another disadvantage with a power vent, as there is a slight sound some homeowners notice when the blower or fan runs as the hot water heater is operating. For most people, the noise is not that noticeable or distracting, however it’s something you should be aware of should you consider this type of vent. When installed properly, the noise can be minimized or nearly eliminated.

A power vent water heater is not hooked up to your home’s chimney. A power vent water heater is vented horizontally and vents exhaust through a horizontal pipe that leads out your home. An added fan/blower pushes the exhaust gases through this pipe. Extra power is required to power the blower, and this power source is separate from powering your water heater. For example, a gas water heater with an electrically-powered power vent.

A power vent water heater pulls the air required for combustion from the atmosphere surrounding the water heater, and utilizes an electric blower fan on the top of the heater to blow the excess heat and exhaust through the venting to the outside atmosphere.

Installation options are among the strengths of a power vent water heater, because it can be vented vertically or horizontally, and can even use longer vent line. This provides plenty of flexibility when it comes installation.

In addition, a power vent heater uses the heat from the exhaust to heat water, they expel cooler exhaust and therefore are able to utilize PVC piping instead of metal venting.

Some manufacturers offer a hybrid design called a power direct vent water heater, which pulls the incoming air from outside the house and expels the exhaust back outside. Typically the same blower fan is used for both incoming and outgoing air. This is an excellent option if your water heater needs to be installed in an area that lacks sufficient air for combustion.

Pros and Cons of Power Vent Water Heaters

So are power vent water heater’s better than direct vent water heaters? The truth is, this model has its own advantages and disadvantages:

Pros of Power Vent Water Heaters

Easy To Find Manufacturers, Installers, And Spare Parts

This is not like with mobile water heaters that there are some difficulties to find spare parts or professional installers in some regions. There are plenty of top tier manufacturers and installers for a power vent water heater. It is simple to find spare parts as well. There are no special issues for it disposal at the end of its lifecycle.

Can Be Located Anywhere: 

The main advantage of a power vent water heater is its flexibility to be located wherever you please, not just where there is vertical vent / chimney access. By simply installing a horizontal pipe, your water heater can be placed wherever it’s convenient for your layout.

There are many advantages to using a power vent water heater, but the ability to install your heater anywhere is arguably the biggest. Since these type of water heaters do not require vertical venting, a power vent water heater can remove the gases through a horizontal vent. In some situations, a horizontal vent may be your only option. 

reduce installation costs by installing a power-vented model that can be easily vented out a sidewall.

Lower Potential to Backdraft:

Because power vent water heaters that have a built-in fan that pushed exhaust gas (comprised of carbon monoxide) out, there’s lower potential that your appliance will backdraft. Backdrafting is when your water heater exhaust is leaks out inside your home rather than safely exiting your home through the vent. Backdrafting can be harmful to your machine in addition to being unsafe for you to breathe in.

Energy Saving

Energy savings is another benefit. Power vent water heaters are more energy efficient, so they require less gas to operate. The lower energy consumption will save you some money, but probably not more than $20 a year, making this an added benefit, but not a deciding factor.

In addition, many home owners use these heaters to simply improve the removal of exhaust and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the added layer of safety. Since a power vent water heater eliminates the potential for backdraft, they greatly lower the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, although it is not totally eliminated. 

An often overlooked issue is that many newer homes are built with energy efficiency in mind. Because they are “tightly built” it can often be difficult to establish an acceptable natural draft for venting. A power vent water heater can be a good option for this situation.

Cons of Power Vent Water Heaters

Noise: 

You may notice the sound of the fan. Ideally the water heater will be in a room away from the main living area so it doesn’t become bothersome.

Some homeowners with power vent water heaters notice the added noise of the fan that operates when the hot water heater is running. Depending on where you choose your water heater to be located in your home, this may not be an issue, but it’s important to note if you’re sensitive to sound.

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks with everything, and a power vent water heater is no exception. To begin with, they are noisy. They don’t sound like a mac truck, but you will hear the fan running. This isn’t typically an issue if your heater is installed in a basement or other out-of-the-way location, but if it’s nearby a living area, you’ll most likely know when it’s operating.

Cost

In addition, power vent heaters cost more, between 50 to 75% more than a direct vent heater, and they have a shorter warranty too. In most cases, 6-years would be considered a top-of-the-line warranty.

Rheem usually offers a six year warranty for its power vent water heater line.

 Because of the added fan/blower, power vent water heaters typically cost significantly more than their direct vent counterparts. You must also be mindful of additional costs that may arise, like the electricity to run the blower and/or additional piping you may require.

Must Use Electricity

You have to provide a standard electrical receptacle near the unit to supply power for the fan.

 The blower in power vent water heaters must be attached to an electrical source to run. Depending on where your water heater will be located, you may have to install an extra electrical outlet nearby, which is another cost factor. This also means that if the power goes out, you water heater will stop running, unlike direct vent standard gas water heaters.

Another disadvantage is that the fan will need to be plugged into an electrical outlet. If you have a nearby electrical outlet, no problem, but if you don’t, you’ll need to have one installed.

One thing that many homeowners enjoy about gas water heaters is the fact that the water heater will operate even during a power outage. That’s not true with power vent water heaters. If your electrical power is interrupted, your water heater stop working because it won’t be able to vent it’s gases.

Water Heater Power Vent Conversion

Although technically possible, we highly recommend NOT retrofitting a regular heater to a power vent system. Attempting to convert a regular heater will almost certainly void your water heater warranty. Even worse, it may void your home warranty, or should you experience a serious malfunction, it may even cause an issue with an insurance claim.

Most premium manufacturers, such as Rheem and A.O. Smith sell power vent water heaters, and it would be in your best interest to purchase a heater that is designed for this type of venting instead of attempting to do a retrofit.

Changing the way a water heater vents it’s exhaust is asking the heater to perform in a way that it was not designed to operate. This is not a DYI project, and if you are still seriously considering retrofitting your heater, please contact a professional water heater installer to discuss your options. The safety of your family is not worth saving a few dollars!

Best Power Vent Water Heaters

ProLine XE 50 Gallon Power Vent

The ProLine® XE Power Vent gas water heater is engineered to maximize efficiency, while offering greater flexibility in installation options.

Featuring a 50-gallon (nominal) tank and a 40,000 BTU gas burner, the GS6 50 YBVIS Power Vent delivers a first hour rating of 79 gallons and a recovery rate of 44.72 gallons per hour. With an 0.72 Uniform Energy Factor, this water heater is ENERGY STAR® qualified. It carries a 6-year limited warranty, and meets Low NOx emission requirements.

You can shower during 34 minutes. These are the number of minutes that you can enjoy a shower before running out of hot water. Assumes a 2.2 GPM flow rate.

The ProLine® XE Power Vent gas water heater is engineered to maximize efficiency, while offering greater flexibility in installation options.

ProLine XE 40 Gallon Power Vent

Featuring a 40-gallon (nominal) tank and a 50,000 BTU gas burner, the GS6-40-YRVIT Power Vent delivers a first hour rating of 87 gallons. With an 0.70 Uniform Energy Factor, this water heater is ENERGY STAR® qualified. It carries a 6-year limited warranty, and meets Low NOx emission requirements.

You can shower during 28 minutes. These are the number of minutes that you can enjoy a shower before running out of hot water. Assumes a 2.2 GPM flow rate.

A.O. Smith 50-Gallon ProMax Power Vent

The A.O. Smith GPVL-50 ProMax Power Vent 50-gallon gas water heater is an excellent choice. It’s hard to go wrong with an A.O. Smith heater, and this water heater is no exception. It utilizes a state-of-the-art electronic gas control, Dynaclean II dip tube, and 2-inch thick environmentally friendly insulation to improve energy efficiency. One unique feature of the GPVL-50 ProMax is the 3-position rotatable blower which gives you plenty of flexibility. 

Rheem 50-Gallon Power Vent Water Heater

The PROG50-42N 50-gallon power vent water heater by Rheem has an energy efficiency rating of .67 and delivers an impressive first hour rating (FHR) of up to 87-gallons, which is a solid performance for a 50-gallon tank.

It utilizes a low Knox design, eco-friendly burner and electronic gas control. Rheem is a well respected, premium manufacturer and this is an excellent choice if you’re in the market for a 50-gallon water heater.

RheemPerformance 40 Gal. Tall 6 Year 40,000 BTU Natural Gas Power Vent Tank Water Heater

  • 40 & 50 gallon capacities
  • Up to 42,000 Btu/h burner capacity
  • 6 years warranty

Overview

PERFORMANCE Power Vent gas water heaters offer up to 100 foot vent runs and the 50 and 40-Gallon Models are ENERGY STAR approved

Efficiency
Performance

  •  FHR: Up to 88 gallons, depending on based on model
  • Recovery: Up to 42.4 GPH at a 90 F rise, depending on model

Self-Diagnostic System

  •  Electronic diagnostic gas control valve for improved monitoring and service

Low Emissions

  •  Eco-friendly burner, low NOx design

Features

  •  Uses indoor air for combustion; blower exhausts the flue gases
  • Standard 120 VAC electrical connection
  • New whisper quiet blower

Maintenance Free Burner System

  •  Exclusive air/fuel shut-off device
  • Maintenance free no filter to clean
  • Disables the heater in the presence of flammable vapor accumulation

Flexible Venting Options

  •  Long venting lengths up to 100 equivalent feet
  • PVC, ABS, or CPVC vent pipe options
  • Vertical or horizontal termination

Longer Life

  •  Patented anode rod design provides long-lasting tank protection

Plus

  •  Temperature and pressure relief valve included
  • Low lead compliant
  • Durable Silicon Nitride Ignitor (HSI)
  •  Standard replacement parts

Specifications

Dimensions
Product Depth (in.)19.75″
Product Height (in.)59″
Product Width (in.)19.75″
Details
Fuel TypeNatural Gas
UEF0.69
Install LocationIndoor
Carbon Reduction LevelNo Rating
Primary Warranty6 Yrs
Number Of Back To Back Showers1
Tank Capacity40

American Standard Tankless Natural Gas Water Heater

The American Standard TCWH199S-AS-NG is a tankless natural gas power vent water heater. It features an impressive 96% efficiency rating as well as a durable design with two heat exchangers built out of 304-grade stainless steel. It’s competitively priced for a gas tankless heater, and with proper care and maintenance should be able to achieve a 20+ year service life.

Power Vent Heater Costs

Since power vent heaters feature more components than their direct vent counterparts, they are typically more expensive. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay between $300 to $600 more for the power vent water heater itself, but you’ll also spend more in installation.

Keep in mind, if you don’t have an electrical outlet near the water heater, you’ll need to have one installed which will also add to the installation price. 

Ultimately, your costs will be determined by the type of water heater you choose. Since power venting refers to how the exhaust gases are removed from the surrounding atmosphere of the water heater, and not a particular style of heater. You can find power vented water heaters in both tank-style and tankless models.

Quality tankless water heaters are typically more expensive than tank-style systems, but there are manufacturers that sell lower cost units. A good example of a budget-friendly power vent tankless is Eccotemp FVI112-LP, which is a great option if you need a water heater for a vacation home, small home, or any other low use environment.

Power Vent Water Heater Installation

Generally speaking, a power vent water heater is easier to install than other natural draft or direct draft type heaters. Since power venting doesn’t rely on the natural buoyancy of hot air, the vent pipes don’t need to go upwards. And because a fan is used to remove the exhaust gases outside, the venting can actually run horizontally, making them easier to install.

Instead of metal venting, PVC piping is used which is less expensive and much easier to assemble. The reason PVC piping can be used is because the fan blows cooler air and dilutes the hot exhaust gases. Since the end result is cooler and diluted exhaust, PVC piping is more than capable of handling the venting.

There are two installation factors you need to be aware of which are especially unique to power vented water heaters. First, you’ll need to have a standard electrical outlet near the water heater so you can power the blower fan. 

The second consideration is that there is enough ventilation available to provide make-up air. The fan will be pulling and air from the atmosphere surrounding the water heater, there needs to be enough ventilation to replace the air that the fan draws.

Even though power vent heaters are easier to install, you should check with your local building department to see if you’ll need a permit. If you hire a professional plumber to do the work for you, this will be part of the installation process.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Caulk gun
  • Corded drill
  • Hole saw kit
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Pipe wrench
  • Tube cutter
  • Wire stripper/cutter

You’ll need wiring and plumbing tools to install a power-vented water heater, as well as a hammer drill and masonry tools if you’re running the vent through a masonry wall.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Caulk
  • Electrical box
  • Electrical wire
  • Power-vented water heater
  • PVC pipe and fittings
  • Receptacle

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