Differences Between Direct Vent and Power Vent Water Heaters

Differences Between Direct Vent and Power Vent Water Heaters

At Haley Mechanical, we understand that given the various terms used to describe them, choosing the right water heater can be difficult. There are several variations, and determining which is best for your situation can seem like an overwhelming task.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In need of a new water heater for your southeast Michigan home? At Haley Mechanical, we can help determine which type is best for your particular situation and your budget. Give our plumbers a call today!

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