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What is a Power Vent Water Heater?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019


Power Vent Water Heater

If you’re shopping for a new hot water heater, you may have come across the term “power vent” in your research.

“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.

The Two Types of Water Heater Vents

Direct vent and power vent water heaters are the two most popular types of water heaters on the market today. Let’s break down exactly how these two differ from one another:

Direct 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.

Power Vent Water Heater

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.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Cons of Power Vent Water Heaters

  1. Noise: 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.
  2. Cost: 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.
  3. Must Use Electricity: 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.

Unsure if You Need a Power Vent Water Heater? We Can Help!

So are power vent water heaters worth the extra price? Ultimately, whether you purchase a direct vent or power vent water heater depends on your home layout, chimney location, and preferences. If you’re unsure whether a power vent water heater is right for you, our water heater experts can help point you in the right direction!

Contact Empire State Plumbing online or call us at (518) 213-9256 today!

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3725 HWY 20
Nassau, NY 12123
1-518-313-5132
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