There are a number of options to consider when choosing your next water heater installation. For instance, do you want gas or electric? If you’ve already been using a gas-powered water heater, or if your home came with an electric water heater already in place, you’d probably like to go the gas route to save money on operational costs each month.
Next, you will choose either a tank or tankless water heater. But wait, there’s one more option! A direct vent water heater. This isn’t a well-known system, relatively speaking, but it’s a very efficient and safe water heating system.
What Is a Direct Vent Water Heater?
Essentially, the difference between a direct vent water heater and power vent water heater (the one many homeowners are used to) is that the power vent system removes combustion gases from the atmosphere through a powered venting fan, while a direct vent water heater vent these gases into the outdoor atmosphere using a chimney or exhaust pipe.
Water is heated by the heat of fuel combustion, and 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 a power vent water heater.
In addition to being more cost-effective, a direct vent water heater is beneficial because it solves two main problems that a power vent water heater has:
- Backdrafting: You might be familiar with this term as it pertains to fire—it’s what occurs when a change in air pressure forces combustion gases back down and out of the draft hood. As you might imagine, this causes a problem—the air around the water heater can become toxic due to the presence of combustion byproducts such as carbon monoxide.
- Negative Air Pressure: As the water heater system draws air into itself from the surrounding room, it creates a disparity in air pressure, which causes more air to be sucked in from outside the home. This can cause issues for your HVAC system efficiency and your indoor air quality.
Knowing these factors, you may very well decide that this is a worthy investment for your home. And some more great news is that this works for tank or tankless systems!
“So, Then, Do I Go Tank or Tankless?”
Whether you’re considering a direct vent water heater model or not, the decision between going tank and tankless is also an important one. A tank water heater may be what’s been in your home for decades, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best choice now.
Tank water heaters today are built for efficiency. However, are you and your family using all the hot water in the tank every day? If you have a smaller family, or if it’s just you, then chances are you aren’t. This means that you’re paying for water to be heated, but you’re not actually using it.
A tankless water heater works “on demand.” It has heating elements within it, and when you turn on a hot water tap. It signals those heating elements to work. You will never “run out” of hot water, and you’ll always use “all” the hot water available! This is a great choice for homes with more occupants or even vacation homes that don’t get a lot of use.