When it comes to purchasing any major appliance or piece of equipment for your home, there are a lot of decisions to make, not the least of which is what model of the appliance to get. The water heater is no exception. Sure, if you already have a storage tank water heater, it would be easy to just get another one and call it a day.
But this isn’t your only option. Today’s water heater choices keep efficiency in mind, and while a tank water heater may be the way to go, you’d do well to consider a tankless or direct vent model before making your purchase. Keep reading to learn more!
Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters
The very first choice you’ll need to make about your water heater purchase is whether you want a gas-powered system—which is typically more affordable month to month—or an electric one. Next, you’ll need to choose between a tank or tankless system. Almost all homes can upgrade to tankless if the homeowner chooses this, and there are many benefits to doing so. It is important to mention, however, that tankless systems aren’t right for every home.
Tankless water heaters use less energy, and offer hot water “on demand.” What this means is that while a storage tank water heater is constantly running in order to keep the water in its take hot enough for use, a tankless water heater uses heating elements to heat your water the instant you turn on the tap at a faucet.
A common misconception, however, is that tankless water heaters never “run out” of hot water like a storage tank can. Tankless systems do have their limitations. Therefore if you have a larger household or high plumbing appliance usage, you may choose to stick with a storage tank water heater after all.
Direct Vent Water Heaters
A direct vent water heater can be the storage tank model or a tankless system. Normally, a gas-powered combustion water heater pulls air near the bottom of the system into itself in order to fuel the burner assembly. Gases rise up through the system, through a draft hood, and through a pipe to the roof, where they vent out. Today’s water heaters are built with safety in mind and it’s not dangerous, per se, to have a water heater that’s not a direct vent. But there are two risks you face with this type of venting:
- Backdrafting: This is what occurs when a change in air pressure forces combustion gases back down and out of the draft hood. This can cause the air around the water heater to become toxic, due to the presence of combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide.
- Negative Air Pressure: When the water heater draws air into itself from the surrounding room, it creates an inequality in air pressure, which causes more air to be sucked in from outside the home—creating a potential for poor indoor air quality as well as HVAC inefficiency.
A direct vent water heater eliminates both of these issues by utilizing a dedicated vent pipe to receive and exhaust the air it uses for combustion. This type of installation gives homeowners the peace of mind that their water heater is operating as efficiently and safely as possible. It’s also important to note, however, that this type of water heater installation does require a bit more in the way of construction.