A power vent water heater is not hooked up to your home’s chimney. Water heaters with a power vent exhaust their combustion products horizontally and vents it through a horizontal pipe that leads out of the house, which makes them especially good for homes without an existing chimney or those located in hurricane prone regions. Water heaters with this type of vent also typically use more energy than similar models with direct-vent versions since they provide fewer natural drafts and need fans to help expel the fumes and air from outside.
Power vent water heaters can be retrofitted into new construction as well as installed into existing homes, both types of installations usually require the assistance of a professional contractor who will know how to properly size and configure these appliances so they are safe for installation into your home. Water heaters with power vents come in 2 different types: natural draft and atmospheric models, both of which include their own set of pros and cons that vary depending on the location of the water heater as well as its intended usage.
The most common type of power vent water heater is a gas-fired model with an internal fan to help expel combustion gasses from inside the unit itself out through the ventilation pipe, this type requires electricity to operate though some models can be manually activated without it. Water heaters with this style are typically more expensive than other air-vented models but provide better energy efficiency thanks to their high SEER ratings (the higher the, the greater its efficiency) which can be considerable and typically come standard with accessories that can improve the typical energy usage of a water heater such as:
- WaterSense Certified labels indicating both its Water Sense and Energy Star qualifications, which certify that it has met EPA WaterSense program guidelines for both efficiency and performance. WaterSense labeled appliances must achieve an annual fuel factor of at least .91 or less than the national average yearly consumption of 1 year to qualify while high-efficiency models should have an annual fuel factor of 1.20 or less than the national average yearly consumption to qualify.
- Built in freeze protection which allows homeowners to turn off the unit’s heating elements during colder weather when it is likely that their water could freeze and cause damage to other components in the unit. Water heaters with this feature can also be used in places where freezing temperatures occur throughout the year such as Hawaii and Alaska.
- Auto-ignition which turns on the gas inside water heaters automatically when it detects that no one is in or around your home and then turns it off once someone walks into its line of sight (range varies by product), though some models will only turn on when they detect a very low temperature reading to minimize energy loss since many people do not shower when they first wake up in the morning during colder months and enable homeowners to set specific times at night for their unit will turn on so they can begin heating their home’s water before waking up, but also help save them money by preventing the unit from heating water when it’s not needed.
- Water heaters with an internal fan which blows combustion gasses out of the unit are typically more expensive than those without them, but use less energy thanks to their high SEER ratings which makes them good for homes that are located in areas where they regularly have hot weather year-round since this allows homeowners to leave their units off during these times and still be able to access hot water quickly should they need it. Water heaters without fans tend to have lower SEER ratings making them good for colder climates so homeowners can keep their units on during cold months to keep enough hot water readily available should they need it.
Water heaters with this type of vent also typically use a triangular-shaped flue, which has several main advantages over its square counterpart:
Water heaters with a triangular-shaped flue can handle higher vent pressures which is why they typically cost more than their square counterparts. – Water heater manufacturers and contractors highly recommend that the length of the water heater’s horizontal pipe should not exceed 5 feet since it can lead to problems such as exhaust gas reentering your home or cooling in hot weather when these water heaters are used in climates where temperatures regularly peak above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during warmer months such as Arizona and Texas.