"Direct vent" water heaters

BW59October 6, 2013

Hello, I have lurked on GardenWeb for ages and have been incredibly grateful for all the great information. I would love some specific advice about my search for a new water heater. I'm doing some remodeling in which I am removing a chimney. My furnace already vents through the wall, so the only issue left is how to vent the water heater. I have natural gas and all other things being equal would prefer to stick with it. My plumber is recommending the AO Smith Voltex, a heat pump/electric hybrid. I'm in favor of energy efficiency but I am (1) not happy about losing hot water in a power cut; (2) suspicious that quoted efficiencies will be much lower in winter; (3) not clear that switching from gas to electricity is really energy-efficient however good the efficiency of the heater. Unless of course I were to go tankless, and I don't think I'm ready for that. Also the Voltex is not cheap, though it's less costly than running a special vent for my existing water heater through the house once the chimney is down (and there is a rebate on it).

My house is large (4 beds/2.5 baths) but I am usually the only one in it. I am in Boston MA. I currently have a 40-gallon tank and don't have any issues with running out of hot water even when I have visitors staying (rare). My gas bill in the summer is about $17/month.

Can anyone suggest a direct vent option, and are there any issues to worry about? I've heard concerns about direct vent pilots blowing out. I've been looking at the Bradford White UDS1-40S6FRN, but can't find data on its energy efficiency.

Thanks a million!

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Another consideration for the Vortex is that since its a heat pump it needs to have a significant amount of air to operate. This may be okay if its in a relatively open basement area, but a typical gas water heater cabinet would not work well.

Direct vent gas water heaters seem to be reasonably priced, especially if it going to cost you a lot to install a standard vent, but I don't have any experience with them.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 6:20AM
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Thanks, yes, it would be in a large open basement. In summer I think it would be a good thing to have a source of cool air in the basement. Winter, not so much.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 7:05AM
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Power assist direct vent are LOUD. You can't locate them close to a living area and expect to hold a conversation when they kick on.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:03PM
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the fan for the heat pump is supposed to be loud too.... so confused... :-(

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 7:45PM
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