A Quick Guide on the Differences Between Direct Vent and Power Vent Water Heaters

Buying a new water heater can be an overwhelming task. From the design to the features to the cost, there are many considerations that should be taken into account. As you do your online research, you will find a lot of buying guides and different models. With this, one of the first things that you need to do is to know the two common types – direct vent and power vent.

In the rest of this post, I will discuss some of the key differences between direct vent and power vent water heaters. To start the discussions, I will give you a glimpse of what each type of water heater is. In the end, I will evaluate some of the factors that make them different from each other. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to choose a heater that is appropriate for your needs.differences between direct vent and power vent water heaters

What is Direct Vented Water Heater?

In the mechanism at which a direct vented water heater works, it starts with the burning of the fuel. This produces a combustion process, which results in heating the water. In short, it is the fuel combustion that produces the heat. It uses a coaxial vent pipe or a pipe within a pipe. Air is taken from the outside and it vents combustion on the outer pipe.

To make things clearer, there are two possible sources of combustion air. It can be from the inside of your house or from the outside, which will be passing through the venting pipes. With a direct vent water heater, the combustion comes from the outside.

They are equipped with a natural draft vent, which simplifies the process by which it is able to heat water. With this, the hot waste gases will be flowing through the open draft diverter and metal pipes until they are lead outdoors. At its most basic, you will need to have a chimney at home to utilize this type of water heater.

A direct vent water heater is an ideal choice if you have a chimney at home. If there is no electrical source, this is another situation wherein a direct vent water heater will prove to be the better option. With this, you can enjoy hot water even if there is a power outage, basically because electricity is not required for the heater to function.

What is Power Vented Water Heater?

On the other hand, if you live in a place where chimney venting is not possible, this is one of the several situations by which you can consider the use of a power vent water heater. In this type of heater, the combustion air is drawn inside the house in the space that surrounds the heater. There is a blower fan, which has the primary role of forcing the exhaust gas on its way out.

In the case of the most models of power vent water heaters, as mentioned above, there is a fan that blows the gases out, but not into a chimney. There is no need for the vent pipes to go upward in this type of heating mechanism. Instead, they will go horizontally. The fan also makes the air cooler, and hence, they will run even through a PVC pipe.

Nonetheless, there are some drawbacks with the use of this type of water heater. One of the most apparent is that there will be a noticeable sound from the fan. To remedy this problem, the heater needs to be installed far from the bedroom or living room. To add, they can also be 50% more expensive when compared to direct vent water heaters.

If you live in a place where a natural draft or chimney is hard to build, you have one good reason to choose power vented water heater. To add, this will also be an excellent alternative if you are living in a tightly built home.

Key Differences Between the Two

Now that we have discussed what the two types of heaters are, let us look at how they are different. On top of it all, the main difference lies on where the combustion air is drawn. In the case of direct vent water heater, the combustion air will be drawn from the outside. In contrast, with a power vent water heater, the combustion air will be drawn from the inside.

There are also differences in terms of the location where the heaters will be installed. Direct vent makes use of natural air flow. Because of this, it can be positioned at a distance of at least four feet from an outside wall. Nonetheless, power vent heaters will be positioned farther because there is an exhaust fan.

In terms of the costs that are involved, there are also significant differences between the two. If you are looking for a budget-friendly alternative, you should opt for the direct vent. Power vents are generally more expensive because you will also need to have a fan or blower, which has the primary role of pushing the exhaust gas.

More so, a power vent can be installed even without having a chimney at home. This is possible through using horizontal, instead of vertical venting. You can use a cheap venting pipe to do this. This reduces the costs that you need to shoulder, but still, when compared to the other type, direct vents tend to be the cheaper alternative since there is no extra power that is needed for it to operate.


With the differences between direct vent and power vent water heaters that have been mentioned above, I hope that it is now easier for you to decide on which one is more suitable for your needs. Regardless of which one you choose, they are both highly-effective in providing your household with hot water.

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