Gas Water Heater Pilot Question

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Quibbley, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Quibbley

    Quibbley New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    I am replacing my existing natural gas water heater. Also, I will be relocating the new unit. The new location requires the water heater to be vented horizontally out the foundation. The unit will be placed adjacent to the foundation wall. They are no windows near by. Venting in this location should not be a problem.

    I would like to replace the existing unit with a more effeicient unit, i.e. one with out constantly burning pilot. I don't want a tankless.

    Does any manufacturer make such a unit?
    What is this feature called?
    I assume these units cost more money. Do units without a constantly burning pilot really save that much money, i.e. are they worth the extra dollars?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Quibbley
  2. GoingTankless

    GoingTankless Plumber

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    NJ
    pilotless ignition

    Hi,
    The only pilotless I have ever seen is a Tankless unit. As far as I know there is no Tank type heater out there with this option. I could be wrong but I just never heard of one.
  3. Lancaster

    Lancaster New Member

    Messages:
    164
    If I understand your installation correctly,(i.e. venting horizontally through a wall as opposed to a vertical chimney) you will probably be requiring a power vent unit.(Some applications can use a direct vent).
    All modern power vent models that I have seen have either intermittent pilot or spark to pilot.These would all qualify as "pilotless" in the sense that they dont have "standing" pilots.
    Be aware upfront that the power vent units cost considerably more than the conventional vent models-as much as half again as much.Thats a considerable amount of payback to counter with the savings of not having a standing pilot.But if you are venting thru a wall,you cant use a conventional vent anyway,so the point is moot.
  4. brad white power vent

    http://www.bradfordwhite.com/pdfs/residential/102.pdf


    the brad white power vent are pretty good


    in a lot of areas you simply cant just run a metal vent out the side of
    the house without takeing it up above the roof line

    the power vent has a spark ignition
    and it costs about $685
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    My Rheem Power Vent has an electronic ignition. When it is time to heat water, the pan heats until the gas ignites. Work very well. This is an older heater that uses 4" PVC or ABS pipe to vent out the side of the foundation. I understand newer models use smaller pipe, perhaps 2"(?)
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    vent

    If you are going out of the sidewall, you need a direct vent model anyway, and most of them are pilotless, because they do not start the gas flow until the blower is up to speed.
  7. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND
    The vast majority of residential, direct vent heaters are standing pilot, and do not utilize draft fans, or line voltage components of any kind.

    Powervents, on the other hand, are exhaust only. Combustion air is obtained from the bottom of the heater, and ambient air from the room is mixed at the draft inducer. The ambient air mixed in allows the unit to be vented with PVC.

    Direct vent heaters take their combution air from outdoors. Most heaters use a concentric style vent system, a pipe within a pipe. The flue gasses are discharged through the center pipe, and the combustion air is supplied from the outer pipe. These units, unless fan-forced, utilize metallic vent pipes.


    Standard, atmospherically vented wh's can be converted to sidewall venting. This requires a Tjernlund or Field fan installed on the flue of the wh, with a sensor on the gas manifold to start the fan, as well as a spillage interlock to interupt the thermocouple voltage to the gas valve is the fan is inoperable or plugged. Such units are vented with metallic pipe. Such a system costs more than a powervent unit.
  8. Quibbley

    Quibbley New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks to everyone who responded!!

    One more question:

    Since the power vent w/h's do not have a standing pilot, are monthly cost savings worth the extra cost of the w/h?

    I am considering the Bradford White direct vent or their power vent. I did not see any energy usage information on their website so I cannot see how much the estimated annual cost is for either model.

    What are the disadvantages of a power vent w/h?

    Thanks...
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    With any combustion device inside of the house, the combustion air needs to come from somewhere. Unless you duct outside air into the area where the thing is, the device will suck air in through cracks or gaps in the house. This means you will be introducing outside air and exhausting air that you've potentially paid dearly for (heating or a/c). So, not only counting the efficiency of the heater (and you should be able to find thaton the website in the spec sheet), a unit that is not powervented, or supplied with an unrestricted source of combustion air from outside, you need to try to figure out how much extra you are using from having to now condition all of that extra air that got sucked into the house to make the thing operate.
  10. Quibbley

    Quibbley New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    I decided I would stick with the Bradford White direct vent water heater as opposed to the power vent model. The reason being is (1) the power vent model (50 gal., not available in 40 gal.) has the same energergy rating as the direct vent model (40 gal.), and (2) The power vent model is more expensive than the direct vent model.

    Conclusion: Since I am single and would not need the extra capacity of a 50 gal. water heater and there is no monthly cost savings, why spend the extra money for the power vent? I would never recovery the benefit of the extra capacity if I never used it.

    Thanks again to everyone who responded.
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    But will you be single in 2-5 years.
  12. Quibbley

    Quibbley New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    Good point Cass. That thought had occurred to me. If I should find myself married or otherwise not single I will probably rent my current house and buy a larger one.
  13. Lancaster

    Lancaster New Member

    Messages:
    164
    Rheem,for one,sells a 40 gallon power vent.I was not aware that a Direct Vent unit could go horizontally through a wall.I have only seen them vent thru roofs.And I have only seen maybe one of those.They just dont get used very much around here.
  14. Quibbley

    Quibbley New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    abikerboy - Thanks for the offer, but I have already ordered the direct vent water heater. I did not know that a water heater could be retro-fitted with such a device.

    Thanks for your help.

    Jeff
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