Power vent or power direct vent recommendations

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by JASchneider, May 18, 2013.

  1. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Hello. Just bought a new, old house (1925) that has a crappy (or so I've read), but almost new US Craftmaster atmospheric-vented 50-gal tank. We're thinking of removing the furnace chimney for a kitchen remodel, as we'll also be replacing the very old and worn out furnace, so I'm thinking of just dropping some more dough and getting a better tank that's not AV. I might be interested in doing an incentive program, which means a model with an EF of 0.67 or higher.

    First off, I think I see a vast preference for BW tanks, with Rheem maybe a distant second. Also, I think plain old direct-vent will be difficult, because I had one in my old house, and the concentric vent looks like it would require cutting all the way through a rim joist to fit (my old house had a low foundation and pony wall, so that wasn't an issue). Plain DV would also require more replumbing.

    I have a laundry area that is by no means airtight and is also not near any living space, so I don't think noise will be an issue. I'm not sure whether the power drain of a forced-vented WH is an issue, given that these models also tend to be efficient on gas, but I've never really seen that question discussed. Supplying the power for a fan is not a problem.

    Anyway, I'm trying to decide on power vent or power direct vent, BW or Rheem. Thing is, BW's models mostly seem to have EF below the incentive target, until they get very pricey.

    So, looking for recommendations. Is there any more advantage to power direct vent over power vent if this isn't an airtight space? Is Rheem that much worse than BW? Should I be thinking about anything else?

    Thanks
  2. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2013
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,799
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I like the Rheem units too.
    You might also look into tankless if you have a good enough gas supply there.
  4. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Everything I've read about tankless makes me think I should stay away, or at least be very suspect. I see people are fairly happy with some Rinnai models, and I've looked at Noritz in the past, but they're pretty ridiculously expensive. My biggest worry is maintenance. I'm willing to drain a unit yearly and occasionally replace an anode rod, but don't want something that needs frequent professional maintenance.

    Do you have any experience with that particular Rheem model - 43VP50E2?

  5. Rheem has a huge footprint.....

    [​IMG] The Rheem power appears to be a good model.
    They seem to have finally gotten all the kinks out of the unit simply by
    copying the Bradford white design... and that is ok with me.....but
    the only thing stupid about Rheem power vents at this present time is in their huge size and footprint... I tangled with Rheem back in 2004 about this on the size of the Fvir normal heaters...
    .
    We recently had a 1999 rheem power vent go bad and
    the customer wanted another Rheem unit.. We brought it out to the home to install but I had misgivings about the huge size of the box it came in.. so I also brought along a Bradford white unit...

    It turns out the new Rheem power vents are well over a foot taller than ones made a decade ago.... in this situation it would have meant that we would have to CORE DRILL the side of the concrete wall to completely install a whole new vent out of the home...

    We had to install the Bradford white to get the job done that day..

    Our supply house does not have a clue about any of this but you would think that the folks at Rheem would have the common sense to make the heater as close to the same size as units they sold 10 years ago for the vast replacement market out in the USA..... this just seems stupid to me..

    We did not open the box and took it back.. Talked to our salesman and Rheem does have a 50 gallon SHORT model that no one stocks in town...They claim that they will get a few in town so I can try them......

    I have to assume that the short power vent gas unit is
    gonna be as broad and wide as my sister-in-laws ass....
    and it might not fit for that reason...instead of height.

    I like all the other Rheem products, but I simply cannot gamble on
    losing a day attempting to cram one of them into a home....

    Until they finally get their act together,
    I must stay with the Bradford power vents.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2013
  6. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Thanks, Mark. This is a house that's never had a power vent, and the room has good height (plus an easy path between floor joists out to the rim joist). I'll look at the specs and also those of the low version(s), and see what it looks like might work. The most comparable BW I can find is something like this, which has a better FHD than the Rheem, but also costs twice as much. BWs also seem to be harder to come by online, if a local supply house doesn't have them. PexSupply seems to be the main online source.
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  7. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Comparing the two heaters I linked above, the tank and connection heights are basically exactly the same, so I'm not sure what model(s) Mark had experience with. I think both companies also offer short versions of many models, but don't think I'd need that.

    My other question from the OP is whether there'd be any compelling reason to look at power direct vent vs power vent (exterior vs interior combustion air supply), given that it's not an airtight space.
  8. HEY, for that price on the bradford white I could probably
    ship you one from Indiana for 1250.

    I am just venting about the heater we were handed at the local Rheem
    dealer... I told them that they are not going to sell many tall heaters except
    in new homes.... it was done in a rather sarcastic way....

    if you find the specs on a short fat power vent from Rheem I would like to
    see how they compare with the short fat 50 from bradford white..

    personally I think that the Rheems have a tougher hide to them but
    when you cant install them due to the size , you just have to go with the best option that
    you got available

    you should just go with a power vent and stay away from direct vent units
    they are not popular and seem to be fadeing out everywhere... I dont think I
    can even buy one here in indy...and they cost a lot more
  9. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Thanks for the offer, Mark. I'll think about that. I also see Ferguson may sell these, but their online shop is completely broken, so I can't price. I'll call them, too. But the Rheem unit's still attractive for price.

    My question was power direct vent vs power vent, not regular direct vent vs power vent. I don't think I can do regular power vent (would if I could, to avoid all the mechanicals and power supply) because I need to vent through a rim joist. I had a regular direct-vent at my old place - a State - and it seemed fine, but again, I don't think I can go that route now.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    FWIW, BW doesn't like to sell to a homeowner, they much prefer to sell to the installer, which is the reason you're having problems finding them online. By only selling to a pro, they have a better chance of it being installed correctly - not a guarantee, but a better chance. I do not know how they'd handle a warranty claim if it was installed by a homeowner, but you may wish to check the wording. A pro's price out the door on a WH is likely lower than you can buy it, but he will take a justifiable markup to cover his time and efforts.
  11. JASchneider

    JASchneider New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Oregon
    Yeah, I've worked as a general contractor and dealt with supply houses for just that reason. I'd expect issues related to improper installation just wouldn't be covered, whether done by me or a licensed plumber. Either way, I'm most concerned with the quality of the unit and getting the right kind of unit for my situation, and then ease of maintenance down the line (one of the main reasons I'm staying away from tankless).

    I'll assume from the lack of responses that there's no compelling reason for me to go with a power direct vent unit vs power vent, given that I should have sufficient interior combustion air available.
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