Residential Direct Vent Natural Gas water heater install
I am converting my house to natural gas and need a new gas-fired water heater for my basement location, where the old boiler & burner were (good riddance to oil). I have two issues that I need some advice on.
First, I spoke with the plumbers whom are on my house job, and they suggested that I buy a Bradford White with Direct Vent 50-gallon capacity, which is (according to them) the proper size for my situation. I went online to the Bradford White website and found 2 that meet their requirements:
1- Model DS1-50S6FBN ("Residential Direct Vent Energy Saver Gas Water Heater" - 50 gallon, 42000 BTU)
2- Model DH1-504T6FBN ("Residential High Input Direct Vent Energy Saver Gas Water Heater" - 48 gallon, 50000 BTU)
I also went to Lowes.com and found a model listed as being made by Direct Vent (probably a GE or Rheem 'generic' rebrand): Item #: 205229 ; Model #: DVG62-50T42-NV
The price for the Lowes.com model is about $812. The price for the Bradford White models is between $1400 and $1600 (as seen on PexSupply.com, might be lower from a local plumbing supply company). Both have a 6 year warranty. Both seem to be similar / equivalent models with similar/equivalent ratings for EF and hot water recovery times.
So, my general question (from a layperson's perspective) is... is the Bradford White 'name brand' really worth double the cost of the Direct Vent 'generic' branded one?? I don't really care what's in my basement as long as it's reliable, makes hot water consistently, works even when the power goes out, and doesn't leak once installed properly. I will be having a professional plumber install the hot water heater, so there will be no DIY errors on my part.
Second, I am removing the old boiler + oil burner, which leaves me with a hole in the wall to the chimney. Can I have the plumbers put the hot water heater's vent into this hole for purposes of venting? If so, do I need them to install a wire mesh barrier so that crap from the chimney insides does not fall into the water heater vent pipe?
Thanks for reading... I know that it was a bit long-winded. I look forward to an answer so that I may make an intelligent choice on both issues.
- Chris S.