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Thread: Power vent water heater?

  1. #1
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    Default Power vent water heater?

    I'm removing my roof vent (for furnace and WH) in a remodel so was looking at getting a power vent model rather than going with electric since it's still much cheaper to heat with gas even today. However, after reading here it seems the new FVIR req has made the gas heaters pretty cantankerous (and much more expensive).

    I need a 40 gal. Local supply house has the PV Rheem for $1100+. The other has A.O. Smith for $818. Didn't locate a Bradford White here and I understand they'll only sell to pros anyway. I could also get Richmond or Whirlpool (j/k on that last one - don't even offer a PV that I could see).

    I'm guessing a direct vent would be much cheaper, but I'm too far from an exterior wall and don't really want to move the heater to where it wouldn't be in a central location even though I'll be doing a pex manifold also.

    Should I just go ahead with an electric model? If so which brands should I stay away from?

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I have been using a Richmond (Rheem) power vent for several years and I really like it. Since I installed mine, the venting requirements have changed a great deal. I have to use 4" pipe and was limited to just a few feet. (I don' recall exactly how much) Today, you can use small pipe and run it quite a long distance. There are two negative issues that I can see with a power vent. They cost considerably more than standard vent models, and if you remove the old vent and close the hole in the roof, you are pretty well committed to stay with power vents or go to additional expense to reinstall a conventional vent. Those may or may not be serious issues for you, but I think you should be aware of them.

  3. #3
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    I do plan to remove the old vent and that's why I'm looking at the options. A vanity will cover over where it used to be upstairs. After seeing the issues with most of the new gas WHs because of FVIR, maybe I should just go electric. I know we'll have a lot of scale buildup though.

    My old gas heater still works fine, but it's at least 14 years old (it was here when we moved in).

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Rheme and Bradford White seem to have reliable gas WH, so I wouldn't let the FVIR thing be an issue. The tank will likely be taller, but if you are putting in a new vent, that shouldn't be a big deal.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    Are they worth twice the cost of the Richmond (made by Rheem) or even more than that of an electric?

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    DIY Member TheOak's Avatar
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    If you are going to convert to natural gas, and you are going to run new venting anyway ... have you thought about a tankless?

  7. #7
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    I already have NG. I'm getting rid of the current vent for other reasons. Just trying to figure out what's the best option for a new WH in the long run. Yes, I've considered tankless, but would only do it as a supplement to a new tanked one.

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default heater

    The power vent, if it also has indirect intake, does not need the FVIR because it does not draw air from around the water heater.

  9. #9
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    So they don't come with those parts or you can remove them?

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking get the richmond

    the new FVIR power vent heaters have gone up in price
    substantially.....

    if you can get a Richmond Power vent for about 850
    you had better grab it...

    they are sticking it to you at the supply house for 1100..


    Also, I suggest that you go with a 50 gallon heater.....

    if you are going to pay that much you might as well geta s much bang for your buck as you can with a 50 gal

  11. #11
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    The Richmond 40 gal PV is only $650. I didn't bother looking at a 50 gal. To be fair, I think the Rheem I was quoted was a 50 - they may not stock the 40.

    I thought $1100 was pretty steep but not having multiple Rheem dealers in town it's hard to compare. There are only 2 plumbing supply places in Terre Haute outside the big boxes. What would be a competitive price for a 40-50 gal PV Rheem or BW in Indy?

    Am I just better off moving it near an outside wall and getting a direct vent? No added electricity costs, expensive motors to replace, etc. My house footprint isn't huge (38x28), but right now it's central and directly below the planned second story bathroom we'll be using. However, moving it would put it nearly under the first floor bathroom my kids will use. Since I'll be using a pex manifold, will it make much difference in delivery time to upstairs?

  12. #12
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking Rheem power vents

    The 50 gal Rheem power vents will run about 800 with tax... Call the local
    Men... Hardware store in your area and they should be able to quote
    you on a 50 gal Richmond power vent


    I dont have any experience with any direct vent units...
    so I dont know what to tell you about any of them.
    they are not very popular in this area and I will rarely run into one....


    I do know if you are adding on a extra bathroom and you
    have some kids, eventually as they get bigger,
    you will wish you had gotten the 50gal unit vs the 40...



    .

  13. #13
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    We already have 2 full baths. We're just moving their locations to better suit the floorplan. And our boys are 18, 11 and 2 so the 18 yo will be gone before the 2 yo starts using up tons of water so I have no issue with only a 40 like we've had. If a 50 is also stocked and not much more I may consider it, too.

    I think I'll make a separate post about direct vents.

  14. #14
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I think you will find direct vents extremely expensive...

  15. #15
    DIY Member topshot's Avatar
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    Interestingly, the prices on Rheem I was able to find were that way. $100 or so more. The BW was $100 or so less. To me the units themselves should be nearly identical except for the motor and circuit board, which should add quite a bit to the cost. You shouldn't need the FVIR crap on them either since they both draw in outside air (though I know there are some models of each that still get it from inside). As an engineer, I don't see why DV would be as expensive (though the coax pipe is surely more than PVC) though demand for them may be so low there isn't the volume discounts.

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