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The Great Water Heater Rental Scam

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  • Oct 22nd, 2018 9:59 am
Sr. Member
Sep 9, 2008
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I have a 40 gallon atmospheric vent gas water heater now and want to upgrade to 50 gallons. Is it worth upgrading to a power vented one or just stick with atmo. and lose the 5-10% in gas efficiency.
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Szharkov wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:14 pm
I have a 40 gallon atmospheric vent gas water heater now and want to upgrade to 50 gallons. Is it worth upgrading to a power vented one or just stick with atmo. and lose the 5-10% in gas efficiency.
Who is telling you that power vented water heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
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Sep 9, 2008
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pootza wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:19 pm
Who is telling you that power vented water heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
Looking at GSW Spec Sheets

Atmospheric - G950T40N-AV (0.61 EF)
Power Vent - G650S40N-PV-ES2 (.70 EF)
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Mar 8, 2005
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Szharkov wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:14 pm
I have a 40 gallon atmospheric vent gas water heater now and want to upgrade to 50 gallons. Is it worth upgrading to a power vented one or just stick with atmo. and lose the 5-10% in gas efficiency.
Don't bother. Just stick with atmospheric because it's self powered. You will still have hot water during a power outage.

Plus it's not uncommon that the vent motor go kaput. That motor itself is also very expensive.

Longer warranty on atmospheric heater too.
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pootza wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:19 pm
Who is telling you that power vented water heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
NG cost for water heater is so minute who cares about 5-10% anyway. I'd rather go for the more reliable passive/atmospheric vent. I'm pretty sure the $$ to run the power vent fan costs more than the extra natural gas that would be used on a similar tank without power venting.
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pootza wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:19 pm
Who is telling you that power vented water heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
Look up the ratings on the units.
The chimney unit alone is 0.58-0.63 and power vent 0.69-0.71 or ~13% more efficient.
If you could quantify the difference in conditioned air consumed and vented through the chimney, it would likely be a higher number.

But, we're talking like $2/mo if $10/mo gas consumption for hot water. Unless that draft jacks up your home heating bill by 20%, you're not going to notice at all.
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Dec 5, 2009
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Szharkov wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 3:14 pm
I have a 40 gallon atmospheric vent gas water heater now and want to upgrade to 50 gallons. Is it worth upgrading to a power vented one or just stick with atmo. and lose the 5-10% in gas efficiency.
I have researched the same and you will find differing opinions and no real concensus.

Here is what I have found.

- Efficiency should have no bearing in the decision. The difference is tiny. And the power vent offsets some of the gas savings too.
- Main benefit of the power vent is no risk of backdrafting. If that’s not a risk or concern , an atmospheric does have some advantages like ability to work in a power outage, typically longer warranties (6,9, or 12 years for Atmos VS 6 max for a PV), and they are generally cheaper to buy and install.
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Apr 9, 2015
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Last week I bought the GSW 60 gal and had it installed by an independent contractor for $300 all-in including pickup the WH from Lowe's. The rental WH from Enercare is 8yrs old without any service done to it. After installing the new WH I instantly noticed an improvement in water quality (softer and no odors). So happy that I'm rid of Enercare's junk!
For those who are undecided about the 60 gal due to it being $250 more than the 50 gal, just so you know it does has a brass valve rather than the plastic one on the 50 gal. This to me indicates the price premium may translates into better quality material used but I may be wrong.
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Dec 19, 2009
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 8:16 pm
Look up the ratings on the units.
The chimney unit alone is 0.58-0.63 and power vent 0.69-0.71 or ~13% more efficient.
If you could quantify the difference in conditioned air consumed and vented through the chimney, it would likely be a higher number.

But, we're talking like $2/mo if $10/mo gas consumption for hot water. Unless that draft jacks up your home heating bill by 20%, you're not going to notice at all.
But you can get atmospheric vented gas water heaters with a .70 EF rating so just wondering why the dude was making a blanket statement that power vented heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
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pootza wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 10:41 pm
But you can get atmospheric vented gas water heaters with a .70 EF rating so just wondering why the dude was making a blanket statement that power vented heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
I just went to GSW website and looked up their specs in 2 seconds.
I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find a more efficient chimney vent model. But you'll likely also find a more efficient power vent model.
The fact that it has continuously running pilot means the chimney models can never be as efficient as the others. Power vent will always be a bit more efficient.
Direct vent (non-powered) would be the best choice if you want electricity-free operation as you don't have a hole in your house venting your conditioned air that you paid for, 24/7.
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 6:29 pm
I just went to GSW website and looked up their specs in 2 seconds.
I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find a more efficient chimney vent model. But you'll likely also find a more efficient power vent model.
The fact that it has continuously running pilot means the chimney models can never be as efficient as the others. Power vent will always be a bit more efficient.
Direct vent (non-powered) would be the best choice if you want electricity-free operation as you don't have a hole in your house venting your conditioned air that you paid for, 24/7.
PV are for sure more efficient, but Efficiency rating should not be a factor in the decision. The few dollars savings a month is offset by the cheaper unit price, installation cost, and longevity of the atmospheric. Even taking a 10 year view the atmospheric will be cheaper. And that’s assuming the PV doesn’t break, which is common and very expensive to fix.

The only reason I can think to switch from an atmospheric setup to PV, is that you have (or are concerned about) a backdrafting problem. Just my opinion. As I said earlier there is no concensus on this.
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fdl wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 11:15 pm
PV are for sure more efficient, but Efficiency rating should not be a factor in the decision. The few dollars savings a month is offset by the cheaper unit price, installation cost, and longevity of the atmospheric. Even taking a 10 year view the atmospheric will be cheaper. And that’s assuming the PV doesn’t break, which is common and very expensive to fix.

The only reason I can think to switch from an atmospheric setup to PV, is that you have (or are concerned about) a backdrafting problem. Just my opinion. As I said earlier there is no concensus on this.
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As I already said, the monthly operating cost is trivial for the unit itself. We agree on that one.
The bigger elephant in the room is the heating/cooling of your home for a hole that is open 24/7 sucking out your conditioned air. It's essentially the same as leaving your window open an inch or so all year long.
Has anyone done a heat loss calculation difference to actually quantify that?
One that uses outside air through a sealed combustion chamber is going to be more efficient - that's the key piece you need to focus on as it might prove to be more expensive than you think.
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 10:41 am
As I already said, the monthly operating cost is trivial for the unit itself. We agree on that one.
The bigger elephant in the room is the heating/cooling of your home for a hole that is open 24/7 sucking out your conditioned air. It's essentially the same as leaving your window open an inch or so all year long.
Has anyone done a heat loss calculation difference to actually quantify that?
One that uses outside air through a sealed combustion chamber is going to be more efficient - that's the key piece you need to focus on as it might prove to be more expensive than you think.
A power vent doesn't use outside air for combustion. It uses the inside air. It just vents outside, so air infiltration is still an issue with a PV.

Overall It's complicated to quantity because there are a hundred other variables. Basically it comes down to how overall leaky your house is. It's also only really a factor during heating season. Lastly , some amount of ventilation/air exchange within a home is a good thing.
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fdl wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:24 am
A power vent doesn't use outside air for combustion. It uses the inside air. It just vents outside, so air infiltration is still an issue with a PV.
They come in both 1 and 2 pipe models. You would want the two pipe model.
Overall It's complicated to quantity because there are a hundred other variables. Basically it comes down to how overall leaky your house is. It's also only really a factor during heating season. Lastly , some amount of ventilation/air exchange within a home is a good thing.
Any house that has a chimney is old enough to already be very leaky and have lots of air exchange even without a hole in your house.
Any new house you would not be able to add a chimney, only side wall direct vent. In which case the point is moot, you're going to have the choice of powered or unpowered direct vent anyway.
Heating season is the single largest cost of energy in our homes, I wouldn't discount something by saying it only matters during heating season. That's when it matters the most if you're talking about reducing energy costs.

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