All You Need to Know about Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters are highly efficient systems in heating water and they are absolutely a good choice when it comes to price whenever you are going to buy a brand new water heater.  Even if you have an electric water heater already at home, you may want to switch to a gas water heater in case you would like to enjoy the many benefits and savings that a natural gas or propane water heater can give.

Natural Gas or Propane (LP)

When you are going to buy yourself a gas tank-type water heater or a gas tankless water heater, you can utilize both natural gas and propane (LP) as long as you can easily have access to this type of fuel in your area.  The thing is, the location of the gas water heaters inside your home might be restricted by access to the fuel supply line.

In order for you to run propane water heaters, you will need liquid propane (LP), a storage tank and a regular fuel delivery service.  The performance of propane water heaters is pretty much the same as that of the natural gas water heaters.

When you are comparing natural gas versus propane, you will learn that the energy factor (EF) is almost the same for most brands of gas water heaters.

When you are using natural gas as your choice of fuel, you can also opt to have a common heating unit that provides not only hot water delivery, but also heating for your home.

Nonetheless, both the tank-type and tankless gas water heaters have the ability to produce hot water very quickly.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Gas Water Heater

Basically, there are two basic things you need to consider when choosing a gas water heater for your home:

1.  Determine which size is the right one for your needs at home.

Storage, free standing, or tank-type gas water heaters are generally installed in a designated room.  As for the tankless gas water heater, due to its small size and venting options, you can install it at just about any room you want, especially in places that are close for point of use.

The 40-gallon and 50-gallon capacities are considered to be the most popular sizes of tank-type gas water heaters because they are sufficient enough for a family of 4 to 6 members and middle-size homes with up to 2 or 3 bathrooms.

2.  Choose the best venting option.

Another important thing to consider when buying gas water heaters, when either installing or troubleshooting, is the options for venting.

When the gas water heater unit is running, it needs air for igniting and combustion, wherein the air can be utilized either from the household or the air from the outside.  On the other hand, choosing the best venting option is very important due to safety reasons – the flue is conveyed outside either by natural draft or by powered vents.

Venting options include:

  • Conventional Atmospheric Vent – the conventional or traditional venting option is the atmospheric vent which is by the use of a chimney.
  • Direct Vent – There is no chimney or blower required.  It vents directly out the wall.
  • Power Vent – Pretty much like a direct vent but it is aided with an electrical power vent called the blower.

The Advantages of Using Gas Water Heaters versus Electric Water Heaters

  • A gas water heater can heat water twice as faster than the electric units.
  • A gas water heater costs less to operate than the electric units.
  • A gas water heater is designed to be highly efficient than the electric units.
  • There are many varieties of gas water heaters (tank, tankless, and a combination of gas-fired burners and tank-type heaters) unlike the electric ones.
  • A gas water heater has a higher recovery rate.  A 50-gallon gas water heater has an average recovery rate of 80 to 90 gallons per hour whereas an electric 50-gallon electric water heater has an average recovery rate of about 60 gallons per hour.

Basic Parts of a Tank-Type Gas Water Heater

Below are typically the basic parts of a tank-type gas water heater unit:

  • Tank for the storage of water
  • Draft hood
  • Glass lining (for metal tank protection against corrosion).
  • Flue tube
  • Dip tube
  • Anode rod (for protection against corrosion)
  • Burner
  • Drain Valve
  • Thermocouple
  • Combustion chamber
  • Gas valve
  • Pilot light or electrode
  • Blower on power vented units
  • Thermostat
  • T&P Valve (temperature and pressure relief valve)

How a Tank-type Gas Water Heater Works

If you compare the parts of a gas water heater from an electric one, you will notice that the gas water heaters (both tank type and tankless) have more parts wherein some of them are expensive and complicated (such as the venting on tankless units or the valves).

Once you open a hot water tap, the water is then drawn off the top of the tank via the hot water outlet.  Simultaneously, cold water enters from the bottom via the dip tube.

The thermostat detects the cooler water and then turns on the gas at the gas valve and the burner which is mounted at the bottom of the tank.  A safety element called the thermocouple sends the signal to the gas valve in order to open it only when there is a presence of a pilot flame.

Tips for Saving Money with a Gas Water Heater

If buying your very own gas water heater can prove to be very expensive for your budget, you can actually rent one instead.  If you rent a gas water heater unit, you will have peace of mind, and if in case something goes wrong with your gas water heater, rest assured you are covered with parts and service.

If you are planning to retire your old water heating system to a new model, using natural gas or propane, then you need to consider a few factors:

  • It is actually very easy to convert to natural gas water heater.
  • If you have no chimney in your house, using direct or power-vented water heaters are your best choice.
  • If you have a chimney, then it has to be checked out by a professional.  It needs to be cleaned and maybe even resized if need be, or you can just utilize a direct or power vent option.
  • It is actually very easy to replace an old natural gas water heater with a newer unit, but you need to check first the venting options available for you.
  • Keep in mind that older water heaters are much less energy efficient than the newer models today.

Helpful Tip When Buying a Gas Water Heater

Did you know that about one-third of the energy used in our homes is accounted for water heating, whereas showers alone use as much as one-third of all of our household water?

When you are buying a gas water heater unit, you must look for one that has a high energy factor (EF).

High-efficiency gas water heaters must have a blue tag with a label Energy Star on it.  The energy factor (EF) is used to express the efficiency of natural gas, propane and oil-fired heaters.  The higher the EF, the better.  Remember that when choosing an oversized tank-type water heater, the energy cost gets higher as the standby loss increases.

High-efficiency gas water heaters:  For tank types, the EF must be 0.67.  For tankless types, the EF must be 0.82 or higher.

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