Direct-Fired vs. Indirect-Fired Water Heaters | IT Landes

Choosing the best in-home water heating system requires a homeowner to understand the options between a direct-fired and an indirect-fired water heater. For years, most people chose the standard, direct-fired water heaters. Now, in the interests of limiting both carbon footprints and monthly energy bills, consumers have a few options. Knowing the benefits and differences between an indirect and direct fire system, you can choose the perfect water heating system for your Harleysville, Pennsylvania home. Read on to learn what direct fire and indirect fire systems are, their benefits and limitations, and which option may be best for your home.

What Indirect Water Heating Systems Are

An indirect water heater is a water heater that relies on a home’s primary heating source. For instance, if you have a boiler or furnace, this unit can heat your living environment and provide plenty of hot water at the tap. With the correct setup, indirect water heating is highly efficient and cost-effective. For instance, if you have a high-efficiency furnace or a high-efficiency boiler, you can leverage this unit’s enhanced performance in multiple ways by additionally having it power your water heater’s processes.

The Benefits, Drawbacks, and Limitations of Indirect Water Heating Systems

Indirect water heaters handily rank among the most straightforward residential water heating systems. These systems require less equipment, take up less space, and use less energy overall. In addition, they can run on both boilers and furnaces, and they work with every fuel type. Indirect water heaters can even run on solar power.

Unfortunately, although indirect water heaters are flexible regarding the type of heating equipment they can use, not every heater will accommodate them. If you have an older boiler in your home, it may be necessary to upgrade this appliance before putting your water heater in. There’s also the fact that indirect water heaters don’t work well for long in areas with hard water. For example, suppose you have hard water but lack a strategy for mitigating it. In that case, you can expect your indirect water heater to have a short lifespan and a slew of performance problems. Installing a water softener will work as prevention, but you’ll have to account for the costs of this secondary project when creating your budget.

Finally, choosing an indirect water heater will make you reliant upon your furnace or boiler year-round. This is rarely an ideal arrangement in scorching areas and contributes to accelerated wear. Rather than only working during a limited season, your heating equipment will have an important job to do all the time.

What Direct-Fired Water Heaters Are

Direct-fired water heating systems include their heat source. These heaters have in-unit burners powered by propane, electricity, heating oil, or natural gas. Internal exchanger tubes allow for heat transfer so that the heat from combustion can be moved to the water they treat.

If you have an older, standard water heater in your home, the water within its tank is heated and reheated throughout the day. Energy waste from units like these is constantly given that the water in their reservoirs is always experiencing heat loss. Adding adequate insulation can minimize these losses, but this water-heating method remains the least efficient option. It’s also important to note that having this water heater type along with a gas-fired or oil-fired furnace or boiler will also mean having two separate sources of exhaust gases in your home.

Where Do Tankless Water Heaters Fall on This Spectrum?

Tankless water heaters are direct-fired water heaters that produce hot water on demand by directly heating it with an internal coil. However, unlike tank-based direct-water heating systems, tankless water heaters don’t waste money by storing and reheating copious amounts of water. Moreover, since tankless water heaters are available in all-electric designs, they aren’t always an added exhaust source. If you’re considering switching to all-electric heating in your home, tankless water heaters are a top choice. For many households, they also prove to be the most convenient option. With on-demand water heating, there’s always enough hot water for everyone in the home.

The Benefits, Drawbacks, and Limitations of Direct-Fired Water Heaters

When considering the benefits and drawbacks of direct-fired water heaters, it’s important to distinguish between tank-based and tankless designs. Direct-fired water heaters waste considerable amounts of energy when tank-based and uninsulated. However, tankless water heaters are among the most efficient water heating units available. They also occupy the least space for all water heater types. These compact units can be wall-mounted or installed directly under sinks. They’re an excellent choice if you have limited room and need lots of hot water. While reservoir sizes determine how much hot water is supplied with tank-based water heaters, tankless models can produce unlimited amounts of hot water.

Many of the most significant drawbacks of indirect-fired water heating systems relate to the fuel they use and the exhaust they produce. If you already have an exhaust-producing heater in your home, adding a direct-fired water heater will increase the risk of carbon monoxide exposure and exposure to other combustion-related gases.

Which Option Is Right for Your Home?

With consumers facing increasing pressure to electrify their heating systems, opting for an electric tankless water heater is the best choice if energy efficiency is on your list. These direct-fired water heaters have a diminutive size and inconspicuous designs and can meet the demands of even large, bustling households.

If you increasingly use solar power in your home, an indirect water heating system will help you leverage this free energy better. Indirect water heaters are also great options for homeowners who have invested in high-efficiency furnaces or boilers or intend to do so soon. You can dramatically cut your carbon footprint and home heating costs by using your heater for water heating and heating your living space.

Many tank-based, direct-fired water heaters are offered at comparatively nominal costs. If upfront savings are a concern, these units are well worth considering. To minimize energy waste when using one of the models, ensure that yours is correctly installed, properly sized for your household, and always well-insulated.

One important thing to remember when choosing a water heater is your indoor air quality. An indirect-fired water heater will limit the number of fuel burners you use in your home and minimize the number of exhaust gases produced. With proper installation, fuel-burning appliances can be safely vented outdoors to reduce the risk of exposure and illness. However, with an electric furnace or boiler and an electric tankless water heater, you can create a living environment without exhaust gases.

We help consumers make informed decisions about their residential water heating systems. Installing the best water heating system for your home and goals is a priority. We also offer heating, cooling, plumbing, and fuel delivery services. Please take a moment to view our clean air and safety services. So if you’re ready to upgrade the water heating system in your Harleysville, PA, home, contact the IT Landes Home Service Team today!

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