What does a tankless water heater have in common with the Blue Man Group? You might be tempted to say, “Nothing.” But you would be wrong. On January 20, Navien redefined the word “party” with an event called the Big Blue Bash, held at the House of Blues in Las Vegas.
The Blue Man Group performed for a packed house alongside Navien’s latest major product launch, the NPN series.
For the uninitiated, NPN stands for Navien Premium Non-condensing, and it’s a new direction for a company that, until now, has been tied to condensing technology.
Condensing Vs. Non-Condensing Water Heaters
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the differences between condensing and non-condensing water heaters.
In a tankless heater, natural gas is burned in a special chamber to produce heat and hot water. In the case of a condensing unit, there is an extra part of the process: a heat exchanger that is responsible for reusing the exhaust gas, which heats the water. As it extracts heat from the gas, it will also produce water vapor that turns into condensation. This ability to take advantage of the exhaust gas makes condensing water heaters more energy efficient. They are also more expensive.
“Because there’s two parts to the heat exchanger, it makes it more expensive,” says David Hoskyn, national training manager with Navien. “But there’s also more of a savings on the energy bill.”
In addition, a condensing model needs a drain on the bottom to get rid of the condensation created in the heat exchanger.
A non-condensing unit, on the other hand, vents the gases right away. This means that about 17% more heat goes through the venting system, requiring a different vent material (Metal vs. PVC). So, while a non-condensing unit is less efficient, it also has fewer components, a smaller cabinet size, and a lower price.
Why It Matters
The NPN will make a big difference for certain areas of the country. “In the southern climates you have warmer incoming ground water,” Hoskyn says. “It’s perfect for a non-condensing water heater. In fact, many times when you have a very warm climate, the heater will actually be mounted on the outside of the structure.”
For that reason, the NPN-U (Universal) series is the first and only non-condensing tankless water heater series to offer a choice of indoor and outdoor operation within the same unit, according to company officials. Both the NPN-E (exterior) and the NPN-U are available in 160,000 BTU/H; 180,000 BTU/H; and 199,900 BTU/H models for either natural gas or liquid propane.