Less known than some top names in the water heater industry, Navien is nonetheless an important global brand.
It is an excellent choice if you are looking for a high-quality, long-lasting water heater that will reduce your utility bills.
Plus, Navien allows you to have a gas water heater without needing to invest a huge amount in installation fees.
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Navien is part of KyungDong Navien. The company was founded in 1978 as Kyung Dong Machinery Co., Ltd. but changed its name when it entered the North American market in 2006.
The focus of the company today is condensing technology. In fact, Navien has the largest market share of condensing gas water heaters in North America. The brand is also striving to be a leader in green technology, allowing consumers to reduce their carbon footprint while improving comfort in their homes.
Navien manufacturers its water heaters in South Korea. The company says that its factory in Seotan (about 1.5 hours from Seoul) is the largest boiler manufacturing plant in the world.
Navien produces two main lines of tankless water heaters: the NPE-Advanced series (or NPE-A) and the NPE-Standard series (or NPE-S). They also produce a combination boiler/heater line in the NCB-240 model. The heaters in both main series have some of the highest efficiency ratings around and many are ENERGY STAR certified. All the heaters are tankless and gas powered and use condensing technology.
All Navien water heaters receive very high ratings from consumers. In fact, they are among the highest-rated from any water heater manufacturer.
Some of the characteristics that are mentioned time and again in reviews include the easy installation, energy savings, solid construction (that is easy to maintain), and small size. Consumers also appreciate that hot water arrives to their faucet in just a few seconds or less and that most models run relatively quietly for gas water heaters.
The only complaint about Navien water heaters you’ll find is that they are quite expensive, with an average price of around $1,200. This puts the heaters at the high end of the cost scale. However, with their longer lifespan, greater efficiency (which ultimately leads to cost savings), and top-of-the-range technology, many consumers agree that these heaters are a worthwhile investment.
Customer Service for Navien Heaters
Consumers report positive experiences when dealing with Navien customer service. Most say that the support they received was timely and that they feel Navien is a company they can trust.
Warranty for Navien Water Heaters
All Navien water heaters come with a 15-year warranty on their heat exchangers. This is about the longest you’ll find from any brand. They also come with a five-year warranty on parts and a warranty of one year for labor.
Navien Water Heater Maintenance
Even though Navien water heaters are made with top-quality parts, they will still need regular maintenance and checkups to ensure that everything is in proper working order. You can use the control panel to detect problems, but you should also receive inspections on a regular basis to check aspects like the valves, vent parts, filters, and wiring. The great news is that maintenance and servicing is easier than with some water heaters because of the modular water path design.
Installing Navien Water Heaters
It takes around four hours to install a Navien water heater. This is less than many condensing water heaters, mainly thanks to the PVC exhaust system. Although the instructions the heaters come with are clear and easy to follow, you will need a professional service. Only an HVAC technician should ever install a gas heater, as it can pose a serious risk if it is improperly installed.
Water heaters in the Advanced series take advantage of Navien’s Comfort Flow. This technology is exclusive to the brand. It works by decreasing the amount of time heated water takes to reach an open faucet to as little as 1 second. In addition, the technology ensures a constant flow rate and keeps temperature consistent.
Whereas other brands of water heaters do have similar capabilities, Comfort Flow manages to go a step further. It is the only system so far to combine a built-in recirculation pump with a buffer tank. The latter keeps stored water at a specified temperature, helping you to save yet more energy. In addition, it eliminates the phenomenon known as cold water sandwich: when you receive a burst of cold water after several minutes of the water being hot.
The recirculation feature allows you to earn up to three LEED points to lower your HERS home index score. It is also possible to deactivate the recirculation pump if you choose. This can result in slightly lower utility bills.
Yet more features of the NPE-A series include WiFi control (which allows users to control their heaters remotely), low NOx ratings, and the option of H2Air — a combination heating and DHW system. This system allows you to receive hydronic forced-air heating along along with hot water using the same water heater.
One of the top models in the Advanced series is the NPE-180A. Offering up to 8.4 gallons per minute, it provides more than enough hot water for the average-size home — it may even be sufficient for some large homes. The heater also has cascading capability, which means it is possible combine several of these water heaters together, such as for commercial uses where a large amount of hot water is needed.
To maximize its lifespan, the NPE-180A has a stainless steel heat exchanger. This is more resistant to corrosion than the standard copper. Plus, thanks to the field convertible gas system, you can change your heater from propane to natural gas (or vice versa) at any time during its lifetime.
The NPE-210A has a slightly higher GPM of 10.1. With two stainless steel heat exchangers, you can easily reach the temperature you want. At the same time, the unit is compact enough to be wall mounted indoors or even fit in a limited amount of space outdoors. You may prefer to install it outdoors, as it can be noisy when it is heating water.
You can choose whether you want a natural gas or propane model. However, again, the heater has a convertible gas system, allowing you to change to a different source at any time. If you lack a gas line, the heater can also run on fuel. Otherwise, you can use your existing ½-inch gas line.
The most powerful heater in the Advanced series is the NPE-240A. It has a GPM of 8.7 when the temperature rise is 45 degrees Fahrenheit and as much as 11.2 GPM when the temperature rise is 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also the most popular of all the Navien water heaters on the market.
One of the top features of the NPE-240A is its intelligent preheating technology. The heater learns when you typically use a large amount of hot water (such as when you usually shower) and starts heating water just before this time. Plus, its buffer tank means that this heated water stays at the correct temperature until you need it.
Better still, the water will stay hot even when you keep the faucet running for a long period of time. In addition, the flow will be strong from the moment you open the faucet until you turn the water off.
A final benefit is the external interface in the front panel. This control panel is intuitive and easy to use. You can see the temperature (and choose whether you want Fahrenheit or Celsius), cascade operation, and water flow rate.
There are also buttons to turn the water heater off, set recirculation mode, troubleshoot minor problems, and change the temperature. You can set temperature in 1-degree increments, dropping to as low as 98 degrees Fahrenheit and reaching as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only downsides of this model are that it makes some noise when it is heating water (although you can avoid this becoming a problem by installing the heater outdoors) and it does not come with a remote. You can buy a remote separately, however, if you want to manage the heater without needing to head over to the control center.
The Standard series from Navien is more affordable than the Advanced series — and just as high quality, especially in terms of efficiency and the minimal need for maintenance. You’ll find cost savings particularly in installation. The only thing the heaters in the Standard series lack is some of the advanced technology.
With energy efficiency ratings of 0.97 across the board, the heaters in the Standard series are some of the most efficient gas heaters available. In fact, they are even more efficient than many electric heaters. This is in part due to the condensing technology that allows the heat exchanger to recover heat that would be lost in non-condensing models.
This very same feature reduces the exhaust gas, meaning that you can use a schedule 40 PVC pipe for direct venting. This is more economical than other types of venting.
Finally, like the heaters in the Advanced series, those in the Navien Standard series can earn you LEED points to lower your HERS score.
The NPE-150S is the smallest water heater available from Navien. Still, it offers 6.8 GPM, which is more than enough for a small home and sufficient for most average-size homes. Plus, as it is cascading capable, it can be appropriate for even large homes and commercial applications.
The water heater has ultra-condensing efficiency and dual stainless steel heat exchangers. It is also uses low NOx combustion, thanks to the metal fiber burner that ensures the gas–air mixture remains consistent.
Unlike many tankless water heaters, the NPE-150S works with the lower WC of a ½-inch gas line and can use the gas line up to 24 feet. Plus, it is compatible with low gas pressure, due to its dual venturi fan and negative pressure gas valve.
If you choose, you can purchase the NPE-150S with a remote control. This will allow you to set the recirculation timer and hot water temperature without heading to the control panel. If you have a cascade system, you can also configure temperature and the initial activation of the water heaters in the system.
A final option is yet another type of water heater for either indoor or outdoor installation that can run on either propane or natural gas. Like the NPE-180A, the NPE-180S offers a flow rate of up to 8.4 GPM. Although this may only be sufficient for a mid-size home, you can take advantage of Ready-Link cascading technology to link up to 16 units together. This can meet the needs of commercial businesses that require significant quantities of hot water, such as hotels.
Although the NPE-180S is expensive to purchase, you’ll quickly save money with this water heater — the high efficiency and short waiting times to receive hot water keep operating costs low.
Unfortunately, Navien does not sell water heaters online or at local retail stores so you will need to find a local distributor who represents Navien in order to purchase one of their models. We recommend checking out other top-rated tankless water heaters if you are looking for a quick and easy purchase.