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Thread: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

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    Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    I think I know the answer to this, but I recently had a 399K btu Ray Pak heater installed. My current gas meter is for only 275K. Nicor sat on my request to upgrade for almost a week until I called and now are saying they cannot get out until 7/29. I am pushing them hard to get here faster, but am I correct in assuming that the heater would simply not function correctly if I tried to use it with my current meter? Even for a short period of time?
    Dedicated TFPer since 2012 with recommended test kit
    Above ground, 30 foot round pool, 21,000 gallons
    Hayward 150 sq foot cartridge filter, 1HP Waterway pump
    Raypak 400K BTU NG Heater!
    Installed in 2006? (just a guess, pool came with house I purchased in June 2012)

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Everything needs to be correct before operating the heater.

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    No, do not use the heater. The smaller heater will cause the heater to go on and off if it has an ignitor and the pilot will go out if it is a millivolt heater.

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    With an under pressured system, you would end up sooting up the unit and have a mess to deal with.
    Paul
    http://www.gastekservices.com A word of caution: When working with gas and electrical you might want to consider a licensed contractor. Consider the value of your life and others around you. If you would like to provide a review of the help I provided, please use the following link to leave a review. gastek - Google Search,

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    About what I figured, thank you all for eradicating any bad temptations I may get over the next week!
    Dedicated TFPer since 2012 with recommended test kit
    Above ground, 30 foot round pool, 21,000 gallons
    Hayward 150 sq foot cartridge filter, 1HP Waterway pump
    Raypak 400K BTU NG Heater!
    Installed in 2006? (just a guess, pool came with house I purchased in June 2012)

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    I have found Raypak heaters to be very forgiving with respect to insufficient gas volume. Seen them run for years without any symptoms. Now do that to a sta-rite heater or another forced air heater, and it probably wont run. Not because it soots up, but because there is not enough gas and the too lean mix will not support combustion.

    Today is 7/15, your appointment is 7/29? It takes several months running "under gassed" for a sooting condition to reveal itself in the worst circumstances. Im sure that if you wanted to heat the spa a few times you wouldn't soot to the point that it would require attention. I would seriously be surprised if you could see any significant build up in a couple of weeks. If you did, it would more than likely burn itself off once the mix was corrected.
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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Yes they are very forgiving but I have seen one soot up pretty quickly with black smoke coming out of the top. Pretty scary for someone who doesn't know what's going on.
    Paul
    http://www.gastekservices.com A word of caution: When working with gas and electrical you might want to consider a licensed contractor. Consider the value of your life and others around you. If you would like to provide a review of the help I provided, please use the following link to leave a review. gastek - Google Search,

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Not only is the meter substantially undersized for the heater, it's undersized for everything in total. If there is anything else operating at the same time as the heater, the gas pressure will be that much lower. Insufficient gas supply will void the warranty. The first thing a service person would check on a repair or warranty call would be if everything was installed to code.

    Even if the issue was not related to gas supply, they might still deny a warranty claim based on improper installation.

    Also, everything else on the same meter would be getting insufficient gas supply. You could potentially damage every other gas appliance that tried to operate at the same time.

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    For what it's worth .... we just bought our house last year (into our second pool season now), and just realized this summer while looking at a pool renovation (incl a NG firepit) that our meter was *WAAAAY* undersized for the existing equipment in our house. Out pool heater is 400K, we have a NG generator at 294K, plus gas fireplace, stove, dryer, etc. - all adding up to over a million BTUs. Our meter has 250K BTU capacity. We hadn't known this, and the previous owners either didn't know or never bothered to fix it. Anyway, we've been using the Raypak heater occasionally, and never seen an issue.

    I'm in the process of getting the meter upgraded now, which involves not just the meter, but also the line from the street (since the current line only supports 500K), so it's costing me $1500 to National Grid. That process has been slow - 3 months and counting and I'm finally in the permitting process with the town. What a headache. According to the National Grid guy handling upgrades, he sees this all the time (i.e. homeowners add equipment like pool heaters / generators and don't bother or don't realize that they need to upgrade the service). I know the NG generator and pool were permitted through the town, but apparently they don't look at the service capacity...

    Anyway, I certainly wouldn't think it's the best thing in the world, but in our case it didn't cause any (obvious) issues running stuff with an undersized meter.....
    ~25000 gal IG gunite pool, built 2001 - renovated 2015
    Pebble Sheen Blue Surf + Shimmering Sea, Gemz, Classic Pool & Tile Rodio waterline
    Grey Granite Paver Deck, with TechoBloc Blu60 Smooth accent strip
    Hayward OmniLogic, UCL and CL320 LED lights, DE6020 filter, EcoStar pump, TF-100, T-15 SWG, Raypak P406A heater

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Did the generator or fireplace ever run at the same time as the pool heater?

    In my opinion, gas is not something to take a chance with. Running outside of proper installation is just not worth the risk.

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    While we were here the generator was never run simultaneously with the pool heater, but certainly the generator was run with the other interior appliances (it runs a weekly test cycle year-round, and we've also lost power a few times). The generator and pool heater alone were over the meter capacity, nevermind with anything else running.

    I wasn't trying to advocate that it doesn't matter, and since I discovered the undersized meter we've been a bit more careful about what we ran (while waiting for National Grid to finish dragging its feet and get the service upgraded), but the point remains that the pool (and heater) was installed in 2001, and the generator several years ago (I don't know exactly when), and I don't know of any problems that have resulted. I suspect that most appliances are probably somewhat forgiving as far as not getting enough supply, but it's definitely not something that I would ignore. Better safe than sorry.....
    ~25000 gal IG gunite pool, built 2001 - renovated 2015
    Pebble Sheen Blue Surf + Shimmering Sea, Gemz, Classic Pool & Tile Rodio waterline
    Grey Granite Paver Deck, with TechoBloc Blu60 Smooth accent strip
    Hayward OmniLogic, UCL and CL320 LED lights, DE6020 filter, EcoStar pump, TF-100, T-15 SWG, Raypak P406A heater

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    PEOPLE!

    Were talking, at this point, 9 days! Relax with the gloom and doom... Yes, if he were to leave that meter, yes, there would be a problem. But no, it will be changed SOON.

    BTW, i've never seen a heater soot up in 2 weeks. Besides, i didn't recommend running it to heat the pool, just the spa.
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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Like I said, you all had me at hello. I don't want to risk it, and I pushed Nicor so they are coming tomorrow morning to install the new meter, and perhaps even a new supply line, not exactly sure what they need to do, but I survived this weekend without turning it on... helped that it was mid 90s.

    Chinatti - a million BTUs, wow! Although, you just reminded me, when I gave my usage to the gas company I completely spaced on including the BTUs of my two fireplaces, probably because I've never used them in 3 years we've been living in this house. Should be ok though, even if they are 100K BTUs I can't imagine ever having the pool heater and fireplaces going at the same time.

    Thanks for the discussion.
    Dedicated TFPer since 2012 with recommended test kit
    Above ground, 30 foot round pool, 21,000 gallons
    Hayward 150 sq foot cartridge filter, 1HP Waterway pump
    Raypak 400K BTU NG Heater!
    Installed in 2006? (just a guess, pool came with house I purchased in June 2012)

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls234 View Post
    I pushed Nicor so they are coming tomorrow morning to install the new meter, and perhaps even a new supply line, not exactly sure what they need to do, but I survived this weekend without turning it on... helped that it was mid 90s.
    Great news! Glad to hear it won't be long now...
    Factory Warranty Station for:
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    and Paramount pool cleaning systems.

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    In another thread, I explained how modern pool heaters are plumbed. You're definitely better off waiting for the correct setup, which will likely give you 2 lb. service to your heater.

    Quote Originally Posted by JayBauman View Post
    A typical NG pool heater can be up to 400,000 BTU/hr. This takes a lot of gas. PBs were finding that for installations where the heater was quite some distance from the meter, they were installing larger and larger diameter pipes to the heater. Eventually, this became impractical. So the building code was changed to allow higher pressure residential service. A house without a pool heater typically has 1 pressure regulator. Homes with pools now have 3 pressure regulators.

    Today, they install larger gas meters (with 2lb. pressure instead of 7oz. pressure) and provide for 3 pressure regulators. The 2lb. regulator steps down from delivery pressure to 2lb. and provides 2lb. of gas to the regulator on the heater, which steps it back down to 7oz. There will also be another regulator on the main gas meter that steps the pressure down to 7oz. for your home utilities. Nothing needs to change on the inside of your home.

    This is just my long-winded way of saying current practices allow 2lb. service up to your pool heater, so they can use small diamater pipes for the long plumbing runs.
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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls234 View Post
    Chinatti - a million BTUs, wow!
    Yeah, it is a lot on paper. But with the pool heater + generator I'm at 700K to start with, plus a bunch of more typical inside appliances. With the new firepit and leaving some headroom for an upgraded stove (a few years down the road when we can redo the kitchen), my total was actually 1250K BTUs.

    The National Grid guy said they typically don't size the service to the absolute worst case when you have a (ridiculously?) big load like this, but I sent in the full list ... so we'll see what they actually install when they come out.
    ~25000 gal IG gunite pool, built 2001 - renovated 2015
    Pebble Sheen Blue Surf + Shimmering Sea, Gemz, Classic Pool & Tile Rodio waterline
    Grey Granite Paver Deck, with TechoBloc Blu60 Smooth accent strip
    Hayward OmniLogic, UCL and CL320 LED lights, DE6020 filter, EcoStar pump, TF-100, T-15 SWG, Raypak P406A heater

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Quote Originally Posted by JayBauman View Post
    In another thread, I explained how modern pool heaters are plumbed. You're definitely better off waiting for the correct setup, which will likely give you 2 lb. service to your heater.
    I just saw this (and the other thread). I'm in the process of not just getting my meter / service line from the street upgraded, but also installing an additional gas line to support the extra BTUs for a firepit, and later an outdoor kitchen upgrade. I hadn't been aware of the option of a higher-pressure line to the remote load(s). I currently have a 1.25" line out to the pool heater that doesn't have any more capacity, so the plumber said I need to run a new line. Is it possible to use an existing gas line, convert it to 2lb and install a local regulator out near the pool to get the additional capacity I need (i.e. so I don't need to run a new pipe)? I guess the question is whether existing plumbing that was installed for and is currently running at 7oz could support the higher pressure, or whether I'd need to run a new line anyway (in which case I'm not sure it would help me in this case).

    (obviously by "I" I'm referring to the plumber)

    Thanks.....
    ~25000 gal IG gunite pool, built 2001 - renovated 2015
    Pebble Sheen Blue Surf + Shimmering Sea, Gemz, Classic Pool & Tile Rodio waterline
    Grey Granite Paver Deck, with TechoBloc Blu60 Smooth accent strip
    Hayward OmniLogic, UCL and CL320 LED lights, DE6020 filter, EcoStar pump, TF-100, T-15 SWG, Raypak P406A heater

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Quote Originally Posted by chinatti View Post
    The National Grid guy said they typically don't size the service to the absolute worst case when you have a (ridiculously?) big load like this, but I sent in the full list ... so we'll see what they actually install when they come out.
    When the gas company upgraded my meter, they asked me about all of my gas appliances (3 furnaces, fireplace, rangetop, drier, 2 water heaters, fire pit, pool heater) in order to figure out what size meter to install. They asked me if I had instant-on water heaters. I said "no", but I will once the current ones need replaced. And I also said I'm eventually putting in a backup power generator. They didn't mess with any intermediately-sized meters; they upgraded me to the 2 million BTU/hr meter (the price was the same no matter what meter they installed) so I wouldn't have to upgrade again when I need more gas.

    Go for the biggest service that they will install and upgrade your other stuff as you need.
    23' x 37' IG 18.5k gallon SWG w/ raised spa, Build Thread -->Here
    Wet Edge® Pearl Matrix®, Hayward® SwimClear™ 525 ft², Hayward® Goldline Controls® PS-8
    4x Hayward® TriStar™ pumps, Paramount PCC2000® ICS, TF-100 w/Speedstir

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    Re: Using a heater with an undersized gas meter

    Following up here in case anyone cares. Four months after requesting my gas meter upgrade, the gas company finally came out yesterday and did the meter installation. We now have a full 1.5 million BTUs of capacity available. Woo-Hoo! A few notes on my journey:

    1) Based on some other threads on here, I asked the gas company about installing a higher-pressure (2 psi) meter that would give me more capacity with smaller sized pipes. The guy at the gas company said he hadn't heard about doing that and would check into it. Based on his response (i.e. the fact that it didn't seem like something be did all the time), I then called the town gas inspector, and he said that it would take an "act of god" to get that approved. Basically around here they don't normally do that except for commercial buildings. Since this process was already painful enough, I quickly abandoned that idea. In our case we had most of the existing plumbing sized OK, just a way-undersized meter, so it wasn't as big a deal. But apparently the higher PSI meter with local regulators is an area-dependent thing.

    2) The meter upgrade would have been no charge, but we were charged $1500 since the line feeding our house was 1/2" and could only supply 750K BTUs. $1500 covered up to 100 feet of line, and then there would have been an additional per-foot charge if we were further from the main. We were 95 feet - bonus!

    The guys were out here all day, probably 8:30am - 7:30pm. Our soil is apparently particularly rocky, so the trenching was a big pain. We had probably 3-4 National Grid trucks out here plus an excavator - so for $1500 I guess we got our moneys worth. They ended up hitting probably 10 sprinkler lines, plus the sprinkler wires on the dig, but fixed them. Luckily they spared the Verizon FiOS line!

    Anyway, a long, drawn out process, but we finally have enough gas supply for our appliances!

    Here's a pic of the new meter with a big-honking 2" pipe coming out of it. Definitely an oddly shaped meter - haven't seen one like this before....

    ~25000 gal IG gunite pool, built 2001 - renovated 2015
    Pebble Sheen Blue Surf + Shimmering Sea, Gemz, Classic Pool & Tile Rodio waterline
    Grey Granite Paver Deck, with TechoBloc Blu60 Smooth accent strip
    Hayward OmniLogic, UCL and CL320 LED lights, DE6020 filter, EcoStar pump, TF-100, T-15 SWG, Raypak P406A heater

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