Hi, I'm hoping to get some opinions here. (LONG POST)
Our very old RayPak RP2100 bit the dust 2 years back, and we've decided we can't live without a heater. I've been doing as much research as possible, and so far have determined:
- based on our usage pattern, a (natural) gas heater is appropriate
- given our volume (27000) and usage, 400 BTU's is the right size
What I liked about our old RP2100
- heated pool very quickly
- simple controls - we had no electrically-related failures ever
What I didn't like about our old RP2100
- it seems I had to check the pilot light a lot (millivolt gas valve system)
- all of the case walls, especially the floor and burner ***'y - began rusting
inside after only 1 year - I don't feel that enough corrosion protection
was there - most of the floor and lower walls literally disintegrated
long before the heat exchanger failed
I wonder if I did something wrong taking care of the RayPak, which caused it's insides
to rust out so quickly. At first I thought a cover would help - but then it seemed
a cover would trap internal moisture inside the unit and not allow it to evaporate.
In any case the insides of case did not weather being outside very well.
So for replacements I have been looking at the Hayward, Sta-Rite, Pentair and also
Some of my concerns:
AFAICT, all of these heaters use some level of electronic controls. This bothers me:
I do not feel that complicated electronics are necessary (other than safety controls).
Give me a thermostat and an on/off switch, that's all that is really needed. Also,
I don't feel that electronic circuit boards do well in the elements - especially inside
a box that gets really hot inside periodically - and then is exposed to rain, humidity,
etc. I think the number of horror stories I've found describing failed boards bears
this out. It doesn't even seem like any of these companies are at least sealing their
boards against moisture (not being able to desolder and individual components does
not matter - these boards are always replaced as a unit when something fails.) Being
inside a rain-proof case isn't enough - boards will still corrode without some
extra measures being taken against moisture.
I'm not sure, but I believe that the Sta-Rite is the only heater of the four I've
mentioned that has a corrosion-proof case (it is not metal). I'm leary of buying
yet another metal box to put outside in the elements, then watching as it slowly corrodes
away into another pile of rust dust.
The Pentair (and the Sta-Rite, since that is now sold by Pentair) warranty feels like
a pre-arrangement between the manufacturer and its local dealers - Pentair will not
offer a decent warranty unless the product is "professionally installed." Combine
that with the fact that most local dealers I've asked have refused to install a heater
unless it was purchased from them (they give "problems with warranties" as the reason),
and what you end up with is you must purchase the heater from the dealer. Now I
understand that local b&m dealers have costs, and I expect (and am usually willing)
to pay a bit extra for them to make a profit and stay in business, but I'm seeing
numbers like $2K vs $3K for the same heater. And it's not like you're getting the
installation as part of the extra $1000 you're paying - they still charge extra for
that. One more point: I had my new pool pump (a gift from a family member)
"professionally installed". The 2 guys doing the installation were, IMO, total hacks.
I watched them fumble around and attempt to jury-rig my new pump repeatedly, until
I couldn't bite my tongue any longer. I told them I could finish the details and
paid them so they would stop and leave. So I had to endure that to get Pentair's
warranty. Just doesn't make any sense.
OK, sorry for the long rant, but I'd very much appreciate opinions!