We have decided to replace our pool heater
We are having major leak in the inlets/outlets of our very old early-model LAARS LITE 2 pool heater (analog controls that look like a throwback to the 80s). Got two separate $500 repair quotes, so we've now decided to replace the heater. Multiple recommendations came in (3 different pool stores independently recommended the same heater) -- the HAYWARD ED2 pool heater (250,000 BTU, same heating power) -- Internet research seems to be consistent that this heater seems to be a good model (4.3 stars of 5 on Amazon) -- and the bonus is that it has wire connections for a remote control (standard millivolt system or two-wire). Thus, I can plug it into a home automation system in the future -- something I want -- so I can control the pool heater by iPad later.
Proposed model: HAYWARD ED2? (250K BTU)
We're deciding to replace our pump too
Our old 1.5 HP pump has a rusty motor and drinks electricity like no tomorrow (1400 watts via a Kill-A-Watt measurement), and has no automation features, so we've decided to also replace it too as well. We've read about many pros/cons of variable-speed pool pumps but it seems that the newest models are extremely efficient and the pros outweighs the cons. For summer we can just run it essentially in autopilot. Also, pump will have ProLogic compatibility ($100 extra) so it can be remote controlled / automated later.
Proposed pump: HAYWARD TriStar VS?
Consideration: Our unusual winter-time pump operation
We run our pool 10 months out of 12. To save 70% cost of heating the pool in winter (under $300/month) we only heat at full throttle (never thermostatting) because we turn OFF both the heater and pump at the same time -- if the heater is OFF then the pump must be OFF too -- because we're avoiding circulating unheated water through cold ground pipes. It actually makes a huge difference in heating cost to keep the water stationary when the pool is not in use / not being heated / pool is covered up -- as the pool cools down much more slowly, making it much easier to reheat the pool. When it gets cold enough we'll need to protect pipes by intermittently running the pump/heater for a few minutes once every while (few hours).
For heater, millivolt systems are pretty standard similar to house thermostats and there are already home automation products for these.
For pump, ProLogic can be interfaced to other home automation systems from what I'm reading, though I may need some minor script 'glue'...
Based on my research and script/programmer knowledge -- It looks like I could probably jerryrig some automation scripts in the future (automation hubs, IFTTT, HomeSeer2, or other product) that turns off the pump and heater at the same time whenever the target temperature is reached, and then run both intermittently (full throttle only) to maintain temperature and prevent freezing underground pipes.
We will avoid using pool heater thermostat in freezing weather because it wastes heat/money pumping unheated water through the cold ground 24/7 -- the water will only flow whenever the heater is on.
We've got a unique situation where we usually want to only heat full-throttle, and turn OFF the pool pump AND heater when the pool has slightly exceeded our target temperature.
We're the local experts in cheaply hottubbing a swimming pool.
January 2016 swimming in snowstorm in Canada -- 95F pool temp -- total natgas heating bill was under $300 (pool heating 8 days a month + house heating + cooking)