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Thread: Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

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    Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

    Hello to all, I am a newbie, from middle Tennessee.

    We are mid-installation on our new pool. We live in the country and wanted something that would look like it goes here. We have chosen a Trilogy fiberglass pool that is 24 x 12 free form with a matching 8' round spa. we went with mystic lake, which is a dark bottom, that we love. I know this is small to most, but it is just the two of us and I think it's perfect.

    We ran into an issue today that has me dazed and confused. Please bear in mind, it is all plumbed and rough in wiring is completed at this point. We have been dealing with a few days of rain.
    We are going with s salt water system, and a Hayward H250FDP propane heater. They installed a valve so that if we desire to extend our pool season, we could heat the pool to bring the temp up a few degrees. I seriously doubt we will do that often as we live where there is a lot of trees and come fall...we will probably have it covered. I called our gas company to schedule them to come out and run the line from the tank to the heater. The person there told me that when I told them it was 250,000 btu. That it would burn 3 gal per hour. this factual? I have spoken to my pool builder who came highly recommended and he does not think that is accurate. He has not installed a propane heater in the past, only heat pump or natural gas. I need some advise on this. Right now our propane is almost $3.00 per gallon. we will have a remote control, so we can easily turn it off and on. In our summer months, in August water temp will probably be 85-90' so the increase the water temp a few degrees would not be a big deal. My concern is the winter months which is what we love. I was wondering about adding an electric heater to use during those months. Is this idiotic thinking, I am open to any suggestion. At this point my builder will do what I want...I just don't know that that is. They are starting on pavers tomorrow and I need to get my mind made up as soon as possible.

    I thank you in advance for any help!
    Confused in Tennessee
    B J Jackson

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    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Melbourne, FL

    Re: Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

    I opted for propane because it gets the spa up to temperature much faster. By electric heat, I am assuming you mean a heat pump. On those cold winter days, it will take a long while to get your spa up to temperature and you'll need a spa cover for certain to help out. You may consider bumping your propane heater up to the 400,000 BTU model. The price difference is welll worth the investment, plus you'll heat up that spa faster.

    Good Luck!

    Freeform 15x31 Pool w/ oversized spa, 1 1/2 HP Blower, Pentair Quad 60 DE Filter, Heliocol solar panels, Pentair Maxitherm 400K BTU heater, Pentair IC40 SWG, Pentair Easytouch 4 w/wireless remote, Pentair IntelliFlow VSP, and Pentair Intellibrite LED Pool/Spa lights.

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    Re: Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

    Thank you for the reply Carl! By electric, I was thinking of an electric heater, but not a heat pump. I was told that they don't work when it is below 50 degrees or so. This spa is br Trilogy and is 8' diameter , but only 500 gallons, so we were assured the 250,000 btus would be plenty. I thought the higher the btu as in the 400 would just suck down more propane. Is there an electric heater that works inline like my stand alone hot tob had? I really do appreciate you taking time to help!


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    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Tampa Bay, Florida

    Re: Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

    I have a propane heater for my spa and it really can get expensive. Propane delivered to my 120 gallon tank at my house is about $5 a gallon when you include all the surcharges (environmental fee, delivery fuel surcharge, tank rental, and billing fee). I looked into an electric heat pump and that is not what you want for a spa. It takes forever to heat. I was recently given a brand new unused electric (resistive) pool heater and will probably put it in sometime in the future, but I need to run a dedicated #6 circuit, install a subpanel, breakers, and some sealtite conduit. Additionally, I'll have to do some plumbing and purchase a small pre-cast concrete pad for the heater (physically very small in comparison to propane heater). Even for a DIY project, I am looking at about $800. The hundred foot of # 6 service wire will cost me $300 alone.

    Operating costs for the electric may be slightly less than the propane, but some of the newer propane heaters have become fairly efficient.
    It is critical that you have a good cover for your spa. At this time, I just use two 12mil solar covers, cut for my 8 foot round concrete spa.
    BTW, my propane heater is 235,000 BTU input. It takes about 30 minutes to raise the water temp by 10 degrees. That is not too bad when the water is at 80 degrees, but it takes a long time to get 50 degree water to 90+ degrees. We used to heat ours to 100, but the costs just make it impractical. We usually just top out at about 90 to 95 degrees when we heat it.
    I'd be curious to hear what direction you go with your heater.
    John (DIYer). Concrete, approximately 13,000 gallon in-ground pool with adjoining concrete spa. Approximately 40 years old. Hayward Super II pump for pool and legacy Anthony Sta-Rite bronze pump CF6 for spa, VA-26 filter,(2 sets), Rheem propane heater for spa. HASA Liquidator for pool.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: Help please......Propane vs electric heater for spa?

    Electric resistance heaters are usually by far the most expensive way to heat. There can be occasional exceptions, if your cost for electricity is extremely low and everything else is more expensive than usual, but in general they are the most expensive, often several times more expensive than all other options (depending on your particular energy rates).

    You are correct that heat pumps don't work very well when the air temperature is below 50 degrees. Some of the better ones will still work, but they become far less efficient than they are at higher air temperatures.

    Yes, propane heaters can use huge amounts of propane. It takes a great deal of energy to heat a pool, noticeably more than it takes to heat even a fairly large private home.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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