My 9 year old Jandy Laars Lite 2 heater (325K BTU) has finally given up the ghost. The gas valve is sticking, there's a very healthy leak from the heat exchanger, the manual pilot ignition is kaput, and the burner tray looks pretty bad. The parts to repair it are more than the price of a new "legacy" unit from Jandy, so I've I've checked out the new Jandy heaters and have a few questions:
My pool is saltwater. Does cupro-nickel heat exchanger tubes and brass headers make a difference in service life?
In Michigan, we only have, at most, a 4 month pool season, so I don't think the significantly higher price of a 95% efficiency unit warrants it's purchase. In the Jandy heaters, I can buy 3 of their legacy units for less than the cost of 1 HE unit. Is the operational cost of an HE unit that much lower to make it worthwhile in terms of cost? Again, our pool season here is at most 4 months. Is there another compelling reason to consider an HE unit? I've heard that trapped condensation from the exhaust can be an issue with HE units.
The digital displays look nice, but how about their reliability compared to a manual thermostat?
My old unit had a standing pilot, and even when the ignition switch was gone, I could still manually light the pilot and be sure that the heater would fire. Some people are edgy about having a standing pilot, but I'm not concerned about that. Some of the newer heaters use an electronic ignition system. I'm sure it saves a bit on gas (how much gas can a pilot use in only 4 months?), but I'm concerned about the reliability of electronic systems.
Any thoughts and shared experiences would be greatly appreciated.