Hi all - first time poster, long time lurker.
We moved into a house in MN about a year and a half ago that has been our first experience with pool ownership in the summer and giant ice cube in the winter. Down right balmy today in the mid 50's! Much thanks to everyone for all the helpful information on here, it has been tremendously helpful in learning the ropes!
Last fall the original (I believe) 1997 Minimax heater died so we are now in the market for a replacement. So using the thought process that bigger is better for heaters I began looking into a 400k BTU Raypak replacement. I talked to Centerpoint and they were able to get me slated for an upsized meter at no charge, I just need to coordinate a gas company to reconnect gas into the house because they don't do that. Great, no prob. I called a gas company that does a lot of pool work to check out the natural gas line that runs out to the pool. They validated that I currently have a 2 stage setup with roughly 125' of 1/2" line running to the heater. They said with my current set up they recommend replacing with a 206k BTU heater because a 250k heater is pushing the current setup. But I could try for a 250k BTU heater knowing that it may have problems. I think they lean towards being conservative which is fine with me, they are the experts. However, to accommodate the bigger heater, they would need to run 170' of 3/4" line around the pool to the heater. Unfortunately this pipe would undoubtedly become a problem when we want to do any landscaping/planting trees/changing fence line in the future. And that is the shortest run without attempting to go under the 15' long patio cement right that would be the best direct line to the heater.
Anything off with any of these numbers for the gas line?
So with this info I started going down the line of possibly moving the pool equipment pad since it is currently situated in the middle of the lawn and moving it to behind the garage would allow for a gas line to easily be run through the unfinished basement. I had the pool store service tech out and give me some numbers to move the pad and they were ballparking somewhere around $5,000 to move the pad about 25 feet! Unfortunately this is probably the type of pricing to expect in this area for the pool stores as there is not a lot of options. And I paid $100 for them to come out and take a look...
So with that info I found a pool guy who doesn't have a storefront, is not mostly hot tub focused, and seems to know his stuff as he has been in the business since the 80s. I felt confident with him when he said he does all repiping in 2" pipe, recommended a Raypak heater, talked about hydraulics, etc. He quoted me $2500 to move the pool equipment. If I were to leave the equipment he quoted a 250k BTU Raypak heater for $2500 installed, but he said the gas regulator at the heater should be replaced with a larger version - I think it may have been a 7" pancake valve but could be wrong on that.
I'm now leaning towards the 250k replacement option as it helps contain the expenses. Should I expect that a new heater will give more output than a 1997 model due to efficiency improvements or will I experience similar performance?