New to the list. Great information.
I live in upstate NY and bought a house with a 27,000 gal. pool with a 12 year old Tropic Isle Heater (natural gas). I'm told these were, at one time, great heaters. My first season last year I had to hit the gas valve with a hammer every time I wanted to crank it up. I think it's time for something new and I have no idea what to get. Every pool store carries a different brand (Hayward, Pentair, Sta-rite, Laars) and they all claim theirs is the greatest since sliced bread.
I think I have decided to go with natural gas as opposed to a Heat Pump (perhaps I'm crazy given the gas prices) and I am looking at a Sta-rite Maxitherm (200,000BTU) or perhaps a Pentair Minimax, which is a little cheaper and uses a milivolt generator (which is what the Tropic Isle uses). My view is that the fewer bells and whistles (meaning sensitive electronics) means fewer possible equipment failures. The sta-rite needs electrical connection I believe, but seems to have a good reputation. I can do the electrical work, but the Pentair would be an easier install.
In the end, Sta-rite, Pentair, Hayward all seem to come up as good heaters generally. Is it a toss up, or is there some consensus about what will last the longest with minimum repairs.