Heater Questions

pmsmith2032

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
126
Northern Illinois
#1
I am looking for some help/advice on possibly adding a heater to our pool setup. We have a 27' AGP pool (approximately 20k gallons). We are located in the western suburbs of Chicago, we use a solar cover, and the pool is in full sun from early morning until 5 PM or so. An ideal heater would increase our swimming season (swimming on weekends in late April/May and September) and occasionally raise water temp a bit for night swims in summer. My questions are as follows:

1. From the research I've done it looks like a gas heater would be best. Right now I am looking at the Raypak 266,000 BTU Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Pool Heater (RAY-009217). Is this a good model for our application? I've seen it for approximately $1,725...is this a reasonable price?

2. How much of the install can I do myself? I would definitely hire a plumber to hook up to the gas meter and the heater itself. Can I buy and bury the piping (approximately 100' from meter to heater) myself? How much should I budget for the install?

3. How much should I budget for gas prices per year? We have Nicor gas and I don't have the cost per unit right now....I'm just trying to get an idea of how much.

Thanks in advance!
 

CountryBumkin

Bronze Supporter
Jan 9, 2017
124
Orlando/FL
#2
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pmsmith2032

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
126
Northern Illinois
#3
Thanks CountryBumkin. Air temps are definitely above 50 during the day but may go below that from time to time at night. We actually opened our pool already and pool water temp is in low 60s.
 

CountryBumkin

Bronze Supporter
Jan 9, 2017
124
Orlando/FL
#4
Do you have gas now (cooking/heating)? If so, having your gas company run the gas line to heater location may be the easiest option.

I just installed my new propane heater last month (except that I hired a propane company to install an underground tank, run the line, and make the final hookup). A permit is required where I live for any gas work.

Setting the heater in place and connecting the plumbing, remote control wiring, and 120V feed was pretty easy. It took me about 4 hours (a lot of that just studying the job) however I already had plumbing in place from my old heater which only needed minor rework so that saved a bunch of time.

I also installed my pool heat pump myself a few years earlier. That was easier than the gas heater since I have an electrical panel (incoming to house) on the same side as the pool equipment (which is same panel that feed the pool panel), and other than running some rigid conduit, the electrical service is a lot easy to run than gas line.
 
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pmsmith2032

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
126
Northern Illinois
#5
Yes, we have natural gas heating.

It looks like the hear pumps are quite a bit more expensive than the Raypak 266,000 BTU Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Pool Heater I was looking at.
 

CountryBumkin

Bronze Supporter
Jan 9, 2017
124
Orlando/FL
#6
Yeah. That's the drawback - they say you pay more upfront but make it back in the energy savings.
I would ask a local pool builder which is better choice for you. Seeing that you already have gas on the property, that is probably the easiest way to go (assuming gas line is no on the wrong side of the lot).
 

DJEWELL

New member
Apr 9, 2017
1
Phoenix
#7
Hello, I just joined and have a Heater question too.
I have a Jandy LXI 400 Heater that needs a few parts but I had it running for 1 hour to test it.
I just wanted to say, a 400,000 BTU heater spun my gas meter so fast it was crying!
I had 75° water going into it, and ONLY 83° coming out! While 1,200° heat wasted out the vent.
Seriously they call this an efficient heater????
It only has 6 pipes running over the flames.
Shouldn't it have a whole lot more?

Anyway to help you decide, DO NOT use a Natural gas heater>
 

Patrick_B

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 7, 2011
14,999
Midland TX
#8
Hello, I just joined and have a Heater question too.
I have a Jandy LXI 400 Heater that needs a few parts but I had it running for 1 hour to test it.
I just wanted to say, a 400,000 BTU heater spun my gas meter so fast it was crying!
I had 75° water going into it, and ONLY 83° coming out! While 1,200° heat wasted out the vent.
Seriously they call this an efficient heater????
It only has 6 pipes running over the flames.
Shouldn't it have a whole lot more?

Anyway to help you decide, DO NOT use a Natural gas heater>
Djewell

If you have an actual question, please start a new thread and ask it rather than here. We normally do, that by moving your post, but it's not going to make sense by itself. Your question if you have one, needs to be posted elsewhwere in its own thread.
 

CountryBumkin

Bronze Supporter
Jan 9, 2017
124
Orlando/FL
#10
I bought my first Jandy Gas heater (used) locally. I thought it was a good buy. It was on a community pool so I figured the water was well balanced and it looked like it was well maintained. But I started having problems right off. I was able to fix everything myself, then the housing started to rust away (it was a couple of years old) - so I ended up buying a new heater on-line. In the end, I would have saved money just buying a new unit to start with.

Buying on-line can save you money (maybe 10-15%) but you lose the warranty (manufacturers say the heater must be installed by a qualified professional installer to honor warranty). If you can do the installation yourself, then this is the way to go. I'm not worried much about not having a warranty. Most of this equipment is really well made, and the warranty is not that long anyways (like 1 year on the electronics/controls - which is what is most likely to fail if anything is going to fail).

But if you need to hire someone to install it, then let that person buy it too. Then there is no "finger pointing" if something doesn't work right.
 

CJadamec

TFP Expert
Apr 29, 2016
2,194
Quaker Hill, CT
#11
With craigslist with something like a heater you might get lucky and you might get a lemon. Its your call and your money. Do your best to do your homework on what kind of life the heater had.

If you are replacing a heater that is already installed buying online will save you money and should be an easy in and out. Some brands say you need a professional installer to get the longer warranty some don't.

If you are doing a brand new installation esp with a new gas line by the time you get all your permits and have all your inspections hiring a local installer is probably worth it unless you are really handy and up to date on all the local codes and regulations. You are also removing the liability from you and placing it on your contractor in the event something goes wrong with the gas installation. You can also ask your builder if they will allow you to buy the equipment for them to install. Some will some won't. Their mark up and labor to install the unit will only be a small percentage of the cost for the rest of the job. Be up front with the contractors you talk to and let them know exactly what you intend to buy and what you expect them to provide. If you change your mind on anything going on with the job let them know as soon as you make any changes.
 

Pool Tool

Well-known member
May 15, 2014
757
Western Chicago Area, IL
#12
Hello, I am in your neighborhood. I bought a heater online and installed myself for a significant savings. I can't remember the website now, but it shipped straight to my house and setup was done in about day. I am on propane, so costs a bit more but I already had a high pressure propane line the old heater so I didn't have to run a new gas supply. Your Nicor supply will likely be at low pressure, so it will take a 1 1/2" or 2" line to run your heater. At the end of the day, the cost for the line is in the labor digging then burying it - the sized of the tubing is fairly moot.

If you don't have space or are otherwise against solar panels on the roof, a natural gas heater is probably your best bet. Pros - immediate warm up and it can run anytime; Cons - purchase and operating costs can be high depending on usage. Heat pumps are an option too, but are reliant on warm ambient temps and not good for spot heating for weekends etc. They are better at keeping water warm vs. warming it up. Using the cover will help to hold the heat considerably.

About 2 years ago I installed a Raypak 399K Digital Heater and am very happy with it. You may need to swap your gas equipment, but that can be done. I use propane, but natural gas assuming a 400K btu heater should cost you about:
- 1 Therm = 100,000 btus
- 400,000 btu per hour heater / 100,000 btus per therm = 4 therms per hour
- 4 therms per hour * $0.27 per therm = $1.08 per hour to run the heater.
- This is just the gas cost, which is typically only 75% of your bill. Delivery charges, taxes, etc.
- Total cost per hour => $1.08 / .75 = $1.44 per hour

- 20000 gallons * 8.34 lbs/gallon = 166,800 lbs of water
- 1 btu raises 1 lb of water 1 deg F
- Heater Input = 400,000 btus * .85 (85% heater efficiency) = 340,000 btus into pool
- 340,000 / 166,800 = ~2 deg F per hour
- This omits other losses due to evaporation, loss thru walls, etc. but is pretty close.

This was my evaluation of the 400K btu heater. Gas prices are old. Be sure that you not only include the gas cost per therm, but the delivery costs as well. This almost doubles the cost. Lastly, you may need a new gas meter or a 2# (2 pound) gas service. The 2# service increases delivery pressure to the house from ~.25# to 2# which will decrease the diameter of your supply line to the heater but will require a separate regulator to reduce the pressure into the house for your appliances.

Many things to consider, but I like the fact that I can run the heater for a few hours and warm the water for weekends and occasional days here or there.
 
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pmsmith2032

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
126
Northern Illinois
#13
Thanks! I might consider solar panels but our pump is approximately 60 feet to the house (and that's just the corner) and there is no way I'm going up on our steep, two-story roof twice a year.
 

CountryBumkin

Bronze Supporter
Jan 9, 2017
124
Orlando/FL
#14
Thanks! I might consider solar panels but our pump is approximately 60 feet to the house (and that's just the corner) and there is no way I'm going up on our steep, two-story roof twice a year.
Some owners put the panels on an angled platform just a foot or so off the ground (like an angled deck). I suppose it depends on how much open-unused space you have in back yard near the pool.

I considered solar (I'm in FL) but I just had a new roof put on and the roofing co. said mounting panels on (drilling holes in the) roof would void the roof warranty. Plus in FL your supposed to remove the panels from the roof if there is a hurricane possibility (warning) and that would be a real pain (we can have several warnings a year) - but I doubt most pool owners actually do that.
So I decided to go with a heat pump (and the heat pump ($2,500) was a lot cheaper than the solar panel option which was quoted around $6K at the time).