Natural gas to propane

Cephrael

Gold Supporter
Apr 19, 2019
153
Massachusetts
So, we are still under construction (see thread in signature). The plumber came to hook the heater into our homes natural gas line and had some bad news for us. In order to do it, we need to call the gas company and get a different meter, and they may require a new gas line to the house. Also, he would have to replumb my entire house because it isn’t done appropriately to handle the BTUs that my house is currently using. What it boils down to is $$$. More than is in our budget.

What I’m wondering is will I need to change out my entire Hayward universal h series heater 400k BTU for a propane one or is there a conversion kit? It’s brand new and has only had water flowing through it for a month and a half now. We can get propane hooked up very easily as we have space for a tank or two.

TIA for the help.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
9,781
Northern NJ
Have you checked on the price of propane versus natural gas?

I would talk with your gas company and get some other opinions. The gas company can setup a second regulator feeding the pool at a different gas pressure so you don't have to modify the gas feed in the house. There are other ways to change things depending on your situation.

Call Hayward on the nat gas to propane conversion. I think it is just changing the orifice on the burners or maybe the burner assembly.

@ps0303 @Pool_Medic @kadavis thoughts?
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,353
Get a new plumber for a second opinion. I suspect that the current plumber is not giving you good advice.

Check with the gas company about going to a bigger meter. They will probably do it free or for a nominal charge.

It's highly unlikely that the line from the gas company to the house is too small to handle an increased load. The gas company can tell you the maximum amount of gas that the line can provide.

In my opinion, if you have natural gas service, it's nonsense to use propane for the pool heater.

I seriously doubt that the whole house needs to be redone. It never would have passed inspection if it wasn't correct.

Get a new plumber who knows what they're doing.

Each meter has a capacity in Cubic Feet per Hour (CFH). Locate that number on your meter and multiply it by 1,024 to give you an approximate btu/hr capacity that your meter can do.

The capacity of the meter must be greater than the total sum of the maximum BTU rating of all the appliances in the home that can run at the same time.

What is the capacity of the meter as listed on the meter label?

What pool heater do you have?
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
992
NY
Street gas is almost always cheaper than delivered propane. Your area could be the one where it isn’t, but everywhere else it’s cheaper. It’s probably worth the upfront cost to keep the street gas. Definitely get a second opinion for what you options and pricing will be. I like the second meter for the pool idea.
 

Cephrael

Gold Supporter
Apr 19, 2019
153
Massachusetts
Get a new plumber for a second opinion. I suspect that the current plumber is not giving you good advice.

Check with the gas company about going to a bigger meter. They will probably do it free or for a nominal charge.

It's highly unlikely that the line from the gas company to the house is too small to handle an increased load. The gas company can tell you the maximum amount of gas that the line can provide.

In my opinion, if you have natural gas service, it's nonsense to use propane for the pool heater.

I seriously doubt that the whole house needs to be redone. It never would have passed inspection if it wasn't correct.

Get a new plumber who knows what they're doing.

Each meter has a capacity in Cubic Feet per Hour (CFH). Locate that number on your meter and multiply it by 1,024 to give you an approximate btu/hr capacity that your meter can do.

The capacity of the meter must be greater than the total sum of the maximum BTU rating of all the appliances in the home that can run at the same time.

What is the capacity of the meter as listed on the meter label?

What pool heater do you have?
I trust this plumber. He was highly recommended by somebody who I’ve trusted my life to.

I probably didn’t explain everything properly. It’s not the whole house, but the manifold were the gas enters the house and then splits off to each individual appliance we have.

The meter is rated for 256,00 BTU. The pool heater alone is 400,000. The meter isn’t even enough for what we currently have. I’d rather not open the can of worms that could occur when we get the gas company involved. It’ll be less of a headache and possible cost to just go propane.

We will also be adding a 40 gallon hot water tank, and a fire pit so going propane is going to be the most cost effective way.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,397
Laughlin, NV
Be sure you run the numbers on how much propane it will take to heat your pool.

Essentially, it will take 4 gallons of propane to raise the temperature of your pool by 1 deg F.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,353
I still don't agree that propane is the way to go.

In any case, you should be able to convert the heater.

Gas conversion:
The factory-installed gas train, where appropriate, may be changed from natural gas to propane or from propane to natural gas, using the appropriate conversion kits available from the factory.
Gas conversions are to be performed only by a qualified service agency. Detailed instructions are included with each kit.

FDXLGCK1400NP Conversion Kit, NA to LP, Quick-Change - 400k btu heater.

FDXLCNK0001 Gas Conversion Kit, NA to LP
The gas plumber should have been able to tell you how to convert the heater using a conversion kit.

Check with Hayward for the correct conversion kit.
 
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swamprat69

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2019
52
Las Vegas, NV
My pool was added by the original owner after the house was built using a 400k BTU heater. It looks like the problem was solved by adding a larger regulator and meter and then running an oversized line to the pool heater. This might also help if you have inadequate supply to the original load in the house.
 

sevans01

Member
Mar 31, 2018
5
deltona/FL
Very good advice above to talk to your gas company and get another plumbers(pref gas specialist) opinion. There should be no reason to replumb your house unless the lines are damaged and/or leaking. If your appliances are working well then it's fine (blue flames, not orange) otherwise would need orifice/regulator adjustment, burners cleaned etc (all minor).
Changing to a larger meter/regulator should be a nominal charge (gas company would love to sell you more gas)

We had our nat gas heater (400k) installed just over a year ago, pool builder left that to us (residential nat gas not real common in Florida) and I used an outfit that also does contract work for the gas company. I don't remember if they had to change to meter (I think so), but larger regulator and a very thick line from the meter to the pool heater.

I don't remember what I paid but it was reasonable for the work, biggest factor was how much digging to bury the line.

A common thing I have found with contractors is if they don't want to do the job, or it is outside their comfort zone, they start listing all sorts of extra work they'll have to do and jacking up the price.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
16,353
If there's something wrong with the house gas plumbing, it needs to be fixed regardless of whether or not you install a pool heater.

Something doesn't add up. We're missing some critical information.
 

Cephrael

Gold Supporter
Apr 19, 2019
153
Massachusetts
So I’ve been reading all of these comments and I guess I need to go over a bunch of numbers and make some phone calls tomorrow morning. Thank you all. It’s been very helpful so far, even if it makes my decision harder.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,368
Chapel Hill, NC
1. Get a second opinion (from the gas company) on your natural gas delivery conduit requirements.
2. Don't use propane if you have any other alternatives (even if you are only going to use it for 3-4 months a year).
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
992
NY
I did a propane to NG conversion when i was laid off and working with my gas company friend. The meter, manifold and feed to the street was the big part. After that, every nozzle came out of the appliances and drilled to a bigger hole with a special drill bit kit by hand. The stove had 10 or so nozzles but holy cow the pool heater had 100 or more. You would be buying the heater new so it would probably come with the right nozzles. If not they would have to be replaced because you couldnt make the slightly bigger NG nozzle hole smaller for the propane.
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
30
Sacramento
Understand that your heater will use about 4 gallons of propane per hour. Locally that's the difference between about $10.00@hour (propane) and $4.50@hour (natural gas). The line coming in to your meter is a high-pressure line and should not have to be replaced unless, as someone else mentioned, it is already damaged. The plumbing in your house will not have to be changed, each unit that uses gas will only use what it needs. I see homes with meters too small all the time and recommend a change. Utility company here will just replace the meter with one large enough to give the amount of gas needed, adjust the pressure (which is never more than 7" water column) and you're good to go. Saw it happen this morning. Your plumber, for some reason, is giving bad information.
 

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
387
Spring Valley, NY
I had a gas meter changed at my house with the largest residential meter available. Didn't have to do anything except set up the appointments, first site eval and the swap out. Whatever you do afterwards they could care less. As was mentioned above run the largest gas pipe and then much larger several feet before the heater so the volume is there. see this all the time and it works A OK.
 

Edc1911

Well-known member
Mar 25, 2018
49
South Texas
1. call the city and ask about upgrading the gas meter, if it needs to be upgraded the city should do it for free. The new gas meter are high pressure and can handle a 400k btu heater. The city will let you know what you got.
2. the gas line to the heater is independent to the house, or should i say it gets "t" from the meter and a new run to the pool heater. The existing gas to the house doesn't get touched.
3. if the gas line to the house is bad, you would of noticed by now, however get an independent inspector to check.
 

Cephrael

Gold Supporter
Apr 19, 2019
153
Massachusetts
So after a bunch of phone calls and some digging around for extra money, we are going to have a secondary gas service line from the street added on our property in order to accommodate the additional appliances. The current service couldn’t handle any more load.

Even with our 350’ driveway, it is only going to cost $5000 to have it done. Only thing is they have to go down the middle of our driveway. So we will need to fix that eventually.

The propane was going to be $650 a fill up. 2-100 gallon tanks on the property for $12 each a month. Probably would have used at a minimum 3 fill ups in the few months we planned to use it. The final kicker was when the propane guy said he’d do natural gas if it was available.

Thank you all for your advice.
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,472
Stuart/FL
It's been interesting to read this. You may have already committed to the new line and if so ignore this post. Adding a new line will certainly work but it's way over-kill. Gas meters are typically rated at .5" wc pressure drop but they can go way higher. Usually your delivery line will have 5 psig and then have a regulator upstream of the meter that drops pressure to 7.5" wc. A meter sized for .5" that delivers 250 cfh will deliver a LOT more than this with 2" drop which is doable with 7.5" wc supply. Also ratings are set in cu ft of air since that's the test medium. You get more ng through them since it's specific gravity is .6 vs 1 for air. The calculations are very specific for your house, supply pressures, meter brand, and gas company policies but I have to say it is extremely rare to require a completely separate supply line for the residential loads that you're talking about. As James indicated, I'd have a second opinion from a qualified gas engineer. Could save you $5K.

Chris