I'm just looking for a recommendation based on my choices from the estimate below. Unfortunately, a Raypak doesn't seem to be a good fit for my setup. Any advice on which to choose or avoid would be appreciated.
I would get a few more quotes from other contractors.
There is literally no difference between the Jandy or Pentair units that could justify a $300 increase in price other than this particular contractor wants you to go with the Pentair system and clearly does not want to sell or install a Raypak. Raypak's are a little bit different than the other models, but I really don't buy their justification that there is something about the clearances that means they absolutely can't setup a Raypak. The quote looks fishy to me but, if you want an opinion on what's there, either the Jandy or the Pentair will do the same job so you might as well go with the Pentair since you have all Pentair equipment as it is.
The contractor should be listing the exact model numbers in the bid and I would want it itemized so I can see how much each component is such as the heater itself, new piping and labor. The gas line is flex as is the power whip so that shouldn't need to be in the quote at all as these can be re-used. If they show up in the quote it is an area to get some concessions. Make sure you get the heater you are paying for and verify the cost of the heater versus what you can procure it for yourself is not out of line or it is merely padding the labor cost.
Looking at prices for these units at InyoPool.com the Jandy is about $250 more than the Pentair. But based on the prices your were quoted, your paying about $850-900 in labor.
The physical size of the heaters is about the same. I just replaced a Jandy (old millivolt) with the RayPak 406. Size wise not much difference.
You didn't say what model StaRite you have now - but you may want to also consider how the plumbing to the current heater is setup now and how the new heater's plumbing is laid out.
Some (Master Temp) have the inlet and outlet fittings above/below each other, others (Raypak, StaRite Max-E-Therm, and older Jandy) have the inlet and outlets side-by-side. If you buy a new heater and the connections are in the same place it invloves a lot less labor to hook it up.
Are you also considering the StaRite Max-E-Term? it is the same price range (and has that plastic "no rust" housing which is a plus).
Lastly, why should the RayPak be not considered? What is this about the location to gas and window? All of the heater need to be a minimum distance from house, windows, overhangs, etc. The RayPak has no limitations that are worse than the others. On the RayPak (was same for my older Jandy) you can reverse the heat exchanger manifolds so the inlet/outlet can be on either side of the unit. I did this on my RayPak so the gas line and the plumbing were both on the same side. I think all of the heaters can have the plumbing inlet/outlets swapped around.
Wow - thanks for all the great information. I will definitely act on it. As for the Raypak, the explanation was that it would wind up under our bathroom window and therefore it wasn't a recommended option.
Only that OP is being (over) charged $850-$900 for labor based on prices of the heater's listed at InyoPools.com so if it is just a matter of removing old StaRite heater and installing a new StaRite heater with no plumbing or gas line rework needed, then cutting the installation cost to $450-$500 would be fair (even though still priced too high IMO).
The OP can do as they wish. I'm just saying that from a person that this is all I do, the price is right. When you get the $250 guy, he is not licensed or insured. This is what I see all day long. In Florida you are supposed to be a licensed pool contractor and have a valid gas license even if you are just swapping out units.
Just get three bids from licensed companies and go from there. If all three companies are within the same price range then you can be assured the price is the price. If one is say $400 or so less, ask why they are so much less than the other quotes. Can you buy cheaper on the internet, sure. But if that unit comes damaged or doesn't work correctly out of the box, who are you going to blame? Been there seen that. In my business, if I sell you a unit and there is damage to it or if it is broken right out of the box, yes it happens, I can take it back to my supplier right then and there and bring you a new unit the same day. No calling around trying to explain what is wrong with it, waiting for a new shipment to arrive and sending the old one back.
The licensed contractor that just installed my pump charged $220 plus parts and it is very similar work except it is hooking up 220v instead of NG. In CA a pool contractor licence covers all trades required to do work associated with pools, AFAIK. This is not rocket science. I'd do it myself except for not wamting to do it myself..
Paul is a loyal member of the forum and offers a lot of helpful information on a VOLUNTEER basis. Posts are leaning toward accusations of unethical pricing. If he says that's the going rate in a part of FL, it's good enough for me. If the OP gets something he likes better then so be it. We have all had enough to say about that, so let's drop it, and give the thread back to the OP on solving his issues.