Pool Heater Selection - LP vs. Heat Pump, Brand Selection, Sizing


New member
Apr 26, 2017
Bee Cave, TX
My old 400K BTU heater just died. Time for a new one. Pool guy (super knowledgeable guy) is all about the Sta-Rite Max-E-Therm heaters. (I do all pool maintenance, but have him next to the "easy button" when needed.) He wouldn't touch any other heater brand and has no skin in the game. Frankly he'd rather me get someone else to sell/install it. I see lots of recommendations for Raypak heaters in this forum, but not sure why exactly. My pool is only 13K Gallons and it usually heats at about 2 degrees/hr with the previous 400K BTU heater. Hot tub took about 15 minutes to go from 75 to 100 degrees. I acknowledge that 400K BTU is way overkill, but that's what the previous owner installed. I'm fueling with propane and propane costs about $2.25/gal here. I follow TFP methods for managing chemistry.

Usage: I tend to spot heat for weekends or if the kids are having friends over during the spring/fall. I'm usually heating from 65 to 88 in those instances. I may boost temp in summer from 80 to 87 at kids' request. We use the hot tub about 20 times per year.

  • Looks like copper heat exchanger is still the preferred set-up as the copra-nickel advantage is minimal. Correct?
  • Any major disadvantages to over sizing the heater for the smaller pool? As stated, mostly spot heating. It appears that the cost difference between heater sizes is only a few hundred $ or less.
  • Any reasons to stay away from the Sta-Rite (now Pentair) grenade looking Max-E-Therm heaters?
  • Though I disagree with Leslie's with just about everything they do offer free install of heaters and I'd like to have some recourse if the heater has issues. Also, my credit card extends manufacturer warranties and my pool guy doesn't take credit cards. Any reason I shouldn't get Leslie's to install? Their prices are a few hundred higher than other retailers, but the install makes up for it.
  • With LP being expensive, is it worth it to change to a heat pump? Power is available and I assume no below ground piping modifications are necessary.

Thanks in advance for responses!


LifeTime Supporter
A Heat Pump will be less expensive maintaining temperature, but not necessarily getting up to temperature. Pool will rise 1 degree per hour on a good day. You will not be happy with a Heat Pump for the Spa. With gas you can decide before dinner to get in the spa after dinner. With a HeatPump you would need to decide by lunch time.