Propane tank in place, but considering a heat pump

Va Pool Fun

Member
Mar 11, 2021
6
Virginia
Hi all, We have a propane tank already installed in the ground by the previous owners, about 20 years ago. Our old Minimax heater died last year (right after filling the propane tank, of course) and we are torn about replacing it with another propane heater or switching to a heat pump. The premise of setting the heat pump to maintain the pool temperature is very appealing, as Hubby likes to swim daily in the summer. I do understand the heat pump constraints with lower ambient air temperature and the longer time to heat up, while propane will heat much more quickly. We do have a solar cover/ reel and use it every night.
In Virginia, our electricity cost is 0.119kw and propane costs about $3/ gallon.
I am unsure of the initial purchase cost difference between the two units. I am also unsure of the heat pump installation costs vs having the propane tank already in place. From my research on this wonderful site, it seems that propane is the most expensive way to heat a pool.
Any insight or advice on which to purchase? What other factors should I be taking into consideration? Is there anything I am missing? Thanks!
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
2,012
Chapel Hill, NC
The heat pump will be twice the purchase cost of a gas heater, and it will be a lower capacity. Running 220v to the heat pump will add additional costs too. You'll need to estimate the total costs of ownership (initial purchase cost plus running costs) over about 10 years to come up with a financial justification for one over the other.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,819
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
You can use these calculators to get a comparison of operating costs. You need to get some bids for the installation costs. As Keith said the HP will cost more to acquire and install. Check that your house electrical system can provide a 50 AMP 240V line for a heat pump.

Raypak has a Gas Pool Heater Sizer. It tells you the Temperature Rise/Hr and Natural Gas and Propane costs to heat a pool in your local area to selected temperature by month. Adjust the natural gas cost and propane cost in the lower left to your local gas prices for accurate costs.

Pentair has a Heat Pump Calculator to determine the appropriate size Heat Pump for your location. Pentair seems to do honest calculations based on the physics and efficiencies of each type of pump and energy source.

Raypak also has a Heat Pump Heater Sizing App.

To get the most accurate cost comparison you should change the default electric kwh, natural gas price, and propane price to actual prices in your area.
 

Va Pool Fun

Member
Mar 11, 2021
6
Virginia
Thank you both, Keith and Allen, so much for your replies. I will use the calculator links above to compare costs. I also appreciate the comment about comparing costs over the next 10 years to justify which to purchase.
I am leaning toward a Raypak propane heater since we already have the propane tank in place. However, still considering the AquaCal heat pump. I will run some numbers and see how they shake out.
 
Last edited:

Va Pool Fun

Member
Mar 11, 2021
6
Virginia
So, to follow up with my current situation. Hubby and I have decided that we will most likely get BOTH the propane heater and the heat pump... Raypak for propane and Aquacal for the heat pump. Please help me clarify and correct what I think I know.
. The propane tank and hook up are already in place, but no electricity. If I kept it that way, I assume I would have to get a Raypak millivolt model. From what I've read, it seems the millivolt models are not as desirable or reliable?? Looking at models P-R336A-MP-C or P-R406A-MP-C

For the heat pump, it looks like I have an electrical subpanel on the pool equipment pad. There is an old, dead salt cell and some lights that are no longer used. Can I use this "extra" electricity to hook up the heat pump? The heat pump would most likely be located very close to this area. Looking at the Aquacal SQ225.... is this the correct one?

The Raypak heater and the Aquacal heat pump would probably end up about 20 feet from each other. As you can see in the pictures, the pool pump pad is under the steps coming down from the upper deck, which is where the heat pump would be located (to the side). The propane heater would be in a latticed area under the upper deck, with the proper clearance.
I'm trying to visualize how the plumbing would work to add the heat pump, but I'm not "seeing it" Although I am somewhat handy, this is work I will hire someone to do.


The pool store tells me that they cannot get either heater for several months. It looks like I can order online and have an HVAC technician install the propane heater - but who to install and plumb the heat pump??
I thank you in advance for your insight and assistance!



!pool pad 1.jpgpool pad 2.jpgpool pad 3.jpgpool pad 4.jpg
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,819
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The propane tank and hook up are already in place, but no electricity. If I kept it that way, I assume I would have to get a Raypak millivolt model. From what I've read, it seems the millivolt models are not as desirable or reliable?? Looking at models P-R336A-MP-C or P-R406A-MP-C.

If you have power for the heat pump why can't you use that power for the gas heater?

The millivolt requires a pilot light always burning to generate electrical power. That will continuously consume your propane.

For the heat pump, it looks like I have an electrical subpanel on the pool equipment pad. There is an old, dead salt cell and some lights that are no longer used. Can I use this "extra" electricity to hook up the heat pump? The heat pump would most likely be located very close to this area. Looking at the Aquacal SQ225.... is this the correct one?

A HP has much larger power requirements, 50 amps, then a SWG. Confirm you can provide the amperage the HP needs.

Check that you can get warranty service for an Aquacal in your area. Some folks have found there is no service for their HP in their local area.

The Raypak heater and the Aquacal heat pump would probably end up about 20 feet from each other. As you can see in the pictures,

Your posted pics are too small to see any details.

the pool pump pad is under the steps coming down from the upper deck, which is where the heat pump would be located (to the side). The propane heater would be in a latticed area under the upper deck, with the proper clearance.
I'm trying to visualize how the plumbing would work to add the heat pump, but I'm not "seeing it"

The pics do not give enough of an overview of locations and details to see it to provide any advice.
The pool store tells me that they cannot get either heater for several months. It looks like I can order online and have an HVAC technician install the propane heater - but who to install and plumb the heat pump??
I thank you in advance for your insight and assistance!

Do you intend to control the gas heater and HP manually? Turn one one and the other off and adjust the temperature settings?
 
Last edited:

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
2,012
Chapel Hill, NC
I'd stick with the propane to start - you can always add a heatpump down the road if you feel the need. I've had millivolt gas heaters for nearly 30 years. I much prefer them to the digital electronic models - much more reliable, in my opinion, and you don't need to run electric to them.
 

Va Pool Fun

Member
Mar 11, 2021
6
Virginia
Do you intend to control the gas heater and HP manually? Turn one one and the other off and adjust the temperature settings?

Allen, I believe there is enough amperage in the sub-panel for the heat pump and thankfully there is an Aquacal dealer in our area. Who would be the correct person to install this unit? The pool store says they can't obtain one for months, and I would assume they would not want to install a unit I did purchase from them. Also, I think for now I will control them manually. I kind of enjoy "piddling around" with everything. Automation most likely to come in the future, but I'm fine without it for now. Thanks again!
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,819
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
You need a combination of an electrician for the electrical, a plumber for the PVC work, and a person who understands how pools work to know where to install it. And it helps to have AC knowledge in how a HP works if there are any problems.

The Aquacal dealer should be able to set you up with installation.
 

Va Pool Fun

Member
Mar 11, 2021
6
Virginia
I'd stick with the propane to start - you can always add a heatpump down the road if you feel the need. I've had millivolt gas heaters for nearly 30 years. I much prefer them to the digital electronic models - much more reliable, in my opinion, and you don't need to run electric to them.
I agree that we will purchase the propane heater first and stick with the millivolt model- thanks for the vote of confidence with it. Hopefully, the propane is just a quick, easy install since everything is already in place.
I still have a HP high on my list, since propane is so expensive and I would love the steady heat a HP could provide since I and have children/grandchildren that prefer a warmer pool. Thanks!