Replacing pool/spa heater recommendations...

davidhum66

Bronze Supporter
Jul 8, 2018
24
Austin, TX
Hello - I have a Pentair Minimax 400 propane heater installed in 2003. I've had some repairs over the years, but appears the time has come to replace. I am going to try and replace the board and module to see if that fixes the service light along with the high temp limits (about $340). But upon closer inspection, noticed the bottom of heater is completely rusted through. The exchanger is fine and pool/spa has been heating fine until last weekend. LPS gave estimate (over $4000!) for the latest Pentair model (Temp Master 400 - #460737) & is pushing this model. Several reviews online with customer complaints though about this unit. TFP searching has many commenting favorably about Raypak heaters. So, I'm researching that. However, not many reviews on the 400 BTU Raypak propane unit (#009227). So, was wondering why Raypak is favored? Division of Rheem. Solid heaters and company? My old Pentair has certainly lasted a long time. Home Depot and Leslie's sells Raypak at considerably different prices, but HD doesn't install. Read that installing yourself can limit warranty, so dilemma continues. I have a SWG and also was considering the "cupro-nickel" or HD models, but many don't think that's needed for residential application and there's lower efficiency with these. My heater is outside on cement pad. Also, read that the Raypak will only control the on/off of heater...and current pool automation allows me to set temp. But if all I have to do is walk over to Raypak and adjust temp, seems that is fine for a quality heater. So, any thoughts or recommendations? My hope is that I can just get a sheet metal panel, lay on ground on bottom of heater above cement, and get current heater working for another year as I prolong the decisions for the next heater purchase. Thanks.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,317
Pacific NW
It's the build quality of Raypak.
Less components to go bad over the years compared to other manufacturers.

My Laars heater was on it's last days and I switched to a Raypak without even a second thought.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,287
Northern NJ
LPS gave estimate (over $4000!) for the latest Pentair model (Temp Master 400 - #460737) & is pushing this model. Several reviews online with customer complaints though about this unit. TFP searching has many commenting favorably about Raypak heaters. So, I'm researching that. However, not many reviews on the 400 BTU Raypak propane unit (#009227). So, was wondering why Raypak is favored? Division of Rheem. Solid heaters and company? My old Pentair has certainly lasted a long time.
I have a Pentair MasterTemp 400 NG heater and have been happy with it. If you are going to have it professionally installed then there is not much difference between the MasterTemp and Raypak. If you are going ot DIY install and maintain then Raypak is better on warranty and support.

I have a SWG and also was considering the "cupro-nickel" or HD models, but many don't think that's needed for residential application and there's lower efficiency with these.
Cupro-nickel is not necessary if you maintain recommended water chemistry. A SWG and salt is not the problem with copper heat exchangers, low pH is.

Also, read that the Raypak will only control the on/off of heater...and current pool automation allows me to set temp. But if all I have to do is walk over to Raypak and adjust temp, seems that is fine for a quality heater. So, any thoughts or recommendations?
Raypak can be controlled by your Aqualink RS int he same way your current heater is. You set temp on the Aqualink and the Aqualink controls the ON/OFF on the heater using the "firemans switch".
 
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homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
271
Sunrise,FL
I bought (online) and installed a RayPak after my old Jandy required more $$ in parts to repair it than I was willing to invest. No complaints! I went with the Cupro-Nickel heat exchanger for no real particular reason other than i use it year-round to heat either the pool or spa.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,903
Chapel Hill, NC
Rheem (Raypak) are a solid company. I don't think there are "good" makes and "bad" makes - if they are installed properly and looked after, they are all pretty good. I've had Laars (Jandy) over the years and they've all lasted at least 15 years.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,472
Stuart/FL
When I looked for heaters I came to the conclusion that they all seem to be made about the same way. The underlying control components are made by the same ignition control module manufacturers and most offer a couple of options on heater tube materials. To me tie goes to Raypak since so many here seem to like it and Rheem has been in the business so long. For me, I found a great deal on a Jandy jxi about 5 years ago through a discount house that was $400 less than the others so I went that route. Now I wouldn't go that way because they cut DIY warranty to zero. The other majors cut it less and 3rd party manufacturers offer the best warranty. So I'd decide the features you want then shop for price (not Jandy for DIY) and tie goes to Raypak. As Allen pointed out you can control almost any heater with any automation.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 

davidhum66

Bronze Supporter
Jul 8, 2018
24
Austin, TX
Thank you all for the helpful feedback. TFP and this forum is so great for passing along information! As for my current heater, I installed parts (module, new board, and high limit switches) and still no success. Heater is dead and like I said, unit was completely rusted out and time to replace. But very fortunate to get 16 yrs out of it. I'm pretty diligent with pool chemistry, even more so since joining TFP. I have contacted local installer and am going with Raypak based on helpful feedback about still having automation control. Installer recommended the CN exchanger (bc of SW pool), another bid received recommended against Raypak (didn't say why, just left message), and various comments above and on this forum in support of Raypak. So, what to do? :) Since my previous copper exchanger is fine, I am going to stick with copper. I confirmed I have a check valve b/w my SWG and heater and like the fact copper is better at heating the spa/pool more quickly and is more efficient which should save me money over life of the heater. Install is next week and if any more feedback on +/- to say about Raypak and type of exchanger recommended, please post. Here are a few pics of rusted bottom and old heater. Thanks again.
 

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setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,472
Stuart/FL
David,

I had the same experience when I considered having the heater installed. In the end I just stayed with my old adage that I discount advice of people that can be conflicted unless I know them very well. There's no conflict here since we don't sell anything.

Chris