Pool Heater dilemma - need reviews/advice please!

NoVaSummerDazeMarch 15, 2012

Our pool is around 20 years old and we believe the heater was original (we bought the house 2 years ago). It is a Teledyne LAARS Oil fired heater. It worked the first summer we used it and then the next summer we had to get someone to service it and it worked fine for awhile. Last fall the heater overheated itself and literally melted a hole through the top and stopped working. It was close it our normal closing time anyway so we closed it up to be dealt with in the winter. We have not had anyone out to service it yet but feel it is totalled at this point.

So we are now stuck with ~300gallons of oil in our buried tank and have found one option for oil pool heaters online (Thermotron) but have learned that no one knows how to service them anymore. We would like to move off of Oil due to its high cost if we could, but are unsure of the costs associated with digging up our buried oil tank to replace with a gas tank, plus installing the new heater. Heat pumps are appealing in that they keep the temperature up all the time and cost less to run, but we are in NoVa so I'm not sure if they would really extend our season. We also have an attached spa so I'm reading in other posts that the heat pumps are not good options for heating them up quickly any night other than a hot summer one. I have read some posts on here about people using a heat pump for their pool and a secondary gas one for the spa to get it heated quickly which sounds like the best of both worlds. What is the cost associated with doing this? (knowing we'd have to get a gas tank as well). Any general advice of oil vs gas vs electric? Thanks in advance!

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Should add- our pool is in ground, around 900 sq ft, approx 29,000 gallons and the spa is probably around 800 gallons.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Oil fired heaters in the US don't exist anymore. You decision to move away from that fuel is a very good one I suspect. One concern on that front is are you in northern Virginia or Nova Scocia as your references seem a bit non descriptive. I don't know what is in Canada as an available fuel.

Generally speaking, oil is replaced with propane. This is usually just as much a budget issue as oil since the two are tied in both manufacturing and pricing. You mentioned tanks, burying, etc..., Here in NJ, I am not allowed to deal with these tanks.

I used to get to pass this section on to a buddy of mine I grew up with (which means he's a mensch too!) to pull the tank and oil because subterranean tanks are no longer allowed here.

The propane dealer deals with any needed propane storage issue. My dealer (I have propane for my pool) provided a pair of 125 gallon tanks for my 300K heater which gives me about a 30 to 45 day supply after I heat up the pool. They are above ground and withing 120' of the location they need from the truck to refill. As long as the stickers IDing them stays visible, I can paint them or have things growing like ivy if I like. Different areas may have different rules. Asking is the best way I know to finding out those rules. My wife and I don't find they stick out like sore thumbs in my yard but some people may for theirs.

As for your situation, a heat pump has limits. If those limits are outside your needs, its use is not really for you. You have read enough and so I don't need to reiterate the a HP may be nice for you for the pool but the spa use will be a different situation. A gas fired heater has so many advantages there.

As for which brand, my area has a number of brands available. The ones I like best happen to be Pentair. What is best in your area may be similar or it may rely on what you can get serviced easily and that may be a different brand. I don't recommend a heater be purchased off the net but rather be sized properly and equipped as needed on site and professionally. Unless you are planning to do the install and have the experience needed, you won't save a buck.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Thanks Scott. We are in Northern Virginia. Would you recommend a heat pump in line with a secondary gas heater for heating up the spa quickly? I have seen mention of that but am unsure if that would really be more cost effective than just getting a gas heater. I am guessing it would be a little more initial investment but long-term operations costs would be significantly lower. I would prefer to do that (to have a smaller gas tank to worry about)and to take advantage of the heat pump benefits, but I am unclear as to whether that would enable me to get a smaller gas heater than if I went entirely with gas for the whole pool. If I'm buying two full size heaters it would take a long time to recoup any operating cost benefits. Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 3:38PM
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If you have a spa you NEED the gas heater. If you decided to use your spa at 10pm on a cool night you will never be able to heat it to say 100 degrees with a heat pump. It just won't work. Yes you can get a gas heater and a heat pump but you are looking at a big initial outlay of cash to do so. You also have to run a dedicated 240 line for the heat pump. You could however upgrade your gas heater size to say a 400K BTU and you could use it to heat both pool and spa but you need a bigger propane tank. If you want just a spa heater you could go as small as either a 200K or 250K BTU heater and use smaller propane tank(s).

No matter what you use to heat your pool, I would highly suggest a solar cover to keep the heat in on cool days and nights. That way you won't be wasting your money when you heat the pool.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 11:45AM
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