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Thread: Longevity of heaters

  1. #1
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    Default Longevity of heaters

    I've been calling around and getting some wildly different answers about the expected longevity of propane (no gas out here) and solar heaters. One guy told me that propane might last as long as 10 years while another said 15 is reasonable. And I've also been told that solar only lasts 3-7 seasons. What's real?
    BTW, one guy told me that it will only last 15 years *if* you take good care of the chemistry, which includes more than just pH and chlorine but also alkalinity. I've been told before that the need for alkalinity in a pool is a scam, but I should probably hear it again. I should take him seriously, should I?
    I have an 18" above ground pool and live near Ottawa, Canada.
    Everybody into the puel!

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    Default Re: Longevity of gas and propane pool heaters

    For complicated reasons, I doubt that there is much reliable information on average heater life. If you are into such things, both "confirmation bias" and "selection bias" are in play.

    I can, however, tell you things that affect life, negatively:

    + Volatile pool chemicals (muriatic acid, trichlor, dichlor, cal hypo)
    are STORED or USED in the same enclosure or room as the heater.

    + The heater is not raised substantially
    above the ground or floor level.

    + The heater is outdoors and not under cover.
    (I know they can be operated outdoors -- but they don't last as long that way)

    + Pool pH is often below 7.0

    + Saturation index is too HIGH
    SI is a calculation of pH, temp, ionic strength, alkalinity and calcium. An almost universal error is to calculate SI at pool water temperature. The SI relevant to heater life must be calculated at the heater effluent temperature, which is hopefully the same as the temp inside the heat exchanger. The problem of concern is whether scale forms inside the tubes, causing local overheating of the metal, in the vicinity of the scale. Incidentally, I have never seen ANY evidence that low SI -- so long as pH is kept above 7.2 -- is relevant!
    + Chlorination takes place UPSTREAM of the heater,
    whether by skimmer pills or a feeder.

    +A chlorinator is installed downstream, but NEAR the heater,
    AND the pump is on a timer, AND there is no check valve between the heater and the chlorinator. The problem can be avoided by setting the timer to run the pump -- briefly -- 2 or 3x per day in ADDITION to the regular interval.

    + The heater is killed by lightning or voltage surges,
    because a surge protector was not installed. (This won't affect old millivolt type heaters, of course)

    + Spiders, ants, mice or rats, etc. inhabit the heater
    in the off season.

    And the big one:

    + Salt water chlorination (SWCG)
    is used with a non-salt rated heater . . . which is most of them, except for the Hayward Universal models.

    ___________________________________________

    Intermatic PS3000 Pool Surge Protector

    Pentair 263042 2" CPVC Check Valve
    Jandy 7305 2" CPVC Check Valve
    Natural gas models:
    Propane models:
    ___________________________________________

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    Default Re: Longevity of heaters

    Thank you for your input. Which of those things are relevant to propane heaters and which are for solar?
    Everybody into the puel!

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    Default Re: Longevity of heaters

    Sorry!

    That list was 100% addressing longevity of 'fired' heaters (natural gas / propane).

    Solar heaters . . . I have no direct experience with them. From what I've heard, and from what I know of the materials, the 2 major factors would be
    1. plastic deterioration from solar UV
    2. freeze damage

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    Default Re: Longevity of heaters

    I am using a solar heater, 20ft by 52 inches, I have it laying on a raised platform next to my pool. The first one I bought only lasted 2 years before it started leaking in a LOT of places all at once, I was pretty disappointed. I am trying another one (glutton for punishment?) because it works pretty well and I will see how long it lasts.
    17x29 AG soft side, 15k gallons, hayward 1.5hp pump, hayward 18in sandfilter, taylor K2006C kit.

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    Default Re: Longevity of heaters

    Many plastics are NOT really UV stable, and depend on added plasticizers, UV blockers and dyes. Generally, black polyethylene is UV stable for at least several years. But Chinese manufacturers can and do manufacture all sorts of stuff that LOOKS like it's decent material, but is really trash. I've been burned so many times, that I have a pretty negative attitude toward anything made in China.

    My guess is, if you get a solar panel manufactured from US made tubing . . . it will last. Otherwise, not so much.

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    Default Re: Longevity of heaters

    I did some checking.

    There are US-made solar heat systems, with long warranties, and apparently, with long lives. But they are expensive and mostly dealer installed. I didn't see any do-it-yourself US-made systems.

    What brand did you get?

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