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Thread: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

  1. #1
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    Default Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    I am being told that I should go with a heat pump and not a propane heater. I was going to a 400K BTU propane heater and now I am told I would be better off with a heat pump. Looking at the stats it appears a heat pump will heat slower (100K BTU). I have a IG gunite spa and pool (28,000 gallons). Will I be sorry?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    It depends on how you're going to use your pool. If you do not use your pool much when it gets cool out, or only use the heater to get your spa up to temp (98+ degrees), you'll want a gas heater that can get the temperature up high, when you want to use it.
    However, if the pool gets used constantly, the heat pump will allow you to actually be able to afford heating your pool and maintaining your desired water temperature. For most people, this is in the low to mid 80's.
    As the air temperature drops, it may take longer for either heater to get to your desired temperature, but again, the heat pump will be more cost effective to get it up to temps.
    With 28,000 gallons, did your pool contractor recommend a solar blanket or a liquid blanket? Also, 100K BTUs in a Heat Pump is a little on the low side.

    Last advice, depending on how cold it gets in Rancho Murieta, most heat pumps will shut off when the air temps get into the 50's. I suggest looking at Heat Pumps that offer a hot gas defrost or a heat and cold mode that allows them to run down into freezing temps.

    If the heat pump is operated properly, they will be very affordable to run and maintain your pool heated to a temperature at (almost) all times.

    Gas will get you there quickly. Heat pumps will get you there efficiently.
    Sean Assam
    Commercial Product Sales Manager - AquaCal AutoPilot Inc. Mobile: 954-325-3859
    e-mail: sean@teamhorner.com --- www.autopilot.com - www.aquacal.com

  3. #3
    MarkC is offline Registered+ Widget Weaver MarkC 1 star
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    When I spoke to the guy at our local pool store who LOVES heatpumps (PA state), he told me the heat pump was the way to go if I did not have a spa ( I don't). He told me if you have a spa he prefers a split system with a gas heater to heat the spa. I don't know how you would plumb such a system. Do you plan to swim all year? and what are your winter temps? My pool is 17,000 gallons and I have a heatpump that cranks out slightly less than 100,000 BTU which is fine for just the pool.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    I want to heat the spa. Yes I would heat the pool too if the cost is not too much. My main issues is will it heat the spa quickly even in cold weather. What about when the weather gets to 40's or 50's?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    You will have to get a hot gas defrost model (also called heat and cool modes). If you maintain your pool heat in the high 70's to mid 80's, you'll not have too much trouble (or take that much time) to get it up to 100 or so degrees.
    The Heat Pump makes it cost effective to maintain your pool and spa. Do you use a solar blanket? It will help your heat loss tremendously if you do.
    Just keep it covered overnight when it gets cool out.
    Sean Assam
    Commercial Product Sales Manager - AquaCal AutoPilot Inc. Mobile: 954-325-3859
    e-mail: sean@teamhorner.com --- www.autopilot.com - www.aquacal.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    What about BTU output? We are putting a new inground pool in September and the pool store said we should us a 300,000 btu gas heater. I would like to go with a heat pump but the largest I have seen is around 150,000 btu. I hope that it is ok to jump in on this thread like this. I'm new to the pool forum.

    Thanks

    Mark

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    Mark,

    Welcome and yes, it's fine to jump in....the water feels great!

    First, it's important to know that most gas heaters are approximately 80% efficient, so the 300,000 BTU gas heater is only putting out 240,000 BTUs, with the other 60,000 BTUs wasted out the top vent.
    Heat Pumps are highly efficient and can do the job of maintaining the heat in the pool. Not sure about the 150,000 BTU rating on a heat pump though. They really don't put out that much. However, that's not what's important. It's a matter of maintaining heat, rather than introducing heat to the pool whenever you're looking to use it.
    This is best done by using a solar cover and allowing the pump to operate long enough to keep the pool maintained. In the longrun, it will still be much less than running a gas heater.

    How large is your pool going to be? Indoor or outdoor? Will you be using a dome in the winter or winterizing?
    Sean Assam
    Commercial Product Sales Manager - AquaCal AutoPilot Inc. Mobile: 954-325-3859
    e-mail: sean@teamhorner.com --- www.autopilot.com - www.aquacal.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    We are putting in a 24' by 40' vinyl "free form" pool in the Rochester New York area. It 's a outdoor pool that we will winterize. Do you know the average time it takes to recover the extra cost of the heat pump? From what I have seen most heat pumps are about 2X the price of a gas heater.

    Thanks

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    It really depends on how you're going to be using your pool. On average, although the initial cost of the heat pump is about 2x, the cost savings is about 50 - 70% less than running gas. Which means you're actually able to afford to heat your pool and spa.
    The cost difference may take a few seasons, but after that, it's all savings. The other considerations are warranty, and typical replacement parts that typically take place with gas heaters (with Cupric-Nickle heat exchanger failures), whereas most heat pumps will offer a titanium heat exchanger (virtually impervious to chemical attack and most manufacturers offer lifetime warrantees on the titanium).
    Sean Assam
    Commercial Product Sales Manager - AquaCal AutoPilot Inc. Mobile: 954-325-3859
    e-mail: sean@teamhorner.com --- www.autopilot.com - www.aquacal.com

  10. #10
    Poconos is offline SuperMod Emeritus Sniggle Mechanic Poconos 4 stars Poconos 4 stars Poconos 4 stars Poconos 4 stars Poconos 4 stars Poconos 4 stars
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    Default Re: Heat pump vs Propane Heater

    With all due respect Sean, you're in Florida and this guy is in Northern NY. Big climate difference. 'Average' costs can be misleading in my opinion. One big factor in how long it takes to recover cost is the electric rates which vary widely around the country. Another factor is the air temperature (heat sink) when the thing is running which affects efficiency of a heat pump. I agree with you on the heat exchanger statement, but you have to also consider the other components which are about the same as a central air conditioner. I admit I don't know the answer to this one but 'efficiency' to me would mean overall cost efficiency which includes non-recurring and recurring costs figured over a multi-year time frame. I used to use propane until the price went through the roof and now I use solar. Just my nickels worth.
    Al

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