Pros and Cons Of Gas Heaters
Over the years we’ve had many customers ask about using gas heaters with our therapy pools. Gas heaters have a lot of advantages, first of all the amount of heat they generate is pretty high and they will generally heat the pool faster than an electric or solar heater. However, installing a gas heater is quite a task both the heater and the gas line installation require adherence to national, state, and local safety codes. Our therapy pools are compatible with gas heaters but customers generally choose to go with the electric heater because installing a gas line, the cost of the gas heater itself, and installing the heater together tends to be quite a big project. Nevertheless we want to give our customers as many options as possible and provide a basic overview below of what installing a gas heater for our pool would entail.
Gas heaters can be either natural gas or propane. We’ll start with the natural gas pool heater. First you need to locate the natural gas meter of your home and determine where its location is to where you want to install your pool. You will need to contact your gas provider and set up an appointment after you purchase your gas heater because the gas meter will generally need to be changed for a new one to accommodate the increased consumption with your new pool heater. Sometimes you may need to set this appointment at least two weeks in advance. If you use a standard 100,000 BTU gas heater you will need approximately 6 hours to heat up an iPool from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees. If you are interested, we have a great article that discusses pool heating calculations in more detail here.
To install a gas line, you will need to dig a trench at least 18 to 20 inches deep from the gas meter to the location of the pool where you are installing the heater. The length of pipe that you are installing will have an effect on the volume of gas being pushed forth. You will need to determine the minimum diameter of the pipe to ensure a certain quantity of BTU. Maintaining a heating level of approximately 100,000 BTU per hour is sufficient for our therapy pools because the size is so small we won’t need anything in the millions of BTU.
There are different standards for the materials used for the piping such as Schedule 40 steel or polyethylene plastic it is important that your plumber or installer follows the guidelines laid out by National Fuel Gas Codes ANSI Z223.1/ NFPA 54 as well as the applicable state and local codes. You will also need to add other elements such as tracer tape or tracer wire which is basically copper wire and have it run next to your new gas pipe. Future workers can use this tracer wire to easily determine where the gas line is located without having to dig.
Generally speaking gas heaters need to be installed outdoors, indoor installations without proper ventilation is extremely dangerous. The heater should be installed on a nonflammable surface, with 2-3 feet of clear space all around. Remember do not install your hear near any window openings or air intakes. Gas heaters need room to take in oxygen so they can properly burn it is important to make sure there is plenty of room and nothing close to the gas heater that can obstruct its functioning.
Here is a great video that shows some of the additional precautions and set up you will need to install a gas heater from the popular Universal H Series from Hayward.
If you do not have a natural gas line but want to use a gas heater you will need to install a propane tank instead. Please keep in mind to heat our therapy pools you will need a large residential propane tank, at least 250 gallons or more, not the 20 lb tanks that you can purchase for a barbecue.
Calling your local propane provider and leasing a residential tank is generally inexpensive but you will still need to build the gas line and the rest of the installation required to run the heater as well as have it inspected. Again, please keep in mind propane is more expensive than natural gas with propane at $2.50 per gallon it is almost double the price of natural gas in terms of the BTU generated.
Heating the pool with a 100,000 BTU heater may take six hours or more initially depending on the outdoor conditions and your desired temperature. Unfortunately, with a residential tank the actual usable propane is about 60% because the tank is not filled completely. This is to allow room for expansion when the propane changes from a liquid to a gas. You may have to change your 250 gallon tank roughly every two months depending on the outdoor conditions and how frequently you heat the pool. Given the case, most customers would not use a propane set up because of the costs of changing the tank.
Our goal is to provide the benefits of warm water therapy to you, right in your own home. Our therapy pools are gas heater compatible. As explained, gas heaters work well and heat the pool quickly, but most customers prefer the electric heated therapy pool set such as the iPool 3-D or iPool–D since it is much easier and less costly to install. Part of the reason may be when you combine the cost of the gas heater, installation, and city inspection it costs more than the therapy pool itself. We provided this information because we want our customers to be informed of available options and receive as much health benefit as possible. Although electric heaters are not ideal for most swimming pools, our home therapy pools are small enough that a spa electric heater becomes a very viable option. We hope after reading this you will consider our innovative product and the benefits that home aquatic therapy can provide you and your family.
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