Gas Pool Heaters
Review and Buying Guide

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swimming poolImage by Sevinos Erotokritou from Pixabay

Statistics show that most people rely on gas heaters to heat water in their pools. According to plumbers and customers, if you have decided to join them, here is a short review of the best products available. In the end, we have added some vital info to clarify the differences between the models.

Sizing tips

To buy a suitable model and have comfortable swimming, sizing a gas pool heater is very important. So, consider the following:

  • Size of the pool that has to be heated.
  • Location and climate.
  • The efficiency of the gas pool heater - choose one with over 90% efficiency.
  • Costs - this includes the initial price of the unit and installation.
  • As with most heaters, the heater's warranty and lifespan last an average of 5-10 years but require proper maintenance and replacement of parts worn out.

The best of the best list is extremely simple. There are two of the most popular manufacturers – Hayward and Pentair, both specialized in pool equipment.

Just to mention a few of their models.

Gas pool heaters - Best models

Best of Pentair

Sta-Rite SR400HD Max-E-Therm from Pentair

Sta-Rite SR400HD Max-E-Therm from Pentair is on the top of many experts' lists. The unit is robust and lightweight at the same time. The highest efficiency in its class (84% efficiency rating), durability, innovative technology and protection, LED controls... are the most important pros of this 400,000 BTU water heater. Natural gas and propane options are available, also in 200K BTU and 333K BTU versions.

Pentair MasterTemp 460737 stands with an 84% efficiency rating alongside the previous water heater, representing the high efficient 400,000 BTU units. Users like its superior performance, quality housing, and customizable digital panel with various settings.

The previous two are highly recommended if you are ready to pay about $2200. They are the best choice if you have an inground pool.

Pentair MasterTemp product line consists of several propane and natural gas models from 125K to 400K BTUs. Let's mention the highest efficient smallest 125K Pentair 461059 MasterTemp, with $1140 price, which is an excellent pick.

Best of Hayward

Hayward H200FDN

The best Hayward’s pool water heaters are those from the H-Series.

Hayward H200FDN is an excellent choice if you are looking for superior quality for price unit, cheaper ($1600) and weaker (200,000 BTU) than the most powerful ones.

Powered by natural gas and suitable for all weather conditions, this water heater is equipped with an innovative airflow design and heat exchangers to raise its effectiveness.

The most affordable unit we recommend is 100,000 BTUs Hayward H100ID1 – the water heater for above-the-ground pools that also utilizes one-of-a-kind Hayward heating technology. High performance and efficiency, quick installation, and an innovative built-in heating chamber come in a pack with the $800 price.

Hayward H-Series water heaters include propane and natural gas-fueled models from 100K to 500K BTUs. More about Hayward here.

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Other manufacturers

Besides the manufacturers mentioned above, you may consider Raypak (a Rheem company) or Jandy gas water heaters for pools, still good choices.

Before starting the search for your best-fit gas water heater, read short answers to the questions buyers usually ask.

How many BTUs is enough?

More BTUs heat faster, with quicker gas consumption. There will never be too much BTU energy. Talking about gas water heaters for pools, plumbers advise a simplified formula (pool volume in gallons + 10%) x 10 = BTU energy needed to increase the temperature by 1 degree F in an hour.

Propane vs. Natural gas

If the natural gas line is in your backyard or very near, this fuel looks like the best and a budget-friendlier choice. The alternative is a propane tank. Compare propane and natural gas prices in your region, consider the cost of the construction work you have to do, and keep in mind that propane gas may be more expensive, but it contains more energy than natural gas.

What does the HD mean?

HD stands for heavy-duty, which means the heat exchanger is made of cupro-nickel, a material of high conductivity and durability.

Millivolt vs. Electronic (digital) pool heaters

Without diving into details – electric heaters are based on modern technology; they need the power to ignite the pilot, but the pilot does not burn all the time. Millivolt heaters slowly become obsolete.

As an addition – do not neglect the importance of the control panel and its helpful features: temperature adjustment or even automatic temperature maintaining, quickly available commands, safety alerts...

Advantages of the gas pool heaters

Gas pool heaters heat pool water very fast, faster than electric, solar, or heat pumps, so this type is ideal if you don't use a pool daily but occasionally. These units are considered "green" due to their environment-friendly operation and are reliable when used in any region, from warm to cold northern parts.

An average efficiency is between 80 % and 85%, but still lower than what heat pumps can produce. These are recommended due to their ability to maintain the water temperature easily in any climate and due to their lower operating costs.

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