So you are thinking of getting a heater?  With so many choices out there, it can be confusing. There are electric heaters, propane gas heaters and natural gas heaters.  Maybe you are replacing an existing heater.  Maybe you are doing a new build.  Maybe you decided you want to extend your swim season.  Whatever the reason, it is important to know about the different types of heaters.  Let’s talk about natural gas heaters, shall we?

Smaller Footprint

Sometimes we have limited space on our equipment pad.  Especially if you live in California like I do, where a backyard may resemble that of a postage stamp!  Natural gas heaters tend to have a smaller footprint.  What do I mean by “footprint”?  It means that the dimensions of the heater are smaller.  This can be ideal for limited space.  Even if you aren’t limited on space, more compact units can make the most sense.

Low Emissions

Hopefully you are looking at a LoNox heater, even if it is not required in your state.  Here in California, they are required.  What does LoNox mean?  It means that the emissions are lower allowing for a fully functioning heater with less bad stuff for the environment.  They are also more efficient as they burn less gas off.  This will help you to save money on your gas bill.

They Work Quickly

Heaters are measured in 2 sizes.  The actual dimensions as we talked about before, and the heat output.  The heat output is measured in British Thermal Units.(BTUs).  The higher the BTU, the “larger” the heater is.  Try not to get these two confused when discussing size.  When shopping for a certain heater size, it is referring to the BTUs. BTUs mean the amount of heat output required to raise your water temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The higher the BTU, the more quickly your pool heater will heat your water.  While a larger BTU heater may be more expensive upfront, it will pay for itself by having to run it for less time.  Whether you are heating your pool, spa or both, speed is money saving.

They Work in Colder Weather

Unlike a heat pump, or electric heater, natural gas heaters can run at any temperature.  Heat pumps pull from the air outside so they are limited to 45-50 degrees.  Natural gas heaters do not have this limitation.  This is perfect for those Winter dips in the hot tub.  Ahhh…soothing.  Natural gas heaters will allow for year round swimming, which can be a reason you are considering a heater at all.  You can either keep your heater on a lower setting and raise it up when you are ready to use it.  Or, you can keep the heater off until you are ready to swim.  Keep in mind this will result in higher energy costs.

This can still be beneficial if there is a holiday or you have out of town guests.  Some gas heater models have thermostats.  These regulate the temperature.  Gas heaters even work in windy weather!  Another reason gas heaters will allow you to swim year round.

Natural Gas or Propane

Propane can be expensive.  Natural gas heaters are more cost effective, especially if you already have a gas line run.  If you live in an area where natural gas is not available, propane heaters give you the same flexibility.

Costs of Natural Gas Heaters

Natural gas heaters tend to cost less than a heat pump or a propane gas heater.  You will want to check with your energy provider to determine what is right for you.  The cost of the heater depends on the heat output.  BTUs, remember?  The higher the BTU, the more expensive the initial cost of the heater will be.  Bear in mind, the larger BTUs will heat your water quicker, resulting in lower energy costs for the life of the heater.

Even with the lowest BTU you are still looking at over $1,300.  The larger BTU heaters can be upwards of $4,000.  I am basing this on our prices.  Yours could vary of course.  

Pro Tip:  Get the largest BTU your gas line can accommodate to keep operating costs low

Sizing a Natural Gas Heater

You are limited by your gas line as to what size BTU heater your body of water can accommodate.  The size of the gas line and how long the gas line runs are the clinchers. There are charts available online that can tell you what the parameters are.

Whether you decide to go with an electric or natural gas heater, remember…it is supposed to make you happy pappy.  I know it is a big expense.  But think of all the years of fun you and your family will get out of your new heater.  See you poolside!