Heater differences and hot tub covers

We recently received an excellent comment on our blog post Gas Hot Tub Heaters VS Electric Hot Tub Heaters. Sandra says…

“In Hawaii our propane is $6.00 a gallon while our electricity is .45 cents a kilowatt. Either way you cut it, it is very expensive to run a hot tub but I’m not sure that running the heat for hours every day as opposed to turning on the gas only when you want to heat it up makes much sense. If the tub is used irregularly it makes more sense to use gas; which heats up in 30 minutes as opposed to electric which takes 3 hours to heat up the same amount of water. So what I’m learning is that electric heaters are meant to run for hours a day with the circulating pump and have a cover that keeps in the heat where as the gas heaters are meant to use on demand. So it will depend on the usage as to which one makes more sense. The question now is where to have a hard cover made since we put in electric before realizing all of the above.”

It’s true that a gas heater will heat the water faster than an electric heater, and you’re “spot on” that the faster heat rise is tailor made for a tub that’s used infrequently (e.g., no more often than just on the weekends), but even if you use the tub just a couple times per week, and regardless of the energy source, it will probably cost the same to keep it heated for use at all times as it will to allow it to cool between uses, assuming that it is covered when not in use.

You have to run the pump a certain number of hours per day for proper filtration, again regardless of use, and in most situations a good-sized electric heater will regain the heat lost over the previous day in a small fraction of the time needed for filtration.

We have formulae into which we plugged your energy costs. Those costs are extraordinary – no doubt part of that “paradise tax” we’ve heard you Hawaiians pay – and although electric is generally less expensive than propane in most locales, it’s about double the cost in your case, and that would have been the best reason to install a gas heater versus an electric.

Since you already have an electric heater installed, you can take as a consolation the difference in cost between the two heaters, because the cost of a gas hot tub heater is over twice the cost of an electric hot tub heater. Even though in your case the cost of running a gas heater would have been less than that of an electric heater, if your tub will only be use infrequently, it would have taken that much longer to recover the difference in the costs of the two types of heaters.

Although it doesn’t apply in your case, as a side note to others reading this response, and as noted elsewhere in our blog, a gas heater should never be operated outdoors in freezing weather.

Regardless of how much your tub is used or the type of heat source you’re using, you definitely want to cover your hot tub. A cover definitely does help keep heat in, but it also helps keep dirt and debris out. Even though you’re filtering and running your tub regularly (as you should regardless of use), leaving it uncovered would be an open invitation not only to falling debris (such as leaves), but also to animals, bugs and even possibly other people. A hot tub that is uncovered and unattended could quickly turn into a possible liability.

Of course you can get your hot tub cover from us! We offer a custom cover at the same price you’d pay elsewhere for a mass produced cover, and you should be very careful to steer clear of any covers made in China, as the materials and workmanship are clearly substandard. If you’re going to go through the trouble and cost of getting a new cover, wouldn’t you want it to fit your hot tub exactly and last many years? On http://www.almostheaven.net/aho/covers.htm you can see the options and pricing for our covers. You can give us your hot tub’s exact dimension, and we’ll make you a cover that is exactly the right size and shape.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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Gas Hot Tub Heaters versus Electric Hot Tub Heaters

Back in the early days of hot tubbing, gas-powered hot tub heaters were always less expensive to operate than their electric counterparts. However, with gas prices steadily increasing year after year while the cost of electricity has remained relatively regulated, this simply is not always true anymore.

To make an educated decision about which strategy is best in your situation, you should do a cost analysis of each heating source – something we’ve helped many of our customers do. Surprisingly many of those analyses have revealed electricity to be the less costly of the two forms of energy. You know that this is obviously an unbiased recommendation since we sell both gas and electric heaters – especially since the gas heaters are nearly twice the price of the electric heaters!

Another consideration to take into account when looking at a natural gas or propane hot tub heater is your climate. Many gas heaters are only rated for outdoor use down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and none of the ones we’ve seen are rated for use below freezing. Many dealers won’t bother to tell their customers this, and instead sell them replacement parts when their gas heater rusts out prematurely. The only way to run a gas heater during the winter in a freezing climate is to install it indoors, which requires the purchase and installation of both a flue and an indoor heater hood.

In many cases gas hot tub heaters are more costly to buy, to install, and most important, to operate. Make sure to do a thorough examination of your situation before making a choice as to which is best for you.

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