Originally, hot tubs had to be heated with the use of a heater that was fueled with gas. Today, you can use electric heating, as well as gas. The gas heaters have come a long way, so there are advantages and disadvantages to using either type of heater.
Depending on the type of gas heater you purchase, you can choose between propane or natural gas. If you live in an area where there is no natural gas service, you will be restricted to propane. Out of the two gases, propane is more expensive than natural gas. But, propane has a greater energy output. Setup costs are usually more expensive for gas heaters. The set up for gas heaters needs to be done by a qualified contractor. These types of heaters can also be used for both wooden spas and portable spas and they are installed outside of the heater cabinet. A spark ignition sparks the gas. Although the gas heater version is initially more expensive to set up, it is considered to have a lower operating cost especially if it is natural gas. Propane produces slightly more BTUs.
Another advantage of gas heaters is that it is faster at heating up the water compared to electric. This means when you are not using the hot tub, you can keep it at a lower temperature because it won’t take long to bring it up to the needed temperature when you are ready to use it. Esthetically, the gas heaters are not the better choice as they can’t be tucked away. They need to be in the open air where they can be exhausted properly.
There are several different makes and models with most being comprised of a heating element inside a steel tube. The advantage of using this type of heater is its lower operating cost. This is provided your hot tub is well insulated and you make good use of a hot tub cover. It is also going to depend on the costs of electricity in your area. Installing the electrical heating is less expensive and easier for the hot tub owners. If repairs are needed, the electrical heaters are easier to repair and are usually less expensive compared to gas. The negative aspect of the electric heaters is that they take longer to heat the water.
It is all going to come down to the make and model that you choose for your hot tub and what heater it uses. You will need to determine the pros and cons of the heaters in comparison to all of the other benefits and features the hot tub you are considering offers.