spa parts, hot tub parts and repair help
spa parts, hot tub parts and repair help
spa parts, hot tub parts and service help
spa parts, hot tub parts and repair help
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Electric Heater Operation, General
Electric (those that use resistive elements) heating is the number one method of heating spa water.  Many different electrical connection schemes exist, and here we will describe the basic heater designs that you'll see in the field, and how to troubleshoot them. 
Stand-alone Heaters
This type of heater is one that has no spa control fuctions built in, (well, it should have a thermostat).  It will have a water inlet, water outlet, with the only electrical connection being the main power input. Normally this will be 230 Volts, rated for 30 Amps for 5000-6000 watts, and 60 Amps for a 10,000 to 12,000 watt heater.

Plastic Cased Heaters
Probably the most popular electric heater design made in the 80's and early 90's, this heater is still seen under thousands of spas nationwide.   A very versatile and easily adaptable workhorse, manufacturers such as Brett Aqualine, Spa Builders Support Group, Hydro-Quip, and CRL still offer this heater either as a stand-alone item, or in combination with a completely integrated spa control system.  Easily mounted directly on a pump with just a clamp, features include 1500-6000 watt heating capacity, built in pressure and high limit switch, and optional onboard thermostat control.

Straight Tubed Flow-Through Heaters
This is the heater of the 90's for the spa industry.  Found mostly on spa control packs, it is probably the most widely used heater today.  Todays version sports a lightweight two inch stainless steel housing, removeable element, provisions for high limit and temperature sensors, and threaded pressure switch.  Complete with sealable flanges on each end, this heater will probably continue to see serious mass production for the next several years.

Replacing Heater Element

Straight Tubed Steel Heater, Vulcan
This heater has found its way into thousands of spas, most noteably, Haughes and  Leisure Bay Spas, manufactured by Leisure Bay Industries.  Still manufactured and widely available from spa parts suppliers everywhere, it usually comes complete with a UL rated enclosure which contains an indicator light, a high limit switch, thermostat, and even has thermowells for these onboard controls.  This heater, commonly referred to in the industry as a "Vulcan Heater", is rated at 6000 watts for 230 volt power, and performs very well heating with only 1500 watts when supplied by a 115 volt supply.  The stainless steel heater tube also features a permanently welded and sealed element, and 1.5" female pipe threads on each end, making installation a snap.

Thread-In Style Heaters
There are still a few of these around, and you'll usually see them in older model spas.  The design originally used a simple PVC pipe with the element threaded into it in an L-shaped water flow fashion, and eventually was integrated with copper and steel enclosures in an effort to solve the dilemna with ground fault protection.
Metro Atlanta Spa/Hot Tub Service
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