Call Us Nationwide:


Get a Free Pool Analysis to find what size pool heater you need to heat your pool

West: 213-291-9276Southwest: 214-764-8551 Midwest: 312-229-0026 Northeast: 631-223-7175 Southeast: 239-247-5878 or 954-866-1644

Compare Pool Heating Methods

There are various methods available to heat your swimming pool. Knowing the features and benefits of each type of pool heater will help you choose which one is right for you.

To estimate and compare costs for different pool heating methods, our experts can help you.We can compare the cost of running different heating methods with a customized pool analysis and estimate pool heating costs so you can compare all of your options. Get a free pool analysis today!

Heat Pumps

Pool heat pumps are an efficient, environmentally friendly way to heat a pool. Heat pumps can save pool owners money in the long run as they typically have a much lower annual operating costs than gas heaters and with proper maintenance, can last up to 10 years or more.

This method of heating is environmentally friendly as they use less energy than other heating methods. They operate by extracting heat from the outside air, increasing the heat with a compressor, delivering the heat to the water, and ejecting the cold air out the top of the unit.

For a heat pump to operate effectively, the ambient air outside should be 45* or higher. This method of pool heating may be ideal for pool owners who use their pool in warmer weather or who live in warmer climates during the colder seasons.

When selecting a heat pump pool heater, you should consider the following:

Size or BTU
Operating Costs
COP Efficiency Rating

Recommended Applications: Swim Season
Pool Type: In-Ground, Above Ground
Pros: Low operating Costs, Environmentally friendly.
Cons: Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost.

System and Installation Cost Estimate
System unit cost range: $2400 - $4600
Installation cost: $350 - $950

Pool Chillers

Heat and cool pool heat pumps, also known as pool chillers, can extend swimming season even longer by giving the option to cool pool water on hot summer days and warm the water in the cooler months. Heat and cool units can typically operate at lower temperatures, sometimes as low as 35 degrees depending on the application.

Chillers are energy efficient electric fan cooling systems that require no Freon or gas to operate. The pool water circulates through the unit and heat is removed from the water instantly. The chilled water is then pumped back into the swimming pool.

Recommended Applications: Year Round Use
Pros: Low operating Costs, Environmentally friendly, Extend Swim Season, Use Year-Round
Cons: Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost

Pool Heaters

Natural Gas or Propane

Natural Gas pool heaters can maintain a constant water temperature in any weather conditions, but only if you are willing to pay the high annual operating costs. They are good for heating a pool quickly and will heat water faster than other heating method.

If you live in a climate that has an average temperature below 55 degrees and only need to heat your water for short periods of time then this option is ideal. Depending on your climate and pool use, they may not be the most energy efficient method when compared to other heating systems, but If you do not want to heat your pool for the entire swim season, and you do not use your pool frequently; only on weekends or several times per week then you will only need to turn on the heater as you use the pool, making gas heaters the most efficient heating method for your application.

It may cost more to run a gas pool heater initially, but overall the cost will not be significant if you plan to run it less frequently.

If you decide on a pool heater, you will need to choose between running the heater on natural gas or liquid propane. Therefore you will need to consider the availability and cost of gas and whether or not a gas line is already installed. Gas heaters also require to be refilled and hooked up to a propane tank on a regular basis.

The type of fuel you use should be based on the availability and price of gas and propane in your area.

Consider the following before choosing a gas/propane heater:

What is the price of fuel compared to electricity in your area?
Is there already a gas line installed?

Recommended Applications: All Conditions
Pros: Heat Pool Quickly, Lower initial cost
Cons: High Operating Costs, Require Regular Maintenance

System and Installation Cost Estimate
System unit cost range: $875 - $5400
Installation cost: $350 - $850
Typical 15x30 pool: $1300 Unit, $1650 Installed

Electric Spa & Hot Tub Heaters

Electric element heaters are also known as tank-less heaters. They are less expensive initially, but cost up to 5 or 6 times more than a heat pump to heat a swimming pool, making them good options for spas and hot tubs because they don't take up much space and can be put indoors.

For small pools or spas that get continuous use, electric heaters can have a lower operating cost, but would costs too much to run and heat a swimming pool.

To get the most savings, you may consider using an electric heater during the winter in cold weather states, and a heat pump in the warmer months.

Recommended Applications: Spas/Hot Tubs, Indoor Use
Pros: Lower Initial Costs, Lower operating cost for spas or indoor use
Cons: The most expensive option for pool heating.

Solar Panels

Solar pool heaters, covers, blankets and panels use solar energy to heat and cool a swimming pool and are an environmentally friendly alternative to typical gas heaters. While they can be expensive initially, they have zero cost of operation.

Solar panels work by pumping the pool water into a solar hot water collector that can be mounted on a roof of a house or on the ground and positioned towards the sun. The solar panels then collect the sun’s rays and convert the energy from the sun into heat as water passes through the collectors back into the pool.

Solar heating in warmer climates will allow for year-round swimming seasons but in colder climates and during inclement weather they may extend the swim season minimally and may not be able to heat your pool to the desired temperature. However, even if the pool is not located in a climate that's warm and sunny regularly, there still may be an adequate solar resources to heat the pool. The number of solar panels needed to efficiently heat a pool will depend on the size of the pool.

If the pool is located in a climate with very hot weather, the solar collectors can be used to cool down water by running the system at night.

Before selecting a solar pool heater you should consider the following:
Evaluate your site's solar resource
Determine the correct system size
Determine the correct orientation and tilt for the collector
Determine the system's efficiency
Compare system costs
Investigate local codes, covenants, and regulations.

Recommended Applications: Southern Exposure
Pros: Environmentally friendly, No operating cost
Cons: Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost

System and Installation Cost Estimate
System kit cost range: $1000 - $4800
Installation cost: $500 - $2500
Typical 15x30 free-form pool:
7 (4x12) Deluxe Kit $1900
$2800 Standard Installation

Solar Blanket

Solar covers float on top of the swimming pool water when the pool is not in use, helping to raise the water temperature by absorbing sunlight and retaining the heat from traditional pool heaters and heat pumps. Solar covers can extend the pool season and lower your overall heating costs.

Depending on your average climate, solar blankets could be used as the primary method to heat your pool.

Recommended Applications: All Conditions, All Pool Types
Pros: Environmentally friendly, No operating cost
Cons: Requires warmer ambient temperatures, Panels take up large roof sections of home or lawn, inclement weather does not provide available energy to heat a pool.

What to Remember When Selecting a Heater

Size your Heater appropriately. Remember a pool heater can never be too big, but buy a pool heater that isn't big enough and you'll never be satisfied.

When selecting your pool heater, always to select a heater rated somewhat higher than your actual pool surface area and desired temperature rise required. There is no such thing as “oversizing” a pool heater. The larger the BTU output of the pool heater you buy, the quicker it will heat your pool water. This means less run time on the heater and a longer overall heater life span. You will always be glad you opted for the larger pool heater.

A pool will gradually lose heat due to evaporation and may cause your pool to take longer to achieve desired temperature. Investing in a pool cover will reduce heat loss by up to 80 percent.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 1-800-741-9956. Our team of friendly pool experts will answer any questions you may have and offer technical advice in selecting the model that is right for your pool.