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Pool Heater Types

What is the Best Type of Pool Heater?

There are various methods to heat your swimming pool.  Knowing the features and benefits of each type of pool heater will help you choose which is right for you.  Before choosing a heater, we recommend that you do your research and learn about all of the different pool heating options listed below. 

Poolheatpumps.com carries a variety of pool heating methods available in a full range of capacities and models, from gas pool heaters, propane pool heaters, heat pumps and solar pool heaters to help make your pool water temperature comfortable any time of year. If you would like assistance estimating and comparing heating costs for different heating methods, our professionals can assist you. 

Types of Pool Heaters and Pool Heating Methods

There are three main types of pool heaters:

  • Gas (Natural or Propane)
  • Heat Pump (Electric)
  • Solar

Begin by comparing the pros and cons of each heating method and determine what options would be beneficial for your pool based on pool size; your geographic location; ambient temperature; and the environmental conditions such as shade or wind.  These factors will give you an idea of which heating methods will work best with your pool.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas Swimming pool heaters run on either natural gas or propane gas and are most efficient when they are used for short periods of time.  They are good for heating a pool quickly and will heat water faster than other heating method.  Apart from heat pumps and solar heating; gas or propane heaters are able to maintain a constant water temperature.

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.

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.

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

AquaCal TropiCal Pool Heat PumpConsider the following:
What is the price of fuel compared to electricity in your area?
Is there already a gas line installed?


Recommended Applications:

All Conditions (excludes indoor use)


Pros:

Heat Pool Quickly, Lower initial cost


Cons:
High Operating Costs, Require Regular Maintenance


Installation Cost Estimate

System unit cost range: $875 - $5400
Installation cost: $350 - $850


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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.

AquaCal TropiCal Pool Heat PumpRecommended Applications:
Swim Season


Pool Type:

In-Ground, Above Ground, Indoor Use


Pros:

Low operating Costs, Environmentally friendly.


Cons:

Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost.


Installation Cost Estimate

System unit cost range: $2400 - $4600
Installation cost (approx): $350 - $950


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Pool Chillers & Heat-Cool Units

Heat and cool pool heat pumps, also known as pool chillers are designed to lower the temperature of your swimming pool to a refreshing and enjoyable experience throughout the summer.  Heat and Cool units can extend the 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.

AquaCal TropiCal Pool Heat PumpRecommended Applications:
Year Round Use; Humid Climates

Pool Type:
In-Ground; Above Ground; Cold Plunge Pools

Pros:

Low operating Costs, Environmentally friendly
Extend Swim Season, Use Year-Round
Ability to chill as low as 45° F for cold plunge pools

Cons:
Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost.


Installation Cost Estimate

System unit cost range: $2400 - $4600
Installation cost (approx): $350 - $950


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Electric Spa and 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.

Electric Pool HeaterRecommended Applications:
Spas/Hot Tubs


Pool Type:
Indoor Use


Pros:

Lower Initial Costs, Lower operating cost for spas or indoor use

Cons:

The most expensive option for pool heating.

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Solar Pool Heaters

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.

Solar Panel Pool HeaterRecommended Applications:
Southern Exposure

Pool Type:

In-Ground, Above Ground

Pros:

Environmentally friendly, No operating cost. 
Adds value to your pool and home.

Cons:

Requires warmer ambient temperatures, higher initial cost,
Panels take up large roof sections of home or lawn

Installation Cost Estimate

System kit cost range: $1000 - $4800
Installation cost: $500 - $2500

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Solar Blankets

Solar blanket pool 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.

Solar Blanket for Pools Recommended Applications:
Southern Exposure

Pool Type:

In-Ground, Above Ground

Pros:

No operating cost.  Lowers Heating Costs.
Reduces Evaporation.

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How To Choose The Right Pool Heater

The most beneficial way to choose the type of pool heater you need, would be to have one of our pool heating experts evaluate your specific application, by swimming pool size; whether or not the pool is covered, and by geographic location.  We will give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision on the best and most economical way to heat your pool.

When it comes to choosing the right pool heater we know it can be confusing.  We are here to help guide you to pick the highest quality heat pump from some of the most reliable manufacturers that will give you the highest savings in operational costs and will give you and your family many years of warm water and happy pool experiences.

Call toll free 1-800-741-9956 to speak with an expert to discuss your preferred swimming temperature and usage patterns, or get a free pool analysis.  An expert will evaluate your pool size, pool environment and other performance factors and provide a customized analysis that will show your recommended heater size, costs and savings.

 

How do heat pumps and pool heaters work?

How do heat pumps and pool heaters work?Gas heaters use natural gas or propane to create a flame on a gas burner that heat a metal heat exchanger. 

Water is drawn from the swimming pool and circulated through a filter in the gas heater and back into the pool.  Gas burns in a combustion chamber, which heats the water that passes through.

Over time, the circulated pool water will warm up and maintain a constant temperature. 

Unlike gas and propane heaters, heat pumps use electricity and do not generate heat.  Instead, they have a fan which draws in heat from the outside air and circulates it through an evaporator coil.

The water which is pushed through a heat exchanger by your pool pump is heated three to five degrees as it passes through.  The warm water then flows back into your pool. 

Heat pumps use electricity to capture heat and move it from one place to another and do not generate heat.

Higher efficiency heat pump pool heaters usually use scroll compressors versus the reciprocal compressors of standard units.

Heat pump pool heaters work efficiently as long as the outside temperature remains above the 45ºF–50ºF range.  The cooler the outside air they draw in, the more energy they use. However, since most people use outdoor swimming pools during warm and mild weather, this usually isn't an issue.

 

How much do pool heaters and heat pumps cost to operate?

Heating costs are affected by many factors including sizing of a pool heater in relation to the size of the pool; if the pool is covered; and the location of the pool.  With a pool heat pump comparison, we can give you the information you need to make an informed decision on the best and most economical way to heat your pool.

Heat pumps can save a pool owner a significant amount of money because they use less energy to produce more heat.  Annual costs for gas or propane heaters are much greater than the annual costs to run a heat pump and with proper maintenance heat pumps typically last much longer than gas pool heaters, saving you more money in the long run.

Since pool heat pumps use the sun heated air as a source of heat all you have to pay for is the initial cost of the heater itself and the cost of electricity to operate the heat pump.  As the heat pump uses electricity to operate, your electric bill will increase, but you will not use any fuel or have annual servicing costs.  Since electricity is more economical than a pool heater that runs on fuel, a quality air source heat pump is so efficient that you will be saving on heating costs as soon as it’s installed.

 Furthermore, if you live in a climate that has relatively high temperatures throughout the year, your savings could increase even more as the heat pump performance efficiency is considerably increased as the ambient temperatures rise.

As an alternative, you can significantly reduce costs by choosing to install a solar pool heater.  They are low maintenance and have low annual operating costs compared to gas or heat pump heating methods.

To get compare heating costs, use a monthly heating cost calculator to determine your costs based on your specific usage.  Our representatives are available to provide more information based on your swimming pool.  Contact us today and we will estimate costs and give you a comparison for different heating methods. 

Calculate Pool Heating Costs.

 

Pool Heater Installation and Maintenance

Properly installing and maintaining your pool heater will optimize its efficiency, allowing it to last typically five or more years. It's best to have a qualified pool professional install the heater and even perform complicated maintenance or repair tasks, especially for hookup of electrical wires and performing complex repairs and maintenance.

Read your owners manual for a maintenance schedule and/or recommendations. You will likely need to tune up your pool heater annually.  Also, scaling in the burner or heat exchanger may decrease efficiency over a period of time.

For tips on choosing a quality installer, click here.

 

How to Protect Your Pool Heater Investment

How a Heat Pump WorksProtect your pool heat pump or pool heater investment from the snow, ice, rain, leaves, sand, pine needles, dust and the harsh sun.  Heat pump covers helps your unit look better and last longer for years to come.  Order your custom made pool heater cover for the non-season/winter use.

Review the maintenance schedule and other recommendations in your owners manual.  Your pool heater will probably require routine maintenance approximately once a year./span>

If you properly install and maintain your heat pump pool heater, it can last five to ten years or longer.

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