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How Often Should I Run My Swimming Pool Heat Pump?

If you have a swimming pool heat pump, you probably wonder how often you should be running it. This is certainly understandable because many AquaCal customers struggle with the same issue. So in order to address this subject and to help others, we explain how often you should run your heat pump in order to most benefit from it. You may be surprised!

Unlike gas heaters, heat pumps are most efficient when they are run for long periods of time and when they are run often. This is because they heat very slowly but maintain temperatures very well. If you only run your heat pump when you use your swimming pool, your heat pump will have to raise your water temperature by as much as 20°F (11°C) every time you use your swimming pool. This will cost you both time and money. Alternatively, if you regularly run your heat pump, your heat pump will only have to replace heat lost due to evaporation, rainfall, etc. Heat pumps’ low costs of operation make this option affordable and practical.

When deciding how often you want to run your heat pump, keep the following things in mind:

  1. While you can set a timer for your circulation system, you cannot set run times on your heat pump’s display. You can only set water temperatures.
  2. In order to maintain your specified water temperature, your heat pump automatically starts and stops as necessary. Some heat pumps also automatically switch between heating and cooling cycles.
  3. Your heat pump is connected to your swimming pool water circulation system, which means your heat pump can only run when your swimming pool pump is running.

Ultimately, you want to enjoy your swimming pool, so you should consider your personal preferences and lifestyle when deciding how often to run your heat pump. As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, leave a comment below, or contact us at AquaCal directly here.

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This Post Has 49 Comments

  1. Hello, first of all, thank you for your informational blog. As a swimming pool owner, I lack knowledge of how often I should run my heat pump. Oh, I was surprised that pool heat pumps are more efficient when run for a longer time. Thanks for your tip that I can run it when I use the swimming pool. Meanwhile, I think my heat pump is not functioning properly. What should I do? Waiting for your reply! Thanks!

    1. Hi Solomon,
      If you do not think your heat pump is working properly, please call us at 727-823-5642. We can offer troubleshooting over the phone or recommend service.

      AquaCal tech support

  2. First off, thanks for the blog articles! They’re incredibly helpful.

    We live in the Orlando, FL area and we’ve recently moved to a new home with a pool. I’ve just upgraded our pool equipment, including a variable speed motor and a TropiCal T90 heat pump through our local pool dealer; our pool capacity is about 10,000 gallons by their estimate and is fully screened in with good sunlight during the day. Our pool system is set to run from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, with the first half of the day at a lower motor speed and the latter half of the day at a higher motor speed. Obviously, the heat pump will be running daily during the same stated schedule.

    I’ve been informed (and have read through your blog posts) that running the heat pump on a daily basis is not as expensive as it sounds, but I’m still a bit nervous about it since I have yet to get my first energy bill since installing and it basically looks and sounds like a second AC unit for the house. The heat pump was installed this past Friday and I’ve had it running since Saturday morning at 8:00 am until the present moment (it is nearly 10:00 pm on Sunday as I write this). I was advised that a good pool temperature for my family (my wife, myself, and two young children) would be 84 degrees, which is what I have it set to. Admittedly, we’ve had a rare Florida “cold spell” with rain and lower temperatures over the past 24-48 hours, but I was expecting the heat pump to get our pool to 84 degrees within that first day; perhaps this was unrealistic, as it still has not reached that set point at this time. I did swim in the pool and enjoy it today, but it was still hovering around 80-81 degrees. The pool was originally at 67 degrees when I started the heat pump on Saturday morning.

    So I have a couple basic questions:

    – Is it normal for the heat pump to take this long to initially to get the pool to our desired temperature set point of 84 degrees? Also, once we do get it there, how much of that heat would be lost over night if the pool system is not running? And would the heat lost be able to be regained before the end of the next day to actually be able to use the pool in the afternoon or evening?
    – Would running the heat pump as stated above daily while the pool system runs be able to generally keep our pool at the desired temperature without breaking the bank?

    Thanks in advance for your time and insight!

    Good Evening Mr. Saxman,
    Hope you are doing well.
    During this time of year. it is possible to see higher electric bills with the temperature dips in late winter early spring. I think what we need to do is run a pool audit for you & see what we can estimate what you bill would be at this time. I have most the info I need in you post, but please let me know how much you pay per kilowatt/ hour for electricity & I will work up a full audit for your pool.
    Robert Brown
    AquaCal Tech Support

  3. Hi
    I just got a heat pump but no controller. After reading your article you mention that the heat pump will not come on unless the pool pump is running, correct? If so then could I just set my heater to 80F and then have a regular smart plug timer for my pool pump to turn on/off every few hours throughout the day?

    1. Absolutely. Our heat pump will read “no flow” when the pool pump is off and not attempt to turn on. Once the filter pump turns on, the heat pump will measure the temperature. If the water is below the pool set point, then the heat pump will turn on. However, if the desired temperature has been reached already, the unit will stay off until the temperature drops below the set point.

  4. It’s really good to know that the heat pump can really only be used when the swimming pool is on and running. My partner and I are trying to get our pool up and running again so that we can exercise on our time. We need to hire some professionals that will help us fix it up because we don’t exactly know why it’s not working properly right now.

  5. Hi,
    We are in Atlantic Canada New Brunswick, pool Size 36×18 ft , summer season temp average
    May 14 day / 4 Night ( Celsius )
    June 16 /7
    July 20/12
    August 25/14
    September 23/12
    October 17 / 6
    Please advise the Suitable BTUs heat pump to be selected and to be more effective specially in the month of May and October to take in consideration pool preferably temperature 26 ~ 28 C , Celsius.

    1. Good Afternoon Wada,
      Hope you are doing well. I would suggest our SQ225 at 143000 BTU’s for the needs of your pool.
      For Chillier nights, The SQ166 will work but will tak longer to heat.
      Please feel free to call us at 727-823-5642 to discuss further.
      Robert Brown
      AquaCal Tech Support

  6. Heating expectation question…
    I have a newly installed SQ166. Pool size is 23,000 gallons average depth about 5 feet. Ambient temp this week has been lows about 55F and highs about 78F. Initial pool temp was at 67F. The heat pump has been running 24 hrs/day for 4 days. I have the heat set point at 85F. The highest pool temp achieved has been 79F. For last few days the early morning pool temp has been about 75F and dusk temp at about 78F. Does this performance sound about right?


    1. Good Morning Randal,
      Hope you are doing well.
      Depending on the overnight temps and whether you are using a pool blanket or not, this performance could be perfectly normal.
      I would suggest calling Customer Support at 727-823-5642 & ask for heat pump technical when you are in front of the pump.
      We can troubleshoot through & get you in the right direction.
      Robert Brown
      AquaCal Tech Support

  7. I found it interesting that you state that heat pumps are most effective if they are run for long periods of time. My brother has been looking into how he needs to take care of his new pool. I will send him this information so he can make sure to find heat pump sales.

      1. Good Morning MS. Swinton,
        Hope you are doing well. In most cases, it is better to work with a local dealer as they can get your pool sized right & arrange installation.
        IF you are strictly looking online, it is best to call the factory at 727-823-5642 to do a pool sizing for the correct model number & base your internet search from that model number.
        Robert Brown
        AquaCal Tech Support

  8. Hello,

    I set my heat pump to operate from 4am to 3:59am, effectively running 24/7 to maintain 95degree + in my Florida pool. Is there any risk to the equipment or damage that can be cause by running it this way for over a week? Month or all year long?

    1. Good Morning Sam,
      Hope you are doing well. How long the heat pump has to run to maintain 95 degrees in your pool will depend on where you are in Florida, the size of your pool & the actual model of heat pump that you have installed. Most heat pumps will do just fine running about 16 hours a day or less on a year round basis. In winter you may need more time to keep that high of a temperature in the pool but we like to keep run times under 20 hours a day for those colder days. Please feel free to Heat Pump Technical Support at 727-456-7411 to do additional sizing for your pool
      Robert Brown
      AquaCal Technical Support

  9. How much more efficient is the heat pump during the day than at night ? (roughly as i know it will depend on the temperature, example today 67 tonight 47)
    We are in Arizona and on an electrical billing plan that is 3 times more expensive per kWh from noon until 7pm, so have been running the pump at night.

    1. Hello Ian,
      Ambient air temperatures do have an affect on a heat pump’s BTU rating and Coefficient of Performance, (COP). For example, our SQ166 has a BTU rating of 126,000 BTU’s and COP of 5.6 at 80 degf water temp, 80 degf air temp, and 80% relative humidity. This unit has a BTU rating of 82’000 and COP of 4.0 at 80 degf water temp, 50 degf air temp, and 63% relative humidity. Heat pumps are more efficient when run during the warmest time of the day.

  10. I can keep the power on my heat pump on and just put the timer for my pool pump onto my desired hours (7am-8pm)
    Therefore the heat pump wil not run from 8pm-7am ?

  11. Yes are park purchased a heat pump and we live in central Florida. My question is its summer can we turn it off or is it best to keep it on . Wee were also told it is off 10 degrees so like if you want it at 82 you set it at 72? Also can’t you set it so no one could change it? Should the display temp be actual temp ours will say 90 when water is really 86?

    1. Hi Kay,

      You might not need to use the heat pump during the summer in Florida, the pool will warm up just from the sun. (It depends on your desired temperature). There is a way to place a lock code on the unit and we have service technicians to fix the temperature sensor. Please call us at 727-823-5642.

  12. Hello
    I was wondering if i should leave solar blanket on at night with heat pump running!? Also, do i leave switch On at all times!?
    thank you

    1. Hello Lisa,

      You should leave the solar blanket on at night to reduce heat loss during the cooler evenings. It’s OK to leave the blanket on with the heat pump running. The heat pump can be left on at all times. It will only try to heat when your circulation pump is running and your water temperature drops at least 1 degree below your desired temperature.

  13. Soooooo
    I can keep the power on my heat pump on and just put the timer for my pool pump onto my desired hours (7am-8pm)
    Therefore the heat pump wil not run from 8pm-7am ?

    1. Hello Bernie,

      When your circulation pump shuts off the heat pump will shut off as well. Typically, solar heating and a heat pump are configured where you run one or the other, not both at the same time.

  14. Hi,
    So how many hours should it be run? In the Brownsville, TX area. And from the above comment it is more effecient during the sunlight hours. Should the unit be out in the sun or can it be in the pump and filter room?

    1. Good afternoon Fernando-
      Actual run time would depend on the sizing relationship. We typically size heaters to accomplish the required heat input during the normal filtration timed cycle of 8 to 12 hours.
      Daytime is best as the air is warmest so the heater would be at maximum efficiency. If your pool is not equipped with a filtration pump timer and the pump runs 24 hours per day, this will lead to extended heat run times at night, when the air is coolest and the pool loses the most heat and also, the least efficient time to run the heater. We would recommend a timer be added the filtration system to control total system run time. This will save pumping cost as 24 hours is more than is needed for normal filtration and allow the setting of the run time to take advantage of the warmest air temps available.
      No problem with the unit out in the sun. Installing indoors is typically problematic due the large volume of air that the heater cycles through its air to refrigerant coil. This air is cooled approximately 8 to 10 degrees as it passes over the coil. In an enclosed room, this will quickly lead to “ice box” conditions in the room. To be successful with an indoor installation, the room would need to be ventilated at 3000 cfm of air flow to overcome the cooling effect of the heat pump. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any further questions or if you need our help!

      1. So if I put a timer on my filtration system which shuts the pump off overnight, do I also need to shut off the power to the heat pump as well as it will just have water sitting in the coil which isn't being circulated? Or will it just keep that very low volume of water a constant temperature at a very low cost since the water never changes?

        1. Hi Chad,

          The heat pump has a water pressure switch which will automatically shut the unit off if there is no water flow. If the thermostat is telling the heater to run and the pool pump shuts off, the heat pump will display FLO and not operate until the pool pump is comes back on. Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions!

  15. Hello,

    Would you recommend running the heat pump 24/7 to maintain a desired temperature at all times, or do you think it would be better for the system if we were to turn off the heat pump at night when the solar blanket is on the pool? We live im the midwest in a suburb of Chicago.

    Thank you.

    1. Good afternoon-

      Pools with pump timers typically run during the day and our sizing is typically geared to accomplish the heating load during the normal filtration pump run times. One drawback of a 24 hour cycle is the following…..pools typically experience most of their heat loss at night. By extension, this means the heater will run at night. Since an air source heat pump derives it’s heat energy from the air, running the heater during the warmest part of the day will result in the highest level of efficiency. Night time operation will be at a lower efficiency level.

      For the pool owner who desires to swim first thing in the a.m., night time operation is necessitated. Most pool owners swim in the afternoon, which allows the heater time to replace the heat loss from the night before during warmer day time hours.

      During the summer months, the heat pump will be effective regardless of time of day operation. Day time operation will deliver the highest efficiency levels.

      We hope this helps answer your question. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

    1. We are very happy that you enjoyed the article David, there are many other informative blogs on the website, we encourage you to look through them!

  16. Hi Sean, I don't have a solar blanket. Looks too cumbersome, I have seen two types of solar rings on the market both with skeptical reviews, so I was wondering if this would be an alternative to the blanket and which one works the best? The swimways one seems to have better reviews- Spring float ones… Any opinion? Also I tried to do the cost estimator last night and there were some required drop downs that had no info in them so it would not let me complete it 🙁
    We have approx. 12×27 and it's 3.5 feet gradually going down to a small deep end of just over 5.5 feet. 10,400 gallons. We have a screen enclosure as well. The model is T115. Thanks! Lisa

    1. The solar rings work, and is easier to use, but from what I understand, wind can blow them around easily, so they end up in one corner or piled on top of one another. I think the ones with the magnets around the perimeter would be easier to stay in place though. I think your screened enclosure will block out a lot of the wind that would normally cause these problems though.
      Based on the information for the month of October, it should take less than 10 hrs to get from 70 degrees to 90 degrees, with an uncovered pool.

      OK, so a few things to check.
      1) Is the area around the heat pump ( 24" around the sides and 5' overhead) clear of debris?
      2) Are there any warning messages on the display?
      3) If you take a thermometer and measure the air temperature at least 5' away from the heat pump, then directly over the fan when it's heating, what temperatures do you get at both points?

      1. HI Sean, A tech from your company is coming out tomorrow to check it out. Our pool company came out today and had the temp on the unit up to 105 and when I came home from work at 5, it was still only 81 in the pool. Something isn't working correctly. I hope they can repair it tomorrow. It was in the 80's here today.
        I hear the Liquid blanket products work well also, thinking of buying some of that this weekend.
        I will keep you posted on what the tech finds. Thank you!

        1. The tech found the temperature sensor was bad. he repaired it and we have wonderfully warm water!! Love it! HAPPY, very prompt service.
          I have another is going to get very cold at night here in Jacksonville, FL starting tonight for about a week, 40-50's at night, 72 during the day. I don't think I will be wanting to swim in this cool weather so should I turn the heat pump off, or raise the temp to around 75 or so? It's at 88 right now. Thanks!

          1. Good morning Lisa-

            Are you shutting the unit off for the season? If so, we do recommend that you run it at least once a month. If it is only for a few days, you should still keep the unit running to save on heat loss when ready to swim again.

            Thank you!

          2. Thank you! I probably will turn off late November until mid April. When you say, run it once a month, what is the temp to set it on and for how long?

          3. If you winterize the pool, you have no option to run the pump. The pool is partially drained down and the lines are pressurized and plugged off. However, if the water is still cycling during these months, it doesn't matter on what temperature, just high enough to activate the heat pump. Run time – perhaps 20 -30 minutes should be sufficient to get the compressor, fan, Freon, and contactor moving.

            Don't know if you isolate the heat pump and not run water through it, but it may be best to continually flow water through it, and turn the Heat Pump off with the ON/OFF switch. If you do isolate the heat pump and continue to run your pump, you will need to circulate water through the heat pump, then afterwards, drain and isolate the heat pump again.

  17. Lisa, do you use a solar blanket on your pool? What is your average depth? And which model TropiCal heat pump is it?
    It's possible for it to need more time to get the temperature up, depending on what temperature it was before you turned the heat pump on. The use of a solar blanket will help reduce the amount of run time needed, as it helps to retain the heat in the pool. Otherwise, you're going to lose most of what heat you added the previous day.
    As far as an estimate on your electrical costs, please use the HEAT PUMP COST ESTIMATOR at the top of the page, and enter all the parameters of your pool and costs. This should get you fairly close to your electrical costs.

  18. Hello. We just built our first pool, we live in Jacksonville, FL. We bought the aqua cal Tropical heat pump to heat our pool. We have a lot of trees in the yard and a screen enclosure. We had it running set to 97 the past few days with the pump running 24 hours yet the water temp in the pool never got above 83 degrees. Is this normal? It is supposed to be cold here this week all week and we won't be using the pool until it warms up again so we have it off for now. Our pool holds 10,400 gallons. On average in fall months, do you know how much electric costs will be if you run it all month? We are new to all this! Thank you! Lisa

  19. Thanks for posting your question Debra! We have found that, much like a boat, when a pool heater is not run periodically, it tends to develop operational issues.

    We would recommend that the heater be started at least once a month and allowed to run for just a few hours to “shake the dust off” so to speak. This way, the cost will be negligible and will typically result in a much more reliable ownership experience.

  20. I will not be using my inground pool in the winter months in Southwest Florida. The pool will still receive the weekly maintenance, but do I need to run the pool heater when pool will not be in use? In the Spring I will resume the use of the heater.

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