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How Often Should I Run My Swimming Pool Heat Pump?

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 34 Comments
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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 question..it 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.

    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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?
    Thanks

    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!

    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.

  8. 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 ?

  9. 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
    Lisa

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.
    Thanks
    Ian

    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.

  12. 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
      Thanks
      Robert Brown
      AquaCal Technical Support

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