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What Is The Best Type Of Heater For A Swimming Pool?

What is the Best Type of Heater for a Swimming Pool?

So you are getting ready to purchase a swimming pool heater and want to know which is best for you. This is a common problem for many people because there are so many types of heaters available. We briefly explain each type of swimming pool heater in this article to help you choose the best one for you and your needs, and to therefore allow you to make the best purchase.

Electric Resistance Heaters

Electric resistance heaters use electric currents to create heat. When a current is applied to the resistor located inside the unit, the resistor heats. Water then washes over the resistor and heats, causing the resistor to cool. Because electric resistance heaters require large amounts of electricity, they are primarily used to heat small, portable spas and small therapy pools. Click here to learn more about electric resistance heaters.

Advantages of Electric Resistance Heaters Disadvantages of Electric Resistance Heaters
  • Inexpensive to purchase: many available for under $2,000
  • Operate independently of air temperature
  • Environmentally friendly: emit no air pollution
  • Expensive to operate: monthly operating costs between $500 and $600
  • Expensive to install: require heavy-duty wiring and large-amperage circuit breakers
  • Not energy efficient: COP of 1.00

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters burn either natural gas or propane to create heat. Gas burns inside a combustion chamber, which contains a series of copper coils. As the gas burns, water passes through the coils and heats. Gas heaters have historically been the most widely-used swimming pool heaters, though their popularity is decreasing due to high gas prices and the advent of and efficiency of heat pumps.

Advantages of Gas Heaters Disadvantages of Gas Heaters
  • Inexpensive to purchase: many available for under $1,500
  • Operate independently of air temperature
  • Heat pool water quickly
  • Expensive to operate: monthly operating costs between $300 and $500
  • Not energy efficient: COP between 0.80 and 0.85
  • Lifespan of five years
  • Not environmentally friendly: emit air pollution

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat to your swimming pool. Air-source heat pumps transfer heat from the air, and water-source (geothermal) heat pumps transfer heat from water. You can click here to learn how air-source heat pumps work, and here to learn how water-source heat pumps work. Because of their energy-efficiency, heat pumps have rapidly grown in popularity.

Advantages of Heat Pumps Disadvantages of Heat Pumps
  • Inexpensive to operate: monthly operating costs between $50 and $150
  • Energy efficient: COP between 5 and 6
  • Water-source heat pumps: operate independently of air temperature
  • Lifespan of ten to 20 years
  • Environmentally friendly: use renewable energy source and emit no air pollution
  • Expensive to purchase: many available for between $2,000 and $4,000
  • Air-source heat pumps: dependent upon air temperature
  • Heat pool water slowly

Solar Heaters

Solar heaters use solar panels to transfer heat from the sun to your swimming pool. As solar panels sit in the sun, they collect heat. Then, the swimming pool pump pushes water through the circulation system and through the solar panels. As the water passes through the solar panels, it heats. Because of solar heaters’ reliance on the sun, many swimming pool owners use auxiliary heaters during nights and cloudy days.

Advantages of Solar Heaters Disadvantages of Solar Heaters
  • Inexpensive to operate: no additional monthly operating costs
  • Energy efficient: operate with your pool pump
  • Lifespan of 15 to 20 years
  • Environmentally friendly: use renewable energy source and emit no air pollution
  • Expensive to purchase: many available for between $4,000 and $7,000
  • Dependent upon sun: cannot operate at night and operate less efficiently in cloudy weather
  • Heat pool water slowly
  • Unattractive installations on swimming pool owner’s roof or lawn

Remember: a swimming pool heating system is a big investment. If, after reading this article, you are still unsure which heating system is right for you, let us at AquaCal help! Contact us directly or leave us a comment below.

This Post Has 85 Comments
  1. Useful information, I would just add a few points. To work well solar heaters need an ideal location i.e. facing south at the correct angle with no shade. For most people the practical choice is between a gas heater and a heat pump. Gas heaters are generally best if you want to heat the pool occasionally and heat pumps if you want to keep the pool heated for long periods.

    1. Well put, John.
      I am investigating ways to dump my excess Solar PV power as my utility won't pay a fair price for the amount I send to the grid.
      Charge is 13¢ – Payback for excess is 3-4¢.
      So using it (the kWh) to add heat to our pool is a logical choice.
      My utility advised I would be better off to use it on site. Last year I amassed 2.3 MWh (2,357 kWh) above our use.
      A heat pump pool heater might be the best choice.

      1. Good afternoon-

        We apologize, not quite sure if you are talking about the price of a heat pump or a pool? If you would like to provide us with more information we will be happy to answer your question.

        Thank you,

  2. I would like to give a helping hand to the people interested in solar panels. I made 600ft black poly tubing solar heater. It work great when it sunny. But you lose everything you worked for when you have one week of crapy weather and it takes awhile to get back to the temp you had it at. Noticed the black poly tubing does not give you the heat that you are really looking for. Steve's idea might be a little better due to the pipes in the radiator being metal and a better conductor of heat from the sun. But would also have the same effects if you have a week of clouds or cool weather. FYI, I was able to build 3 200' sections of poly tubing with wood Fran to coil on and attachment to the discharge of the pump for less than 200.00 hope this helps

  3. I live in central Florida and the pool I am building is 550sq ft. Pool company says propane, and I think electric heat pump. Will propane break me? I might only need to use it 2 or 3 months out of the year. Using 400,000 BTU heater with 75 gallon tank. Thanks

  4. I just got to this amazing website not continued ago. I was in actuality captured with the section of assets you accept got here. Big thumbs up for authoritative such admirable blog page!

  5. A pool party is the perfect opportunity to showcase your beautiful oasis to all of your family and friends. Let them marvel at your swimming pool’s awesomeness and stare at your stunning backyard in awe.

  6. Hi Steve love it like everyone else could you spare some time and re explain please with some photos if poss I live in jersey Channel Islands so isn't goin to get as hot as where you are . Cheers and thank you. Craig

    1. Good morning Pennie-

      There are many variables that would come into play to determine the final cost of this type of installation. If you would like to have someone come to your home and give you an estimate we would be happy to help arrange that, please let us know!

    1. Good afternoon Andy-

      We would be happy to help you with your choices, could you provide us with your preferred method of communication? We can have someone contact you to discuss.

  7. Incredible read, I just passed this onto a partner who was doing a little research on that. Besides, he truly obtained me lunch because I found it for him smile So issue me an opportunity to reconsider that: Thanks for lunch!

  8. I've gone through 3 Jandy (Zodiac) gas heaters in 3 years. Just had another service call on #3, and it ran for 8 hours, then it completely died. I've contacted Zodiac several times, and they have been no help. Apparently, they don't want to stand behind their products. Time to try another brand.

  9. Very Informative! We had our pool made last year by Ferrari Pools ( ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ferraripools.com ), and they installed gas heaters for us ( 39,9K BTU). We just turn the heater on, a few hours before swimming and it totally works. It's good for people like me, who uses the pool only once a week. My gas bills are not that bad either. So I would totally recommend Gas Heaters over others.

  10. what's the most efficient way to heat a public swimming lagoon of 6000 sq ft (approx 210,000 gallons) to 72 degress F? This is in Central Mexico where there is plenty of sun except July and August (rainy season). WE have 102 degree thermal water nearby and can inject approx 13,000 gallons a day. Difficult to cover at night because of its irregular shape. Any advice most appreciated. Thanks.

      1. Good morning,

        We would need more information in order to be able to help you choose the correct heat pump for your pool. You can contact us at 727-823-5642 and one of our technical support team members can guide you through it. You can also use our Heat Pump Operating Cost Estimator (http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”> http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn) to input the correct information and it will help give you an idea of the right unit for you.

        Thank you!

    1. Good morning Rob-

      We would need more information in order to be able to help you choose the correct heat pump for your pool. You can contact us at 727-823-5642 and one of our technical support team members can guide you through it. You can also use our Heat Pump Operating Cost Estimator (http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”> http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn) to input the correct information and it will help give you an idea of the right unit for you.

      Thank you!

    1. Good afternoon Mario,

      Thank you for reaching out to us, there are different factors that come into play when choosing the right heat pump for your pool, size is just one of them. We can help you find the best unit, you can send your contact information to nestrada@teamhorner.com or If you would like to, you can also do a operating cost estimate here (http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”> http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.aquacal.com/heat-pump-operating-cost-estimator/?btn) or you can contact us directly at 727.823.5642 and one of our representatives can help you as well.

      Hope to hear from you soon!

  11. Thanks to everyone who share their experience and opinions here. This is very helpful to those of us who need a new pool heater and know nothing about it.
    Ligia

    1. Good morning Al and thank you for your comment. Before we can recommend the correct heat pump or electric heater for you we would need more information. Please send your contact information to nestrada@teamhorner.com and we will be happy to help you research the correct unit for your pool!

  12. I am putting in an 11,000 gallon 15×28 free form pool with spa.. I live just north of Tamp FL. Previous pool had propane heat very expensive to keep heated took 3/4 tank to heat but it did heat spa and pool quickly. I wanted to go with heat pump this pool but getting mixed opinions from contractors sayin heat pump will not heat spa in cold weathe…is this true??

    1. Hi LeAnn,

      While gas heaters are great at any temp and come with a price, a heat pump can do the same job at a fraction of the cost and has limitations once temperatures approach the low 50’s. I had a customer in Texas tell me his icebreaker heat pump kept their spa “nice n toasty” in the upper 30’s one evening. Not 104 ° F but comfortable to be in. Central Florida’s mild winter climate make heat pumps an attractive option and if the demand is high during winter months sometimes the best option is using a gas assist as a backup. The decision would depend on flexibility of usage.

  13. We’re about to make a decision of what we’re going to get for a pool heater but so unsure what’s best for us. On top of wanting to put a pool heater, we also want to put solar panels for our home. If we get electric pool heater or a heat pump, will we save some $ if we put solar panels for our house? We live in Sacramento area where we get about 5 months of 90’s weather. We would mainly use the pool during those 5 months. I just don’t want to buy solar pool heater if we’re going to save some $ going solar for our entire house and use electric pool heater. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

  14. for a outdoor 50 ft X 30 ft , 200,000 ltr capacity salt water swimming pool , please suggest an electric heater or heat pumps.

  15. Hi, I recently installed electrical solar panels and was thinking that now the energy is free that maybe I could find a pool water electrical heater versus gas, heat pump or pool solar panels. Know of anything in the market?

    Thanks

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