Why Purchase a Swimming Pool Heater?
A swimming pool is a serious lifestyle investment. It can be a place for rejuvenating exercise or a luxury place to relax. But, once the water gets too cold, it can’t be either of those things. Instead, it’s just a large, unhappy puddle.
A swimming pool heater lets you extend the hours you and your friends can use your pool. Or, if you live in a climate where the seasons change, a heater lets you push swimming pool season late into the Autumn– and start up again earlier in the Spring!
Heaters work by taking chemical energy from propane or natural gas, electric energy from your power grid, or kinetic energy generated by interacting with the sun or hot air or underground springs, and turning that into heat energy when it touches your pool’s water. There are plenty of factors to consider when purchasing a pool heater, but the right choice will let you enjoy your pool longer and more frequently.
What Types of Swimming Pool Heaters Are on the Market?
The main types of swimming pool heaters on the market right now are electric resistance heaters, gas heaters, heat pumps, and solar heaters.
Electric resistance heaters run on any current, be it through an outlet connected to a power grid or a portable generator. They heat the pool via direct contact with the water.
Gas heaters burn different kinds of gas such as propane. They heat internal coils, which then transfer that heat to the water. Heat pumps take heat energy from the air or an underground spring into the pool.
Solar heaters have similar mechanisms to electric and gas heaters, but they gather energy from the sun via solar panels, rather than relying on chemical energy or electricity.
What Size of a Heater Do I Need for My Pool?
Before looking at the size heater you need, make sure you’re insulating your pool so as not to lose heat when you don’t have to. A significant amount of heat can be lost to wind, so make sure you purchase wind blocks or other heat-trapping equipment.
You might also want to look into temperature locking devices, to make sure nobody cranks the heat up too high.Once you’ve done that, there are some good rules of thumb when it comes to the size heater you’ll need.
For solar heaters, assume you want to raise the temperature by 20 degree Fahrenheit. For every 20-degree increase, take the surface area of your pool and install half that square footage in solar panels.
So, if you have a 100 square ft pool that’s currently 60 degrees Fahrenheit, install 50 square feet of solar panels to reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
For gas and electric heaters, first, figure out the BTU output of the heater. The BTU will be the heater’s wattage multiplied by 3.413. A 100-200 BTU heater is useful for a pool that’s 10,000 gallons or less.
A 200-300 BTU heater is what you’ll need for a pool that’s 10,000-20,000 gallons. A 300-400 BTU heater is good for pools that range from 20,000 gallons to 40,000 gallons. A 400 BTU heater, the largest there is, is useful if your pool is 40,000 gallons or more.
For heat pumps, you’ll want to add 50,000 BTU of power for every 10,000 gallons of water. However, heat pumps are very energy-efficient, so running a 50,000 BTU heat pump is nowhere near the electricity cost of a 400 BTU gas or electric pool heater.
Which Pool Heaters Are the Best for the Environment?
Solar heaters and heat pumps are the best kinds of pool heaters for the environment because they rely on renewable resources and don’t create any air pollution.
Which Pool Heaters Last the Longest?
The longevity of a pool heater is determined in part by the water in which you use it. Make sure you’re testing your pool water to make sure it’s balanced. Tests using the Langelier Index can ensure that your pool water is neither too corrosive nor too basic.
If it’s too corrosive, the machine parts will deteriorate too quickly. Basic water, though, will cause calcium deposits and scale to form on the heater’s components which also causes damage.
If the water has a balanced pH, any variety of pool heater should last for ten years, or even longer. There isn’t any specific type of pool heater known for its longevity.
What Is the Typical Cost of a Swimming Pool Heater?
The average cost of a swimming pool heater in the United States is $2,666. The typical price range for heaters is $1500-$4000, with the lowest end coming in at $300 and the highest at $5000. And that doesn’t even factor in the potential monthly increase in electricity.
The least expensive kind of heaters is a solar pool heater. They cost between $1,500-$2,000. They also have no monthly expenses when it comes to power.
Gas heaters are inexpensive initially, generally ranging from $1,500-$2,500, but it’s reasonable to estimate that running them costs anywhere from $200-$400 per month.
Electric resistance heaters are even pricier. While initial costs are only $1,000-$2,000, it’ll run you about $500-$600 a month just to run them. That’s par for the course for normal operation.
Heat pumps are the most expensive. They cost $2,500-$4,000 up front. Then you’ll pay about $100-$200 a month thereafter.
How Can I Prevent Heat Loss From My Pool?
It’s a good idea to avoid wasting energy once you’ve spent money on a heater. We touched on this in question 3, but there are several ways to prevent heat loss for a pool.
Solar blankets can be a good investment for both above-ground and in-ground pools. Solar blankets heat your pool by as much as 15 degrees without any electricity input.
Basically, a solar blanket soaks in the sun’s heat and then transfers that heat to the pool after the sun goes down. Plus, just like a regular blanket, a solar one traps heated particles from the water once it’s warm and prevents them from evaporating away.
Other solar heat-retaining products include inflatable solar rings that float on a pool’s surface (gathering heat in the day and retaining it in the evening) and solar pool domes that cover the pool when nobody’s using it.
Winter covers are durable, heavy covers made to last for several months at a time. These covers are thick and insulated, but they’re difficult to get on and off, so they’re not well suited for people who want to use their pools throughout the winter.
Wind blockers are essentially small walls or fences in between your pool and the direction of the wind which is great if you live in a windy area. In some places, wind accounts for 70% of a pool’s heat loss.
What Are Some Reasonable Safety Precautions to Take When Using a Swimming Pool Heater?
There are four key safety precautions to take if you own a pool heater. Staying aware and staying safe is just as important with pool heater maintenance as it is with swimming itself.
Ventilate your pool heater, especially if it’s a gas heater or if it’s electric. Ventilation should be outdoors, and not near any windows. That is important to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide, which is poisonous to inhale and can be a byproduct of gas heaters.
Keep gas and electric lines free from blockage and clear of debris. Blocked or damaged lines can cause fires or even explosions, so make sure to check often. If one is frayed, make sure you unhook it according to guidelines in your product manual and replace it with a whole one.
Check for leaks and call the gas company if you smell one. Gas suppliers often add a smell to natural gas, so leaks are easier to detect. If you smell gas or see a damaged hose, evacuate people from the area and call the utility company.
Have a professional pool service check your heater at least once a year. Many things can cause damage to your heater regardless of its type. For people who aren’t professionals, these elements might be easy to miss until it’s too late. Having a pro do a checkup on your equipment is a smart way to make sure you’re staying safe.
What Else Should I Know About Swimming Pool Heaters?
One thing to know about when it comes to pool heaters is whether or not you want a heat controller. Heat controllers allow you to heat your pool while still indoors, and to set heating cycles throughout the day or week.
That can help you plan your heating expenses better and ensure your pool is warm before you use it. Unfortunately, solar heaters are not usually compatible with heat controllers, so that’s something to consider if a solar heater is your top pick.
Ultimately, the right heater for your pool depends on your budget, your safety needs, your environmental concerns, and the size of your pool. Nobody can make that decision for you. But, hopefully, after walking through these nine questions, you now have a much better idea of what’s involved in choosing a pool heater and what the right choice might be for you.