How Does a Heat Pump Work?

There are homeowners who like to extend their swimming pool season.  There are homeowners with a pool/spa combo.  Maybe they just have a spa or swim spa.  They all have one thing in common.  They all need a way to heat the water.  There are various styles of heaters available, but the most common ones are listed below.

Natural Gas Heaters

These heaters are very popular on the West Coast, Southwest, and for any pool with an attached spa.  They require a gas line, an adequate gas meter and you guessed it – gas. Both new and old natural gas heaters used a very basic design which was not very efficient and not great for the environment!  The newer designs of heaters are what is called Lo-Nox.  This means they are a more environmentally safe by minimizing the output of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx's) with strict regulation of their combustion reaction.

As your water is pushed through your plumbing system, the water passes through the heater.  The natural gas your heater draws burns in the heater’s combustion chamber.  This generates heat.  The heated water is then returned to the swimming pool or spa. 

Propane Gas Heaters

These heaters work very similarly to natural gas heaters, but instead, rely on propane for fuel.  It is also the most powerful way to heat your swimming pool, Especially in areas where the temperatures drop below 60 degrees regularly.  The heating capacity outperforms any other type of heater, but can be expensive to run.

Electric Heaters AKA Heat Pumps

These heaters are very popular on the East Coast and Midwest.  These units work on the same principle that dries an air conditioner, but backwards!  A modern heat pump uses refrigerant to capture heat in the ambient air then release the heat through the exchanger into your pool water.  While they may be electrically powered (no need for gas lines or tanks!) the actual source of your heat is the great outdoors!  

I asked some of my friends in regions where heat pumps are popular to give me the skinny on why they are so popular.  

“Heat pumps are pretty popular [here] because [they] provide ‘more bang for the buck’.  We have a short [swimming] season, usually Memorial Day to Labor Day.  But [realistically] it is still cold on Memorial Day and the warmth is gone by Labor Day.  Gas heaters provide the heat for [an] extended season, but the heat pump will allow customers to heat and maintain desired temperatures all season long!  As long as there is sunshine, warm enough ambient temps and the cost of energy remains low.” He continues, “The [dollar] cost to warm water in the pool is pretty economical.”- Mike Tellegen, Owner of Pool & Spa Medic in Oregon.

Learn more about whether you should leave a pool heater running overnight.

Are Heat Pumps Expensive?

Out of all the heaters we discussed, they probably cost the most upfront, but give you the greatest reward in heating time and capacity.  This does not mean you have to go-for-broke when you buy one.  Just for fun, go into your local swimming pool supply chain and ask for a quote on a brand name heat pump.  You will literally be shocked.  We sell ours here in California for over $5,000!  You can also ask your pool professional, if you have one, what he can get one for.  My guess is it will still be pretty darn high.

Did you know that sells name brand heat pumps?  They have a variety of ComforTemp Pool Heat Pumps  in various sizes.  Heaters are sized in BTUs (British Thermal Units).  That will determine how quickly your heater will heat your body of water.  You may be tempted to go with too small of a BTU just because it costs a bit less upfront.  But the money you “save”  will just go towards having to run the heater longer and wait longer to enjoy your swimming pool.

The ComforTemp heat pumps have a titanium heat exchanger which means maximum heat transfer.  It also means it will be less susceptible to damage from your sanitizer.  “This model reduces costs by using an evaporation condenser built from corrosion-resistant titanium to compress warm, ambient air around your pool into hot water, instead of wasting energy to create warmth from scratch.”.  Chemically corroded exchangers are one of the most common (and most expensive!) repairs a gas fired heater could need!

They have sizes to fit any size pool.  The best part?  They cost less than half of what you would pay elsewhere.  And, wait for it…they come with a 10 year titanium exchanger warranty! Talk about peace of mind! Check it out for yourself!

I know there is no reason to go elsewhere for your heat pump needs. With a ComforTemp, the only cold water in your backyard will be in a cup.

Heat up that water and I will see you poolside! 

For more additional information on how to heat your pool efficiently, read this article. Here is how to troubleshoot your pool heat pump.