Having a heater on your swimming pool equipment pad is a requirement if you have a spa.  If you have a pool/spa combo, you may only heat the spa.  Or you may choose to heat the pool as well.  Many people don’t even have a spa, but appreciate a warmer swimming pool.  Many people like to extend their swimming season.  These are all good reasons to have a heater.  There are two main types of heater: Natural Gas and Heat Pumps.  What exactly are the differences between them?

A Natural Gas Heater

A natural gas heater is a more efficient way to heat your swimming pool if you want to only heat your pool for shorter periods of time.  They will heat your swimming pool water quickly–especially the spa.  They are not used to maintain heat in a swimming pool.  They are good for climates that get below 45 degrees because they do not rely on the outside air to produce heat.  

With a natural gas heater, if you only use the heater for special occasions or when you want to use the water, then a natural gas heater may be for you.  Natural gas heaters run on gas so you will either need to have existing gas lines or have gas lines installed.  The size of your gas lines and how long of a run they have will determine what size heater will work.  You also have to pay for the gas.  

Depending on whether you are heating the pool, spa, or both will determine how long you will have to run your heater.  It also depends on where the water temperature is and where you want it to be.  Natural gas heaters come in LowNox models, which make the heater more efficient.  If gas is expensive in your neighborhood, or you have solar, you may want to consider a heat pump.

Heat Pumps

Swimming pool heat pumps do not run on gas.  They are efficient and environmentally friendly.  Heat pumps tend to have a lower annual cost of operation when compared to a gas heater.  They also seem to have a longer life span.  Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air, utilizing a compressor to increase the heat and as the water passes through it warms the water.  Typically, 3-5 degrees each time.  Heat pumps then eject the cold air out of the top of the unit.  If you live in a region that gets below freezing a heat pump may not be for you.  Unless you don’t plan to use it in the Winter.  Heat pumps require the ambient air to be 45 degrees or higher.  So this is a “swim season” only type of heater.

Heat pumps are meant to be left on to maintain the water’s temperature.  They are not utilized to heat water quickly.  Since they use electricity, they are ideal for people with solar on their home.  Even if you don’t have solar, you can still use a heat pump.  Heat pump usage is measured in watts, or kilowatts.  You can easily look at your electric bill to see how much you pay per watt/kilowatt.

Heater Sizing

All heaters utilize British Thermal Units (BTUs) to determine the “size of the heater”.  It is referring to the heat output.  In a nutshell, how quickly will your heater heat the water?  It is always better to go with the largest BTU your swimming pool can accommodate.  That way you can run the heater for less time.  This unit of measurement is used for both gas and electric heaters.

Prices on Heaters

Heaters are not cheap.  That is because of how awesome they are, I say!  At your local swimming pool supply store, a gas or electric heater costs around $4,000.  Heat pumps can tend to run a bit higher!  If you have decided that a heat pump makes the most sense to you, then I recommend going with a name brand and an efficient one. This doesn’t mean you have to spend crazy amounts of money.

You can get a Nationally known ComforTemp heat pump for about half of what your local swimming pool supply store would sell a name brand heat pump for.  You are getting amazing quality too!  These heaters are efficient, energy saving and fast acting!  They are also quiet!  My favorite part is the self diagnosing feature to keep your machine running smoothly as long as possible.  Why sacrifice quality for price? Why sacrifice a high price for quality?  You can have both. Check out these heat pumps here.  

See you poolside!