Should I Run a Pool Heater Overnight?

Many people own a swimming pool heater.  They may have a hot tub which requires one.  They may dislike cold water.  They may want to extend their swimming season by several months.  Whatever the reason…heaters make swimming more fun!  

Swimming pool heaters are plumbed into your equipment pad.  As the swimming pool water is drawn out of the skimmer and/or main drain, it is then pushed through the various pieces of equipment.  You may have a salt cell or in-line chlorinator.  You definitely have a filter.  If you have a heater, the water makes a stop here, getting warmed, before returning to your body of water.  Whether or not you should run it at night depends on certain desires and the type of swimming pool heater you own.

Natural Gas Heaters

Natural gas heaters require an existing gas line as they work off of natural gas to heat the water.  If this is a new heater install, you will need a plumber to install gas lines to accommodate the size of heater you are thinking of installing.  When we talk about sizes of heater we are generally not referring to the dimensions, or footprint.  Hold on, though.  The footprint can be important as well.  Especially if you have limited space on your equipment pad.  When we talk about the size of a heater, we are typically talking about the heat output.  Meaning how much heat the heater expels.  This is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).  The size of your gas line will determine how big (how high a BTU) you can install and accommodate.

Pro Tip:  Both electric heaters and gas heaters are measured in BTUs.

Natural gas heaters are great for quick heating of either a pool or a spa.  Obviously, the swimming pool will take a bit longer.  Some reasons to run your natural gas heater overnight are:

  • You want to heat a cold swimming pool more rapidly, say for a party.
  • You want to maintain an ambient water temperature so you can enjoy your water daily

A natural gas heater is more efficient in this regard as it takes less time to heat the water versus an electric swimming pool heater.  If you only heat the spa, or the swimming pool for special occasions, then a natural gas heater may be the right kind of heater for you.  

Another good thing about natural gas heaters is they will work in any climate.  This is because the heater utilizes gas in the combustion chamber instead of relying on the outside air like an electric heat pump.  Natural gas heaters come in LoNox these days, rendering them more efficient than your old, rusted out heater.

Electric Heat Pumps

Swimming pool heat pumps utilize electricity and the outside air temperature to heat your swimming pool water.  They are good for climates that do not drop below 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a super cold region and want to heat in the Winter, then a heat pump doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. These heaters are also efficient and friendly to the environment.  They tend to have a lower annual operating cost than that of a natural gas heater.  Rumor has it they have a longer life span as well.  

Heat pumps operate by extracting heat from the air outside and utilize a compressor to increase the heat as the water passes through.  Usually 3-5 degrees per pass.  Because of the slower rate in which a heat pump heats the water, you will be required to run the heater overnight.  It takes anywhere from 24-72 hours to heat a swimming pool utilizing a heat pump. 

Heat pumps are actually meant to be left on to maintain the water’s temperature.  

Pro Tip:  If you have solar, then a heat pump is a perfect match for your energy efficient home!

Heat pump usage is measured in watts/kilowatts.  If you are curious how much your electric heat pump will cost to operate, take a peek at your electric bill to see your cost per watt/kilowatt.  You may be surprised at how affordable it really is!

Heat Pumps Can Be Super Affordable

Heaters are super awesome!  That is why they are not the cheapest piece of equipment.  At your local swimming pool supply store either type of heater could run in excess of $4,000!  Heat pumps can tend to run a bit higher.  If you have decided that a heat pump is the heater for you, I invite you to check out this name brand, Nationally known ComforTemp heaters.  They sell for about half the price, but you are not sacrificing quality.  They are quieter, fast acting and efficient!  They even have a self diagnosing feature to keep your equipment running smoothly.  Check them out here. See you poolside!