So you are shopping for a heater, eh? Congrats on extending your pool season or upgrading your equipment. Heaters are required for hot tubs and can make swimming more comfortable in the swim season and allow you to be able to swim all year round if you so choose! Great decision, either way.
How Do Heaters Work?
Just briefly in a nutshell, both natural gas heaters and electric heat pumps have the same end result. Warm water. They work a bit differently, but the end result is the same. As your swimming pool water is drawn from the skimmer and/or main drain, it passes through all your various pieces of swimming pool equipment. You definitely have a filter. You may also have an in-line chlorinator, salt system, etc. Regardless of which type of heater you have, as the water passes through the heater, it gets warmed a certain amount. This warm water is then pumped back into the swimming pool via your swimming pool pump.
Natural Gas Heaters
Natural gas heaters require a gas line. If you are thinking of going with a natural gas heater and do not have an existing gas line, you will need to have one installed. The size of your gas line and how long the gas line run is will determine the size of the natural gas heater you can accommodate.
When I say “size” I am not referring to the footprint. A footprint is the actual dimensions of the heater. Generally when talking about heater size we are referring to the heat output. This is measured in British Thermal Units. (BTUs). The higher the BTU, the more heat is expelled and the quicker your water can be heated to your desired temperature.
Pro Tip: Always go with the highest BTU. While the cost may be more upfront, it will save you money in operating costs because you will have to run it less. Again, this depends on the size of your gas line and how long the gas line is.
With a natural gas heater the gas is burned inside the combustion chamber. They contain copper coils that assist with this. Exhaust that is created by the gas is expelled through what is known as a flue. This is on the top of the heater,
Pro Tip: A natural gas heater can be lower in cost and has a quieter operation.
Electric Heat Pumps
These work a bit differently than a natural gas heater because, you guessed it, they do not utilize gas! They run on electricity. So heat pumps have a fan that will draw the outside air and then it gets directed over an evaporator coil. There is liquid refrigerant in this heater’s evaporator coil. The liquid refrigerant that is in the coil absorbs the heat pulls in the air from outside air. Then this becomes a gas. The warm gas passes through a compressor. Just like with a natural gas heater, as the water passes through, it gets heated. Viola! Heated pool water!
Pro tip: If you have solar, a heat pump is a great way to go!
Heat pumps work in temperatures that do not get below 45-50 degrees. This is because…remember? They utilize the outside air. You will get about 3-5 degrees with every pass of water. Heat pumps are not used for quick heating. They are typically left on to keep an ambient water temperature.
A lot of people are going to heat pumps because of the rising cost of gas. Especially if you live in a high priced State like California. A heat pump could make sense. If you live in a state where electricity is inexpensive, then I would go with a heat pump.
Blue Heat Pumps are So Expensive!
Whether you go with a natural gas heater or an electric heater, it can get costly. ANy sound investment has this commonality. Heat pumps can tend to be more expensive than gas heaters. But you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg. You can get an economical, fast acting, name brand ComforTemp electric pool heater for about half of what you would find for another name brand heater at your local pool supply store. These heaters come in a variety of sizes? (We mean BTUs, remember?) to fit any swimming pool.
These heaters will pay for themselves by cutting the cost of energy. They are BT certified and come with the industry standard 1-year warranty. My favorite part is the self diagnosis and easy-to-use displays. Don’t believe me? Check them out here. https://poolpartstogo.com/collections/heat-pumps
Whatever heater you decide to go with, remember…swimming pools are supposed to be fun! Don’t stress about this purchase. Do your research, like you are doing now, and treat yourself to a brand new heater. An investment you won’t regret as you enjoy it for years to come! See you poolside!