What’s the Deal with Pool Heat Pumps?

It’s unfortunate, but we all know the drill. It’s a cool day out—not warm, exactly, but not cold either. You’re in the mood for a swim, so hold your hand out into the air, trying to tell if the weather is right. Not sure. So then you put your hand in the water, and yikes. Your pool is pretty cold, but you do really want to go for a dip. Is it worth it? Well, it might mean you get that swim you wanted, but not without some discomfort. Or even worse, you don’t go in at all. Despite all the time and maintenance it takes to keep your pool functional, clean, and safe, there are just some days during the swim season that are off limits. Sigh. 

Well, not if you have a pool heat pump. And although heat pumps can be a bit of an investment at the outset, they are actually surprisingly efficient, and will help you make the most of every swim season to come. I’ll explain just what a heat pump is, how it works, why it’s worth it, and how to choose the right heat pump for you—and how to maintain it once you’ve got one. We’ve got a lot to cover, so no need to move, ahem, ambiently. Let’s go. 

Wait... What’s a Pool Heat Pump?

Basically, a pool heat pump is another appliance you have the option to hook up to your greater circulation system. It usually has a column shape, with mesh metal and programming options on the side and fan-like blades on top.

According to the Department of Energy, there are typically three energy-efficient ways to heat your swimming pool: gas pool heaters, solar pool heaters, and heat pumps. But don’t be fooled by the “energy-efficient” categorization—these heating types aren’t exactly equal. 

Solar heaters and pool heat pumps are the most efficient pool heaters on the market, and fairly similar in design. Unlike the gas heater, these heater types transfer heat, not produce it.

Ready to make the leap for the best pool heat pump on the market? That would be the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 110,000 BTU to heat 25,000 Gallons—it works fast, is ultra-powerful, and help you save big. According to customer Brad E., “I did my research and could not pass up the ComforTemp heat pump. It ROCKS! I followed the instructions and hooked it up myself- my wife supervised. Started it right up and watched the temperature rise in my pool.

what's the deal with pool heat pumps

How Exactly Does a Pool Heat Pump Work?

So how exactly does a pool heat pump transfer that heat? It simply uses electricity to pull in warm air from its surroundings, and then moves that heat to the water itself.

Not satisfied with that explanation? We’re about to get technical. If you’re not interested and want to move to the next section, I won’t judge you. 

Here’s the advanced, step-by-step explanation of how a pool heat pump works. If you’re ready to read on, buckle in:

1.     First, the pool heat pump pulls in water from the pool. The heat pump itself contains freon, which is a colorless liquid used as a refrigerant. Chances are you have freons in your air conditioning, too.

2.     Next, the pool heat pump compresses the freon until it reaches a temperature about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, 93 degrees Celsius.

3.     The freon then passes from the high-pressure zone of the heat pump into the low-pressure zone. Once the freon’s pressure is released, it turns into a hot gas.

4.     Meanwhile, the pool heat pump’s fan pulls in warm ambient air, which flows over a set of evaporator coils. The hotter the temperature of this air, the more heat the evaporator coils will absorb from the freon gas in this next step.

5.     Next, the freon gas flows through the evaporator coils, which cools the gas. During this process, the gas transfers its heat to the water circulating through the heat pump, which is then returned to the pool.

Once this process is done, the freon returns to a liquid again, the heat pump pulls more cool water in from the pool, and the cycle continues until all of the pool water is properly heated. And by the way, that freon gas? Thanks to the evaporation coils, it never makes direct contact with your water. 

What Can a Pool Heat Pump Do? 

So you know how a pool heat pump works. So what’s in it for you? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. Of course, you’ll never have to worry about shivering on the pool steps again, which is a major gamechanger in my book. But the benefits go beyond today’s comfort, if you can believe it. Having a pool heat pump will also keep you swimming for longer every season, protect your pool during the winter, and save you a ton on your energy bills compared to gas heaters. 

Keep You Swimming Longer

With a pool heat pump, you’re able to extend your swim season by opening your pool earlier and closing your pool later—and actually using it immediately, or up until the very last moment. Until you power it off, you’re swimming comfortably into the fall. And if you live somewhere with a super mild winter that doesn’t consistently reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your pool heat pump might prevent you from needing to close the pool at all.

Protect Your Pool

Because algae grows at warmer temperatures, it’s usually the recommendation of pool experts to open early and close late, anyway. That way, your pool water sits pretty cold during the off-season, and you’re less likely to open your pool to a green, murky mess in the spring. But if you use a pool heat pump, you just have to power it off a few days before closing to ensure that your water cools down below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keep Your Cash 

Another thing your pool heat pump can do is save you a ton of money. (That’s always what I’m about here.) Since pool heat pumps use small amounts of electricity to draw in ambient air, the heat it creates is essentially free. Depending on your specific temperatures and local energy costs, a heat pump can keep your pool in the mid-80 degrees for as low as fifty bucks a month.

Another difference between pool heat pumps and gas heaters is that gas heaters require natural or propane gas, which is just another costly step to keep it working. Even at today’s lower prices, natural or propane gas can cost pool owners thousands of dollars every year. Pool heat pumps don’t need anything but an energy source to keep working throughout the years.

These savings sounding good? Save even more by switching to a variable-speed pump for your pool—you know, the pump that pushes water through your circulation system as a whole, including your heat pump. The Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a warranty, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Robert Tafoya says, “Pump works quietly, efficiently, and is easy to install.” 

what's the deal with pool heat pumps

Wow—Even in Freezing Temps?

Well, not so fast. The heat pump is a pretty genius device, but it’s still operating in the real world. In order for it to have warm enough air in its surroundings, your local temperatures need to be 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Otherwise, your heat pump is going to do a lot of work with no results—and that’ll show up on your electricity bill for the month.

If you do experience freezing temperatures during the winter, you’re going to want to close your heat pump for the season by bringing it inside, along with your pool pump, pool filter, and plumbing. The last thing you want is permanent damage to your equipment during any winter storms.

Sorry about that. Wish I could say that with a pool heat pump, winter basically doesn’t need to exist. The technology will get there one day. At least, I sure hope so.

How to Choose the Right Pool Heat Pump for Your Pool

Ready to extend your swim season, enjoy warm water on a brisk day, and wow your friends who haven’t quite made the leap for their own pools? You’d better find a powerful, reliable heat pump worth showing off. My top recommendation is the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump, which returns every dollar you spend with five dollars of heat created. I’ll also outline two major considerations for any pool owner on the heat pump market: pool size and heat pump features. 

Know Your Size

You do know how many gallons of water your pool contains, right? Well, if you don’t, now is the time to find out. In fact, the sooner the better—and not just for the purposes of heating your pool. Knowing your pool size allows you to get the right equipment, plumbing, even the amount of chemicals you need. Plus, it’ll help you figure out exactly how long you should run your pump to save on your energy bill while keeping your pool sparkling clean.

The power of most pool heat pumps is measured by British Thermal Units (BTUs). One BTU refers to the amount of energy that’s required to increase the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. But your pump should also make clear how many gallons it’s capable of heating. That’s when your pool size comes in. If your pool contains 35,000 gallons, for instance, then this is the pool heat pump for you.

Functionality Lies In Your Features

Pool pumps don’t go for cheap, and for good reason—this is the kind of engineering that takes a lot of time and resources to get just right. But when it comes to these models, a little bit of extra details go a long way.

Make sure that your heat pump is BT-certified for reliability, includes easy programming tools so that you can get exactly the performance you need, and comes with a self-diagnostic system to automatically fix any electrical issues that might occur. Bonus points if your evaporation condenser is made from titanium, which is a durable metal that is also resistant to corrosion.

Looking for the heat pump that meets all these requirements—plus works fast? Look no further than the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 95,000 BTU to heat 18,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.”

How Long to Run Your Pool Heat Pump

If you chose the right heat pump for the size of your pool, you don’t have to worry too much about overpowering your pool heat pump or overpowering your plumbing—it’s pretty hard to go wrong. And unlike your pool pump itself, the focus of your pool heat pump isn’t how long you run it, but the temperature that you’re aiming for. Many pumps only have this temperature input as a programming option, anyway. So make sure that when it runs, your greater circulation system is also on, but don’t worry so much about time. It’s an energy-efficient unit, and once it gets the target temperature, it’s not much work to keep it maintained. 

How to Maintain Your Pool Heat Pump

Your pool heat pump can maintain the temperature of your water virtually on its own, but it’s going to need some maintenance itself. Thankfully, pool heat pumps are a lot easier to care for than their gas heater counterparts, and just about every other piece of pool equipment. But you do need to follow a few guidelines to keep your heat pump in top shape for all the swim seasons to come.

Keep the Area Clear

Since it pulls in air from its surroundings, you want to make sure that the area around your pool heat pump is free from obstructions, like branches, bushes, or other nearby pool equipment. You also want to remove any debris buildup, such as leaves and twigs, that collect on or around your unit. Let the thing breathe, okay?

Be Wary of Water

You also need to keep your pool heat pump away from water sources, such as the sprinklers in your backyard. No, I’m not kidding. I know, heat pumps are made to deal with water. But if you read the advanced version of just how a heat pump works, you know that it deals with precision, and only carries water through specific compartments within the unit. Have a kid that likes to run around with a hose during the summer months? Make sure that hose isn’t aimed right at your expensive heat pump. Sorry, kid. 

whats the deal with pool heat pump

All Warm Inside!

Congratulations, you made the leap. You’ll be glad you did—and will keep reaping the benefits with every swim. No more tense muscles or shivering in the pool, and all without significantly disrupting your monthly energy bill. From here on out, you have warm swims with just a tiny extra bit of maintenance. I would say we should go out and celebrate, but I’ll leave you to it. I get it. Stay in as long as you’d like. And, as always, enjoy. I have a feeling that’ll be easier than ever.

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