Blake here from PoolSupplyWorld (https://www.poolsupplyworld.com/)
I wanted to take a second today to talk to you about heaters and heat pumps. I know that summer is coming to an end, and pools are starting to close and that is a huge bummer. Either a heater or a heat pump can be a good alternative to extend your swimming pool season, but it’s important to know understand differences to see which one is best for you.
So first we’ll take a look at heaters.
Heaters burn propane or natural gas. Water is pulled into the unit and heated with the burning propane or natural gas, then the hot water is passed back into your swimming pool through the return lines.
The Pros are: Less money upfront as far as initial investment. It will work in any temperature or climate, which is awesome. It will heat the pool very quickly, which is also awesome.
The tradeoff though, is that a heater has a little bit higher operating cost (paying for the propane or natural gas). Also, there are more moving parts. This is important to consider when making a large purchase because more moving parts means more parts that could potentially break.
Now lets compare that to a heat pump.
A heat pump uses electricity and ambient air to heat up the water. The pros include: A lower operating cost. You don’t have to pay for propane, although you do have to pay for electricity. It is environmentally friendly, which is nice. And it doesn’t require a gas line, which can be nice because not everybody has one.
The cons are: it costs a little bit more money upfront, and it will only work in temperatures above 50 degrees fahrenheit. Remember, it’s using ambient air, so if it’s super cold outside, it’s not going to be able to heat swimming pool water.
If you live in an area that gets down below 50 degrees, you won’t be able to use the heat pump at that time. You might be able to get a little more swimming on either side of pool season, but as soon as it gets below 50, it’s not going to do anything for your pool.
Now let’s take a look at sizing.
For a heat pump, we will assume it’s going to heat your pool water 1 degree per hour. Keep in mind for a larger pool, it might take a little longer.
The formula to figure out recommended BTU is “Length x Width x Desired Temperature Rise X12” so in our example, we use a pool that is 10 feet by 20 feet, raising temperature 20 degrees, and get 48k BTU.
Now compare that to a heater, which is sized a little differently. Just for simplicity, we are going to assume we also want to raise the temp 1 degree per hour. However with a heater, you can heat the pool faster with more BTU. So if we are comparing a 200k BTU heater with a 400k BTU heater...the 400k will burn gas twice as quickly, but it will also heat the pool twice as fast. So it’s really just up to you.
Take the gallons of the pool, plus 10%, times 10. So in our example, a 30k gallon pool, plus 10% (3k), times 10 is 330K BTU. If you get more (BTU), then you can heat the pool faster.
In either case, it is critical that you also use a solar cover. A solar cover, which kinda looks like bubble wrap, goes on top of your pool when you are not using it.
Most of the heat loss in your pool will be due to evaporation. If you get a solar cover, your are going to stop a lot of the heat loss that happens, and make your heater or heat pump work correctly and be more efficient.
So those are two options. If you are like us, and don’t want to close your pool yet, you might want to consider a heater or heat pump to extend your season. Which one is right for you will depend on your needs, location, and budget.
If you have any questions you can email me directly at [email protected]
That’s it for now. Thank you for watching. Happy swimming, I’m out!
For more info on swimming pool heaters, visit: https://www.poolsupplyworld.com/pool-heaters.htm
Hi Blake, You mention more moving parts in a gas heater than a heat pump. I've been servicing heaters for more than 40 years now and I find the gas heaters have a pressure switch and an exhaust fan on the newer gas heaters. The heat pumps have a much bigger fan and still have a pressure switch. You didn't mention that most heat pumps require a 220v 40 amp circuit for electrical supply, the same as what a clothes dryer uses. Besides the fact that the heat pump won't run below 50 degrees F., you didn't mention that the heat pump is not at all efficient if the temperature is below 60 degrees F. One more thing I will add is that in Connecticut for example, the two months you need the heater the most are May and September. During those two months, the average temperature in CT is between 50 and 55 degrees rendering the heat pumps useless here. I recommend the fossil fuel heaters here and size them to raise the water temp. about 1 degree an hour. If the water temp. when you open the pool is 60 degrees, turn on the heater and you will have 84 degree water one day later even if the air temp is 55 degrees. Using a heat pump, you would be hard pressed to find the water any warmer at all. In the chart above, you compared a 30,000 gal. pool with a gas heater to a 6,000 gal. pool with the heat pump. Very misleading!If you live in the southern states, I may lean more toward the heat pump.Rick Tanguay, Pres. Tanguay Pools, Inc.
We have an 18ft -54"tall above ground pool and debating which type of heater to get. We have rigged a solar heating system (600ft of plastic tubing). It works well but our area, especially this season has been overcast and cool most of the time and as you guessed, not much heat going into the pool. We want it to be and maintain 80's. which do you think would work better for us. We typically won't see air temps in the 60's-70's until Maybe mid to late May and usually early October it starts turning cool again. Thank you.
Very informative video. I am racking my brain trying to decide on a pool heater for my in-ground 16x38' . I have been scared away from the operating cost & unexpected problems of gas heaters. So a heat pump is starting to make more sense. I am in north Jersey and dont plan on swimming when outside temps are below 70 degrees. What make & model would you recommend? Thanks Blake
Same question here. I live in NJ as well.
I was thinking of natural gas pool heater because of the quick temperature rise and being able to use anytime in the year. But after realizing how much it can cost... I'm not sure if I want to do that anymore.
I'd probably just want a heat pump to extend the pool season and just close the pool during the winter.
Does placement of the heat pump unit substantially affect performance? I want to place it in a corner of my yard that has vinyl fencing. The unit would be approx. 1 foot from the fence and in the shade. Thanks.
+TTC LAW that is a great question! In short, the placement WILL affect the performance. The heat pump will work best with higher ambient temperature, and the ambient temperature in the shade will be less than in the sun. However, you can still definitely get away with it -- but it might take just a little longer to heat the pool.
+Joe K great question! (and sorry for massive delay in my response.. that is embarassing!). In short, it won't really matter. If it were a pool, I would suggest high speed. In a Spa, your water will be "turned over" quickly either way, which will help raise the temp.
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