I have been in the pool industry for a long time and one of the most common complaints I hear from pool owners is "we love our pool but wish the water was warmer". You can solve that problem of cold water by heating your pool!
The main benefit of a warm pool are that you can swim more often. By heating your pool you will extend your swimming pool season by opening the pool earlier and closing the pool later. I live in Massachusetts and swim from May to October - without a pool heater this would never be a possibility. With a heated pool you can finally not have an excuse to get more exercise in your pool!
There are 3 WAYS TO HEAT your aboveground or inground swimming pool.
Solar heating Panels - In typical installations, solar heating panels are mounted on a roof or a rack, in a location where you get the most sunlight during the course of the day. Ideally, the roof or rack would face south, with 5-6 hours of full sun per day. Solar pool heating can still be used if you do not have an ideal sun exposure, by increasing the square footage of the solar heating panels for greater temperature rise in the water. Solar pool heaters are extremely low maintenance, and work very well in all parts of these United States.
Electric Heat pumps - The way a heat pump works is similar to a central air conditioning unit but it works in reverse. An electric heat pump requires a dedicated 220v electrical line and depending on the size of the heat pump at least a minimum circuit of at least a 40amp breaker. When a heat pump is heating your pool, it transfers heat from the ambient air into your swimming pool water. Warm air is drawn through an evaporator coil by an electric fan and then the water runs through the heat exchanger and comes out warmer. Heat pumps are also low maintenance units and easy to use.
Gas Heaters - The only pool heater that can heat the pool no matter the weather or temperature, all year around, they are also the fastest method of heating a pool. Gas pool heaters are available in Natural gas or Liquid propane gas (LPG). Many rural areas do not have natural gas service, so if you want to use a gas heater, propane would be your option. For heating your pool with a natural gas heater you need the gas company or local plumber to run a gas line from the gas meter for your home over to where the gas heater is located. A larger meter may be needed to allow for more volume. You may need to get a plumbing or gas permit from your local building authority. For propane it's usually simpler, just contact your local propane delivery service for a quote for propane tank installation. In both cases, Gas or LPG, they will need to know the size of the pool heater, in BTU's of output.
PROS & CONS of POOL HEATERS
Solar heating panels
Pro: One advantage of solar pool heaters are that solar is the least expensive way to heat a pool. After the initial purchase of the solar heating panels you receive free heat from the sun. If you have a southern exposed area large enough to install at least 50% of the pool surface area in solar panels, and it's close to the filter system - you can very effectively use solar pool heating. Installation costs for solar heating panels are usually the least expensive pool heating option.
Con: When using solar heating panels the temperature of the water can increase very slowly in the shoulder seasons. The water may only warm 1 degree per day with an average temperature increase of about 8 degrees for the week, but larger solar arrays or more effective sun exposure gains much more. Normally you can only get the pool water temperature as warm or a few degrees warmer than the air temperature outside. Solar panels do not absorb much ambient heat, and if the sun isn't shining for several days, an uncovered pool can lose a lot of heat.
Electric Heat pumps
Pro: Pool Heat Pumps maintain a constant temperature in your swimming pool, whether it is 6am or 11pm at night. An electric heat pump is a great option if you or others plan on swimming on a daily basis. When using an electric heat pump to heat your swimming pool the operating costs will be typically be 2/3 less expensive than a gas fired pool heater. They are also very reliable, have a digital interface, and are simple to operate and program.
Cons: The cost to purchase an electric heat pump is much more expensive than a gas fired pool heater. When you first turn on the heat pump it might take 4 or 5 days for you to reach your desired pool water temperature. The heat up time is much slower compared to a gas fired pool heater. Once you reach the desired temperature you can cheaply maintain the temperature in your swimming pool. Most heat pumps will not heat your swimming pool during outside temps of below 50 degrees. You will need a licensed electrician to install enough amps to power a heat pump.
Pro: The main advantage of using gas pool heaters are that gas will increase the temperature much quicker than a solar heating panel or an electric heat pump. A gas heater is a great option for someone that wants to do spot heating, or intermittent heating, i.e., for those that have a vacation home and they want to heat their pool quickly; a gas heater is the best option. Gas pool heaters are the only 4-season pool heater - 365 days a year, with no worry about cold water in your pool. No concerns with outside temperature nor the amount of sunshine - it does not matter when heating with a gas heater.
Con: If heating your pool with liquid propane then you need to have a propane tank installed and propane gas delivered to your home. A lot of customers do not like the look of the propane tank, and burial can be expensive. The operating cost is typically much more expensive when heating with propane gas than with natural gas. To heat the pool with either gas heater is definitely the most expensive way to go. Gas heaters tend to need cleaning and servicing more often than other types of pool heaters. They are also a potentially dangerous appliance to have installed, because of the CO emissions and the hazards of using gas.
POOL HEAT CONSERVATION
No matter which way you decide to heat your pool you should always use something for heat retention. The most popular way to conserve energy costs and keep heat in your swimming pool is a solar blanket. Solar blankets are available in different thicknesses, with the 12mil or 16 mil being most durable. Using a solar blanket will help prevent heat loss and also help increase the temperature from the sun.
Another way to keep heat in your pool is to use solar sun rings. These are 60” rings that you float on the surface of the pool water, connecting 10-20 to cover the pool. They act like a solar blanket but are much easier to use, while being more effective and durable than traditional bubble blankets.
Another option for heat retention would be the solar fish this will help prevent from heat evaporation. The fish have a clear HeatSavr liquid that is completely safe and biodegradable. This clear liquid forms an invisible layer along the top surface of the pool water which helps with heat retention, but without the hassle of a traditional solar blanket. One solar fish is good for pools up to 15,000 gallons of water and will last about a month. Solar fish are very convenient, but not as effective as a traditional solar blanket or solar rings, and it won't raise the water temperature, it only helps retain heat.
Automatic pool covers are, of course, the best way to retain heat in a swimming pool, and they will also absorb some heat passively through the pool cover. Other ways include turning down the thermostat (not an option for me - our pool is kept 86 degrees, day and night!). Pruning trees that block the sun, and creating wind blocks can also help your pool be more heat efficient.
When it comes to heating your above ground or inground swimming pools we have options for everyone to heat their swimming pool no matter what the situation might be.
Your friends and family will thank you. No need to watch your pool not get any use, why pay all of that money to have the pool if now one is using it?
The answer is simple - Heat your pool and it will be used more than ever!
SPP Pool Expert