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Pool Heater: The Most Efficient Way to Warm up Your Pool

Pool Heater

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A pool heater is a must if you want to get the most out of your outdoor pool. Even though they are the best investment, they are worth it when you think about how great it is to always have the perfect water temperature and how long the pool season can be. Without one, Mother Nature controls how cold your swim will be, and you’ll be sad to see your neighbours enjoying their heated pools well after Labor Day while yours will be covered until June.

You can buy gas, electric, and solar-powered pool heaters today. Some even have cooling features that can bring the temperature down a few notches on hot days. No matter which choice you make, we’re sure you’ll find that it “pays for itself” in terms of the value it gives you. Read on for our top picks for pool heaters and tips to think about before you shop.

Why Buy a Pool Heater?

A pool heater can help keep the water in your pool at the right temperature at any time of day or year, giving you more time to swim. Most people can swim well when the temperature is between 78 and 86 degrees F. In any climate, the temperature of a pool can change depending on things like the amount of rain, the size of the pool, and how much sun it gets. If you live in a colder area, like Texas, certain heaters can make your pool season last longer, no matter how cold it feels outside.

There are three main kinds of pool heaters: solar, gas/propane, and electric heat pumps. Depending on the type of pool you have and the weather where you live during the different seasons, one may be better for you than the other.

Which Pool Heater is Best?

Finding the right pool heater comes down to a few key points that make it easy to find products that will work for your backyard pool. Consumers often have a hard time figuring out which heater will work best for them. Some heaters work better in above-ground pools, while others are perfect for hot tubs and spas. Still, others are thought to be the best for large pools that are dug into the ground.

When picking a heater, you can choose from a wide range of products. Gas, electric, and solar heaters are the main three types of heaters that people will eventually look at. We’ll spend some time talking about the pros and cons of each one.

We spend too much time reviewing pool equipment for Pool Magazine. How we choose the best heaters and heat pumps is based on feedback from customers and pool professionals, as well as our own Editor’s Choice for Best Pool Heater of the Year. There are some newcomers to the category on our list this year, as well as some old favourites that people have come to trust.

Read More: Sultry Pool Fence Designs

Types of Swimming Pool Heaters

There are three main types of pool heaters that use electricity:

  • Solar pool heater
  • Electric heat pump
  • Natural gas or propane pool heater

Each kind of heater works in a slightly different way, which means that each kind has its own pros and cons.

Let’s look more closely at how each type of swimming pool heater works, how much a typical heater of each type might cost, and how much each type usually costs to run over the course of a swim season or a year.

Solar Pool Heater

Solar pool heaters may seem like the best choice in Arizona. It is also great for pool owners in Phoenix because they don’t cost anything to run and use very little energy. And then, they usually last for 10 years or more.

Of course, the sun is the only way to heat the pool. This may not seem like a big deal in a state with a lot of sunshine, but the winter months often bring days with cloudy weather. Also, the best solar heaters can only give off a certain amount of heat.

Electric Heat Pump

Heat pump pool heaters work well, and even though they are more expensive to buy upfront, they don’t cost much to run. And most of the time, they last about 10 years.

Gas heaters are faster than electric heat pumps. Since these pumps use heat from the air, you can expect your energy bills to go up in the winter when the pump has to work harder to heat your pool.

Gas Pool Heater

Some of the least expensive pool heaters are ones that use gas. It is a popular choice because it can heat your pool enclosures quickly and effectively to the temperature you want.

On the other hand, they cost more to run than other kinds of pool heaters and don’t use energy very well. Gas heaters tend to last less long than other types. Even with regular maintenance, the most time they can last is about five years.

Read Also: What Order to Add Pool Chemicals

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pool Heater

Pool Heater


Before you sign any checks, you need to know if your equipment pad has room for another piece of gear. Most of the time, a heater is put in after the filtration system. This means that there needs to be at least 3–4 feet of space in your rig for the heater to fit. If not, you might have to pay for some changes or renovations.

Pool Use

Your habits and way of life might even be more important than the size of the pool. How you’ll use the heater is a big part of figuring out which one is best for you. The size and type of heater you need will depend on how often you use your pool, like every day or just on the weekends.

If you use your pool every day, you’ll probably want to keep it at a certain temperature most of the time. This can be done by leaving on all the time a small heater with low BTUs. If you mostly swim on the weekends, you’ll probably only heat your pool when you need to. For that, you’ll need a heater that heats up quickly and puts out a lot of BTUs. If you cover your pool often, you may only need a smaller heater than if you usually leave it open to the weather.

Power Source – Solar vs Gas

Your pool heater can be powered by gas or electricity. The number of BTUs you need will depend on the size of your pool and how you plan to use it. In general, electric heat pumps aren’t as good at water heating, but they are good at keeping water warm for a long time. Whether they use natural gas or propane, gas heaters heat up quickly and use a lot of fuel for a short time.

A gas heater is the best way to heat a pool quickly or when it’s cold outside. An electric heater might be better for milder heating needs, like keeping the same temperature when it’s warm outside.

Heating, Cooling, or Both

Some heat pump models can do more than just heat water. In the summer, they can also cool the water. So, if your water is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, you might want to think about one of these options. Look for a model that says “Heat and Cool” or “H & C.”


Cost is always one of the most important factors. Find out how much you can spend on a heater for your pool before you spend a lot of money on one. The price at the beginning is important. But the cost of installation can easily be the same as the cost of the heater itself.

Also think about how well it works, how easy it is to keep up, and how long it will last. If you’re thinking about an electric model, start by making a list of how much electricity your home can use. What kind of gas you have or how much a new gas line may cost will determine what kind of gas heater you need.

How Do You Choose the Best Inground Pool Heater?

If you live in a colder area or need to quickly heat a larger pool, the Hayward Universal H-Series Gas Heater is a good choice (it comes in either propane or natural gas). Gas heaters are very strong and can raise the temperature of your water by 20 or 30 degrees. Gas is the most expensive way to heat your pool, so it will cost you in the long run.

The Hayward HeatPro Heat Pump is a powerful option that uses less energy but still does a good job. It uses the heat that’s already in the air outside, saving you money on your utility bill. But even though this heat pump uses less energy, it might not work as well as a gas heater in very cold weather.

Lastly, if you live somewhere sunny and don’t mind waiting a few days for your pool water to heat up, the SmartPool S601 Pool Solar Heaters are both very cheap and very energy-efficient. But, unlike a heat pump or gas heater, it can take several days for the water temperature to rise.

Lastly, if you have a smaller pool and want a cheaper option, the Pentair MasterTemp 125 is a good choice. It costs a few thousand dollars less than the Hayward Heat Pump and Natural Gas Heater, but it only works in pools of up to 15,000 gallons and uses propane instead of natural gas.

Also Read: Different Types of Pools in Backyard

What is the Best Way to Heat an Inground Pool?

The best pool heater for your pool will depend on how quickly you need to heat the water, the temperature of the air outside, and how much you are willing to pay to keep the heater running. In colder climates, you’ll want either a gas or an electric pool heater because those have more power to heat the water to a higher temperature and more quickly.

Most of the time, gas heaters cost more to run than electric heaters. On the other hand, a solar heater can raise the temperature of your pool water for free if you live in a warm climate. But it might only go up a few degrees and take a long time to do so.

Cost of Pool Heater Installed by Type

The average cost of different types of swimming pool heating systems is between $1,000 and $7,000. This includes the cost of installation and all the materials. The most common ones are gas, electric resistance, heat pumps, and solar. Almost any heater can be used in any kind of pool, but there are some things to think about when choosing the best one.

A BTU is a unit used to measure the size of an electric or gas heating system. This stands for British Thermal Unit, which is the standard unit for measuring heat capacity in the business world. 1 BTU can heat 1°F, or 1 pound, of water. The number of BTUs needed depends on the type of heating system, which is shown in the tables and subsections below.


Unit Price (Installed)

Electric Resistance

$1,000 – $6,000

Gas (Natural and Propane)

$1,500 – $5,500

Heat Pump

$2,500 – $6,500


$2,500 – $7,000

Pool Heater Replacement Cost

Depending on the type of pool heater you have and the type you want to switch to, the price to replace it is usually between $2,525 and $5,550. The cost of replacement is not much different from the average cost of installation, which is between $2,500 and $5,000. In some cases, having gas, electricity, and plumbing already set up can save you $100 to $500.

With your new installation, the old unit may be taken away. If not, you can expect to pay an extra $25 to $50 to have it taken away and thrown away. Most of the time, a professional can help you figure out when it’s time to get a new heating unit. There will come a time when the cost of fixing the heating unit won’t be worth the time it has left.

How to Save Money on a Pool Heater?

Pool heating units are what they are, so once you choose the type of unit that fits the size of your pool, the price is pretty much set. The best way to save money on a pool heater is to cut down on how much it costs to run over time. Here are some good ways to save money on the cost of a pool heater.

  • Use a solar pool cover to help heat the pool without spending more money on energy.
  • Use any kind of solar energy-powered, inflatable rings or heaters that can be dropped into the pool to help raise the temperature.
  • Ask a professional about a high-efficiency pool heater if you want to save money each month.
  • Keep the heater in good shape to make sure it works well.
  • When it’s not being used, turn down the heat.
  • Consider buying an inflatable pool dome to stop water from evaporating and keep heat in the pool longer.

Swimming Pool Heater vs Heat Pumps

You might be wondering what the difference is between heat pumps and swimming pool heaters. Well, quite a lot actually! Gas or electricity is used by swimming pool heaters to heat the water before putting it back in the pool. Heat pumps, on the other hand, heat your pool water with the air around the unit. Both heaters and heat pumps have their good points, and the right one for you will depend on your preferences.

Electric and gas pool heaters heat the water in your pool quickly and cost less upfront. Also, they are easy to put in. Compared to heat pumps, swimming pool heaters usually cost more to run than heat pumps. Heat pumps are becoming a popular choice for people who own pools. Because they use less energy, which saves the owner money. Heat pumps are easy to set up, but they work best in mild climates. Heat pumps aren’t very good in places where it gets below 50° F. A heat pump will cost more upfront than a swimming pool heater.

Gas Pool Heater vs Solar Heater

Pool Heater
Crystal clear swimming pool with waterfall, a travertine patio and lush landscaping.

A big difference between a gas pool heater and a solar pool heater is that a gas heater can heat up a pool in a few hours. While a solar heater can take a few days. A solar heater can’t work as well if there aren’t enough hours of sunlight, the temperature around it is too low, or there isn’t enough room for enough solar collector panels.

When the sun is out, a solar heater gives off heat for free, while a gas heater needs to burn fuels, which can be expensive. Many pool owners choose to use both a gas heater and a solar heater to lower their monthly operating costs, use less energy, and make the gas heater last longer.

If you buy a good solar-powered pool heater system, the initial cost of either heater is about the same. In general, though, a solar heater will cost less than a gas heater. Installing a solar heater can be expensive, but a pool owner who is handy can do it. Installing a gas heater, on the other hand, should be done by a trained service technician.

The last thing to think about when deciding between a gas pool heater and a solar pool heater is that you might need a bigger pump to move enough water through the extra pipes, valves, and solar collector panels. For a solar heating system to work right, it often needs a pump with a variable speed and more horsepower.

Advantages of Having a Pool Heater

In cooler climates, a gas heater is the best choice. They can run at any temperature and in any weather, even when it’s windy. Depending on where you live, a heat pump will add two to three months to your swimming season. A gas heater, on the other hand, will let you swim all year long. Gas heaters are also better because they can heat the pool faster after being turned off than other types. They are the best at getting the temperature up quickly, which makes them perfect for the weekend, when guests come over, or in homes that aren’t used every day.

A spa or hot tub can also be heated with a gas heater. Gas heaters are used to heat hot tubs by many people because they work quickly. A benefit that many people don’t think about when buying equipment is that gas heaters are usually small, so they don’t take up much space on your concrete pad outside.

Disadvantages of Having a Pool Heater

You should always think about whether or not you’ll really use a pool heater. Because a pool heater can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, it should be seen as an investment. However, not everyone can make this kind of investment. You might only live there part of the year, or you might not like swimming as much as you wish you did. The good thing about living in Florida is that it’s usually never too cold to just sit outside and enjoy the mild weather. If not being able to swim isn’t a big deal, you may decide that a pool heater isn’t for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pool Heater

Why Should You Install a Pool Heater?

Putting in a pool costs between $18,000 and $46,500. But it’s important to think about where it is. The fact you can only use the pool during certain months of the year. It makes you feel like you won’t get your money’s worth out of it.

Can you add a pool heater to an existing pool?

Yes, you can add a heater to an already-built pool as long as your yard has room for it. Most pools aren’t built with heaters, so it’s not unusual for homeowners to ask companies to add heaters to their existing pools.

How long does a pool heater last?

As long as it is taken care of, a pool heater will last between 6 and 12 years on average. Service the pool heater often and fix any problems as soon as possible to avoid having to buy a new one.

Can I use any pool heater with any type of pool?

Yes. Solar pool heaters, electric heat pumps, and gas heaters should all work well with vinyl liners, fibreglass, and concrete swimming pools.

How much does it cost to put a heater in a pool? 

The price varies a lot and depends on how big the swimming area is, what kind it is, and what the weather is like where it is. For putting in a heating system, you can expect to pay between $2,500 and $5,000.

Are pool heaters worth it? 

Heating systems can be expensive, but they make the water more comfortable and extend the time you can use it.

How Does Your Gas Heater Work?

The pump pulls water from your pool and puts it in the filter. From there, the water goes to the heater. The heater heats the water, which is then put back into the pool.

Do pool heaters use a lot of electricity?

So, how much power does a heat pump for a pool use? Each 100,000 BTU heat pump uses about 5 kilowatts per hour. For a typical pool heat pump with 100,000 BTU, you’ll use about 5,000 Watts per hour. The average price of electricity in the United States is 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

How much does it cost to run a pool heater per month?

The cost to run an electric heater could be between $175 and $600 per month. And the cost to run an electric pump could be between $120 and $200 per month. On average, gas heaters cost $200 to $400 per month, while propane heaters cost $200 to $850 per month.

Should I turn the pool heater off at night?

You should never turn your pool heater on and leave it on overnight. This is wasteful, and it will cost you more than if you just turned off the pool heater. Many of us know that it can take up to a few hours to heat a pool, but leaving it on overnight defeats the purpose of heating it in the first place.

Is it Cheaper to Heat a Pool with Gas or Electric?

Cost-wise, electric pool heaters are quite different from gas ones. Because the units are more complicated, they tend to be more expensive upfront and cost a bit more to set up. But in the long run, electricity is often cheaper.

How long does it take a pool to heat up with a heater?

Overall, it takes a heat pump between 24 and 72 hours to heat a swimming pool by 20 °F (11 °C). And also between 45 and 60 minutes to heat a spa by 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius). So, you now know some of the things that affect how long it takes to heat your pool or spa.

How can I heat my pool without a heater?

The best and least expensive way to heat a pool without a heater is to use a Solar Pool Cover. It is also called a Solar Blanket. Solar pool covers work because they are made of a material that lets the heat of the sun pass through it and into the pool.

Can I install a pool heater myself?

In fact, most people who own pools hire a pro to replace their pool heaters. In many states, you need a licensed contractor to install a gas appliance. But you can buy it, put it in place, and hook it up to the plumbing yourself.

Can I leave my pool heater on when the pump is off?

If it is, the pressure switch (most heaters use a pressure switch instead of a flow switch) will still turn on the heater even if the pump is turned off. This can make your heater heat the water that isn’t moving.


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