Heaters vs Heat Pumps : Swimming Pool Tips with Blake

Blake here from PoolSupplyWorld

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 blake@poolsupplyworld.com

That’s it for now. Thank you for watching. Happy swimming, I’m out!
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