Swimming Pool Heater Cost & Types

Swimming pool heaters are used to maintain the pool water temperature during colder months. There are three main types of pool heaters: solar, electric, and natural gas. Solar pool heating is typically the least expensive way to heat a pool, followed by electric and then gas pool heaters. We’ll also discuss some additional options for warming up your pool if you look at the cost to install a heater, or the operational costs and decide it’s not in your budget. Ultimately, a pool heater can be a big investment, but it can greatly improve your ability to enjoy your pool and extend your swimming pool season.

Pool Heater Cost Breakdown

One of the first things you’ll need to consider when you look at installing a pool heater is the cost. It can vary greatly from solar to gas and electric, so we’ll provide some general numbers so you can get a feel for the different associated costs to heat a pool.

Monthly operating costs

Too many people focus on the initial cost of the heating unit itself when determining the type of pool heater to purchase. Over the lifetime of your pool, however, the monthly costs will be where most of your money is spent so it’s important to weigh this heavily when you factor in your total heated pool cost estimate.

  • Solar pool heating costs: $500 and up (depends on pool size – the cost is for the pumping of the water through the heater as the solar energy is free)
  • Electric pool heater costs: $50-$100 (varies based on pool size and location)
  • Gas pool heating costs: $300-500 and up (varies based on pool size and type of gas used – liquid propane is cheaper than natural gas)

Average Pool Heater Price Range

As mentioned above, the sticker shock can be significant when looking at certain types of heaters, but it’s important you weigh the pros and cons to make sure the type of heater you buy can adequately warm your pool and provide you with the overall experience that you’re looking to gain. Saving a few bucks on your heater and ending up with 55-degree water will leave you regretting your decision down the road. So, let’s look at some rough price ranges for

  • A solar heater will typically cost between $3,000 – $10,000 installed
  • An electric heater or electric heat pump usually costs between $2,500 and $7,500 installed
  • Gas pool heaters can at times be the cheapest option to buy and install, with prices sometimes dipping below $2,000 and up to $6,000 for the unit and installation. Of course, the ongoing costs mentioned previously can be a bit of an issue if you want to keep your gas bills low.

How Do Pool Heaters Work?

Solar pool heaters

Solar pool heaters use heat from solar panels and circulate water from the pool through these heated areas and allow the water to absorb that heat. These systems only work when you have a lot of space and lots of sun exposure. If you have a South facing roof and adequate sunlight hitting it you can install panels there and space likely won’t be an issue.

Electric pool heaters

Types of electric pool heating are forced air systems, radiant panels, and heat pipes. A forced-air system uses direct mechanical contact to transfer heat from a fluid-filled panel to pool water circulating in an adjacent chamber or loop between coils immersed in the pool water. Radiant panels use heat exchange with metal fins placed directly on top of heated fluid-filled tubes submerged underwater to transfer energy to pool water. Heat pipes transfer pool water through copper or aluminum finned tubing under the pool heating panel.

Gas pool heaters

A gas pool heater burns natural gas or propane in a combustion chamber, which heats copper coils through which your pool water circulates quickly. Unlike solar heaters and heat pumps, this heater doesn’t rely on sunlight or air temperature to operate — making it appealing for those living in colder climates as well as anyone with a need to keep their pools warm all the time.

Do You Really Need a Pool Heater?

In some places, it gets very cold in the spring and fall, and the pool heater cost is secondary to the desire to have a functional pool in colder months. Before you go out and make the purchase, however, you should probably talk to other people who live in your area and ask them what type of temperatures they experience in their inground or above ground pool (there can be significant differences). If you have a feel for what you and your family feel is an acceptable temperature, you may find that there’s an adequate pool season and you don’t need a heater. It’s also worth considering some lower cost options to heat your pool.

How to Warm Your Pool Without a Heater

If the cost to heat your pool with a heater seems a bit high, you have other options you can look into. First, make sure your pool gets plenty of sunshine. One way to do this is by removing trees and any other shade-creating structures near the pool or using a solar cover (sometimes called a solar blanket) which absorbs sunlight while trapping heat in the water. You can also place solar heating rings over the top of it for warmth retention if you don’t want to get a cover — they work just as well. Additionally, you can investigate using wind blockers so that your pool isn’t being cooled off when winds blow across its surface.

As you consider your heating options, let Global Pool Products outfit the rest of your pool with high-quality, American-made accessories like pool slides and pool handrails. Contact us to find your local dealer.

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