Too Cool for Pool? Warm Up to the Idea of a Pool Heater
When it comes to the comfort of your swimming pool, an important consideration is a pool heating system. The right pool heater may even allow you to extend the swimming season, from spring to fall.
By understanding the mechanics and benefits of the different types of heating options available, you can decide whether a heating system will help create the perfect swimming experience.
What’s a Pool Heater?
Like the name suggests, a pool heater is a device designed to increase the temperature of the water in a swimming pool. Installing one will allow you to enjoy a comfortable pool temperature in your pool, even when the outside air temperature is cool or during colder seasons.
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Types of Pool Heaters
There are several types of pool heaters available. Some of the most common types are:
Gas Pool Heaters
A gas heater relies on propane or natural gas to heat your swimming pool. Typically, these types of heaters have a combustion chamber where the fuel is burned, heating up the water when it passes through the heat exchanger. Once heated, the water returns to the pool. Gas-powered heaters are known for their ability to heat pools quickly. That said, they aren’t the most energy-efficient heaters available, as they usually cost more to operate and generate carbon emissions during the heating process.
Electric Pool Heaters
Similar to electric stoves or residential water heaters, electric pool heaters use electric resistance elements to heat the water in a swimming pool. These resistance elements heat up, and the pool water circulates through them, absorbing the heat. Because of their simplistic design, electric pool heaters generally have lower upfront costs, making them more affordable to install. That said, electric heaters generally consume more electricity to achieve the same level of heating as gas heaters.
Solar Pool Heaters
As you might have guessed, solar pool heaters convert energy from the sun in order to warm the water in the pool. Solar heaters comprise a series of panels (also called collectors), typically installed on the roof or near the pool, that absorb the sun’s energy and convert it to heat. Then, similar to an electric heater, a pump circulates the water through the panels, raising the temperature of the water before it is returned to the pool. While solar heaters are the most environmentally friendly pool heating option, their effectiveness is often limited in areas without abundant sunshine.
Heat pump heaters work similarly to the way air conditioners work, but in reverse. Typically powered by electricity, heat pumps extract heat from the surrounding air and allow it to pass over an evaporator coil. From there, the air is circulated through a heat exchanger, transferring the heat to the water from the pool. While they're known for their efficient use of energy, they’re also best served in moderate climates or when the outdoor temperature is above 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 10 degrees Celsius).
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Do I Need a Pool Heater?
The answer depends on several factors. For instance, if you live in an area with year-round warm temperatures — such as Southern California or the Southwest — you may not need a heater. But if your region experiences cooler temperatures during the fall and winter months, a pool heater might be a good investment. Similarly, if your pool is in direct sunlight through much of the day, the sun might be able to naturally heat the water in your pool, even if the air is cool. However, if your pool is located in the shade, the pool water may always be chilly regardless of the temperature outside. Installing a heater will allow you to enjoy a longer swimming season with comfortable swimming temperatures.
Another thing to consider is your own personal water temperature preferences. If you prefer warmer water, a pool heater can help you maintain that desired temperature. Installing a pool heater will give you more control over the temperature of your water, offering you the ability to customize it to your own preference.
Last but not least, consider your budget and environmental factors. A large pool is going to take more energy to heat and, depending on your fuel source, it might end up with higher operating costs and emitting more carbon emissions in the process.
In many cases, keeping your pool warm is simply a matter of preventing heat loss from occurring. Luckily there are several cost-effective options that will help significantly reduce heat loss in your pool. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to invest in a pool cover to cover your pool at night. Pool covers act as a barrier to retain the heat gained from sunlight during the day and prevent the cool air from cooling the pool water at night. There are several types available, including thermal blankets, solar covers and safety covers.
When deciding whether or not you’ll need to heat your pool, you may want to consult with a professional pool specialist for specific recommendations suited to your pool, climate and personal preferences.
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