Living in New England, the pool season typically lasts from around Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, however that doesn’t mean that the weather always cooperates and brings hot days and warm nights resulting in a comfortable pool water temperature. Many people rely on the help from a pool heater. A reliable, efficient heater can keep your pool comfortable during the spring, summer and fall. Understanding the cost differences can help you determine which type of pool heater to buy.
Electric Heat Pump Pool Heaters
Electric heat pumps use the heat that is present in the outside air to heat your pool. So, the efficiency of the heat pump is directly related to the temperature of the air which affects the temperature of the pool water. If it’s a nice hot summer, then the efficiency can be excellent. However, as the as the air temperature drops, the efficiency of an electric heat pump drops. So, running this type of heater in May or late August when we typically have cooler mornings and nights may not be as efficient, especially since at a certain temperature, heat pumps will stop working. You could be using electricity and barely putting any heat into your pool and heat pumps are the costliest to operate when you need to heat your pool the most. They also take several hours to heat a pool just a couple of degrees
Gas Pool Heaters
Gas pool heaters heat water very quickly and offer more heating performance to water than electric. Simply compare how quickly water boilers on a gas stove vs. and electric stove. With a gas heater you can raise the pool water temperature several degrees per hour. The average gas pool heater is rated at 400,000 BTU/hr. On average, that enough heat to warm a 15,000-gallon pool by about 3 degrees each hour. Gas heaters also do not rely on the air temperature for their efficiency, they can heat your water in any weather condition including at night during cooler temperatures or early or late in the season when you need the heater the most. They will also heat water at the same rate for essentially the same cost no matter what the conditions are. For example, heating water from 70ºF to 80ºF uses the same energy as heating water from 80ºF to 90ºF, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s 50ºF or 90ºF outside.
Since electric heat pumps capture heat vs. generating it, they are considerably cheaper to run than both a traditional electric resistance heater and a gas heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating a pool with 1,000 square feet of surface area with an electric resistance or gas heater costs around $500 per month compared to roughly $100 for a heat pump. These prices are averages and will fluctuate depending on the ambient air temperature. The cost of keeping a pool at a certain temperature during July will be much lower than late May or early September.
Electric heat pump pool heaters have a much higher upfront cost than both gas and electric resistance heaters. Heat pumps cost around $5,000 vs. about $1,000 for a gas heater and $2,000 for an electric resistance heater. The cost for installing heat pumps and gas heaters averages about $300 to $500, including labor and materials. The cost for installing an electric resistance heater can be two to three times this price because of necessary wiring upgrades to handle the required amount of electrical current.
Solar Pool Covers
Most people hate having to deal with a pool cover and constantly taking it on and off, but solar pool covers help you retain the heat in your water during the cooler nights, and actually help heat the water during the day when your pool isn’t in use. Using a cover on your pool can dramatically reduce the heating costs for all types of heaters. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the owner of a pool with 1,000 square feet of surface area can save upwards of 90 percent on heating costs if a cover is employed to retain heat when the pool is not in use.
Life Span and Alternatives
Heat pump pool heaters have life spans of 10 to 20 years and most gas and electric heaters typically have life spans of five to 10 years assuming you properly maintain and care for them.
Solar pool heaters, unless you live in an extremely sunny location and have space to install a very large system, are meant to complement traditional heat sources. You can use a solar heater to do the bulk of the daily heating during the peak of pool season. But if you like to swim early or late in the season, especially earlier in the day, you’ll need to implement a main heating source. There are no monthly costs involved, but the initial costs of purchasing solar panels can run upwards of $7,000.
For the best option for your pool, contact your local pool company. For pricing and delivery on propane, give us a call today!