Turning up the Heat—what pool heater is best for my pool?

Turning up the Heat—what pool heater is best for my pool?

Are you ready to swim in the cooler months but not quite ready for a cold plunge? This blog provides an overview of the three main options for heating your pool so that you can decide what is best to fit your needs.

There are essentially three different options currently on the market to heat your inground pool: electric heat pump, gas heater, or solar heater. Each type of heating system serves a different purpose, and each has its own pros and cons.

Electric Heat Pumps

Electric heat pumps are a very popular option for heating inground pools and spas. One of the benefits to the electric heat pump is that it can be utilized in pools that do not have natural gas or propane available and they do not require drilling into or mounting to the roof. Although they are not well suited for rapid heating, they are great for maintaining the temperature once the pool is up to temperature, which makes them popular for those looking to use their pool year-round. Unlike solar heaters, electric heat pumps can be used day or night, regardless of the weather.

Most heat pumps require a 50 AMP electrical hook-up, so if one was not installed at the time the pool was built, having one run by a licensed electrician is an additional cost that will be necessary to utilize this type of heating system.

Something to consider with the electric heat pump is that the metal components in older, copper-based heaters—can cause staining of the pool finish over time. It is important to utilize a metal sequestering agent as part of your routine maintenance to keep stains at bay. This does not seem to be an issue with the newer, titanium-based heat pumps. Certainly too, there is a cost associated with running the electric heat pump, just like there is a cost to run your heater in the winter; however, once the pool is up to temperature, the heat pump is an efficient way to maintain the water temperature

Gas Heaters (Natural Gas and Propane)

Another method of heating your pool and/or spa is a gas heater; however, gas heaters are most commonly used for an isolated spa. Gas heaters are available in two different kinds—natural gas and propane. Gas heaters are fantastic for rapid heating, which makes them popular for smaller pools and spas and for those who may not utilize their pool/spa frequently. Often, customers who tend to gravitate towards gas heaters are those who want to be able to quickly heat up their pool or spa. They are the best option for on-demand heat. On the contrary, they are not efficient for maintaining heat; while they will keep a pool hot, it would not be cost effective to do so because of the cost of natural gas/propane. A benefit of a gas heater over a solar heater would be that it is able to heat day or night, rain or shine.

Similar to electric heat pumps, older gas heaters contained a lot of copper components which, in turn, can cause staining; new gas heaters are constructed using cupro-nickel covered heating components which has largely helped to reduce staining issues. Just as with heat-pumps, it would be advisable to utilize metal sequestering agents in conjunction with a gas heater.

Solar Heaters

Solar heaters are the third most common type of pool heating system. Solar heaters involve a series of pipes which are installed on the roof of your home. They work by pumping water up to the roof through a series of smaller, typically black tubing/piping that are positioned on the sunniest portion of your roof. Just like water that sits in a garden hose on a hot day, the sun heats the water in the tubing/piping on the roof which is then circulated into the pool. Similar to an electric heat pump, solar heating is great to maintain the temperature of your pool, but it is not a good option for on-demand heating. One of the benefits of solar is that it can save some electricity in that a heating element is not necessary to warm your pool.

Some of the potential downsides to solar are that because it works by pumping water onto the roof of your home, it will be more taxing on your pool pump. Additionally, installation of a solar heater requires mounting the system on your roof and the solar heating system only works when the sun is shining—it can’t run at night or in rainy/cloudy weather.

Here is a quick table outlining some of the pros and cons of these three types of heating systems.

Electric Heat Pump

Gas Heater

Solar Heater







  • Can be used to maintain the temperature of the pool

  • Does not require drilling into roof or propane/natural gas source

  • Can heat pool day or night/rain or shine

  • Requires 50 Amp electrical service

  • Not efficient for rapid heating

  • Metal elements (especially in older copper based heaters) can stain pool

  • Efficient for rapid heating—makes it a good fit for small pools or spas

  • Can heat pool day or night/rain or shine

  • Requires propane or natural gas hook up

  • Not efficient for maintaining temperature

  • Metal elements (especially in older copper based heaters) can stain pool

  • Does not require 50 Amp Service or Propane/Natural Gas Source

  • Can reduce cost of heating pool (no heating element)

  • Can help to maintain pool temperature

  • Uses the sun to heat the pool water

  • More strain/wear and tear on your pool pump

  • More constant use of pool pump can increase electricity costs

  • Requires drilling/mounting into your roof

  • Not efficient for rapid heating

  • Does not heat pool at night or on cloudy days

Heating your pool is a way to help make year-round use more comfortable and enjoyable for all. Not sure what heating system is best for your needs—give us a call and we would be glad to help you figure it out!

Advanced Pool & Spa is a family owned and operated, fully licensed, bonded, and insured pool remodeling company located in Land O Lakes, Florida. We have been in business for 39 years and take pride in our work. We hope to be able to help answer your pool related questions and would love to help make your remodeling dreams a reality! Give us a call or send us an email today for an estimate on resurfacing or remodeling your residential or commercial pools and spas. We can be reached at 813-995-2939 or aps59246@gmail.com.

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