water heating system

Different Types of Pool Heaters | How to Choose the Right One

Pool heaters come in different shapes and sizes. Some are designed to heat only the water while others heat both the water and the air around the swimming pool. In addition, some heaters have a built-in fan that circulates the heated air throughout your home or office. The type of heater you choose will depend on how much space is available for it, as well as what kind of heating system you already have installed at your house. 

In this article, we will discuss the different types of pool heaters : electric heat pump pool heaters, natural gas pool heater, propane, solar, and wood burning. We’ll also talk about which one might be best suited for your needs.

Article Overview

Electric Pool Heaters

The first type of pool heater uses electricity to generate heat. It can either use direct current power from an outlet or alternating current. Electric heat pump usually cost less than other types of pool heaters but they do not provide any ventilation so if there is no breeze blowing through the area where the heater sits then the temperature inside may rise quickly. This could cause burns to people who get too close to the heater. Additionally, these pool heat pump units require regular maintenance because their components wear out over time. They need cleaning every few months to keep them working properly.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas pool heaters work by using natural gas to produce hot air. They are more expensive than electric heaters because they require constant maintenance. However, these gas heaters offer better control over the amount of heat produced. If you want to save money, consider buying a used model instead of purchasing new ones. You should check out our guide to finding cheap gas pool heaters before making a purchase.

Propane Pool Heaters

A propane heaters works like a traditional furnace except that it heats up liquid propane rather than fuel oil. Propane pool heaters are very efficient and easy to install. These heaters are great for homes with limited floor space since they don’t take up much room. A disadvantage of propane pool heaters is their high initial price tag.

different types of pool heaters
solar water heater

Solar Pool Heater

If you live near the equator, you probably know all about the sun’s energy potential. Solar pool heaters harness the sun’s rays using solar panels to create enough heat to keep your swimming pool warm during winter months when temperatures drop below freezing. Unlike most other forms of pool heaters, solar heater does not need regular maintenance. But, they aren’t suitable for colder climates. Check out our comprehensive article regarding solar pool heaters and types of solar collectors.

Wood Burning Pool Heaters

This type of pool heater burns logs made from sawdust into steam. Wood burning pool heaters are popular among homeowners looking for something unique. They’re inexpensive compared to other options and they give off a pleasant scent. Unfortunately, they tend to smell bad after being left unattended for long periods of time. Also, they must be cleaned regularly to prevent mold growth.

Which Type Is Best For Your Home?

Now that we’ve covered all the different types of pool heaters, how do you decide what’s right for you? Well, first off, you need to determine whether you’re looking for something temporary or permanent. Temporary solutions include solar panels, portable generators, and even woodstoves. These items will help keep your home warm during power failures. On the other hand, permanent installations such as tankless heaters, geothermal heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps are meant to last longer.

You should also think about the size of your house before making a decision. Small homes tend to be better suited for smaller appliances whereas larger houses often benefit from bigger equipment.

The type of swimming pool is another factor to consider. Are we talking about a larger pool, ground pool, inground pool, above-ground pools or outdoor pools, in general? Some can only accommodate certain kinds of heating systems while others have no restrictions at all. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that any installation meets local building codes. This way, you won’t end up having an unsafe structure on which to build your dream pool!

See that each option has its pros and cons. Let us look at some of them now.

Electric Heat Pump

This is the cheapest way to heat water. An electric pump creates pressure within a closed loop circuit. As the water flows around the loop, it picks up heat from the surrounding environment. In addition, the circulating water keeps pipes cool. Electric pumps come in two varieties: immersion and submersible. Both types operate similarly; however, only the latter requires installation under the surface of the water.


Lowest Cost Option


Requires Installation Under Water

Natural Gas Heaters

Furnace systems or gas heaters consist of three main components: blower, burner, and ductwork. Blowers force cold outside air into the combustion chamber while fans pull fresh air back out. Burner units contain a flame that generates heat. Ducting carries the heated air away from the firebox and vents it into rooms. Gas heaters are considered safe and reliable. They are relatively quiet and emit fewer pollutants than older models.


Reliable & Safe


Expensive To Install

Oil-fired Boilers

boiler type water heating system
boiler-type water heater

Boiler systems rely on the same principles as those found in gas furnaces. However, instead of natural gas, these boilers use kerosene or diesel oil. Oil-fired boiler systems can cost more initially but require less ongoing upkeep. The downside is that they produce smoke which may cause respiratory problems if inhaled over an extended period of time.


Quiet And Clean


More Maintenance Than Other Options

Propane Pool Heaters

Pool heaters powered by propane tanks work like any other type of heater except that they run on liquefied petroleum gas. This means that they generate heat using compressed gases. LPG pools are safer than traditional fuels because there is no risk of explosion. Moreover, they are easier to maintain than conventional fuel sources.


Safer Than Conventional Fuel Sources


Higher Initial Price Tag

Solar Pool Heaters

As mentioned earlier, this solar heater uses sunlight to provide warmth. It works best where summers are hot and winters are mild. If you live somewhere else, then you might want to consider installing one anyway just so you won’t feel too uncomfortable next summer.


No Ongoing Costs Or Maintenance Required, Best For Warmer Climates


Not Suitable For Cold Climates

Once you know what you want, you can start shopping online. There are many websites dedicated to selling everything related to swimming pools including heaters. Once you’ve made your choice, contact local contractors who specialize in plumbing and electrical services. Ask them questions regarding their experience with similar projects. Also ask them about warranties and maintenance requirements. Finally, make sure that you get multiple bids since prices vary widely depending upon location, materials used, and labor costs.

If you’d rather not install anything yourself, hire someone to handle the job. Hire professionals when possible because they usually charge much lower rates than DIY enthusiasts. Plus, they’ll take care of all the details involved in setting up a new pool heater.

Which is more energy efficient among the different types of pool heaters?

It depend on many factors such as: size, location, number of occupants, etc. For example, a small electric heater would consume less energy compared to a large one. Also, a single person living alone wouldn’t need a big heater whereas two adults sharing a smaller apartment would definitely benefit from having a bigger unit. So, depending on your situation, you’ll find the right solution which is more energy efficient for you. In addition, some models come equipped with thermostats that allow you to adjust the temperature according to your preferences.

How Much Does a Pool Heater Cost?

Pool heating costs of different types of pool heaters vary based on several factors including: brand name, capacity, installation method, and whether you have a warranty. The average annual cost ranges between $200-$500 per year. Of course, this will depend on how often you use your pool and what kind of equipment you choose. Moreover, if you’re planning to add an automatic cover or filter system, it could increase your expenses significantly. However, most homeowners don’t spend over $1,000 annually on pool heaters.

What are Cheap Ways for Pool Heating? 

If spending a lot of money for a pool heating system doesn’t sound practical for you, there are actually 3 cheap ways to heat your pool (over-ground or inground pool) using the sun as the heat source and make pool season last a little bit longer.

This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to heat your pool. These are like bubble wrap plastic covers that lay on top of your pool water, bubble side down, that prevents your pool water from evaporating while heating it at the same time. However, if you have a large pool, investing in a solar cover reel might be the better option.

They can come in fish or like little balls which effectivity last for a month. What happens is they pour out a little amount of liquid all-month long which floats at the top which creates a molecule-thin layer of non-toxic liquid. This sort of blankets the pool water, stops water from evaporating and, at the same time, heating it. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, it’s totally safe to use.

These are those round rings that look like mini solar panels that floats on your pool and connects with magnets. Solar rings actually can provide 21,000 BTUs of heat per day which is awesome.


The bottom line is that choosing between the different types of pool heaters isn’t easy. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Remember though, every home has its own unique set of circumstances. Just use these tips to narrow down your choices until you find exactly what you were hoping for. We hope our guide has helped you decide which pool heater is right for you. Good luck!

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