There are 4 main type of heating options.
Educate yourself – check out the Advantages and Disadvantages of each before making a decision.
A water-source swimming pool heat pump, also referred to as a geothermal heat pump, transfers heat from a water-source to your swimming pool water. Warm water from a well or adjacent lake (source water) enters the unit and passes over an evaporator coil, which contains a cold liquid Freon refrigerant. As the warm water passes over the coil, the refrigerant heats to become warm Freon gas. The source water cools, exits the evaporator, and travels back to the water-source. The warm Freon gas passes through a compressor, which compresses it to hot Freon gas. Then, this hot Freon gas passes through a eat exchanger which is where the pool water enters and exits the unit. The pool water washes over the Freon coil absorbing the heat and returns to the pool warm. As heat transfers from the coil to the pool water, the hot Freon gas cools to once again become cold refrigerant, and the process starts again.
Water-source heat pumps can also be used to transfer heat from swimming pools to spas. Because of the large size of a swimming pool, you can transfer enough heat from a swimming pool to warm a spa without noticeable decreasing the swimming pool’s temperature.
Advantages of Water-Source Heat Pumps
- A geothermal heat pump only uses electricity to transfer heat versus creating heat.
- Low operating costs – about 1/6 the cost of heating with propane gas.
- Longer lifespan (approximately 20 years) and virtually silent operation.
- Flexability in location as it can be installed indoors or outdoors.
- Small environmental footprint.
- The most energy efficient form of heating capable of generating 80%+ savings over propane gas.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Heaters
These heaters have few disadvantages. The most prominent would be the higher cost when comparing to gas and air source heaters.
Air Source Heaters
An air-source swimming pool heat pump transfers heat from the air to your swimming pool water. Air enters the unit and passes over an evaporator coil, which contains a very cold liquid Freon refrigerant. As warm air passes over the coil, the refrigerant heats to become warm Freon gas. This warm Freon gas passes through a compressor, which compresses it to a hot Freon gas. Then, this hot Freon gas passes through a heat exchanger, which is where the pool water enters and exits the unit. The pool water washes over the coil absorbing the heat of the Freon and returns to the pool warm. As the swimming pool water absorbs the heat, the hot Freon gas cools and becomes a warm liquid refrigerant again. Then, the warm liquid refrigerant passes through a metering device. Inside the metering device, pressure is reduced on the warm liquid refrigerant until it once again becomes very cold and the process begins again.
Advantages of Heat Pumps
- Inexpensive to operate as only electricity to run compressor and fans
- Energy efficient: COP between 5 and 6
- Water-source heat pumps: operate independently of air temperature
- Average Lifespan of 10 years for Commercial Pools
- Environmentally friendly: uses a renewable energy source created by the sun and it emits no air pollution
Disadvantages of Heat Pumps
- Expensive to purchase: many available for between $3,000 and $4,000
- In lower temperatures, an air-source heat pump, while using about the same electricity, absorbs less heat from the cooler air.
- An air-source heat pump is also at risk of developing ice when it operates at temperatures below 50°F
- Heat pool water slowly
Gas heaters burn either natural gas or propane to create heat. Gas burns inside a combustion chamber, which contains a series of copper coils. As the gas burns, water passes through the coils and heats. Gas heaters have historically been the most widely-used swimming pool heaters due to their low cost of installation. Their popularity is dramatically decreasing due to high gas prices and the advent of and efficiency of heat pumps.
Advantages of Gas Heaters
- Inexpensive to purchase: many available for under $2,500
- Operate independently of air temperature
- Heat pool water quickly and quietly
- A gas heater also offers the convenience of heating your swimming pool more quickly than a heat pump
Disadvantages of Gas Heaters
- Expensive to operate: Annual operating costs using LP Gas run between $400 to $450 per 1,000 gallons of pool water
- Not energy efficient: COP between 0.80 and 0.85
- Lifespan of 3-5 years
- Not environmentally friendly: emit air pollution
Solar Panel Heaters
Solar Panel heaters use a series of flat panels to transfer heat from the sun to your swimming pool. The panels are made up of black tubing and the pool water circulates through these tubular panels absorbing the heat transferred by the sun to the panels. The swimming pool pump pulls water from the pool and then pushes it water through the panels and returns the warm water back to the pool. Because pool heat loss mostly occurs at night, solar panels not used on commercial pools to maintain the heat.
Advantages of Solar Heaters
- Inexpensive to operate: no additional monthly operating costs
- Energy efficient: operate with your pool pump
- Lifespan of 15 to 20 years
- Environmentally friendly: use renewable energy source and emit no air pollution
Disadvantages of Solar Heaters
- Expensive to purchase: Price run between $4,000 and $7,000
- Dependent on sun: cannot operate at night and less efficiently in cloudy weather
- Heats pool water slowly
- Unattractive installations on swimming pool owner’s roof or lawn