Swimming Pool Heaters Explained

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Swimming Pool Gas Heater vs. Heat Pump

If you're looking to extend the pool season, gas heaters and heat pumps are among the best options, but what makes one different from the other. To ensure an educated decision we’ve outlined the main features of both below.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas pool heaters are the most popular option when it comes to heating your pool. Gas heaters utilize natural gas or propane to heat water returning back into your pool. They have a lower upfront cost and heat water temperatures quickly. Although gas heaters have a lower upfront cost, they require the cost of propane or natural gas which can exceed the operating costs than that of a heat pump. Depending on whether natural gas or propane is used the cost can range from about $3.00 to $9.00 per hour to heat your pool.


  • Lower upfront cost

  • Heats water quickly

  • Works in any air temperature


  • Higher operating costs

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular for pool owners. They use the ambient air surrounding the unit to heat your pool. The air passes over an evaporator coil using heated refrigerant to heat water returning back into your pool. This process does not require natural gas or propane and lowers operating costs drastically. Heat pumps cost about $2 an hour to run; a fraction of propane or natural gas. Although operating costs are low, heat pumps do have a slight disadvantage. Due to the fact that heat pumps use the air surrounding the unit, when temperatures drop below 50 degrees, the efficiency of the heat pump is greatly reduced and so is its ability to effectively heat your pool water. This is not much of a concern in the Phoenix area as we only see a few days a year below 50 degrees, but it is something to keep in mind.


  • Lower operating cost

  • Energy efficient


  • Higher upfront cost

  • Ineffective below 50 degrees air temperature


Both, gas heaters and heat pumps are a good solution for pool owners. The main factors when deciding will be your location, budget and needs. If you simply want to heat the pool for the holiday weekend or you want a heater that will work regardless of the weather you’ll probably lean towards a gas heater. However, if you want a heater that will allow you to heat your pool year round, will save you money in the long run and you don’t mind running your pool pump during the day in the winter to eliminate the occasional inconvenience caused by outside air temps below 50 degrees, a heat pump is a great option for you.